I have always maintained that a major part of the problem we have in this country is our gross height of being consistently inconsistent. Two, most of my fellow compatriots suffer from the combined attack of selective amnesia and general lack of history. We do not resort to what happened yester-years to tackle the issue of today. When you point this out to them, they tell you it doesn’t matter any longer. Yet, as iconic Chinua Achebe succinctly inscribed it immortally, for one to escape from the heavy drops of the rain and make any headway, one must know where the rain started drenching one.
In our hasty resolve to steer clear of what has become a perennial politico-economic – social adversary, we have come out with another election diction, fantastically and beautifully laced with the sexy phrase: “We are voting individuals, not parties”. In elementary literature, this is called comic relief. It can only give momentary happiness that is just skin deep.
You see, this is another trap, reminiscent of the IBB’s imprimatur of yore. You know, “a little to the right, a little to the left”. “Open secret ballot”. Option A4”. “Two party system”. “New breed politicians”. Perhaps, the one informed Nigerians saw as most nauseating and indeed, most truculent, was “interim national government” which also gave birth to “current impasse”, “annulment” and “lasting democracy”. In the end, the entire IBB transition of eight years was nothing but a beautiful score! Its attraction stinks.
Here we go again. Voting for candidates, not parties. This is political genocide that will only begat a comprehensive disaster, complete with wailing and weeping. Let us start with Anambra State in 2003. Then, a certain Peter Obi (now a sensation, movement and revolution) got the governorship ticket of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and was later declared winner by the court. The process that produced him was APGA made possible by the Great Chukwuemeka Ojukwu’s influence. Ab initio, Obi sauntered to state limelight through the APGA.
Secondly, In 2011 in Imo State, the then Governor Ikedi Ohakim was enthralled in a religious pyrotechnics with the Catholic Church for allegedly flogging a priest. Ohakim was put on the proverbial cross and was politically executed. Unlike our Lord Jesus Christ, he never resurrected. And so, Imolites toed the Anambra option and chose APGA consequently upon which Owelle Rochas Okorocha emerged. Okorocha, in his bid to look appealing to the masses, vehemently disregarded all the structure of APGA – both state and national – and his end was tragic.
The difference between Obi and Okorocha was that the former was virtually unknown, while the letter was well known. It can be correctly said that while the electorate in Anambra looked unto APGA and Ojukwu to settle for Obi and it worked magic, Imo masses relied on their knowledge and appreciation of Okorocha as a ‘philanthropist’. It was a monumental caricature that produced a colossal disaster.
Politically, Nigeria borrowed copiously from the United States of America, but never borrowed her politics of growth and development anchored in history, statistics and data profiling. In America, the constitution provides for an independent candidate, just as there are two most visible, as well as prominent, political parties. If voting for individuals not based on party inclination is the best way, why have the Democratic and Republican parties dominated the American space without any private candidate winning any presidential election, at least, in modern or recent history?
The fact remains that when a candidate who feels it is his face and image rather than party’s influence and manifesto that makes him to win an election emerges victorious, such a candidate becomes a demigod. He listens to nobody and respects no party manifesto and order. This is the basic problem of President Muhammadu Buhari, who feels that Ndigbo never voted for him and so he doesn’t owe them any obligation. He rather turns to his Fulani and Muslim brothers whom he said gave him 98 per cent votes.
Finally, it is the party that defines who a politician truly is. For instance, Chief Godswill Akpabio is hailed in Akwa Ibom as a great governor who transformed the state. He was in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The moment he moved to the All Progressives Congress (APC) he became a complete failure. His tenure as Minister of Niger Delta was riddled with crisis and accusation of non- performance.
Rt. Hon Rotimi Amaechi, for six years as PDP governor of Rivers State, won several Governor of the Year awards as a truly performing governor. For obvious reasons, he jumped to APC. In his last two years as APC governor, he got bashes and knocks. Even as a minister, he was not reckoned with by Nigerians. Yet, it was the same Akpabio and Amaechi who did wonders in PDP that also failed in APC.
The party is supreme in a constitutional democracy. Had Segun Oni got the PDP ticket in Ekiti he would have won the election. But he went to SDP and most of his supporters voted for APC in protest and PDP for loyalty. But the gist is that, in spite of his avowed popularity, he failed.
In Osun State, had Adeleke joined SDP, NNPP, AA or any other party, he would have lost the governorship election, unless the masses urged him so.
For us to move forward as a country, we must strengthen the parties in Nigeria.
BY ORI MARTINS