by Ferdinand Adimefe
The change we seek in our country ought to happen at different levels-on a personal level, in the political party, and at the polls. While the government is the door, the political party is the key to unlock the door
I have been hard pressed to find an ideal political party to pitch my tent. The sad reality is that in terms of ideology, I know what the Democrats and Republicans in the United States of America stand for, than I know of our political parties in Nigeria.The difference between PDP, ACN and the other political parties is seems to me the case of six and half a dozen-things may change, but sadly will remain the same.
Isn’t it odd that there is no visible opposition or healthy debate until an election year? Even when they emerge, they engage in rants without solutions, and dismiss without alternatives. For the most part, the opposition parties are expedient platforms to court deals with the ruling party under the guise of an “Inclusive Government”. It is like a dog barking because its owner is holding a bone, once given the bone, the howling stops. Until our opposition parties can invite the ruling party to the debate floor to marshal out policies, they will remain nothing but a charade. The little succor we have in terms of those fighting for the masses and speaking against policies that are not well thought through are from the advocacy groups. I would not deny that their processes are also not strategic; they are more reactionary than proactive. But do we have a better alternative?
In the last Presidential election, I was in a strange place. I campaigned for the President. I lost some friends and won others, but I never considered myself a PDP member. I felt the President had attentive ears, would be instrumental in preserving our unity and ushering in a level of healing to the maligned Nigeria Delta and to my mind he had a compelling proposition in his transformation agenda. Though the President won the election, I have had moments of doubt if I did the right thing. Again, during the gubernatorial election in Bayelsa in 2012, I campaigned for Barrister Kemela Okara, who I admire for his courage, character and ideals. He ran under the umbrella of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). Though we did not win, I never for a moment regretted that I did.
Every now and again, I run into people who ask me, “Which is your party again?” I often reply, “I do not belong to any party, I only support the individuals’’. With benefit of hindsight, we cannot divorce a person from his party. For the most part, the elected official is largely influenced by the forces within his party. The inroad to power in Nigeria is through a political party and our country’s fate hinges on the quality of minds elected on the platform of our political parties. As long as we are not card carrying members of any party, we cannot control who the party brings out. This is where the problem lies, the internal process that churns out these people are oftentimes completely flawed. With only a few exceptions, the products of this system are not the best representation of genuine leadership, but he who has been patient enough to court deals across board and preserve the power bloc.
The change we seek in our country ought to happen at different levels-on a personal level, in the political party, and at the polls. While the government is the door, the political party is the key to unlock the door. If we do not change the political party, no matter who we change at the polls, it would be the case of six and half a dozen. While we clamour for wide spread change, the pivotal point to enact this is from our political parties. When we stay away, we abnegate our future to those who don’t have our best interests at heart.
In Nelson Mandela’s biography, ‘Long Walk to Freedom’, I admired the youth of ACN in South Africa. They were a force to reckon with. The fall of apartheid cannot be captured without the help of this youth wing. For this reason, I commend the PDP Youth Circuit, and would urge youth in other parties to build such. But from afar, I fear that it could easily become the case of new wine in old skin. Most of those who have rushed into the circuit are as perverted as those they seek to replace. However, for those within this youth circuit, who are truly motivated by a heart of service and passion for change, they must brace themselves for the challenges ahead. They must bring an uprising from within and throw off all the retrograde minds holding the party and the country to ransom. They must as bring an end to ‘godfatherism’ and ethnicity. They must speak against the bloated size of government. The excess ‘allocation’ and ‘allowances’of the Senate and House of Representatives must be stymied. They must find ways to cut down on our recurrent expenditure. If there are no internal squabbles and agitation, I assure you they are not part of the change we seek; they are still the case of six and half a dozen.
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