POLITICAL PARTIES AS PLATFORMS FOR POLITICAL (IN-) STABILITY (PART 1)
16 September 2013
By Olu Adekunle Snr. – Public Affairs Commentator
to democratic principles, is a task that is only achievable by a generous dose of divine favor. Otherwise, it is at best an uphill task that seldom meets with success.
My assertion is based mainly on the premise that the incorporation of several ethnic groups into a single political entity means bringing together the basic problem of conflict, which stems as a result of man’s varied wants, perceptions, opinions and insatiable nature. Group loyalties often supercede the established concept of a common identity thereby undermining the collective interests of a multi-ethnic society or nation.
Nigeria as a nation where political, ethnic and religious interests are guarded jealously is such a society where governance under a democratic setting is often tasked to the limit. Our history is replete with instances where sentiments have been whipped up in the direction of these three groupings, with the ultimate aim of exerting influence on the outcome of whatever may be the issue of the day.
Like every other society upon the face of the earth, Nigeria too has passed through phases of change in the quest to fulfill our collective needs. Some argue that these changes have not been for the benefit of the common man, while others believe that only those in the corridors of power have gained; but what the heck, everyone is entitled to their own opinions. The truth of the matter as has been evident before us is that the masses have almost always been preoccupied with the struggle for daily survival and could not be bothered by much else. At least that was the case before 1999.
In her 53 years of independence, Nigeria has been ruled by both civilians and the military with the latter intervening mostly on the purported basis of misrule by the former. The period of military rule ( spanning a greater part of the 53 years) is best remembered as an era where widespread corruption and conscious effort to undermine due process, the rule of law, transparency, accountability, and efficiency in government were the order of the day.
With the death of General Sanni Abacha former Nigerian Head Of State, Nigerians rightly rejected the military and opted instead for a return to democratic rule where the people would be free to decide for themselves who would govern and represent them at all levels of government. This agitation became a reality on May 29, 1999.
It was the expectation that democracy would increase the role of the ordinary people in the system and ultimately provide them the much touted ‘dividends of democracy’.
Fourteen years after in 2013, this is undoubtedly Nigeria’s longest romance with democratic rule. Whether it has met with expectations is a matter for future discourse. However, at this juncture and in view of the drama playing out at the higher levels of the polity, one is compelled to call to question the ambitions of our leaders and the role of political parties which in one way or another affect the political stability.
It is my thinking that the task of leaders is to help societies. They are expected to provide direction of effort towards achieving society’s goals. Leaders are also expected to bring out the best in all of us. As history has clearly shown,
a society without talented and committed leaders will retrogress or at best remain stagnant. This is most true of Nigeria where many of our civilian as well as military leaders, are selfishly caught up in the pursuit of personal goals at the expense of the national interest.
The scarcity of selfless, non-corrupt and committed leaders has contributed to the sociopolitical and economic predicaments facing Nigeria today. Although we cannot expect to have an endless succession of great and extraordinary leaders, recent events have shown that most of those in leadership positions across the country today are yet to fully understand what leadership and representation are all about. They seem bent on extinguishing the light of democracy shinning in Nigeria. They seem incapable of settling the political and economic crises that periodically confront us.
The recent crisis engulfing the ruling Peoples Democratic Party is a good example of the lack of virtue on the part of most of our so-called leaders. Though the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan has in many people’s opinions performed creditably, it seems an irony of sorts to find that his greatest critics and detractors are found within the party fold. Several Governors led by former Vice President Atiku recently disconnected themselves from the main PDP and went ahead to create what is now known as the New PDP.
Though only flimsy and generally unclear reasons were given for such an extreme move on the part of Atiku and his group, altercations between both factions only succeeded in heating the polity to alarming proportions. Nigerians now more politically enlightened than ever were initially shocked by the development. They however quickly adjusted and in what I call an unbiased assessment of the situation, concluded that Atiku and his fellow travelers were a disgruntled lot whose grievance stemmed from perceived obstacles in the way of their selfish pursuits.
In order to prevent the country from being torn apart by attendant sentiments, many stakeholders in the Nigerian project including past leaders and the leadership of various democratic institutions have waded into the matter. Three weeks on, the conflict is yet to be resolved. The Atiku group have however issued conditions for a truce which are at best laughable and indicative of the fact that men of means in this country can hold the entire country to ransom at their leisure. It also calls to question the place of the politician and the party in sustaining political stability or otherwise in Nigeria.
Political parties are by all standards one of the most outstanding and distinguishing elements of modern government and are reputed as the drivers of democracy. In other words, democracy is unthinkable in the absence of viable political parties. They are also expected to participate in the political socialization of electorates, contribute to the accumulation of political power, facilitate recruitment of political leadership, and serve as a unifying force in a divided polity.
After a review of current trends in party activities especially the PDP and Atiku debacle, I believe that some politicians and political parties have become more of a liability than an asset in the country’s quest for political stability.
TO BE CONTINUED.