Nigeria’s political parties have many similarities than differences, the only visible difference being their names. It is sad we lack the opportunity to vote in terms of party ideology rather; we vote for personalities. This is because the best they could do in the absence of party ideology is to look for the candidate of their choice.
Political parties during the days of the Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s Action group (AG), for instance, were social democrats, and when you voted AG, you would be sure to access free education if the group won the election. Today we lack parties that prioritize the needs of the citizens.
The conflict between All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is a reality check about our political status as a country. The just concluded Gubernatorial Elections in Ekiti State should be viewed as a reality check for the All Progressives Congress (APC); the reality that politics in Nigeria is not by party ideology but the candidate’s popularity, integrity and credibility.
There is no doubt about Mr. Ayodele Fayose’s victory at the poll judging, by the way, the people went to the streets to celebrate his victory. The people have chosen who they want. Mr. Fayose was said to be a grass root man. He was popular among the citizens and thus to some extent they could vote him a million times over the incumbent Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi.
If care is not taken, APC might end up losing all their seats in south-west to PDP.
The earlier APC learnt this, the better way for them as a party. From the looks of things, the People Democratic Party may be ready to use the power of incumbency combined with the use of force to bully the opposition party- APC.
The Presidency, in its bid to ensure law and order in the state, decided it was wise to send armed soldiers to enforce law and order between the two parties. While it was good to enforce law and order in one hand, on the other hand, I thought it was not too good as the presence of armed forces could intimidate and hinder some citizens from voting. The opposition party leaders were reportedly barred from entering the state when they were travelling to do the final touches to their campaign 24 hours before the elections. I feel that it is not fair for any government at any level barring their citizens from certain areas. Military dictatorship was outdated in 1999, and thus, this should not be happening. There should be a level playing ground available for all parties involved. While the people may desire change in the government, they also want credible candidates and not those forced on them by the political parties or the so-called political ‘godfathers.’
I have observed carefully how our Politicians talk during campaigns without a definite belief in what they can offer better than their rival parties in power. It is not enough to identify your opponent’s weaknesses or failures using all sorts of dirty tactics to malign their image in the eyes of the citizens. Most of them capitalize on what other parties have done wrong and how it all went wrong. It does not even stop at that; they also go as far as blackmailing each other all in a bid to gain the upper hand going in the elections.
The citizens are becoming more enlightened; they are making wiser decisions than in the past. As the saying goes once beaten twice shy, the people cannot afford to be played over and over by political gimmicks.
The absence of ideology in Nigeria’s political parties is of great concern. Parties are no longer after the doctrines, myths or beliefs; they do not offer anything special to differentiate them from other parties. All they talk about is what the ruling party is not doing for the people. They use this as bait for the citizens without any clear definitions of how they intend to achieve what is inculcated in their manifestoes. Some of them lack manifestos; they clearly rely on the ability of their party’s ability to rig elections for them.
APC and PDP have always been at each other’s throats waging war of words at each other. Despite the Peoples Democratic Party failing in some aspects; it is popular among the citizens. On the other hand, All Progressives Congress is trying to grab power, and because of absence of ideology people are not sure of what they can offer if the party is given the responsibility of leadership. It does not matter how bad the ruling party is, what the people want is what the opposition party have on their agenda that will influence their decision at the voting poll. The parties’ agenda for the nation matters a lot. The agenda of parties influences the decisions of a few of the citizens at the polls. Citizens should look at the bigger picture of governance rather than looking on the popularity of the parties.
The approaches to be used to achieve the set agendas matter most. A government may promise to deliver a lot of things yet there are impossible to deliver since the resources are limiting. More often, we read in the newspapers or hear politicians in their inaugural speech unveiling seven-point agendas; some go as far as ten or fifteen point agenda. Eventually at the end of their governance period, they have not achieved any of the agendas outlined. In most cases, leaders focus on their self-interest rather than those of the citizens thus they end up failing.
We all know PDP’s shortcomings, but the most important is what the opposition’s got to offer. What have they promised and what is contained in APC’S manifesto? They should stop telling us what PDP is not doing. It is the high time they told us what their plans were and ways to achieve them. APC and PDP should campaign on how to move Nigeria forward.
Olaitan is @Mayjorh on Twitter