WEDNESDAY COLUMN by USSIJU MEDANER
Political parties and politicians in Nigeria behave more or less in a predictable circle, leaning towards political mediocrity and desperation, playing orchestrated political games of monumental self-serving influence on the citizens for political and electoral gains. At any given electoral circle in recent times, they persist in posturing and scheming over anything and everything they could make political gains out of for near future political exploit.
Somehow, the political class has over the years adopted the concept of “the end justifies the means,” and have truncated the well respected convention of adopting and promoting competitive political ideologies under registered political parties; replacing it with notoriety, gross propaganda and posturing for the spectacle and amassing sentiments with little to no trace of any positive contributions to real national needs.
Since the return of democracy to Nigeria in 1999, quite unfortunate, we have not been able to coordinate to evolve a good number of political groups that are well established on identifiable sets of ethical ideas, principles and doctrine of standards behavior. It is near impossibility to pick a couple of political parties in Nigeria since the emergence of the new democratic dispensation that have concise layout of policy and orientation. We don’t yet have political structures that have set beliefs and prescribed policies for the needs of the nation. When one makes mention of the Democratic Party of the United States, everyone knows it, overtly without change, hinges all its policies and actions on the ideals of American liberalism and progressivism, in contrast to the Republican Party which is firmly rooted in American conservatism and tradition.
What we have in Nigeria are political groups without consistent ideological predisposition. They flow with the tides taking decision per situation and respond differently to the same issue at different times under similar conditions. This lack of basic foundation is primarily the cause of the many problems and directionless motion arising from parties’ and party members’ behaviours, utterances and actions.
We can easily submit based on past and present experience that those who form political groups in Nigeria are bread and butter politicians – stomach infrastructure politicians, who stand for nothing but personal gains. When a political group is built on a set of core values, members and drivers of the group behave maturely and in consonant with their foundational belief. The missing groundwork becomes visible in the nature of intra-party and inter-parties relationship in Nigeria. The gross display of poor party politics, clear manifestation of unbecoming intra-party attitudes, and the display of overt individualism and personalism above collective objectives, disintegrate political parties and prevent cohesive responses to issues. Our political groups have become mere vehicles for personal pursuit.
The responses of the major political parties to the aftermath of the Supreme Court judgement on the disputed Imo state governorship election is a clear indicator of the current level of unpreparedness of Nigeria’s opposition political parties to engage in positive and constructive politicking. A well-grounded political group will know quite well that the only intelligent and morally acceptable response from them in the face of a surprised defeat at the apex court is an acceptance of the ruling and probably an expression of hope that the court would in the future act differently. The occasion also offers an introspective opportunity to the party of concern.
Knowing very well that the verdicts of the Supreme Court is irreversible and that adherents of rule of law must respect those decisions regardless of its dispositions, and much more political parties, that are engines of propagation of government and political leaderships skills, should know much better the implications of undermining the position of the apex court, PDP in Imo state, backed by its national leadership, displayed outright show of Contempt, shame and disrespect for the nation when it took to the street and literarily questioned the decision of the Court only to thereafter, approached same Court seeking for a review of the judgement. A political party with a strong ideological base would also possess the strength to be calm in time of such disappointment and recognise the need for the inviolable respect for national institutions above party wishes.
The appalling nature of political opposition is another indicator of the weak structure of political parties we currently have in Nigeria. It is natural that after an election both winners and losers emerge. It is also expectated that the party that loses should return to the drawing board and re-strategises ahead of the next poll. A party built on a working, compelling ideology takes the path that makes it as competitive as ever in the next poll – just as every presidential election in the USA is a fierce battle between the Republican and the Democrat.
For not knowing what direction to take to turn the tide in their favour in 2023 due to an apparent lack of cohesive plan and formidable foundation, PDP and its members, notably its immediate past presidential flag bearer, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has, instead of seizing this stretch of a moment to start developing viable, ideology-based strategies, sellable policy direction and giving their party’s manifesto a long overdue attention has been busy spewing propaganda, abuses and lies against the current Administration. The lack of substance in PDP’s affairs and engagements is so visible – a pointer to their lack of understanding of the game of opposition.
How does intentional misinterpretation of every national issue to confuse the citizens and cause them to develop hatred for the sitting government become the way forward for the opposition political party? When Atiku Abubakar urged the American President Trump not to punish Nigerians for the purported offenses of Buhari, all because he wants to be politically relevant ahead of his predictable presidential bid in 2023, and his party, PDP outrightly supports him, one then wonders how such an individual would turn out a fit for the seat of presidency and much more on the platform of the party that has shown it cannot identify the line between national loyalty and personal desires – even when they understand the remote cause and the premises upon which that particular class of travel ban was imposed.
