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Democracy And Nigerian Contradictions ― By Emmanuel Onwubiko


I know it for a fact that the Nigerian political terrain is so dysfunctional to an extent that the practitioners lack every modicum of ethical discipline and are indeed persons lacking in ideology.

The typical Nigerian politician has over time demonstrated a negative trait that is lower than the ethical codes that are religiously followed by persons of easy virtue who practices their trade in the red light districts or brothels to put it in clearer context.  

But the Nigerian politicians are so lacking in discipline that they are so disloyal to their political parties.

A prostitute can maintain some modicum of loyalty and consistency to the client who foots their bills but the typical Nigerian politicians go for the highest bidder even when they have pocketed the payments made to them by the rival political parties.

A good example is how some persons are paid by agents of the central government  to undermine cohesion and unity of the main opposition People’s Democratic party.  

These internal squabbles sponsored allegedly by All Progressives Congress within the People’s Democratic Party is not new. 

For 16 years that the People’s Democratic party ruled at the center it also sponsored internal schisms within the folds of some strong opposing political parties such as Alliance for Democracy and the then All People’s party which has metamorphosed to the current All Progressives Congress.

For a Nigeria politician, the political party system is an irritant or a convenient companion that only matters when there’s the need for winning by all means the juicy political offices that there are.  

The political party is just a means to an end and not an end in itself. 

The political party in our  politically uncultured and uncouth clime is simply a vehicle that delivers electoral victory to the individual who is devoid of any longstanding ideological standing.  Nothing more, nothing less. Politicians even crack jokes by saying that in politics nothing is permanent except interest. 

There are a number of factors that have brought about this substantial decline in respect for ideology by Nigerian politicians and especially the species that are seekers of political offices.

The lack of a profound democratic history in the country brought about by the incessant military interventions in the past has remained a major drawback to the building of formidable historical foundation for party politics in Nigeria. 

In the Western democracies political parties have centuries of histories behind them but in Nigeria as we write the political parties are not more them two decades old.

Indeed the current All Progressives Congress is a baby political party that coalesced into a political platform from varying smaller political organs controlled by some godfathers such as Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the Action Congress of Nigeria, Major General Muhammadu Buhari’s Congress for Progressives change and the minutest faction of the Imo state chapter of the All Progressives Grand Alliance who were railroaded into the coalition by Mr. Rochas Okorocha. 

But more importantly, the near absence of institutional frameworks for regulating how political parties are funded and/or how campaigns are funded has adversely weakened political parties that are not in the mainstream especially at the center. 

Parties which produce political office holders extract some forms of levies and mandatory contributions from their members in elected offices. This means that political parties without political office holders are just like political orphans.

Apart from the painful factor of the incessant military interventions in the past that weakened democracy in Nigeria, there is also the much more disturbing issue of how the military Generals  who midwifed the transition programmes succeeded in picking certain political parties as those that should be allocated electoral victories at the polls especially in 1999.

Not long ago, the former military leader General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (rtd) was quoted as saying that the military class that handed over power to the civilians in 1999 had preferential likeness for the People Democratic Party (PDP) to an extent that there was a military wing.

This therefore goes to show that the foundation for the formation of political parties in Nigeria has always been shaky.

Whatever is built on shaky foundation has fundamental problem of identity crisis. But it has not always been this way.

In the first and second Republics political parties competed as equals. Although party formation followed some Ethno-Regional lines, those olden days political parties still exhibited certain ideological leanings even as the prominent leaders of those parties have what they consider as their agenda for their constituents.

In the first and second republic, political parties were largely formed by ethic champions and the pattern of election results especially in the first republic clearly showed that the voters simply voted for political parties formed by some of their respected tribal leaders who have their trust and confidence to deliver infrastructural and human resources development to their people.

During the first republic such political parties like the Northern people’s Congress started by the northern politician known as sir Ahmadu Bello was dominant in the North.

In the Western region, the Chief Obafemi Awolowo led Action party gained prominent place. Dr, Nnamdi Azikiwe’s political party- the National Council of Nigeria and Cameroon won the majority in the former Eastern states. Azikiwe’s party initially made some major gains in Lagos.

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