State Congresses: Political Parties play roles in Nigeria’s collapsing democracy

State Congresses: Political Parties play roles in Nigeria’s collapsing democracy

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By Chris Nwedo

The only competence Buhari and Tinubu put forward is the presumption of having ‘followers’. For most Nigerians this ‘follower’ concept has continuously remained indistinct. Evil politicians discuss these two decrepit Nigerians as having values because of the ‘followers’, but the follower idea is falsehood, hoax.  The followers anyone can correctly say Tinubu has are family members and trickles of greasy bootlickers working in the man’s political courts for nutriment. The toadies blow Tinubu’s ego and he delightfully pays. Perhaps, it pains Tinubu less to expend on these tricksters because the best way to show limitless generosity is to spend what belongs to others.

The atmospheres for practice of genuine democracy in Nigeria are disconcertingly constricted and frigid. There are multiplicity circumstances that point vividly to a serious lack of conceptual understanding and/or appreciation of the values of democracy, and the imperatives of politicians and political parties in the functionality and sustainability of the processes in Nigeria. It is practically difficult to discuss truly productive democratic order outside the contexts of political parties which are the platforms of mobilisation and one of the most potent vehicles for inclusion and support for candidates of varied capacities. This proposition, however, offered exceptions to the United States of America where the constitution accommodated and supported the concept of independent candidates. Independent candidature is an enormously complex territory for most candidates willing to offer themselves for leadership contests because it is exceptionally expensive. This is unlike political parties that groom and provide resources for candidates with the brightest prospects of triumph at the polls.

Political parties are anti-elitist structures for leadership recruitment in most prudent climes. But in Nigeria, parties are turning into expletives with the misuses of the structures for election rigging, and vehicles through which some spiteful elites in power conspire against the collective interest of Nigerians. Since taking over party structures tantamount to automatic lordship over the members, the vicious politicians go every length to impound and literally run away with the powers. This explains lucidly why congresses for election or selection of the party officials are ferociously deadly enterprise.

The congresses throw out, recurrently, the intense challenges of lack of internal democracy in Nigeria’s political parties and the larger political spectrums. This is often the case every election year when tenures are expiring. The parallel congresses or the factions which are perpetual results of the exercises are bleeding open wounds. The blood will continue to drop as the pains of the misadventures intensify until ‘leader’ muscles every contender to taciturn and fold every one into pretended peace or ‘unity’. This is done with neither negotiation nor reconciliation until another circle of election when the repressed try ferociously to fight off their captivity again. The contenders are grained into unity, with the understanding that neither internal democracy nor fair or equitable playing is possible because parties have been confiscated by political Emperors (‘leaders’) who recruited loyalists and imposed them on the parties to manage. These proxies are made sycophantically loyal because they are promised ‘maintenance’ or economic life-supports. The abuses of democratic processes and the seizure of the structures are ways of ensuring the impositions of incompetent candidates that cannot be subjected to peoples’ verdict. 

The ongoing  all political party congresses for election or selection of party functionaries ahead of 2023 general elections has ignited intense fires of destabilizing controversies with  robust resistance against impositions of favoured candidates. The resistance is creating and multiplying factions and counter violence across party lines. Today the ruling party, All Progressive Congress (APC) is ravaged by internal crises arising from the results of egoistically planned and conducted state congresses. The main opposition party, the Peoples’ Democratic Party, (PDP) is as pulverised as much as the APC. The controversies, the altercations and the violence that produced the predispositions for parallel structures of leadership in the parties are the direct results of the unwillingness of vicious egoists to allow the processes freedom to be fair and equitable. By this I mean creating atmospheres that allow consensus building which alone can extinguish impetus to multiple structures of contrasting leadership within the same party. The greatest obstacle to party politics in Nigeria is that the treacherous power brokers cannot allow dismantling of own structures that promise them illegitimate political advantages.

