By Wale Adebisi
Since 1954 regional election in Nigeria, the political space has been standing on three tripod stand of ethnicity, religion and nepotism. It is based on this, that the late sage Chief Obafemi Awolowo described Nigeria as a mere geographical expression and further declared that each region represent its political interest but Nigeria belongs to all.
The reflection of this regional election truly represented the interest of each region and their ethnic Nationalities. Therefore, the parties; NPC, NCNC, AG and NEPU that contested election could not muster sufficient number of votes that could form the government at the center.
In view of this, the NPC in the North which had the highest numbers of votes because of their wider geographical size and population strength, according to the British disputed 1953 census, could not form the government at the center because it lacked majority it needed to form alliance with either Action Group or NCNC. We should not forget that the NPC which is the Northern party is predominantly conservative and rightwing in perspective and tendency.
The idea to have an alliance with Action group which is progressive tendency to form the government at the center was not a welcome proposal by the British colonial Administration. This is because the Manifestos of the Action Group pursued vigorously, social democracy with programmes of free education, free health, rural development, massive infrastructural development, school pupils feeding, agricultural development etc.
The colonial government did not want this to happen to Nigeria, therefore, encouraged the NPC to form the government with Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe of the N.C.N.C party which shared the same conservative ideology and programmes with the NPC. This was also the situation in 1963 election when Chief Ladoke Akintola, the premier of the Western region dumped the Action Group to form his own party NNDP and went into alliance with the main stream party of the NPC at the center.
This election was greeted with massive rejection in the west with destruction of lives and property. It was this situation of crisis and insecurity that lingered on to the first military coup d’état in Nigeria in 1966 which later advanced to a full blown thirty months civil war that ended in 1970.
However, the country witnessed military rule till 1978 when General Obasanjo decided to hand over to the civil rule in 1979. The election of the second republic was similar to that of the first republic.
The National party of Nigeria (NPN) could not win the majority votes to form the government, there was the need for the party to form alliance with another party. The Unity party of Nigeria came second in the election while the Nigerian People’s Party (NPP) came third. The NPN again formed an alliance with the NPP which is Dr. Azikwe’s Party so as to form the government between 1979 and 1983.
However, in 1983, there were spirited efforts by the parties with progressive ideology to form a coalition of PPA – People Progressive Alliance which could not fly due to some ideological differences, mutual distrust and leadership questions. The 1983 election witnessed the most disgusting election manipulation in our history with monumental corruption and executive lawlessness which ushered in the 1984 military rule headed by General Muhammodu Buhari and General Tunde Idiagbon. The ousted of the duo brought in General Babagida for eight years under which there were many political experiments.
It was within this experiment that a politico-bureau was set up to do a national survey on the type of political systems that is suitable for the country. The outcome of the survey was that people subscribed to social democracy with progressive programmes and ideology. At this point, the bureau recommended two political parties for the country which are National Republican Convention (NRC) and Social Democratic Party (SDP). The former represent the conservative rightwing with Bashir Tofa as the presidential flag bearer while the latter with Chief M.K.O Abiola as SDP presidential flag bearer represented progressive agenda.
The election of 1992 truly reflected a much wider progressive government as represented in the manifesto of SDP and symbolized in the personality of Chief M.K.O Abiola. The annulment of the June 12 election was the coup d’état which truncated political aspiration of the Nigerian people.
The fourth republic started in 1999 with the conservative rightwing formed by the military constituency represented by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in power till 2007. Though, the former military head of state was so much obsessed with power that he muted the idea of third term agenda which was rejected by the Nigerian populace. After the exit of Chief Obasanjo, the idea for a conglomerate party to form alliance came to the front burner of political scene again with infusion of All Nigerian People’s Party (ANPP), Action Congress (AC), All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and some other parties.
This alliance failed to fly at the formation stage. The urgent need to change the political fortune of this country was successfully ripped in 2013 when about five political parties came together again to form All Progressives Congress (APC) to contest election in 2015 and won at the center for the first time in the political history of Nigeria.
Similarly, it was the first time that Nigerians will generally experience progressive government with progressive policies and programmes, which is pro-people in nature. This also, will be the first experience of ordinary Nigerians to have a feel of the country leadership coming to the door step of the grassroot people to offer them social interventions to boost their trades in the name of trader money, market money etc.
It is also the first time that the children of the under privileged at the primary school level will be given free school meal. It also affords the elderly Nigerians to be given what is called conditional cash transfer C.C.T. This is the first experience of the youth to be productively empowered through N-Power programme to reduce the massive youth unemployment. All these social benefits do not warrant anybody knowing somebody before accessing the privilege.
Nigerians should owe it a responsibility to re-affirm their faith in a government that openly and generally takes care of their needs by casting their votes for the APC government of Muhammadu Buhari and Professor Yemi Osinbajo come Feb 16, 2019 as their party programme is basically for the common good for the common man.
This is a call to responsibility and a clarion call to history. The Saturday February 16, 2019, general election is indeed a decisive battle of history for the progressives to finally establish their hegemony of political powers and leadership for the purpose of serving the citizen of the country.