BY YAYA ADEMOLA
TRADITIONALLY, a political party is supposed to be the vehicle for the people of like minds and same ideology to win elections into government with the ultimate agenda to influence public policy in tandem with their party ideological disposition. It is this ideological leaning that determines whether a political party is progressive or conservative. In today’s Nigeria, especially with respect to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the major opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), there is no clear demarcation between the two. In fact, politicians jump from APC to its Siamese PDP twins and vice versa anytime there is political quarrel on who gets what towards electioneering, since there is no strict binding ideology in the two parties apart from being a platform to actualise personal political ambitions.
Mostly across the world, people vote on ideas, principles which define right, left and centre. The agenda is to move society forward by forcing contending parties when in power to implement its policies in order to retain or lose power at the subsequent election. Right wing parties enrich sections of the middle class and upper layers of the working class to create mass base while left wing parties redistribute wealth to galvanise the poor. In our own case, the two enormously right wing billionaires will be contesting under the platform of two biggest parties on the basis of rotational presidency without any ideological difference, as over centralisation of power at the centre has become the central plank. This artificial North and South demarcation has replaced left/right wing politics, putting elections on regional and parochial issues instead of contending developmental principles.
The incumbent PDP National Chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, emanated from the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP) and was elected a Senator and emerged as Senate President under that platform in the third Republic (1992-1993). He joined PDP in 1999 where he assisted in campaign to elect General Olusegun Obasanjo which fetched him various ministerial positions between 1999 and 2007. In April 2007, he switched to Action Congress (AC) as the head of the campaign to elect former Vice President Atiku Abubakar as the President under AC platform.
The incumbent APC National Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, was a pioneer member of the defunct National Party of Nigeria (NPN) and in fact, first Secretary-General of the party in Plateau State in December 1978 and the party chairman in the state from 1982 to 1983 when the military struck. He became a founding member of PDP in 1998 where he emerged as Nasarawa State Governor for two terms (1999-2007) and in 2007 when he left office, he won election into the Senate on the PDP platform to represent Nasarawa West Senatorial District. He, with other 10 PDP Senators, thereafter joined APC on January 29th, 2014. Nasarawa was carved out of old Plateau State on 1st October, 1996 like Osun was carved out of old Oyo State on 27th August 1991.
There is no iota of ideological leaning from the two leadership. No discerning mind can see any difference between the two leading parties. But democracy is not about logic or reasoning; it is about rule of the majority. If the majority are foolish, the society is jinxed as it will be ruled by their representatives. This, however, plays out where democracy is allowed to thrive. Here, the majority is manipulated from the inception by the very few leadership in the parties who impose their parochial unpopular personal wishes and aspirants on the people through manipulation of delegates lists and buying of delegates votes with humongous money, mostly in US Dollars, and other inducements, deceptively making it look as if it is the wish of the majority.This arrangement has kept us in perpetual stagnation and backwardness.
Simply put, political parties are not platforms for members to actualise their ideas in government anymore; they are private fiefdoms of party leadership for exclusively personal agenda. What played out in the national conventions of both PDP and APC in choosing their presidential candidates for 2023 general elections was instructive.
The price tag placed on nomination form and expression of interest clearly shredded the poor and middle class elements that are deceiving themselves by claiming to be members of these parties. For APC, presidential nomination form and fee for expression of interest are N70million and N30million respectively, totalling N100million; N50million for governorship aspirants; N20million and N10million for Senatorial and House of Representatives aspirants respectively; and N2million for State House of Assembly aspirants.
APC conjoined twins, PDP, fixed its presidential nomination form and expression of interest form to N40million, governorship N21million, Senate N3.5million, House of Representatives and State House of Assembly respectively N2.5million and N600,000. Without doubt, if it had been a ruling party, its nomination form could have surpassed that of the APC.
The whole process to contest under the platforms of the two parties was so monetised, designed and schemed that no decent Nigerian who has genuine interest to contribute to the development of our society could aspire to contest on the one hand and emerge as the candidate on the other, except those who have appropriated our collective wealth to their private pockets when they were/are in government.
Under this situation, it doesn’t matter whichever party wins – PDP/APC – as either will continue to wreck the country and worsen the miserable life of the poor people. Interestingly, the poor people who will be largely negatively affected will also sell their right to good governance over a morsel of bread by collecting their own bribes to selling their votes to both parties during elections and submit themselves as willing tools for electoral violence and manipulation.
Except this trend is reversed via placing good men with correct idea and orientation at the leadership of a political party with egalitarian principles and massive social protection programmes for the poor people, we shall continue to roll on barber’s chair with development elusive in our society.