The factions are symptoms of intense reactions against strategies of the ‘powerful’ politicians to clone the congresses by through implantations of own candidates in top decision making positions of the parties. This is naturally the first ground-work for taking over party structures and imposing decisions. The imposition of decisions on a political party can only be conceivable when the will of party members are supplanted in such congresses. The trampling of the regulations of the democratic processes at these earliest stages ultimately makes the general elections vulnerable to subtle manipulations. For several politicians in Nigeria, political parties are not seen as vehicles for driving democracy to the grass root and allowing the people opportunities to be participants in determinations of trends and decisions that affect them. These class of ego filled politicians give impression of parties as platforms for exclusively personal political goals, thus the predispositions to confiscate them subtly by treacherous means. These misguided politicians perceive political parties as self-projecting platforms.

Democracy in the Nigeria is progressively losing ground, it is spinning rapidly into dictatorship of the wrong and strong politicians who have the potential to buy off party structures and install proxies and loyalists as officials. These wrong political brands that snatched Nigeria’s democratic governance are overtly antithetical to the ideas of equity, justice and fair atmospheres for competitive political contests. They are sworn enemies of better working Nigeria as they are gargantuan obstacles to the nation’s progress. These politicians are the plagues that have afflicted the citizens with excruciating insecurity and pervading poverty. With the artificial poverty pummelling ordinary Nigerians, the ‘obscene’ politicians are liberally throwing ill-gotten wealth and purchasing the morally questionable to applaud them and give them titles they do not deserve. The praise singers worthlessly inflate their ego. In the years past it was Muhammadu Buhari and these days it is Bola Tinubu. Nigeria is suffering crushing defeat in security, economy and global positive perception due to Buhari’s government. The only competence Buhari and Tinubu put forward is the presumption of having ‘followers’. For most Nigerians this ‘follower’ concept has continuously remained indistinct. Evil politicians discuss these two decrepit Nigerians as having values because of the ‘followers’, but the follower idea is falsehood, hoax.  The followers anyone can correctly say Tinubu has are family members and trickles of greasy bootlickers working in the man’s political courts for nutriment. The toadies blow Tinubu’s ego and he delightfully pays. Perhaps, it pains Tinubu less to expend on these tricksters because the best way to show limitless generosity is to spend what belongs to others. The pending financial crimes allegations levelled on the former Lagos governor suggest that he is not really spending anything personal on the sycophants. For me Buhari and Tinubu have egos attached to nothing meaningful. It was this vacuous ego that imposed Buhari on Nigerians and the conspicuous results are destabilised Nigeria, rapidly retrogressing economy, cancerous insecurity, pauperized citizens and sad people.

This ‘ego-culture’ determines the rapidity with which Nigeria’s democracy is losing the support that comes with perception of justice, equity, political inclusiveness and cohesion. Ego sentiment has evil seeds that over rule competence, offer windows for running over free and fair political processes and confer unmerited statuses. It is the foundation of counter-productive godfather syndromes, the ‘leader’ concept. Nigeria’s democracy is collapsing under the control of those who took over the party structures and political powers to enslave the folks, those who have imposed themselves as the incorruptible, the emperors or the emirs. These demagogues failed to understand that democratic systems are opposed to totalitarian tyranny, injustice and repression of rights of others. These actors do everything to prevent all the institutions of democracy to work. They have been able to successfully used Nigeria’s ethnic and religious fault-lines to the detriment of the people.

 It is now more glaring that their personal political power related goals override and run antithetical to the objective interest of the nation and the people as a whole. Therefore, to win an election, they have the tendencies do anything using political party platforms or cleavages of religion or tribe. These politicians live political lives on fast lanes defectively and unrestrained. It is incontrovertible that election seasons are times of change from infra-party conflicts to inter-party violence. It is outlandish to suppose that party meetings are occasions for making or re-orienting policies, a period for articulating something new for public interest, it is not. It is in most cases opportunities for treacherous manipulations in readiness for power tussle. This however, explains in clarity why parties in states and local councils are indistinguishable from association of delinquents with occasional fracas for excitement. Nigerian political parties are scarcely concerned with democratization. The reason for this is either because of improper education or political deceitfulness. Consequently, in most cases the outcomes of such party meetings have always been fracas, communiqués ostracizing, banning or prohibiting members for one inarticulate reason or the other.  The brawl erupts because those victimised do not just go home quietly humiliated, but smartly organise factions that factionalize sooner or later.

