Internal Wrangling In Political Parties

As our fledgling democracy creeps towards its twelfth year, it is pertinent to sound a note  of warning to politicians and political officer holders on the need for internal democracy  in political parties to avoid the pitfalls that bedeviled parties during the 2003 and 2007  general elections.

We must explore ways to inject credibility into the 2011 elections and avoid becoming a  laughing stock in the comity of nations.

East, West, North and South politicians are complaining about the overbearing influence of  godfathers and the need to curtail their activities, especially at the party level. It is a  blatant rape of the wish of the electorate and nothing short of standing democracy on its  head for godfathers to foist candidates on parties whereas the electorate  have better  candidates that they should have chosen for the various elective postions.

Democracy is about choice and to, in any way, subvert the will of the people is criminal.  The internal wrangling in most of the political parties is due to no other reason but lack  of internal democracy within the party framework. Several candidates have opted out of  promising political careers for this reason. Recently, the Abia State Governor, Theodore  Orji, defected from the Progressive People’s Party, PPA, to the People’s Democratic Party,  PDP, following complaints about the alleged hijack of his government by his predecessor,  Orji Uzor Kalu and his mother.

The despicable roles of godfathers have adversely affected governance across the country.  The godfather syndrome has been with us for quite a while. The case of the Social Democratic  Party, SDP, and National Republican Convention, NRC, both creations of the former Head of  State, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida remains fresh in the memory of Lagosians. The SDP could not  decide on a governorship candidate between the late Prof. Femi Agbalajobi and Chief Dapo  Sarumi and the party lost the election to Sir Michael Otedola of NRC, a party which was not  even in contention in Lagos State at the time.

The lack of a clearly defined ideology and the plague called godfatherism in the Nigerian  context will continue to be the bane of our democracy until the scourge is checked. Most  Nigerians believe that what governs party activities today are money, violence and thuggery,  not charisma, hard work or love for the people, and these are the ammunition of godfathers  who determine who is nominated or even elected within the party.

These godfathers are responsible for the current problem of factionalism that has affected  virtually all major parties in the country. Since 1999 when our hard-earned democracy was  ushered in, there have been problems resulting in decamping, violence and even outright  assassination of political opponents. Several souls have been lost, and God forbid, more  will be lost if we do not check our attitude towards power and imbibe the time honoured  culture of democracy.

The lack of internal democracy has also led to the proliferation of political parties. The  result is that there is no real opposition and the party with the majority has continued to  bestride the political landscape without actually making life better for the people.

As the general elections approach, politicians and political office holders must, for the  survival of democracy, embrace a culture of internal democracy in the party and eschew  violence in any form.

Nigerians have laboured for too long under dictatorship to allow our democracy to be  truncated.