The Social Democratic Party of Nigeria, commonly known as the SDP, was established as a center-left political organization. It was created by former President Ibrahim Babangida via a desocracy project meant to form two detribalized political parties – one slightly to the left and one to the right. During the Nigerian Third Republic it was seen as a moderate party attractive to young radical intellectuals and socialists. In its manifesto, it called for concerted efforts to improve welfare and fight for social justice.
After 13 prospective parties were banned by the administration of Ibrahim Babangida in 1989, some of the associations decided to re-align. The People’s Front of Nigeria, People’s Solidarity Party, and the Nigerian Labor Party emerged to form the core constituency of the new SDP. The leadership was mostly dominated by Northern Nigerians. Babagana Kingibe was elected party chairman in 1990 over his rival Mohammed Arzika.
Despite the dominance of Northern Nigerians, the party’s strength lay in the Yoruba people in the states of Imo and Anambra. The party won 57% of Senate seats and 53% of House of Representatives seats in the 1992 National Assembly election. The party was primarily financed by the Federal Government and a individuals such as Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, Francis Nzeribe and M.K.O. Abiola.
In its first presidential primary, Yar’Adua collected about 480,000 votes, dominating his primary opponent, Olu Falae in the first round. Those elections were then canceled by Babangida. In the second primary election under an adopted system called Option A4, another financier, Abiola (a former member of the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons and once a state chairman of the National Party of Nigeria), won the primary on March 1993. Labia then contested the national election, which was also annulled by Babangida.
Among former members, Atiku Abubakar, Jerry Gana, Abubakar Rimi, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, Umaru Yar’Adua, Abdullahi Aliyu Sumaila, Dapo Sarumi, and Mohammed Arzika later became senior figures in the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Jerry Gana returned to SDP in 2018.
According to Chief Olu Falae, SDP was created to pressure the two prominent Parties, Nigeria People’s Democratic Party and All Progressive Congress, and to provide credible alternatives to Nigerians, as the SDP predates both the APC and PDP and has a history of winning elections.
- Further the democratic ideas of the SDP.
- Become the third political platform and attract credible, competent, and dynamic leaders.
- Fight corruption and enthrone the rule of law.
- Gather patriotic and social Democrats who will represent the people.
- Recreate an ideological party with structured deliverables.
- Form a national party.
- Open political space for young Nigerians.
- Reflect gender sensitivity and stand with people with disability.
- Unify the Nigerian people and give voice and action to their aspirations and desires.