Being the Keynote Address delivered by Chief Bisi Akande at the Two Day Seminar for the newly elected APC’s state and national legislators at Osogbo on Wednesday 22nd May, 2019.
Ladies and Gentlemen, political parties are mere associations of leaders which are not, in any way, part of democratic apparatus but which are invaluable stimulators of national progress and development.
History & Democratic Growth
The practice of Direct Democracy which started with direct citizens’ participation from the ancient Greek city-state (500 BC) and which continued with the church reformation in the middle-ages, particularly during the European cultural reawakening called Renaissance (1200 – 1600 BC) metamorphosed into Representative Democracy. Consequently, Britain adopted a Bill of Rights – Magna Carta (1215 BC). French too enacted its own Bill of Rights through a political Revolution (1789 – 1799) while United States of America also promulgated a Bill of Rights in 1791.
These past struggles of idea among world leadership have influenced the British – our colonial masters, to introduce to Nigeria, first of all, deliberative legislative participation in 1923, participatory administration in 1951 and, ultimately, political Independence in 1960.
Since prehistoric times, humanity was preoccupied with personal security, personal maintenance, personal protection, and personal survival. As time went on, the more powerful and more privileged among them grew into big families and big households and selfishly devised, with cunning methods, ways of arrogating leadership to themselves (as aristocrats, as royal-lords or as kings) with a view to exploiting others to fend for their families, friends and relatives.
None-the-less, certain individuals, mostly with hereditary traits of born-leadership, still preferred to spend a major portion of their waking hours to selflessly work for the security, maintenance, protection and survival of others among the less powerful and less privileged. Where the born leader could not do it alone, he associated with others of similar altruistic tendencies. Such altruistic individuals always invariably emerge, more often than not, at the risk of their lives, as born-leaders.
While the objectives of the self-arrogated aristocrats, royal lords and kings may be selfish-laden, those of the born-leaders would be absolutely altruistic. In all ancient and modern societies, altruism is universally and popularly welcomed. While the leadership style of the kings, the lords or the aristocrats may be coercive, authoritarian and autocratic; those of the altruistic born-leaders would be legitimate, charismatic and participatory. Therefore, simply defined, according to – a one-time American President – Dwight D Eisenhower, Leadership is ‘an art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he too wants to do it’.
At the beginning,
At the beginning, most aged democracies lend credence to the assertion that political parties were unnecessary in making democratic political system work. History is known to have recorded few activities of political parties until the 19th century; therefore, political parties are recent phenomenon of the democratic political system. What we are saying is that a political system can still be a democracy without the use of a political party or parties. If the word democracy means ‘rule by the people’, history has proved that a political philosophy whose goals were to ensure individual equality and freedom and whose ideals include equal protection of the persons, possessions and rights of every citizen to political participation was practicable without political parties. In order words, in a democracy, it was possible for individuals to have equal opportunity to live their lives and pursue their careers and to enjoy freedom from undue interference and domination by governments or by any other persons without any political party.
Political Parties are NOT necessarily Democratic Institutions.
My dear compatriots, what we are trying to say is that, in any political formations, just like birds of same feathers flock together, leaders of like minds congregate together either, wittingly or unwittingly, to inflict hardship and misery on society or to provide security and well-being that stimulate happiness among fellow citizens. While democracy permits equality of participation among the poor and the rich, political parties are merely created to accommodate elites of some ideological class. It is not necessarily a democratic apparatus. It is not supposed to be the affair of all citizens. It is designed as an elite apparatus to power. It is a mere leadership association. Therefore, parties exist in every political system primarily, of course, because political elites have found them to be useful tools to maintain power hegemony. It is also because the elites recognize the value of the functions they perform in a representative democracy, where elections are the norm. In practice, in most representative democracies, political parties develop into ranks and files and candidates are selected and nominated only among the hierarchies of initiated members depending on the strength of aspirants’ adherence to the party manifesto.
Representative Democracy gave preeminence to political parties.
In recent times, Representative Democracy developed steadily into ideological contradictory debates which led to political party formations. Realistically, certain events which led to the prominence of political parties in the 19th and 20th centuries include increased urbanization resulting from technological and industrial expansion, disagreement over authoritative allocation of resources, human disagreement about the role and nature of government, the growth of voluntary organizations etc. Before then, in the early democratic societies, there were non-partisan political systems where party formations and number of parties are not usually regulated or regimented by laws. In non-partisan systems, no official political parties exist. Each candidate is eligible for office on his or her own merits and there are no typically formal party alignments within the legislature. The first few sessions of the United States Congress during the administration of George Washington were non-partisan. Washington in his Farewell Address, even warned against political parties. In the United States, even, up till now, the unicameral legislature of Nebraska is non-partisan. In Canada, the territorial legislatures of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut are non-partisan. In New Zealand, Tokelau has a non-partisan parliament.
‘No Party’ is preferable to ‘One Party’.
At this stage, may I say that ‘a no-party democracy is better than a one-party state’. The effectiveness of the party system in a democracy is dependent on the relationship between the government and the opposition parties. The opposition parties contribute to policy and legislation through constructive criticisms, by opposing government proposals that they disagree with, and by putting forward their own policies to improve their chances of winning the next general elections. Under this circumstance, each political party constantly streamlines, monitors and controls the activities of its governments and the party’s representatives in parliament by applying the instrumentality of a control system that was usually called ‘parliamentary whips. In other words, the party is supposed to be the controller of its government. Otherwise, it’s power would be lost to the opposition.
Party is the Political Training Ground.
You are free not to join any political party. You are free to contest as an Independent candidate. It is fraudulent, however, for you to join and win elections on the platform of a political party and subsequently form another group to override your political parties’ injunctions. Your legacy, by so doing, will belong to those of the selfish leadership. Like most learners serve article-ship before qualifying as Accountants; and like most lawyers serve tutelage before being professionally competent; so must a University lecturer seek mentor-ships before rising to professorship. In the same manner, the lower the hierarchy of a political party member, the more mentor-ships he required to rise from mere canvassers, to ward organizers, to party officers and to election candidatures within his chosen political party. It is this political mentor-ships that are being presently euphemistically negated as “Godfatherism” by the neo-money politicians struggling to use money to hijack influence from political parties whose ideology they do not care to respect. And that was why the sixth National Assembly ignorantly promulgated the non-sensical theories of “internal democracy” into the Electoral Act of 2010 which now results in big-money politics to the present day Nigeria.
Ladies and Gentlemen, you can never be a born political leader if you have not been properly mentored in party politics.
Chief Bisi Akande;
The Asiwaju of Ila Orangun;
The Former Executive Governor of Osun state; and,
The Founding National Chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC).