by Favour Afolabi
I wish to congratulate the All Progressive Congress (APC) for their merger talks. I have always believed in a two-party plus independent candidature arrangement as I still believe the most competitive times we ever had with the democratic experiment in this country was the SDP v NRC era.
I have always believed this 100-party arrangement where everyone can just register parties to collect grants from INEC all in the name of multi-party democracy was rather dubious. While some may argue that the USA also has many other parties aside the GOP and Democratic Parties, I still believe what we have had for a long time is unnecessarily expensive; wastes the time of the polity in picking the right options and reduces the opportunity to test out the intellectual package of candidates and their respective campaigns.
So perhaps we should have the PDP, APC, some other standalones like Labour Party, Accord Party that can have alliances from time to time with these two parties to win differing political seats; and of course Independent Candidature
There would now be no opportunities to hide under the excuse of “The PDP is too big to beat” or “The PDP only wins elections via rigging” just as “the Opposition” would now not also be able to deliver sub-standard services to the states/constituencies they run because they hitherto knew that the citizens would always be willing to forgive them unconditionally “since they are not the PDP.”
At the end of the day, the real winner here would be the electorate and the polity in general. Politicians would have lesser excuses not to deliver; the chances of better representation would probably help more intellectuals, accomplished professionals and private sector practitioners to join politics; outspoken members of civil society would possibly have a shot as well and we can finally begin to see th semblance of competitive democratic dispensation that we always dreamed of.
To the PDP I say – “Congratulations” as well. You have always called for more competition within our politics so you can show to Nigerians that you are really worth the confidence they have put in you all these years in the center. And perhaps being able to compete against fewer options would also give you an opportunity to win back some of the states and constituencies that you have been hitherto locked out of as well; areas where others have made their exclusive domains.
Guess what – you might just still be able to win back this polity as regards “Aso Rock” in 2015 if the Power Privatization Process yields the much expected results.
As an individual I am not addicted to the replacement of the PDP rather I am thrilled with the prospects of competition within our politics; one that would always be able to produce the best options for every office from the LGA to the FGN levels.
I am looking forward to real TV debates with not more than 3-5 people on the podium; not those never-ending series of debates among 100 candidates running for the same office that runs for weeks.
I also look forward to having more intense debates with a lot of people who have always considered me a “PDP apologist” as I also hope to put them under the radar when the APC is able to win key offices hitherto occupied by the PDP – hoping they would also be able to criticize the party for any misdemeanors or shortcomings as they used to do with the PDP.
This of course has always been one of the major concerns that I have about this polity – the separation of civil society from the opposition. As much as they can align on many other issues the former must equally be willing and able to speak up against the latter when the need arises rather than taking the politically accurate route of looking the other way so they don’t appear to be weakening the position of the opposition.
One other good thing about this new development is that some members of the PDP who have been locked out of the party would be able to come back into politics having the option of joining either of the divides as both would definitely be “scouting” for more experienced and probably competent hands to boost their profile and rankings. Such people who Dr Reuben Abati metaphorically described as “Yesterday’s men” would probably be able to prove him wrong that they still stand a chance of joining him on “Today’s men list” as they hopefully bring the wealth of experience they have acquired in the public service and politics over the years to bring “to work” here.
Yet my greatest excitement is reserved for the Legislature – State and National. This arm of government which I have always cautioned remains the most key yet most under-scrutinized within our democratic process. I look forward to real challenges to the usual status quo of “Winner takes it all” here where the party that sits in the government house almost always automatically controls the legislature”
I am looking forward to a National assembly controlled by the APC, and other opposition elements even if the PDP secures Aso Rock or vice versa. I am looking forward to a PDP-controlled Lagos State House of Assembly even if Alausa continues to be ran from Bourdillon Road and of course vice versa. I want to see a mix of these in all the 36 states of the country between 2015 and 2019 and I challenge INEC and the Political parties to consider and in fact agree to “mid-term elections” similar to what obtains in America where the legislative seats are sought at different times from the Presidential elections.
I do not want the replacement of one “supposed unquestionable autocracy” with another rather I want real competition that causes everyone to sit up – that causes some to abandon politics because they now know their intellectual weaknesses to deal with the real issues of governing a nation as complex as Nigeria would be fully exposed for all to see; I want geniuses who although young know they would be able to revolutionalize the face of our politics and National development to be thrown up; I want more technocrats like Adewunmi Adesina and Omobola Johnson who have excelled in their chosen careers to find their way into public services even when not “voted for” to be “appointed” by those who are and please this age limits within our electoral act must removed and immediately as well!
In closing, let me say Congratulations to all of you folks who have fought for [and possibly prayed for] this to happen; let’s now hope that some “party big wigs” within these to-be-merged-parties don’t “scatter” this entire thing for selfish reasons coming back to blame the PDP “as being responsible for infiltrating their ranks” – that would just be so so sad!