Inter-Party Meddlesomeness And Zero Party Option

by admin

An interesting dimension to partisan politics has further buttressed the irrelevance of the party to elections in Nigeria. This dimension popped up in Imo State, recently, as the various political parties held their primaries in preparation for the November governorship elections. 

The state had been forced off the election season by the controversial Supreme Court judgement that ousted Emeka Ihedioha and installed Hope Uzodimma as governor in 2020. The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state, even before the primaries, had been accused of meddling in the affairs of other parties in the contest, especially its traditional rival, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the fast growing Labour Party (LP). 

Days before the primaries, the LP office in the state had been sealed by security men for reasons that there was a squabble among the party members, a move that was seen as unnecessary and uncalled for even though there seemed to have been factions within the party.

Quite intriguing was that the ruling APC had been fingered as engineering the feud in the LP to make sure the party did not present a common front in the fight coming up in November. APC, it was said, provided funds for individuals purporting to be members of the LP to purchase the party’s forms. The aim, perhaps, was to plant stooges in the strong opposing parties who would rather work for it than the party they claim to be members.

The rumours pervaded the political space, gaining so much potency that it was difficult to doubt it. The APC denied being involved that shady deal. The electorate would have no option than to believe them. However true or false the story might be, we cannot write off the occurrence of such a scenario which is practically possible in our political terrain where service to the people is hardly the motivation into politics but self aggrandizement.

Indeed, the same was said to have occurred at the national level where the ruling APC is accused of struggling to plant its man as Chairman of LP. What looked like a confirmation of that came when the purported chairman of LP began to make moves to withdraw a suit by the party challenging the outcome of the February presidential polls. Ordinarily, if that is true, one would ask if such a “chairman” was working in the interest of the party he claims to head. Only the daft will be unable to see the connection between him and the APC who are the key defendants in the LP suit at the tribunal.  

The game is not entirely new because, prior to the 2019 elections, PDP members fought a fierce battle to retrieve the party from the clutches of Ali Modu Sherrif who seemed to be on a mission to destroy it.That sets our minds thinking whether partisan politics was fitting to the Nigerian situation in the manner that it is all too easy for an individual to belong to different parties at a time without being seen as having infringed upon the law. Or that it is easy to switch to another party even after riding on the back of the deprived party to political relevance. The politicians are enjoying the status quo because it favours them.

Unwittingly, they have turned parties to mafia groups where they gather to plot ways they would get control of power and wield it to selfish ends.Ideally, political parties are supposed to be a group of organized persons who share a set of similar political aims and opinions. These like minds aim to positively influence public policy when they get their candidates into elective positions.Abuse of the political process and many untoward actions of political parties have prompted feelings that a zero-party democracy might after all pay Nigerians better than the partisan structure in place.

The present partisan structure where politicians group themselves into these mafia-like parties have proved to be an agent of division among Nigerians who badly need cohesion more than any other country in the world. The parties breed discrimination across ethnic, religious and generational lines. They have no consideration for competence and only focuses on party loyalty to one heavy financier who is looked upon to decide who flies the party flag in elections. The primaries are often a make believe.For this reason, the nation is deprived of talented individuals who could have contributed to the overall success of the nation and even the party that has mistreated them. The party regimentation gags voices of reason and bright ideas are sacrificed on the altar of political allegiance. It fans the embers of corruption where governors and presidents hardly detach themselves from the party after election and tend to dip hands into public coffers in the interest of the party and find no fault in the act.

The sins of Partisan politics are many. It has been responsible for votes buying, factionalism, as well as selfish and vicious propaganda that hurt national interest. It has set tribes against tribes, generations against generations, family members against each other, and has prevented the party from its primary duty of political education. It has impoverished the weak and made the strong richer, and tends to leave the society a jungle of sorts.For our multi-party democracy to work, laws must govern party switching to the extent that it would not be easy for an individual to move from one party to the other. Otherwise, we can better be looking for another system. Who knows, the magic wand could be a zero-party system, a non-party democracy where individuals are voted for, not because the party has said it but because of their social standing.

Candidates issue forth from wards and progress to state, constituency and national levels where they go to, perhaps, also form the Electoral College in addition to being the representatives of their people.This non-party democracy is cost-effective and fits the kind of federalism we seem to be running, which concentrates enormous powers on the centre. With the elimination of the gang-up that is the character of political parties, a certain measure of fairness and equity in the distribution of common wealth is assured. The election process is the democratic element of it while fairness to voters and the contestants is its beauty. The relative peace in countries such as Oman, Qatar, United Arab Emirates (UAR), among others, can be attributed to their non-partisan political system. It once worked in Yoweri Museveni’s Uganda. It had earlier been applied in  Nigeria when the country was yet fanning the embers of the present democratic fire. It can work again.

Dr. Odu can be reached through

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