WHY POLITICAL NOMADS CAN'T FIX NIGERIA
The ground-breaking victory of the President-Elect, General Muhammadi Buhari of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in the March 28 poll indicates that Nigeria has joined the guild of nations with two main political parties. This is a source of joy to many. For it has the capacity to foster good governance at low cost, broaden the space for public dialogue and contestation of ideas, and help to tame the spirit of impunity. More so, with this development the opposition party is expected to function as a watchdog, curtail the excesses of the winning party, and thereby, aid to govern Nigeria in a way that says power truly belongs to the people.
The current wave of defection from the PDP to the APC is dashing genuine hope for a virile opposition that will entrench a culture of competitive contest for the people's vote. If due to defection any of the two political parties waxes exceedingly stronger and the other becomes a paper tiger of sorts, libertarian ideals will slowly fizzle and Nigeria will become vulnerable to the tyranny of one party system. Trustees of power will perpetuate the reign of impunity, thereby, set the nation adrift, and frustrate people-oriented development initiatives.
Many Nigerians hope that modelling integrity and authenticity will be a key attribute of Buhari's leadership, since, he places high premium on doing the right thing the right way. Also, he is presumed to have a sixth sense about what is best for the Nigerian people. As a result of these, he is expected to reinforce the ethical bases of a prosperous and inclusive nation. However, this hope may be aborted given the characters of politicians defecting to the APC, and by extension seeking to be his associate.
If consulting and involving others is an important element of effective leadership, then leaders must be mindful of the ethical and intellectual pedigree of those around them. Ultimately they will be held liable for the misdemeanour of their associates.
It is heart-warming that during his 67th birthday celebration, the Senate President, David Mark restated his resolve to remain in the PDP even as the party is seemingly sliding to oblivion. True democrats should emulate him, stay put, and revamp their various parties. For political nomads are not credible nation builders. They do not switch alliances in pursuit of higher ideals, or for the greater good of society. Self-interest is their North Star. Their unbridled avarice makes them chameleonic, parasitic, and always oscillating between ideals and depravity in ways that undermine democratic consolidation. Discretion hardly determines how they exercise their right of freedom to associate politically.
The APC should endeavour to transcend being a rainbow coalition. It cannot afford to be seen as a party of parties drifting in the political spectrum, or without a unifying agenda for national transformation. Internal conflict would undermine its capacity to perform exceptionally well, if it is driven by people who are ethically and ideologically unrelated. Growth facilitated by political prostitutes often heralds party disintegration. In other words, the growing size of APC may be a prelude to self-opposition and the triumph of factionalism. Right from the days of Ladoke Akintola, it became clear that party hoppers fan the embers of chaos.
Many of the politicians defecting to the APC do not seek to broaden its base of supporters, but to stand on the shoulders of Buhari and other political giants without being mentored. They are merely seeking shortcuts to power, economic fortune, and political stardom.
Again, political nomads create identity crisis. In the public mind, it will become difficult to spot the difference between the two main parties. In fact, their difference will be like that of six and half a dozen, particularly since, ethics and ideologies are not essential drivers of political parties in this clime. Unfortunately, politicians without conscience will never build strong parties as long as political affiliations are not inspired by ideological preferences, but by it-is-our-turn-to-eat syndrome.
Unprincipled switches of allegiance instigate crash of values, and implosion. For the APC to avoid fraternal battles that will endanger her mission to transform the face of governance in Nigeria, she must build a community of loyalists unified by their passion to serve. Recall how elated Nigerians were when the APC held a successful presidential primary without any of the aspirants defecting. They may not be able to replicate this in subsequent elections, if they become a weak hub of social architects, or a gaggle of political misfits.
Political nomads are not agents of collective emotional healing. They are not enlighteners of the public mind. They know next to nothing about the art of inspiring and influencing citizens for national transformation through collaborative communication. Building community is the vital task of the moment given how fractured Nigeria has become as a result of the atrocious electioneering messages that dominated our airwaves. The APC should not shy away from this task in an attempt to grow in size.
Anti-defection laws may not effectively curtail this trend, like it did in India. The abysmal lack of internal party democracy is the root cause of intra-party battles and party switching in Nigeria. Hence, being guided by the ethos of internal democracy is the best anti-defection strategy parties could adopt.
For the possible benefits of the Buhari's hard-won victory not to become elusive to Nigerians, those who instigated the tail-spinning of PDP to the sphere of odium should not become key players within the APC till they understand the true essence of power.
Written by Omozuwa Gabriel Osamwonyi