Editorial: Need For Strong Political Parties


Nigerians must be following with studied interest the crisscrossing of politicians from one party to the other with major defections from the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.

For a political party that is just three years in power, the exodus of many members from its rank four years after it emerged from a merger of supposedly strange bedfellows may give less discerning public the cause to see the politician as an unrepentant Machiavellian and politics a game to leverage the few and mighty and punish the poor and majority. This may not necessarily be so.

No doubt, evidence abounds to show that there are dodgy politicians in our midst who like the proverbial leopard, will never change their spots.

The manner the defections are taking place and some of the principal characters involved appear like a repeat of what happened to the then ruling PDP, shortly after a disaffected group broke away under the name nPDP in August 2014, weeks to the party’s National Convention in preparation for the 2015 general elections and joined the emerging APC.

Nevertheless, the issues at play are the same: Lack of internal democracy, intolerance, victimization, impunity, intimidation and crass leadership.

This is understandable in an economy in decline with the attendant web of intrigues, fierce competition for access to money, power and position, which only the state can provide.

Even so, we hasten to state clearly that though politics is an existential art and can only deal with the NOW, political error is always possible if politicians fail to make a distinction between real ambition and fantasy.

Though ambitions and goals may be guarded by choices of the moment, the long range view of the good governance in which equity, fair play and justice reign supreme must be uppermost in the minds of our new crop of politicians.

The reason is simpler: The central role of parties to democratic governance cannot be over emphasized.

Parties are agents of mobilization, political socialization and culture. And they can only become so if men and women with noble ideals, a healthy dose of patience and tolerance devote the time to build and grow them, particularly in an emergent economy such as ours.

When they become institutions run by men and women with democratic credentials, parties would be the surest means to mediate the ogre of religious bigotry, ethnicity, marginalization, lack of rule of law, rampant poverty and terrorism still running riot in the land.

Two, three or four strong, issues driven national parties can become platforms for the easy management and resolution of conflicts, and act as a rainbow coalition for the diverse, multi-ethnicities in the country. Unlike in the past when the regions had parties that polarized the country along the three major ethnic groups, the country has the chance to grow two or three big parties that can become a big umbrella for the diverse, multi-ethnicities.

It is on this note we wish to appeal to politicians to change parties, if they must do so, for more honorable reasons.

Tolerance, robust debate, consensus, compromise should be allowed to reign.

Also political parties after all are made up of members. For now, only the big men and women speak and act as members. The voices of the rank and file are in deep slumber. We call on the parties to allow their members to have role in their affairs.

Indeed, the one vital, albeit crucial difference between current and the old parties was the role of the party leadership and influence of members on the running of the affairs of parties; through contributions and levies, members had influence in the conduct of the affairs of political parties.

It is time the current parties begin to put their houses in order. They must begin by reigning in moneybags, so called godfathers and remove the almost life and death power wielded by governors on the parties in their states vis-à-vis the powers of National Executive Council and Central Working Committee organs of the parties.

If we are serious about building institutions that can transmit political culture and socialization and mobilize the people to support national causes, it is time we do away with moneybags, who often than are out to feed their mercenary motives; give members a voice in their operations and make allowance for the respect of the rule of the game and laws of the land.