Godwin Tsa, Abuja A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja yesterday sacked Senator Atai Idoko representing Kogi East Senatorial district on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party [PDP]. In a 99 page judgment on the pre-election dispute, Justice Gabriel Kolawole ordered the immediate swearing-in of Air Marshall Isaac Alfa (rtd.), who is also of…
The discourse for today is a very important one. On the surface it would look partisan, yet within the context it is not. I am discussing it within the understanding of political development in our nation and specifically the growth of political parties and their stability. Those who read me would attest that I am an advocate of multi-party system and within it three very viable political parties. The way we were going under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) especially during the tenure of former president Olusegun Obasanjo, it was like we were drifting towards a one-party state, and that was because we saw clear attempts by the authority to either muzzle or destroy the other political parties. So those of us who are advocates of two or three strong parties for the nation were happy and are still happy with the coming of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and we want it to stay. So far the party is doing well even though there are causes for concern. Some analysts fear the party may implode between now and the next elections and this fear is orchestrated by the makeup of the party, and of course, the inability of the top leadership to sit down and evolve a unifying ideology and harmonize the different competing interest.
So many people think the party will not get over this challenge and if care is not taking it could become its albatross. I don’t think so; it is not a serious problem, parties would always be made up of different tendencies and what the leaders do is to creatively manage such diversities. In APC, the challenge in this instance is becoming something else and even turning into a major threat because those whose responsibility it would have been to do something about it, have refused to do anything perhaps on account of factors bordering on naivety. I don’t think the attitude and political disposition of the president has helped matters. The president won the election and naturally was supposed to undergo some transformations, which he didn’t do. One of it was to become a father figure for the party but from the look of things it didn’t appear he found that way good enough and the consequences are what we see: a party that his not boisterous and cohesive, and a ruling party that has its units perpetually at war with each other. It is difficult to say while the president decided to limit himself to his small scope. A popular thinking is that he ran a credible presidential contest when he did so from the party he formed and now that he may run as an elected president and his prospects are quite high. That is the view but I think this kind of perspective touches on political naivety. He failed when he didn’t receive help and passed when he got assistance. The way our nation is even as an elected President he still requires much help.
Recently, there have been rash defections by prominent politicians into APC and as would be expected it is raising concerns about a possible one party state. I want to say that if the party leadership had done what they were supposed to do the influx would have been far greater, but because they didn’t, it is coming in trickles. The leadership didn’t act because of the false believe that for a ruling party, winning elections can be taken for granted, but one would think the PDP experience in the 2015 general election would be more than enough lesson for those who think this way. Let me say something on political defections: I don’t support it, yet it is not something you legislate against, it is essentially about principle and general human behavior. If history is any thing to go by we should expect it to happen at the level of our political development, in fact our political parties are so terribly managed that sometimes it will be inevitable for some members not to run away. The truth is that the APC would have reaped more than it has done if the leadership had their acts together.
Since the party came to power, its approaches and processes have most of the time resulted in curiosity and greater doubts. The initial hesitation on the part of the leadership as we already know proved very costly and the effect is still plaguing the image of the party. The manner the leadership of the National Assembly came to be was not the best the party could offer and that is the reason behind the deep differences we see between the Executive and leadership of the National Assembly. It is not that this kind of development is alien to party politics or constitutional democracy, what is wrong with the present conflict is that as a result of political naivety the problem has been allowed to fester for too long and many Nigerians agree that more than any other factor, this conflict has given the party the greatest dent especially on its ability to give reality to the many promises it made to the nation and her people.
The desire of everyone who wishes this nation well is to see APC grow from strength to strength and for the foundation to be deeply entrenched in the political soil of this nation, but a lot of citizens are also aware that this expectation could be a mirage if those who oversee activities of the party fail to amend, first, their disposition and secondly, their approach and processes for consolidating the party. One of the critical elements in this change would be wider consultation and institutionalization of collegiate system of administration. This does not seem to be the case for now. From the look of things all activities revolve round the president, and given the makeup of the party, this system can only widen the gap and create structures for continuous disagreements. The other would be for the leaders to cultivate an attitude of focusing on substance well and above shadows. We saw an example midweek when in the letter to the Senate to mandate the Vice President to stand-in for the President, an obviously mischievous subordinate decided to elevate the word “Coordinating” well and above “Acting.” This is an obvious distraction that is not good for the party, the leadership and the nation especially given recent developments.
Those who want to play down the recklessness, say there is nothing in using the word, but Senator Mao Ohuabunwa was very correct when he raised the alarm about the danger inherent in it. It reveals a mindset, and shows where northerners in the government place Osinbajo in the scheme of things. It is a signal to the Yoruba that they don’t matter in current political configuration, and this is dangerous. Now that Osinbajo is in charge, if he is visiting the states especially those under the opposition, it will be wise not only to get his party members informed, it would be good to get them involved in every arrangement, that is how to grow a party. Officials so far have always done the contrary and that raises many questions among them if they are interested to build this platform.