Nigeria's Political Parties: Ideology, Manifesto & Defections! -Ishola Adebayo

September 10, 2018

Taking a deep scrutiny at the way our political system in Nigeria is structured since the adoption of democracy, it is more than obvious that our political parties in Nigeria lack ideologies.Truly our political parties bear different names but if looked critically, there are no too much differences among them.

The conflict between All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is a good example that can be used to carry out reality check about our political status as a country. For instance, At the moment, the APC (All Progressive Congress) who used to be the destination of all sojourners, has seen many of its member cross-carpeted to other political parties when they noticed that other people have taken what they wanted.

The practice of carpet-crossing, defection or party switching appears to have become an undying attribute of party politics in Nigeria. Carpet crossing by Nigerian politicians is dated back to the First Republic particularly in 1951, a decade to Nigeria’s independence in the defunct Western Regional House of Assembly.

It was an overnight affair when several members of the defunct National Council of Nigeria and Cameroon (NCNC), led by the late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe decamped to the Action Group (AG), led by late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, purposely to deny Zik and his party, the majority in the Western Region House of Assembly, which he required to form the government in Western Region.

Most politicians today are ‘bread and butter’ ones or, simply put, ‘stomach infrastructure’ people. A good political leader must stand for something. On what basis can a politician who jettisons his party, and renounces all that he has stood for over the years be justified? These things are becoming norms in our country especially when elections are fast approaching.

Upholding the core values and ideologies of these political parties by her drivers and policy makers will go a long way in upscaling our democratic system of government.For example, the Imo State governor and his party do not believe in rotation of power among the three senatorial zones. When you join his party from PDP (the People’s Democratic Party), you must renounce all ideas about rotation.

He believes It does not portend good will for our democracy, because such politicians will cut of their noses to spite his faces. Such politicians are lily-livered, men of straw and like a rolling stone, will gather no moss.

The late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, etc never abandoned their parties for not winning elections.Generally, this absence of ideology in Nigeria’s political parties is really of great concern. Parties are no longer after the doctrines, myths or beliefs; they do not offer anything special to differentiate them from other parties.

All they talk about is the pitfalls of the opposition party. They use this as bait for the citizens without any clear definitions of how they intend to achieve what is inculcated in their own manifestoes. Some of them lack even manifestos; they clearly rely on the ability of their party’s ability to rig elections for them. It does not even stop at that; they also go as far as blackmailing each other all in a bid to gain the upper hand going in the elections.

Since political parties are essential components of a democratic machine, it is imperative that they be democratic in their internal operations as one cannot give what he does not have. This, therefore, makes internal (intra-party) democracy a crucial feature which political parties must possess in order to be able to make fundamental input to any democratic arrangement and speed up democratic consolidation.

Nigeria has not fared well in party politics and democracy. Many decades after the introduction of the elective principle by the Clifford’s Constitution and the formation of pioneer political parties, the country has had a chequered history of party politics. Nigeria has struggled without success, to evolve virile political parties that will fit into the role of what parties do in other democratic polity, which is, to advance national interest through well thought-out policies and programmes. Political parties have, in our clime, remained mere platforms for the advancement of individual interests and ambitions.

The citizens are becoming more enlightened; they are making wiser decisions than in the past. As the saying goes once beaten twice shy, the people cannot afford to be played over and over by political gimmicks.

Conclusively, it is imperative that all activities and systems within parties should be guided by internal rules and procedures consistent with the expectations of party members and the legally established statutory organs; holding of democratic, periodic elections of party leaders, and a non-personalized leadership that willingly submits itself to these periodic elections. Thus, the question of life chairman or life patron should never arise; internal debate of issues and democratized decision making; equal and open participation of all members in the decision making process in such a way that various interests are more or less equally represented, especially disadvantaged groups such as women and youth; transparency and accountability in the administration of the party; democratization of party funding, such that the party does not rely on a few wealthy individuals only for its financing, and equally fundamental, there should be the adoption of inclusive, democratic processes for the holding of party conventions, and the selection of the party’s election candidates, that is, the use of primaries.

A strict adherence to these prescriptions will reposition Nigerian political parties and enhance their contribution to democratic consolidation in Nigeria.

Using a Supreme Court judgement, EiE and some partners have sued the recent decampees to vacate their seats as it is illegal to retain a seat after decamping if your party, as an organization, is not factionalized.