Six party vs half of a dozen party
The names of the contesting parties in the upcoming student elections at Roadside University come from the English saying that half of a dozen is the same thing as six. At Roadside University democracy is paramount. Multi-party elections came after the Cadet Unit had disgraced themselves out of power. But when elections were coming up, two parties emerged with the same persons answering to membership of the two parties. What is more, the same people were all previously in the Cadet Unit! They are all now retired from the Cadet Unit. What are the things that distinguish six from half of a dozen, the characteristics that differentiate 1\2 a dozen from 6? Later for this weighty matters. First of all let us begin from the beginning.
Roadside University is a creation of chance. How it came into existence nobody really knows. Alaba child wiser than parents claims that a group of women who sold ground nut, roast plantain, roast yam, roast corn, pure water (ordinary, that is, street temperature, and executive, that is refrigerated) along with suya seller and fisherman turned the roadside where they traded into a learning centre. They found that the pieces of paper in which they wrapped their wares for their customers were pages out of books, journals and academic theses as well as bank ledgers, a veritable source of knowledge. There were challenges like inter-library loans and such exchanges with other universities but the university management wants to find and fine-tune the political kingdom before solving the mundane issues of everyday existence.
There have been many suggestions as to the way the university should go. There was a suggestion that the Cadet Unit should run the university jointly with some ordinary members and students of the university. It did not fly high and collapsed. Another idea was that there should be a no party democracy where everybody, including members of the Cadet Unit, would be members of a no names all inclusive university wide party. Again, this did not go far.
The next idea was a one party university. Government and opposition were not good for the university. There are some things that are good. There are some things that are bad. Either way, any can come from those in government and others from those not in governments. By having government and opposition some people are forever in the opposition mould. Anything, good or harmful, they oppose because they are opposition. So, no artificial and unnecessary and unafrican division into government and opposition. That was the fertiliser for the one party university.
The next idea was a two party university, with one party a little to the left while the other party would be a little to the right. The challenge came from those who wanted to dance in the centre. Where would be their political home in such an arrangement?There was a long debate in the departments, at faculty board meetings and at Senate meetings. Go anywhere in the world. The minute you say Mr. Lamurin is left leaning, you know that he could have nothing to do with Miss Tamedo. But do we want such divisions? Do we want political divisions in addition to our tribal divisions, to our rich person poor person divisions, to our educated and uneducated markers divisions? Let not such additional wahala be our lot in this university.
As we all know, our political science department has been busy over the years explaining what we don’t have. No serious academics have tried to analyse what we have and tell us how right or wrong what we have is and how we can improve on it. What of our traditional organisational know-how before the coming of the various colonising peoples and countries? Some had monarchical systems headed by beaded crowned heads ruling by collective wisdom and the acceptance of such decisions. In other parts of the university there were those who had nothing bigger than a village head to arbitrate among their numbers. And there are descendants of nomadic tribes who follow the rains no matter in what direction it went.
Truly truly, the search for machetes have left the forest uncleared. The search for hoes has left the heaps uncultivated. The search for a correct political system keeps Roadside University from doing what it is set up to do: teach research and solve community problems.
This then is the background to six of one and half a dozen of the other being the political order of the day at Roadside University. With such a political party system the generality of students and the elders teaching and non teaching staff of the university still applaud and rejoice when Party Six defeats Party Half of a Dozen. Are they blind? Can they not see that it is the same set of people who were in the government of Party Six who are now in the government of Party Half of a Dozen?
As the parties begin the campaign for next month’s elections the vice chairman for the north of the campus was Party Six Governor for eight years now campaigning for Party Half of a Dozen. The one for south of campus was in Senate for Party Six for four years, now campaigning for the other party. Someone who was speaker and governor for all fifteen years for Party Six is leader of campaign for Party Half of a Dozen. Many many of the lights in Party Six are now the lights in Party Half a Dozen. So, who will win the coming election, Party Six or Party Half a Dozen? Knowing as we do that a two party system is not a two party system when it gets to Nigeria, we cannot say Allah Yaalam! Meaning only Allah knows. We know that, like when a thief steals from a thief, both parties are the winners. Like the famous saying no victor, no vanquished, we are all winners. Party Six and Party Half a Dozen both will win the elections. And the losers?
The losers are the people who come out like sheep to joke-parade, joke-queue and joke-vote in an election long fore-won, apology to Ben Okri. And because the system is not working Roadside University is not working.