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Monday, 26 February 2024 05:18

[OPINION] Nigerian political parties have no peace-makers - Tonnie Iredia

THE nearest major offseason election in Nigeria is the governorship contest in Edo state, holding a few months away. Understandably, in nowhere else is the political temperature in the country as hot as Edo State where party primaries to select flag bearers for the forthcoming governorship election have just been concluded.

How the primaries were conducted by the 3 major political parties establishes beyond doubt that the average Nigerian politician is not only permanently egoistic but never sincere about what he or she does in furtherance of attaining political power. What the political parties have exhibited in Edo state in the last few weeks confirms that they are made up of people who exploit circumstances, instigate disagreements and have no interest in peace-making in any Nigerian political party.

 

The on-going pattern of political manipulation in Edo state refreshes memories of how Nigerian politicians usually speak from both sides of their mouths to suit every political development. During last year’s presidential election, it was easy to see how political leaders put a blind eye to every opportunity to unite the country. Instead, they subordinated national unity to self-interest. While some were unable to condemn negative mob actions, others refused to deal with basic issues affecting national unity.

The Peoples Democratic Party PDP, for example suddenly attained a situation where both their presidential candidate and national chairman of the party hailed from one part of the country without redressing it despite threats from the marginalised part. Yet, the cardinal slogan of the party was that their candidate would conscientiously function as a unifier. No one in the PDP has since 2020 succeeded in uniting the faction of the candidate elected as governor of Edo State and that of those described as the legacy group within the same party.

Yet, both factions produced the same candidate and fought assiduously for him to win the governorship election at the time. The public never found out whether it was the winning faction that refused to be magnanimous or if it was the legacy group that was asking for more than makes sense. What was visible from then till now was that each side often drew attention to how the other side was uncooperative. In sane climes where there are selfless and genuine peace-makers in a political party, the crisis could not have lingered-on to meet the next set of electioneering.

But shamefully it did just as it has happened and is still happening in other parties where the primacy of ego reigns. It is that spirit of ‘I will never give up’ that propels one acting chairman who leads a rather rag-tag faction of the Labour Party to engage in a fight to finish with the national chairman who appears accepted by more members. No one in the party has been able to persuade the said leader to make peace with the disgruntled group so he can chair a more robust and united party.

Those aggrieved have thus continued to embarrass the party by throwing real or imaginary allegations at the leadership. If power has blinded the current leader from recognising the adverse impact which irritants can cause an entity, what about the other national leaders of the party, made up of one state governor and some federal and state legislators? Is each of these leaders satisfied with the daily negative publicity that the party is getting?

The same leadership failure resonates in the PDP which has left their Edo governor and his deputy to now function as enemies whereas from 2020 until a few weeks ago, they were models of what great joint ticket holders should be. Is it true that the deputy rejected earlier plans by some godfathers in their former party, the APC to use him to impeach his principal? How true is the report that the governor insisted that he would not accept his invitation to contest under the PDP except his deputy was allowed to run within him? Was the deputy given an open hand to run the state each time the governor travelled in a country where every other deputy was always a spare tyre?

Did the disagreement between the then Rivers state governor and his Edo colleague arise from the latter’s defence of his deputy? If so, is the current fight to finish between the two former friends not a failure of their party elders? As it is with all manipulations, no one knows how the brawl would end because our politicians are always self-seeking, no real group or party interest. When a politician is talking about zoning for equity, it is because it suits his personal interest. In Edo APC, there were reports that zoning had become obsolete hence a panel set up by the acclaimed leader recommended a few aspirants from all the zones.

The advantage of that arrangement was to ensure that strong aspirants from certain areas would not be excluded. But the same leader suddenly asked aspirants from his own zone – Edo North to step down, because their zone already had a Minister. Does the new posture of that leader not amount to zoning under the guise of altruism? Again, is Edo as a state not exposed to losing the best if all the strong aspirants from its Northern zone are excluded by fiat? It does not appear a coincidence that those who first showed disapproval of the outcome of the primaries hail from Edo North.

 

For instance, one aspirant who currently represents Etsako Central in the House of Representatives was the first to object to the results of the primaries. He no doubt has his reasons. Another leader from the zone, who was once a Commissioner for Information in the state even said APC held no primary in Edo state adding that the acclaimed winner was selected by the party leadership perhaps by remote control. In his words, “they don’t consider us as anything. To them we don’t matter. Those who matter are in the headquarters of the party. They should go and deliver the candidate since they know Edo state more than us. We will be here watching.”

Elections in Nigeria be they party primaries or general elections are never well handled because the politicians themselves have a way of introducing unwholesome practices to the process. The first effort by the APC yielded 3 or 4 winners with the supposed victorious aspirant scoring as much as 40, 000 inflated votes. Luckily for the party, they had the courage to drop one of their experts who has cognate experience in garnering more votes than voters. The PDP primary election figures looked like a consensus amidst some aggrieved aspirants who allegedly scored zero votes plus one who organized his own primaries and declared himself winner.

In the case of the Labour party, one aspirant had to send a petition to INEC before his compromised party officials rushed to hold a contest in the 24th hour. The other faction has also announced its own winner. From the summarized scenario, there is no doubt that the parties would once again, surrender their internal matters to the courts. The authentic factions, the results submitted by only the legally authorised officials, the likelihood that some bonafide delegates may have been disenfranchised and other sundry matters would be determined shortly by the judiciary.

We can only hope that the judgments would not have versions in which the written and the oral would contradict each other. As we await further action, it is certain that not much has changed. Membership registers are still inaccurate; party officials still belong to camps making it difficult for them to be fair and just in handling members. National leadership groups, Board of Trustees etc. are all relying on elected members to organize stomach infrastructure for them.

Under the circumstance, truth would always be scarce just as no one would be ready to play the persuasive role in conflict resolution. Rather than sue for peace, the so-called elders would help their benefactors to rig every contest. In other words, insincerity will always adversely affect the emergence of peace-makers in Nigeria’s political parties. Except steps are taken to redress the situation, making ours a true democracy will remain hard to achieve amidst political manipulation and materialism in Nigeria’s governance framework which encourages conflicts in a system that has no peace-makers

 
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