The Upper Crust

Trials of brother Ambode (2)



Eventually the primary in Lagos state, like in all other states have come and gone. The lessons are still subjects of analysis. The governor of Lagos state, Akinwunmi Ambode lost the contest after what looked like a stalemate. The committee sent from Abuja to supervise the election announced that it did not see the exercise. As a result, it had scheduled another one for 4.00pm of the same day. Later in the night of same day, the chairman of the committee and former governor of Cross River state, Clement Ebri announced Jide Sanwoolu as  candidate of the party. Sanwoolu is a three time commissioner in the state and former banker. His emergence confirmed the way of politics in the ruling party in Lagos for the past 19 years.
What is more? The governor has since congratulated the winner and life they say has moved on. The show of maturity on the parts of contestants in the Lagos APC primary should be a topic for another day, but let it be known that its been a long time we witnessed a thing like this. Nevertheless, it is important we return to the crux of the matter which largely has to do with political party organising in our country. our parties still look like and work like adhoc arrangements. It seems to me that the members or at least the leaders know this; hence they resort to all manner of defections where aspirants fail to clinch party tickets. In our country you easily find politicians ready to jump from one party to another in some cases up to three parties within a year. Senator Stella Odua left PDP few months ago and berthed in APGA. Today, she’s back in PDP. It’s only God that knows where she is headed in the next couple of months.
The reason for this defection is mostly hinged on ability to have a guaranteed ticket. Where our politicians fear they may not get a ticket, they jump to another party. With this, it is difficult to work with politicians in firm commitment that you will find them to work with tomorrow. It appears that our politicians are only committed for so long as you see and hear them. Once they are out of your sights, anything can happen. This makes the job of party managers very difficult. You cannot as a party official trust what your member has said and as such work with whatever agreements you could get. Within a day, your party member can change. And when this happens, party officials are left with the short end of the stick. It is rather pathetic. But that is the reality we have to appreciate. In some cases, rival party officials go out of their way to woo, lure if not coerce politicians to join their own parties. This sometimes upset members who may have been loyal and who are interested in certain positions which will now be handed to the new entrant.
It is the constant jumping from one party to another that makes people say that our parties are not based on identifiable ideology. It is possible, although I have a different opinion. I think that our parties have ideologies. They are mostly centrist at this time. You have left of centre and right of centre political parties. All members of each of the parties may not necessarily hold same opinions with their parties but you find the difference at least in the two parties that have held office at the national level. By their investment trajectory like the Social Investment Programmes, it is evident that the APC is a centre left party that tends towards a welfarist somewhat controlled economy. The PDP on the other hand appear to be a centre right party based on how that party ran Nigeria in the 16 years they were in power. The selling off of public institutions, monetisation of public sector officials’ pecks of office, etc.
The truth is this is where our politics is currently. We cannot do more than ourselves. Our politics is evolving. We have never done 19 years on a stretch or even in summation since we became a republic. We expect that party ideas would look similar at times. As we spend more time in this journey, major ideological differences will begin to emerge.  Some political parties will begin to talk about everyday things and take them serious. That is when issues about gay, abortion, immigration, nationalism, specific economic policies will begin to take root. Right now we are at the cusp of greater things that will surely happen. Democracy is a slow process. Nigerian people should not get ahead of themselves.
Similarly, people should be patient with party managers. It is not easy to manage Nigerians who take their personal liberty seriously. The liberty to associate with whomever and achieve whatever we deem best for us is a major driving force that makes Nigerians difficult to manage in a political party. The common interest is not yet embedded in us. We are not communal in our politics. We do not appreciate sacrifice yet. We want it all or nothing. That is where Governor Ambode and his party men did well in this season of party primaries. They appear to have put their party above them; by trying to get along with all gladiators. This shows that we are changing albeit slowly. It is a lesson to other sates of the country, to not bring down the roof when they lose. Lagos has elevated party politics to decency levels.

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