There is a consuming poverty that is ravaging the souls of Nigerians, especially the rank and file of those involved with politics; and it is simplistic to attribute it to hunger and chronic material deprivation widespread in the land. A political party is supposed to be an assemblage of members who have similar vision, and an action plan for a better society than what currently obtains. It is among these members that leaders of the party emerge through dedication and sacrifices in pushing the manifestoes of the party and placing it in good standing in its quest for power and government. This is far from the case in Nigeria. Parties have become the personal properties of select founders; in the big parties, basically the properties of the men and women with the big money. As private properties, they are now managed for private interests by the handpicked stakeholders and associates of the imperial money lords of the parties: no room for debates, no room for questions or contrary views, and no room for internal democracy – it is obedience of the last given order. The rank and file are played as pawns in the power game, and for the crumbs from the masters’ tables they are happily compliant and ready to do in anyone standing for propriety. In or out of power, state of national level, there are rare exceptions.
Of course, concrete issues of prevalent poverty, hardship, misery and ignorance have to be fought with concrete means. Nevertheless, the job is clearly cut out for Nigerian patriots, be they active in politics or not, to imbue the majority of the people (and democracy is all about the people) with fresh and uplifting ideals on nobility and supremacy of the party; its organisation on the basis of internal democracy, self-sacrifices for the pursuit of its manifestoes, and the accountability of one and all – from the highest leadership to the lowliest office manager – to the clearly defined principles and ethics of the party. Once the parties are in bad standing – in principles and practise – nothing good can be expected from any government they form; and the only way to power and constituting government today in Nigeria is singularly through party politics.
Rather than obsession with self-centred and self-gratifying ideals: money-goal political jobbing and NGOism; separatist, religious and ethnic extremism; ritualism and violent crime mentalities; patriots have their jobs cut for them as things stand today – propagate and mobilise around refreshing, uplifting ideals that can become concrete tools for redemptive actions. We don’t have to go as far as Nelson Mandela, Nkrumah and Nyerere, people like Awolowo, Aminu Kano, Enahoro (and many that space cannot permit mentioning) are not angels or masquerades; they are simply selfless human beings with humanistic ideals and disposition. They inspired and helped built political parties in the best tradition. Are there none in Nigeria anymore?
For politicians – rank and file, for activists, progressives and patriots across the land, and for the people in general, the quote of the Avatar, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, while reflecting on how lowly the attitude of Nigerians has become, is worth repeating again and again: “As long as Nigerians remain what they are, nothing clean, principled or ethical and idealistic can work with them. And Nigerians will remain what they are, unless the evils which now dominate their hearts, at all levels and in all sectors of our politics, business and governmental activities are exorcised. But I venture to say that they will not be exorcised, and indeed they will be firmly entrenched, unless God Himself imbues a vast majority of us with a revolutionary change of attitude to life and politics or, unless the dialectic processes which have been at work for some twenty years now, perforce, make us perceive the abominable filth that abound in our society, to the end that an inexorable abhorrence of it will be quickened in our hearts and impel us to make drastic changes for the better.”
Awolowo said that in 1986! A word is enough for the wise and a stitch in time saves nine.