When a political party would descend so low to create a negative connection between the recent Federal Government approval N33,000 as the new allowance for Youth Corps Members and a concocted but non-existing third term plan, we should all know that the foundation of such a party faulty.
When we have an opposition political party that has never for once prescribe solution to any national problem but incessantly criticises every policy, action and even the noble projects of the government, it becomes clear that all that the party reckons with is getting power without demonstrable understanding of acceptable processes.
When we have national political parties and members, including their sympatisers that thrive only on looking for the downfall of the ruling party and would be satisfied to see the country burn as long as the blame is going to the table of the ruling party, it is a sign that we are heading in the wrong direction. When an opposition political party would exaggerate every attack and killing that have no connection to a particular ethnic colouration and take to the street to instigate the people against the government and would not take a respite until everything is turned upside down and probably until there would be no nation for even them to rule in the future but turns blind eyes when it was reported that one Nathaniel Samuel was caught right handed in an attempt to bomb a church in the same country.
When news reports of pastors kidnapping themselves are ignored, when crimes and atrocities with perpetrators not from a particular religion and ethnic nationality overlooked, we should all know there is a script playing out and this portends great danger for the nation as we approach 2023. A group of men killed an Ibo business man in Abuja few weeks ago; Benue state is still on fire, the killings ongoing; the South-East is still a battle ground for criminals; militants and cult groups are still unleashing hell in the South-South, particularly in Rivers state; yet CAN, PDP and all the acclaimed lovers of Nigeria wouldn’t see these. They are more interested in the killings that can be linked to a particular group.
When we boast of political parties and members hoping to ride to popularity on the back of stern attacks on the ruling party; when the likes of Abaribe that sympathised with the Jonathan government in 2013 when consecutives bomb blast killed 75 and 100 people respectively in Maiduguri and Kano are recognised and respected as leaders of leading political party and main opposition party, we are lost. In his word, we should unite and support the government to end the menace. We are in 2020 and his position has suddenly changed. His was a rhetoric when he picked from among the news that Armed Bandits struck in Niger and Plateau states, Nigerian Army neutralises Boko Haram in Damboa and killed scores in Damasak, a Christian clergy was killed by Boko Haram – the ones that fan the ember of his desire and vehemently called for the resignation of the president.
When again and again, for the uptenth times, a major leader of the main opposition party and its vice presidential candidate in the last election would see nothing working about his own country and the one he aspires to rule to the extent of making careless statements such as there is nowhere more threatening to life than living in Nigeria; when he derives so much satisfaction in belittling the nation because he wants to pull another down; when bathing in the support of his party, he sees not any of the good works of the government but relishes in comparing us with a nation where their leaders would dare not belittle the political authority of their country, we know the foundation of such a political party is faulty.
Days ago, I heard Peter Obi ranting about insecurity in the country and made all the analogy he could make to discredit the incumbent government but as usual made no single recommendation of the way out. It seems as if they are happy that things were getting a bit scary for the nation; that much we can infer from their responses and reactions to events.
Yet, in a casual conversation with an ordinary Nigerian, who love his country, I heard suggestions of workable solutions such as why don’t we withdraw police from the highways and retrain the road Safety officers to become high way traffic security; and that why don’t we convert the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense into the proposed community police outfit? By that, we could simultaneously increase the number and the efficiency with the benefits of an existing structure. Can’t the likes of Peter Obi and his party come up with workable solutions like these and see if their fortune would not positively changes. But when the foundation of their party is wrong, what good can come out of is.
When political parties are left only with the option of corroding ethnic and religion institutions to gain political strength and relevance to win elections; when joining hands with political parties, body of religious groups hypocritically stand against the government; forgetting the time in the past, when they could not afford the luxury of free worship without security checks on worshippers at the gate, when the death tolls was in hundreds every other day, when Abuja and its suburbs were hard hit and no part of the country was spared; yet they could willfully state that the president is doing nothing to end the menace. When they closed their eyes to the massive infrastructural development across the nation because the government does not favour their direct interest, we know we are in for a mess in Nigeria.
I am becoming scarier now because it seems the fight for 2023 has just begun and it might begin to get messier as it is being played out by PDP and CAN.
The nation is at a cross road. The government is working all round to fully reclaim the nation on various fronts and consolidate on prescribe working mechanisms; the only way to achieve full result is for all hands to be on deck in support, or at the very least, constructively criticise the government directions. For as long as we are committed to practicing democracy, the need for political parties and political actors to live up to expectation is sacrosanct to the success of our nation. The earlier we realise every negative move we are making against the nation for the purpose of deceitfully winning election is a seed of sorrow sown against tomorrow and put an end to it, the better for the country and for all of us.
God Bless The Federal Republic of Nigeria!