…we don’t have to settle for the mediocre compromise that most of Nigeria’s mainstream political parties represent.
Last week, we talked about the concept of lean startups and what would happen if we applied lean thinking to our politics. This week, I would like to specifically explore the concept of a lean political party.
I think one of the most important things that Nigeria’s conscientious elite have to keep in mind in the battle for the nation’s heart in 2015 is that we don’t have to settle for the mediocre compromise that most of Nigeria’s mainstream political parties represent. In fact it is important that we don’t. As recent elections have shown, despite their mega party aspirations, it is very difficult for the official opposition parties to differentiate themselves from the ruling parties given with rigged elections and primary (s)election, they seem to want to operate from the PDP rule book.
That said, what is interesting is that the average Nigerian is beginning to catch on to the fact that no political party is a blanket banner for good governance. A governor or President is first of all a good individual – not a member of some contrived consortium of saints waving broom or biros. What this means is that as much as self-righteous social crusaders might poke fun at it, the “I’m voting for Jonathan not PDP” meme that dominated the 2011 elections will almost certainly be the more of the case in 2015, especially as the mega-opposition party plans persist. Think of it as people picking out the fish bones from ‘eja tutu’ they have been served.
So given this state of things, how should Nigeria’s conscientious elite looking to apply lean thinking to politics do so?
At the end of the day, I think it really boils down to finding a wedge issue to build a massive following around. Take American Politics for example, niche groups within the democratic and Republican Party like the Blue Dogs and the Tea Party have only been able to impact the democratic process because they largely ran single-issue campaigns. For the blue dogs, their wedge issue was out of control federal spending, for the tea party, it was taxes and ‘Obamacare’.
A lean political party needs to have a wedge issue everyone can relate to if they will build a movement on whose waves they will ride to power. Unfortunately a lot of our political parties adopt a know-it-all approach to political issues and end up with campaign platforms that are mile wide and metre deep. Beyond the fact that they are anti-PDP and they promise everything will be free if they get into power there generally isn’t much else to their politics. This puts them at a grave disadvantage when they go head to head with the ruling party’s candidate.
I think the biggest issue for the next election will be youth unemployment. A charismatic candidate or group of candidates who can build and communicate a solid campaign platform around employing young people will bring them out to the polls, make it really difficult for the PDP to rig and ultimately win the election.
It remains to be seen whether Nigeria’s conscientious elite will seize the day and build a platform around this issue or join the coalition of the blind the opposition is slowly becoming.
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