by Mark Amaza
There has rarely been a more interesting period in Nigerian politics than the one we are presently in. About a month ago, the mega-opposition party, the All Progressives’ Congress (APC) was finally registered after months of intrigues. Shortly after, the Peoples’ Democratic Movement (PDM) said to be composed of disenchanted members of the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) including Vice President Atiku Abubakar (who admitted that his associates were behind the new party) was registered. There is now talk of some governors registering their own party, called the Voice of the People (VOP). This is not to mention other parties such as the Labour Party (LP) and the All Progressives’ Grand Alliance (APGA) who in all truth, are actually lackeys of the PDP (they endorsed the PDP candidate in 2011 Presidential Elections and will likely do same in 2015).
While some people are excited about these new developments, mostly by the prospect that the PDP might be in opposition for the first time ever since 1999, especially as there is a lot of discontent about how the PDP has performed way below expectations, I fail to share in their excitement. All I see are new parties with funny acronyms as though they are part of an alphabet soup.
The reason for my lack of excitement is that none of these parties have convinced me why I should support them with a view to casting my vote for them in the next elections. None of these parties has stated with conviction how they will solve any of our pressing issues differently from the present government. Even the APC that recently released a lengthy manifesto did not elucidate how they intend to solve Nigeria’s problems; rather, they gave vague proposals, many of which will not stand up under careful scrutiny.
What is worse is even that two of these new parties are splits from the ruling PDP. But in a departure from the schisms in political parties caused by differences in ideologies between members, this one is strictly about the political actors positioning themselves for the 2015 elections. They did not disagree on the way to fight corruption, or tackle power shortage or wean Nigeria off oil dependence. No, they disagreed on whether President Goodluck Jonathan was entitled to a second term in office, who should control the party structures in the state, etc. Simples!
All these present the smart voter – a voter who does not want to vote based on sentiments or being carried away by shows and inducements, but rather on promise of performance – a sort of conundrum. On the surface, he seems to have more options to choose from. However, in truth, he has less choices. After all, what is the difference between six and half a dozen?
For example, one would have expected these opposition parties to seize upon the present strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) which has kept millions of university students at home to lay their proposal on how to revolutionize education in Nigeria. Instead, what we have heard from them is a stony silence.
It is sad that while Nigerians are desperate for a solution to the many problems bedeviling them, politicians are using their desperation to chart their own political careers. What is even worse is that these politicians are notoriously short-sighted, as they think only in four-year terms without any regard for how their actions could impact the nation for possibly very long periods of time.
With the way things are going, how can we be sure that there won’t be cross-carpeting as 2015 approaches and the politics intensifies? Even worse, how sure are we that the new parties themselves wouldn’t become hotbeds of political strife, forcing some members to yet again register their own parties? After all, party formation is the new decamping.
It is very important for these politicians and the parties being formed to give the electorate a compelling reason as to why they will be better than the present government. Even though it is easy to assume that the great majority of voters are not smart enough nor do they care about policies and ideologies, having an ideology are a way to ensure the long-term survival of the party.
Not only that, it is entirely possible to be able to marry raw political ambition with passion for genuine change for people, as politics ought to be played.
The multiplicity of political parties in our country should mean a multitude of ideas on how to solve problems to choose from, and not more of the same.
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