The Upper Crust

Our dysfunctional multiparty system

 

WITH UCHE NNADOZIE

Sometimes it is difficult to know exactly how many political parties
that exist in Nigeria. Today they are 35, tomorrow they become 80. It
could even climb to 89 or 90. It is about a hunch. A hunch of ego and
unbelievable “I can do it myself syndrome.” I know a few persons that
own political parties; yes that is what it is. In Nigeria we own
political parties, beat our chest and announce with gusto.  Some
persons that claim to own political parties are themselves oblivious
of what political parties mean. A lot of our politicians also do not
understand the very essence of multiparty state that Nigeria is. They
just accept the reality that it is easy to register a party, they too
try. The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC who registers
political parties probably has more than 100 applications for new
parties.
I accept the fight by Gani Fawehinmi whose legal persistence gave us
this multitude of parties. He was only trying to get his own National
Conscience Party (NCP) registered formally. In the process the Supreme
Court agreed with him and the laid down rules in our constitution.
That was the tap that was broken and all hell was let loose. Today it
is barely eight months since the last general elections. Apart from
insignificant mentions for fairness purpose, not more than four
political parties get mentioned on anything at all. Even the mention
does not go beyond election petition processes. It is not even for any
major electoral claim, it has to do with “unlawful exclusion” or
something more ridiculous. Apart from the All Progressives Congress,
APC and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, two or more other mentions
are normally for preposterous reasons. And they are not ashamed.
I have been approached a couple of times, to either co-found or join
these new political parties. They make all the right noises and call
out “old politicians.” Personally, anytime you mention “old
politicians” in the same sentence while trying out a working
relationship, you have lost me. I have no patience for lurking around.
It is either we make genuine practical progress or we let it be. You
can’t blame our problems on “old politicians” when “young politicians”
sometimes called “new politicians” do not have the slightest idea what
a political party is. Even worse, you do not make any attempt to
understand how to win election in Nigeria yet do not want to listen.
If you think that you can form a mobile phone political party today
and by 2023 use such platform to win election in Nigeria, then you are
out to be fooled, or you are the fool. Where do you begin? Or you just
like to hear the ugliness of your own toady voice?
It doesn’t appear that unregulated multiparty system suits us. It does
not bring out the best in us. It dissipates energy and makes unified
approach dissipate into nothingness. There has to be something done to
this. You can’t fold up after every election and call yourself a
political party. To make matters worse, you still jump out to make
commentaries about those running or ruining us. Your inability to see
how hopeless working alone is, is legendary. Listen, to begin with,
you need to climb down from your high horse and accept the reality
that politics means people, it is also means money. To gain power you
must subject your best ideas to the foolishness of the numb. Your best
idea is nothing when a congregation of power mongers gathers. Your
ability to earn a consensus is the first step towards forming a
political party. And in a country such as ours, it is very critical to
form that consensus on the basis of the plurality of the cleavages
that bind us together. You will be wasting your time in exhorting your
own tomfoolery.
Again I ask, where are the myriad of political parties that took part
in this year’s general elections? Have they fizzed away to appear
again in 2023? Just like that? Even as we have many standalone
elections in states and federal constituencies! Let us imagine that a
party is cute with the use of the internet, which of the parties have
developed a robust social media following, internet based membership
drive, public discussion about problem solving initiatives, shared
manifestos, unity and unifying sound bites even on the internet?
Instead what we have are quitters or revolution organizers. The other
day Kingsley Moughalu quit politics that he just started last year. He
has left his platform on the lurch. Members and leaders in the youth
themed party will rue their loss for awhile before another sweet
talker with some cash shows up.
Why is it this difficult for those who make noise all over the place
of how eager they are to do so much but who just seem not to have a
clue how to organize. If you cannot organize a political movement how
will you be able to organize a consensus to lead if given the mantle?
Well, no one gives power by chance except you are a vice or deputy and
something happens. Otherwise you must work hard and work well. Our
people must learn to unite. They must learn to welcome suggestions and
apply them. Our political parties should learn from the bigger
parties. Interest must bring people together not what we have now
where the wishes of one man creates a party and gets everyone else to
join. Whenever any member tries to make a point, he or she is shouted
down or stylishly ignored.
We have a long way to go, but there is no road with these multiple
parties. Let their members coalesce into one or join either of the big
two as caucuses or pressure groups. Little by little their ideas will
begin to influence decisions. Democracy is for the patient. Ask
Buhari.

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