By Josef Omorotionmwan
HOW are the myriads of political parties in Nigeria today different from one another? Well, they bear different names and shout fairly different slogans. The two leading parties heave different abuses on each other.
When we were growing up, we thought the politicians of old were rigid to a fault. For example, we did not think it was good politics that our highly respected political father, Chief Humphrey Omo-Osagie (AKA B2) of the NCNC fame did not know when to change over to the Action Group, AG, the party in power in then Western Region. That way, he would have attracted a lot of development to the present Edo Land – as the Chief Obafemi Awolowo-led AG administration was bulldozing everywhere in the core West.
Rather Chief Omo-Osagie was clinging tenaciously to the NCNC, which was in power across the Niger; and had nothing to offer when it came to developing our part of the country. That was when each party had an ideological stand point and was known for something, realising that those who stood for nothing could easily fall for anything.
Even as recent as the Second Republic, when you entered into a Unity Party of Nigeria, UPN, territory, you did not need to be told. You saw visible signs of education. When you entered into a National Party of Nigeria, NPN, territory, you saw visible signs of housing and what was also dubiously called the Green Revolution. In the middle of nowhere, houses sprang up overnight; and in pursuit of the agrarian revolution, simple farm implements like hoes and cutlasses were distributed to rural farmers. People were glued to their parties and they were prepared to swim or sink with such parties.
But today, there is no ideological difference between the parties. Each State Governor implements whatever programme appeals to him, sans party manifestoes.
Since all parties are now virtually the same, parties have no special appeals to individuals. People now stand where they can quickly grab political power and run with it. That also explains why in a single week, it is now possible for a smart politician to be a member of seven political parties – not concurrently but consecutively. On Sunday, he is in Genesis Political Party, GPP; by Monday afternoon, he moves over to Exodus Supreme Party, ESP, and so on … so that by Saturday evening, he is seen in Abuja, announcing his entry into the Judges of Excellence Party, JEP.
You would not blame the politicians if you know the celebration and accolade that await them with every new move. Time was when these movers were required to produce their membership cards of the old party for destruction by the new party; but not anymore!
Our Electoral Umpire – the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, may not be helping matters, either. It earnestly strives to produce as many parties as the people. We almost got carried away when sometime ago, INEC announced the pruning down of the parties to a manageable number; but just last week, the same INEC announced the re-emergence of a myriad of “new political parties”. The number of political parties in Nigeria is a matter for conjecture, even to INEC authorities. Parties have since lost their luster and so died!
Nigerians are clever people. Politicians have since turned politics to a win-win enterprise. When you loose, you win! Last week, GPP went to Abuja for its National Convention. After a long night of jamboree and back-slapping, a list of successful party officials emerged.
The supposed losers needed just a few hours to turn themselves to winners. They have since rented an equally imposing Secretariat; announced a parallel Executive and christened themselves the “fresh GPP”. This takes after the event of 2013, when in a similar Convention, the acclaimed losers wasted no time in announcing the formation of the New-GPP that soon found itself at the middle of a mega-party arrangement. Today, that splinter group, so-called, occupies the drivers seats in the current administration.
This zero-sum game does not end here. It carries over to the Legislative and Judicial branches of government. It is a programme of parallelism at the legislative level. All you need is to instigate a small problem; throw a few punches; and struggle a bit for the maze. At the end of the day, every party in the House withdraws to form its own parallel Assembly. We are reminded that in Rivers and Edo States, the Fifth Assemblies were run under the parallel Structures. In Rivers State, the parallel Assemblies were named after the arrow heads – the Amaechi Assembly and the Wike Assembly, in Edo State, they were called the PDP and APC Assemblies, each with its full complement of Principal Officers and Committee Chairmen. The system produces only winners, no losers.
The last instrument in the hands of the politician is the use of force. If all else fail, brute force never fails. In September 2014, thugs in Ado-Ekiti sacked the Gubernatorial Election Petitions Tribunal beat the Tribunal Chairman and Members to pulp. They were mistaken for dead after their cars and everything in sight had been destroyed and all record books were in shreds.
Close to four years after, it is only in Nigeria that such a case could be lying comfortably under the carpet as our security agencies “are on top of the situation trying to fish out the hoodlums and their sponsors”. We are aware that Ayodele Fayose, the Governor-elect of Ekiti State, as he then was, had asserted unequivocally, “Most of our Judges have compromised. The strategy of APC will not work. Nobody, no matter how highly placed, would remove me cheaply. It would not be too cheap like Segun Oni. I am not going to be cheap at all because I am elected by the people”.
If in the desperate bid of the politicians to win at all cost they reduce the Judiciary workers to endangered species, then, the idea of a life assurance policy for Judges and other court functionaries may not be a bad one. This is a critical segment of our population.