By Wale Bakare
As the APC Congress draws near, political patronage is central to what ails the political party administration viz-a-viz system of governance.
We must not continue depicting Nigeria as a soft state and a weak nation, where it is unable to apply the law equally to all its citizens.
It is no longer news that our political parties and institutions are captives of the oligarchy and serve mostly their interest and that of the few rich allies and powerful politicians. Our leaders failed to unite and inspire our diverse peoples as a nation.
These are symptoms of political patronage, peripherals feeding on themselves, defining us after many decades of this practice.
Our dysfunctional democracy gets its root from failed party system and administration is one that can best be described as a failure of an electoral system to excise the virus of the politics of patronage that has infected our so-called elections.
This vicious politics of patronage has allowed few oligarchs and bosses to rule us from colonial times to post-colonial times, and their rule has brought us nothing but a facade of democracy, its mirage but not its miracle.
Furthermore, the agenda of the oligarchy, the political dynasties, clans and cabals who get their candidates sponsored by their overburdened influences in party administration and get elected allow their legitimate capture of state institutions.
They build on this dominance and perpetuate themselves in power, positions and wealth. It is unfortunate that all these deformities are intertwined and protected by the lapses of adhering to our 1999 Constitution. And this clearly call for a paradigm shift both from the political parties and to the system of governance.
The best that can happen to any of our political parties is having an enigmatic leadership that is full of energy, vibrancy, intellectualism, focus-driven and free of all liability baggages. The country needs leaders who will lead and not hide behind the power to escape accountability. There must be an agenda with patriotism as the hallmark for all those seeking party and public offices. Those that don’t require us reading between the lines. At this time what we don’t need are the many of them that usually go to the extent of using God in courting votes but they’re actually after their personal interests. As the public expect more drama to unfold, the bunch of aspirants seeking the Chairmanship of the party is a welcome development for a party in governance. And this is starring the party and its various leadership groupings.
Other political alliances may also step in as the election fever heats up. At this point, however, neither of those in the old class or maintaining status quo deserve a place in the new party leadership, the APC deserve it better now than ever to maintain the lead and improve its electoral fortunes. To all of the aspirants to the Chairmanship, the decision to go for it should be as sacred as going to the poll booth to vote. Since the vote is sacred, there is a bigger responsibility on the part of potential leaders to decide and prepare to be a leader of this party and country. The APC vision of the future and the nation
A Chairmanship candidate must bring before the APC members, by extension the people, a vision of the future and the nation, which he will strive to realise if he is fortunate enough to get elected. That vision must be personal, shared by his party and supporters if he is lucky. He cannot substitute for this the vision or record of his predecessor or political godfathers; in the end he must lead alone. Any of the aspirants could quickly become serious and viable candidate for the party’s highest office if he can do things differently when he announce his candidacy in the coming party Congress ones he can do the needful. First, he should run on a platform of conviction politics – of his fundamental values as a new breed politician, and what he believe will best serve the party and its purposes.
Second, he should go against the grain of the entrenched political culture of dynastic politics, sectionalism, favouritism, money politics, parasitism on the public payroll, cronyism and patronage. From the foregoing, it will not be out of place to give a brief of the possible contenders to the position of National Chairman of the APC. In recent weeks, names of former governors, ex-ministers and serving senators such as Tanko Al-Makura, Danjuma Goje, George Akume, Abdulaziz Yari, Mallam Saliu Mustapha, Abdullahi Adamu and Mohammed Sani Musa have been well pronounced as the likely successor to the former national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole.
No doubt, they are all eminently qualified and loyal to the party; one of the most unassuming contenders on everyone’s lips is Senator Mohammed Sani Musa – the Senator representing Niger east in the 9th Senate. Senator Sani Musa can quickly become a credible and potentially winning candidate if he can mold a vision for the party which will eventually translate to the nation and the future that the people can believe in, Musa is a plausible alternative candidate because he has chalked up a long and creditable record of service in both private and public sectors, his performance especially in the legislature stands him high despite been in it for just a little more than two years. The exercise of power will not be foreign to him. Senator Sani Musa longtime student and observer of the Nigerian political space, he must have been learning the scheming skills a goal getter and researching more on what a candidate must bring to the office in order to succeed as a true party leader. It can well be said that this coming APC Congress will be an election about the future, not the past. Hence the real intentions of those seeking party and public office must be ideologically defined and promoted on the basis of shifting grounds from the status quo to a “new vision – new direction” doctrine that Senator Musa so believed in.
Conviction politics needed
Despite APC seeking a consensus to the emergence of a new Chairman, conviction politics should be the main drive; the party need someone that will campaign based on his own fundamental values or ideas rather than attempting to represent an existing consensus or simply take positions that are popular in polls. And from various analysis it is keen to mention that only a thorough-breed new political actor can best be described to fit in to this category and from all indications Senator Sani Musa is on this radar. There are a number of arguments for conviction politics of Senator Musa.
One is that he is seen to be more honest to be accepted by the various interest and groups that form the APC; he is a politician that simply say what he believe rather than shading his opinions to be more palatable to his audience. Another is that he is always voicing strong opinions, push public debate forward and promote a genuine discussion of political issues. Even if he lose, he will have promoted his particular political ideas and persuaded some voters of his value. There are also more instrumental reasons why Sen. Musa is best for the party at this time. He is known to be forceful in arguing for his positions during deliberations and campaigns, he is a politician that many believe he will be more able to pursue the goals of transforming the party once in office. Also, proponents argue that a conviction politician like Sen. Musa is more likely to win.
When he was a candidate to the Senate in 2011 for his Senatorial District, Sani Musa stated: “As usual and more often, our way of playing politics has been so cruelly, but for me one of the deepest connection I have with others is to disagree and agree, I do not shy away from speaking the truth and they know at least that I will tell the truth.” While some strategists focus on positioning candidates on issue after issue, for Senator Musa he believes that most voters focus more on whether the candidate has integrity and character on the whole than mere propaganda, and this is the hallmark of demonstrating the conviction that he is a man that always take a stand, which is what the APC need most at this time. Pundits argued that coming APC leadership should position the party for big, bold changes, grounded in the central principles of the driver’s ideology.
The party needs selfless, self-made and contented personality, who cannot be compromised easily with mouth watering offers, but a honourable decisive personality that will set policies for the party based on clear and firmly held principles and which many believe Senator Sani Musa can accomplish for the APC. A need for a new Political culture Reform of the political culture is another challenge APC next Chairman must address because Nigeria politics has been disfigured by practices and false values that have festered for many decades.
Political culture is defined by the International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences as “the set of attitudes, beliefs and sentiments which give order and meaning to a political process, and which provide the underlying assumptions and rules that govern behavior in the political system.” It encompasses both the political ideals and operating norms of a polity. Political culture is thus the manifestation in aggregate form of the psychological and subjective dimensions of politics. A political culture is the product of both the collective history of a political system and the life histories of the members of the system and thus it is rooted equally in public events and private experience.
Nigeria politics will never mature for as long as we are unwilling to end dynastic politics, reject cronyism and check money politics in our elections. Whoever happens to be the Chairman of APC will face a herculean task of fixing the mess that has shrouded the party just as it is same with PDP and all other political parties in Nigeria. Despite all the challenges that the APC is facing as a party and by extension as a nation, the unwavering desire of Sani Musa’s “new vision new direction” will truly bring back the trust and confidence of a new beginning which will be reassuring to the teaming APC party faithfuls nation wide.
Bakare, a public commentator and analyst, wrote from Abuja.