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The Romance and Beauty of Politics in Nigeria

A  Simplistic Analysis of Party Politics

By Adisa Adeleye
If politics could be roughly described as the art of governance of a state and the Nigerian 1999 Constitution recognises only candidates nominated by parties, the mad rush by politicians to secure party sponsorship should be clearly understood, if not absolutely approved.

It might, at times, be appropriate to question the rationale behind the great rush of some otherwise respected citizens into politics which is often described by many as a dirty game.    It is puzzling to watch the number of candidates vying for elective political posts, whether that of President, State Governor or of Local Council or Chairman [often referred to as ‘The Chair‘].

Nigerians in politics are neither amiss or remiss but clear strong advocates of Democracy which encourages multiplicity of parties.

It is clear that the old Athenian Philosopher,  Aristotle could be blamed when he said that ‘ it is evident that the state is a creation of nature, and that man is by nature a political animal‘.  Therefore;  the influx of many Nigerians into a political jungle is quite natural.

It is their firm belief that democracy, in order to survive, needs the practice of party_ politics even if to Chief Obasanjo, ‘the Greeks that bestowed democracy on the world did practice it without political parties‘.  Perhaps this personal belief  characterised  Obasanjo‘s apparent hostile attitude towards opposition when he was in power.

To him and the leaders of his party, the ruling party should be allowed to continue to rule indefinitely under a one party state.  To his followers, multi party bickering is definitely a luxury the country could not afford.

If democracy favours periodic elections to gauge the feelings of the people or the pulse of the nation, the ruling caste has a ready made answer to ensure continous rule.  That is a perfected mode of rigging.  Could an election be free and fair?   There is much confusion associated with an election which appears free but not fair if the electoral officials fail in the discharge of their responsibilities.

As an example, the 2003 Governorship Election in Anambra State was adjudged to be free but certainly not fair as noted by the Court of  Appeal .

Courts in the various States have ruled on the fairness or otherwise of elections in many areas and others are still testing the fairness of governorship elections, in Osun and Ekiti etc.

It has been noted that in this country, electoral malpractices in many places have been aided by disqualification of eligible voters and candidates, appointment or party members and workers as electoral officials and refusal to count votes or refusal to endorse results of validly counted votes.  At many voting centers, officials and voting materials would suddenly disappear and vanish like ghosts for them to surface at the collation centers with stuffed boxes containing thumb printed materials.

Even where Tribunals and higher courts have invalidated some elections, the beauty of the case is spoiled by a re-run which gives the rigger another opportunity to perfect his act or art.

It is a matter of joy  that many Nigerians of all parties are talking seriously about electoral reforms.  It is a credit to President Yar‘Adua to have appointed Justice Uwais Commission.  It is a credit to Justice Uwais and his able team to have produced an acceptable report [by the people within the stipulated time.  It is puzzling that the National Assembly has not reacted promptly and fairly to a pressing issue.

CODER and other patriotic bodies should carry on their good job until victory is won when the individual vote would count.   It should be taken seriously that a contestant should not select the umpire as it is being practised at the moment.

The struggle for electoral reforms is a fight for effective multi party system to survive in a democratic environment.  Leaders should be genuine leaders,  freely chosen by the people.  The problem is that there are many in the corridors of power without legitimacy.

The scenario is that after forty_nine years of Independence,  ten years of democracy and a month to the golden month of December, there is still substantial power eclipse [disturbing erratic power supply];  our roads remain unsafe and valleys, dangerous, drinking water still remains an unsolved problem,  filth and disease ravage our urban areas as a result of congestion arising out of rural depopulation;  life is unsafe both day and night because of security inadequacies; medical care is over_stretched and food problem has become acute in urban areas which sets the stage for hunger and anger.

Amidst the perplexing confusion and crash of national confidence, politicians who have not, at the moment, performed beyond expectation are busy preparing for 2011.  The complex problems of unemployment still loom large in a country with diminishing utilized capacity in manufacturing industry, and uncertainties pervading the political horizon.

In Nigeria, party politics does not exist except on the pages of Newspapers.  What is on ground is a self perpetuating ruling class enthroned under dubious circumstances [certainly not by the votes of the people but perhaps by those of ghosts, cattles and fishes] bent on crushing the opposition either by brute force or subtle inducements of money and  juicy political posts.

Since money is the base of politics in Nigeria, some do succumb easily to those dangerous entreaties either by  ‘crossing the carpet‘ or by carefully contrived marriages.  The occasions have also been shamefully celebrated with pomp and pageantry.

It looks as if what the country needs is a cooling  off period of about three years [under a genuine National Government] to tackle comprehensively our many complex problems as piecemeal, slow and unsteady approach of the National Assembly is not the right answer, but a waste of valuable time and resources.

It may be naïve to expect the  country‘s legislators [majority of whom perhaps had been elected under flawed electoral legislation to consider seriously any reform that would sweep away  privileges  allegedly acquired by fraud.
Nigeria‘s politics is sweet and beautiful  a life of opulence and power for anybody who could, through any means,  secure a ruling party‘s nod for anything.

As for the invisible opposition, [if there is a credible one,  the hope lies in the true Electoral Reform, which unfortunately, is being ridiculed by the ruling class.

The  truth is that the present government is trying in its own moderate way to move the country forward.  However, mediocrity howbeit, conscientious cannot lead the nation to that ultimate GREATNESS.


Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.