The call by the national leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) Senator Bola Tinubu demanding the resignation of the party chairman, Chief John Oyegun, is no doubt one of the biggest political news in a long while. In case this is the first time you are learning of this, the veteran politician and former governor of Lagos state, who undoubtedly led the process for the formation of the party and was critical to its victory in the 2015 elections, in a statement released on Sunday, accused Oyegun of sabotaging the will of democracy in Ondo state by overriding the decision of the appeal panel that asked for a fresh governorship primary following investigations that showed that the delegates’ list used had been tampered with. And having done the ‘irredeemable’, Senator Tinubu called on Oyegun to resign.
This development did not come as a surprise to many close political watchers who had long observed that all was not well with the party which has had a series of internal wrangling since it took over power from the PDP in May 2015. A few others had predicted this even before the electoral victory, when the merger to form APC was still on-going given how the party opened its arms wide to accept (and is still accepting) into its fold, persons of all character including political renegades seeking a new platform to remain relevant.
No doubt, the very foundations of the house had serious issues. It was going to take quite a miracle to marry politicians of all kinds of backgrounds viz the now defunct CPC, ANPP, AC and what was called newPDP, into a new fold without cracks, given the sharp differences in their ideologies, histories, ambitions and makeup. It was clear that the oneness of purpose (at least of the majority) which is critical to the success of national political parties was lacking. What we had was a union of forces all opposed to the continued reign of Goodluck Jonathan as President and after he was ousted, there didn’t seem to be any clue how to manage the victory. Certainly, this was not the time to start cultivating a party ideology and having the different blocks within the party align with it. The next mission was a scramble for the spoils of victory, with an eye on the next elections.
This situation raises once again the question around ideology politics in Nigeria. Ideally, political parties are founded on certain ideologies which guide their manifesto and informs their approach to governance. It also defines the goals and aspirations of the party which the members can key into. Ideology represents a crucial element of political parties and their activities.
The closest we have come to having parties with defined ideologies remains the First Republic, with parties like the NPC, NCNC and AG which though were largely ethnic-based, showed certain ideological uniqueness. Ideologically, the NPC was an essentially conservative and elitist party, while the AG and NCNC appeared to be progressive and welfarist, predicated upon socialist ideology. Since then, the parties we’ve had have just been aggregations of persons for the purpose of capturing power. In the 3rd republic, there was an effort by the government to experiment with a 2 party system (which like you have in the US) represents 2 varying ideological camps. However, the SDP and the NRC, as we had then, besides being described as ‘a little to the left’ and ‘a little to the right’ respectively, had nothing much to differentiate them in terms of ideological dispositions.
The story continues today. Perhaps the APC presented the best opportunity for the founding of a party deeply rooted in progressive thinking but the hurry to win power and enjoy the spoils of same derailed such lofty ambitions. It must be stated (and as we have seen) that ideologies are not about what is written on paper or the slogans voiced at campaign rallies. They are shaped and refined over time and it helps if such a party spends some time in the opposition during which such ideology becomes rooted and through some kind of ‘natural selection’ the genuine members of such a party are defined.
The dearth of ideology party politics manifests in governance. Parties claim one thing in their manifestos and once they are in power, they are doing something else. From Lagos to Borno, Sokoto, to Bayelsa, there is no difference in the policies of state governments despite the fact that there are up to 3 parties in power across these states. These governments seem to be drifting about (with their subjects in tow) like a rudderless ship simply because there is no principle guiding their movement. This is one of the reasons why we are where we are as a country.
Today more than ever before there is a need for us to go back to the basics. Young people of like minds must begin to converge and define ideologies that can shape the makeup of new political groups. This should be done not with the view to capturing power in 2019 — which is not realistic — but for building a solid group strong enough ideologically to challenge for power and make a difference in governance in the future. We must now free ourselves from the failures of the past and the present and define for ourselves, the future we want to see. The time to begin congregating is now.
First published Here on 29 September, 2016
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