 When political party groups are not organised in an atmosphere devoid of animosity and perfidious manoeuvrings, the structures can neither be free nor fair to the members and democratic processes founded on this defective foundation are worthless. The worthlessness is because the façade provided windows for underserving candidates to emerge. The imports of this development are hugely negative. The people imposed simply politick for perpetuation of unscrupulous line-up within the political organisation they answer to.

Nigerians have been inundated with scripted comic of political power struggle within the ruling party, All Progressive Congress, (APC).  It was an intense power tussle among the party’s many potent but divergent political, tribal and religious line-ups. The comic was about who, among the astute blocs of influence was going to be dominant in the imposition of own candidates on National Working Committee of the party. The massive interest in the office of National Chairman, rises and falls on the overwhelming dictatorial decision making authority it has in the determination of who matters for the party as 2023 generally elections rapidly draws near. The comics, intrigues and resentments climaxed in powerful APC groups arm-twisting and demanding the sundry interests to disperse in favour of a preferred candidate, Yobe State Governor, Mala Buni as an interim Chairman.  The paradox was that the presidency and a few cliques within a common interest bloc finally settled to impose a serving Governor from the same north with president Buhari. This is a dirty slap on southern members who are again marginalised. Buni’s leadership has remained a contentious legal issue as some APC members have gone to court challenging his authenticity. Apart from the groups are collections of splinters of whose feverishly canvassing to get the slot for anyone ready and willing to work for group masquerading interest of Ahmed Bola Tinubu.

The controversy over Buni leadership is very unsettling to many faithful APC members who feared that candidates endorsed by the Buni led National Working Committee may be eventually declared invalid. “Two presidential aides have joined the State Minister for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo to demand the removal of Mala Buni, as an interim chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC). Babafemi Ojudu, the special adviser to the president on political matters and Ita Enang, the senior special assistant to the president on Niger Delta affairs, in a joint statement on Thursday, questioned the legality of Mr Buni’s leadership.”( See Premium Times online July 29, 2021).

The Peoples Democratic Party is grappling with its own ruining burden. Just few months to National Convention, some rebellious members conspired against its National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus and used the court to dethrone him. This is an ominous sign of greater future drama. The double-crossing power contest has become intensified and combative with the ousting of the chairman in a very controversial circumstance. Uche Secondus was embarrassed and disgraced by PDP that adopted the same strategy APC used against its former National Chairman Adams Oshiomhole. Recall “in November 2019 Oshiomhole was suspended by the APC’s leadership in his Etsako Ward 10 in Etsako West Local Government Area of Edo State for alleged anti-party activities. The development followed a protracted disagreement between Oshiomhole and Edo State governor Godwin Obaseki, who was then still a member of the APC. It was on the basis of Oshiomhole’s suspension at the ward level that an Abuja High Court in March 2020 ordered his suspension as APC’s National Chairman.

 It was the dissolution of the Oshiomhole-led APC National Working Committee (NWC) in June 2020 after an appeal court dismissed his request against the order of the Abuja High Court which suspended him that threw up Buni interim chairmanship. Secondus ordeal was scripted exactly like the Adams. The decision to suspend Secondus was taken at an extraordinary meeting which held at the PDP secretariat at Ikuru town, in Andoni LGA, on August 31, 2021 then a court restrained him from parading as national chairman of the PDP.  It was believed that Rivers State governor Nyesom Wike spearheaded the push for Secondus’ removal. The allegations that the decision was based on the fact that Secondus did not attract development to the ward despite his high political profile or pay his dues are deeply controversial for his removal.

