Mega party of fantastic deceit
The progressive stand, on the other hand, until recently expressed itself in ethnically-divided parties. For instance, both Nnamdi Azikiwe and Obafemi Awolowo claimed to have led progressive political parties in the defunct NCNC and AG respectively. The former was Igbo-dominated, while the latter was popular among the Yoruba. The many attempts at uniting their alliances as a cohesive political party were hardly successful – the United Progressive Grand Alliance (UPGA) in the First Republic and the Progressive Parties Alliance (PPA) in the Second Republic.
In decreeing two political parties into existence during the Third Republic, General Ibrahim Babangida would appear to have attempted a compulsory unification of our two historical ideological tendencies under the umbrellas of the National Republican Convention (NRC) and the Social Democratic Party (SDP). The former was assumed to be conservative, while the latter was progressive. However, going by the number of political parties we have in contemporary Nigeria, it should have since been realised that an arithmetical assumption of a two-party system as consisting of only two political parties, was faulty. It is doubtful if a system consisting of only two political parties would have been sustained.
We now have an authentically emerging two-party system in the PDP and APC, while a host of minor political parties co-exist along with them. Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu and President Muhammadu Buhari are key among the characters who eventually united the “progressives” under one umbrella. They did this in the successful merger of the political parties they once led, resulting in the birth of the All Progressives Congress.
When Senator Tinubu was being rumoured as one of the architects of a yet-to-emerge mega party, I said to myself that the man could be destroying an enviable legacy if he, for any reason whatsoever, acquiesced in destroying the political institution he helped to build. His denial of involvement in the mega party contrivance could not but have been a welcome relief to his numerous admirers and those of us who seek tolerance and discipline in the management of political organisations.
Professor Ladipo Adamolekun was right when he posited that the military were to blame for the under-development of our political culture. Political structures were either discontinued or suffered a setback each time the military intervened in politics. By now, we should be talking of stable political parties that have become institutions of competing ideas and strategies rather than being appendages of corrupt and selfish politicians. The idea of a so-called mega party is not about the people of Nigeria, but the ambitions of undisciplined politicians and their migrant political culture. In the PDP, for instance, why must an individual assume that chairmanship aspiration is more important than the collective good of the party? Why is it that someone cannot surrender personal pride and ambition for the sake of party and country?
The political party, as an organisation of human beings, can hardly avoid internal disagreements. In the older and well-established political parties, these internal discords or disagreements are accommodated in diverse ideological temperaments. There are left, right or moderate ideological wings in broad-based political parties. This is to say that while politicians support and are united by the overall principles of their political parties, they nevertheless have their differences in specifics. Because our political parties still revolve around personalities who are unprepared to grow and mature, what we have are divisions that revolve around personalities – pro-Makarfi, pro-Sheriff, pro-Saraki, pro-Tinubu, etc, etc.
Politicians who seek new political parties, either because they have disagreements in one or because they eye particular elective political positions, seem to have forgotten that the problem or rivalry they are running from have a way of resurfacing somewhere else. Can a persistent fault finder ever have a successful marriage? At the end of the day, the true democrat is one that is disciplined and tolerant as well as accommodating – one that is able to appreciate that politics is about service to posterity, rather than self.
America’s two major political parties have been around for quite some time, the Democratic Party since 1828 and the Republican Party since 1854. The Democratic Party was more or less the party of slave owners, while the Republican Party fought against the historical infamy of slavery. African Americans were once predominantly Republicans, not least because it was the party that freed them from slavery. However, the Great Depression of the 1930s compelled them to shift en masse from Abraham Lincoln’s party of Emancipation to Delano Roosevelt’s party of economic prosperity, in what is still regarded till today as the greatest political realignment in American political history. The Democratic Party achieved this feat because of economic measures which alleviated the sufferings of the poor. What one is trying to say here is that society does not change because political parties have changed their names; political change comes from a change in the attitude and strategies of politicians and the general public