Monday 3 January 2011

Nigeria: Juvenile Party Shopping and Hopping

Party hop-scotch

It is almost a waste of time reading about political carpet-crossings [1] in Nigerian politics. It was hardly two days ago that I told a friend that Nigerian political party structures are weak and peopled by persons without principles, ideology, allegiance or common loyalty.

I have predicted that the next president of Nigeria would be the aspirant running on the platform of the ruling party and that is really where the contest for federal leadership is.

This is because the ruling party has a broader network within Nigeria than all the other parties which appear to be regional in where they exercise power.

When other parties contested the results of the 2007 elections, they put forward the weakest case possible; the ruling party had 70% of the votes and the gubernatorial elections gave them 26 out of 36 states – the prosecution based their case on evidence from 4 states which could in no way overturn or annul the election even if the courts found in their favour.

Expediency of incumbency

The issue of political immaturity is made with news that so close to elections there are mass movements by malcontents between parties, all to the end of emerging in control of the situation.

For instance, the erstwhile Minister of Information, as both the propaganda mouthpiece of the government and in some cases speaking in the name of the ruling party, has now decided to run for the Senate but the party in government in her home state is not the ruling party.

In effect, she has defected to the party that offers her the best chance of taking office rather than fight on the platform of the party that she was a political mouthpiece of for over 3 years.

It is opportunistic and the politics of expediency and that is how our politicians play the game.

The politics of egos

The politics we have are not those of persuasion, policy or ideas, they are vehicles for egomaniacal influence, if a personality does not get their way in their party they look for other parties ready to give them the opportunity to usurp positions that would naturally have gone to those who have loyally pledged their allegiances breeding a new set of disaffected people who seek other platforms to launch from. A kind of Last In - First Considered ploy.

In essence, a whole new set of dictums materialise; patience is a virtue as long as it is the other man; compromise is reached as long as it is my view; consensus is agreed upon if I can lead – failing all that, we’ll throw all our toys out the pram and wail till another party pacifies us with the dummy of being in charge.

Where our politics is lacking

This is where our democracy fails us woefully, there is no clear indication of political inclination as to whether parties are of the right, the left, social-democrat, conservative, liberal, socialist or anything. Even the so-called Labour Party only bears that in name, the workings are down to personalities, the power and influence they can wield and their prowess in one-upmanship or brinkmanship.

It is a shame that despite that seeming maturity in age of the contenders their affectations are juvenile and worthy of serious derisive condemnation; one can only wonder if the constant flux of allegiances would eventually yield reliable, responsible and accountable government but people who have left one party for another should not automatically assume commensurate authority and supposed leadership in their new parties.

If they have not been able to persuade their old parties of their views, ideas, purposes and concerns surely they cannot suddenly become the best faces for the new parties they have joined, if anything, giving them power simply creates a disruptive influence in the new party helping the party they have left coalesce with the personalities they left behind.


[1] » Exodus as Saraki, Shagaya, Ladoja, Akume, Bwari leave PDP - Vanguard (Nigeria)


CodLiverOil said...

Thank you for the detail. I can't say it was eye opening, as I had long ago concluded that those involved in politics there are immature like many of their counterparts throughout sub-Saharan Africa. (You are aware I voiced my opinion on the piece you did on the Ivorian crisis of 2010)

The question is in the case of Nigeria. Is this just a symptom of the shallow roots of democracy within Nigeria that will die out with time as "democracy" endures?

Or is this the height of what we can expect from democracy? And that successive politicians will perpetuate the self-destructive patterns of behaviour that their predecessors have displayed?

Akin Akintayo said...

Hello CodLiverOil,

Indeed, those are questions with no easy answers.

However, if people who switch parties have a Last In - First Considered influence in their new parties, this would continually be a problem.

I do not know if our democracy has the potential to mature with people of similar ideologies which might include greed and self-promotion coalesce but it is a problem that needs some serious analysis and solutions.


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