The masses of the party supporters are discovering to their bewilderment that Secondus was surreptitiously deserted by gang up of potent forces in PDP who found him not pliable enough. To nail him more comprehensively a vote of no confidence was thrown at him and rejection by stakeholders in his own local ward. He had nowhere to run to, humiliated. According to source, the grouse against Secondus in his home state was not unconnected to allegations he has interest in using his position as National Chairman of PDP, against some undefined interest group in the party.

The Secondus episode was a replica of what happened to Tukur, the former PDP National Chairman in 2012 during the tenure of Former President Goodluck Jonathan. Tukur, the former president’s choice National Chairman was conspired against. Jonathan was forced into an emergency meetings with the then governors. In the meetings he allegedly promised to endanger governors who retracted an earlier agreement to support his choice of Tukur as national chairman of the party. As part of a secret accord, the president was conceded the chance to dictate and impose undemocratically, the party chairman while the governors were permitted the latitude to produce the deputy national chairman and national secretary of the party.  It was absolutely dictatorial that all the powerful contending forces and candidates were intimidated by Jonathan to pull out of the race. According to a source, President Jonathan exhibited his other side to PDP governors opposed to his choice of Tukur. He told them point blank at a meeting at the Presidential Villa that he would not brook any dissension from them or the other 10 candidates contesting the chairmanship with Tukur. The governors were as shocked as the candidates by the president’s action. By the time he was through with them they all simply fell in line. ‘Go and ask these candidates to withdraw for Tukur, Jonathan instructed the governors. Jonathan wondered why the North-East governors would not let him have his way on Tukur when he had bowed to their wishes to ‘control party machinery’ in their states. The President was quoted as saying: ‘you have had your way; you should respect my position too for cohesion, unity and success of our party.4 Shortly before the guided voting exercise commenced, one of the 11 chairmanship aspirants, Dr. Shettima Mustafa, on behalf of himself and nine other aspirants, announced that they had all withdrawn their candidature for Alhaji Bamanga Tukur. According Mustafa, having discussed the issues and having been invited by the leadership of the party, we were requested to cooperate. On behalf of the aspirants, we concede. I am mandated to concede this office to the candidate so chosen for the position.

 However, since Tukur was forced to hang on as the national chairman of PDP, the party has moved from one crisis point to another with countless high-flying members seeking ways for painful vengeance. The crisis that rocked the Peoples Democratic Party was blamed on the boycotting of the party’s political events by many of its foremost officers. Crisis in the party worsened with the formation of the PDP Governors Forum and a ‘New’ PDP.

Nigerian political parties are the same in every way, the follow the same route and repeat the same mistakes with devastating political consequences. The irony is that when ego forces them to factionalise and form parallel groups sooner or later the faction will re-divide and continue the strife. There is always reasons for distrust and agitations, if not over the predispositions of the godfathers and various power blocs to impose candidates on the members it must be over perceived injustice. It is obvious that the imposition culture is a disaster to shun in absolute terms, but godfathers taste the waters recurrently.

What happened in the national convention of PDP was a replica of the ubiquitous dictatorial intra-party imposition and intimidations. This bad error is deliberately repeated by APC but unlike PDP, APC is a fierce clench fist. It is crude in the use of state power against dissension. If the tyrannous bulling perseveres in the most organised and truly national party what more in the regional parties founded, funded and defended by few bigots as personal political platforms? Even some of these ‘sub-national’ parties have impressions as nets for fishing subsidy funds given to parties for support until the funding programme was scrapped. For parties with this nature of objective internal democratization is impossible because the founders have the predisposition for strong repulsion for healthy interference capable of bringing democratic change of tactics.

Ethnic and religious sentiments, wiles and intimidations characterize political party proceedings in Nigeria. And it is apparent that any member that choses to defy party godfathers directly challenges the might of the founder(s) and the cost of drawing the battle line is terrifying. It has to be noted that resentments against political imposition is often expressed through political conflicts which are climaxed in factions and strife. It is unfortunate that political parties are unable to make democracy politics attractive to Nigerians.

Politics Essay