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Party tyranny and our ailing President

By Morenike Taire

THE one great failing of the democratic form of government, nonetheless far outweighed by its strengths, is its heavy dependence on the party system.

A party is a group of people, amongst other accepted definitions, with political ambitions and ideological standpoints in common. A ruling party, therefore, is more likely to  have  a more common goal  to lord it over the ruled, and to impose its own will.

This will, being usually extremist from the standpoint of the rest of the people, is not always for the common good. This is why a balance in ideology of major political parties is not a want but a necessity in any democracy.

While developed democracies in other parts of the world appear to have developed a balancing as close to even as their systems would allow, we appear to be struggling, or not even making an effort at all.

The struggle between socialist and capitalist ideologies of the last century pre and post cold war resulted at first in a bipolar, and later in a triploid sort of balance. In the bipolar scenario, the political left was believed to represent socialism and communism in their many variations, while the right was believed to be free market, conservative and capitalist.

In these post-modern times, even those have been balanced out  by the ‘middle’, which, in the UK, for example, consists of parties  like the Green Party, which everyone knows will not win any major elections anytime soon in spite of winning, in the London elections in 2008, more than 100 parish councillorships, 125 Principal Authority councillorships , two memberships of the London Assembly and two memberships of the European Parliament..

Perhaps this scenario it was that Obasanjo was attempting to simulate when he put such great roadblocks in the path of those trying to register more political parties in his first term, a battle he lost in the end to proponents of freedom of participation in the nation’s politics.

Of the dozens of new parties that emerged or evolved, none was able to feel the yawning gap created by the absence of a credible balance to the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). If anything, the major opposition lost so much ground in 2007 that one wonders if it will ever regain ground.

And if the PDP has no clear ideological positions on various issues, the parties that are supposed to balance it do not either, and simply appear either to be more of the same or gatherings of disgruntled elements of the political society.

While it is possible, even easy, to see at first glance what political entities  such as the Green Party stand for, it is not the same for Nigeria’s Fresh Party, for example, which had planned to take the 2007 elections by storm as the major alternative.

Needless to say, the ruling party has lorded it over us in the last 10 years, on the executive as well as the legislative levels and even when there are internal disagreements such as the one presently rocking in Anambra or the Obasanjo/ Atiku saga of 2006/2007, the common quest for power keeps that party in government, at least so far.

On-going debate over whether or not ailing President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua ought to resign or not is turning out to be hopeless, even useless. Talk has been heard- while having been denied- of plans to get Vice President Goodluck Jonathan to resign from his office in the event of the President’s demise (God forbid!) so that the party’s zoning of the presidency to the North will hold.

If indeed this ever happens (and we are assured it will not), the people of the Niger Delta who have sometimes tied their woes to the absence of minorities in the Federal State House are bound to be none too pleased, even if the Vice President himself had been privy to this plan from the beginning and had been in submission to it. No doubt about it: there will be trouble.

Possible consequences of internal affairs of the PDP negatively affecting the greater good in a mostly negative way instructs that the people demand, from the present administration as well as from party hierarchies, specifically for a step by step plan of events following the demise of the present, considering present circumstances.

It is the workability or otherwise of such a plan that ought to be debatable. Calls for the President’s resignation at this time are, at best, premature and unnecessary.

Whether or not the President resigns at this moment is the least of Nigeria’s problems.

Bank jobs: To cut or not to cut
NOW that initial rumours have been confirmed of Nigerian banks -both passed and failed- rationalizing and cutting down on staff, initial confidence in the CBN and its ability to predict outcomes of policy.

Trouble is, CBN never promised it would be easy, and it might well not be. The question no one seems to be agreed upon now is whether it was necessary.


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