POLITICAL FORUM G50 TALKSHOW (POLITICAL PARTY STRUCTURE IN NIGERIA)
HON. EMMANUEL IBESHI
The theme of the 4th anniversary of this Forum speaks volumes for itself.
It is the easiest thing to google the internet and get out the main components that make up “good governance” in any nation, not necessarily Nigeria. And these are:
- Rule of Law. Good governance requires fair legal frameworks that are enforced by an impartial regulatory body, for the full protection of stakeholders.
- Transparency. …
- Consensus building. …
- Equityand Inclusiveness. …
- Effectiveness and Efficiency. …
- Accountability. …
According to Aldrich, Epstein and White, political parties bear labels that differentiate them from other sociopolitical institutions in the society. They are voluntarily formed associations in which common outlook or shared ideology supposedly attracts and binds members in the pursuit of predetermined goals. Parties are expressly committed to transforming their environments to reflect their values and ideologies through electoral politics and other legitimate means. Also because parties operate in liberal environments, they compete with each other for access to political power and resources in modern societies (Aldrich, 1995; Epstein, 1980; White, 2006).
There are various models of political parties ranging from the elite, cadre, caucus, mass, catch-all, cartel, and business-firm. But I am interested in the “catch-all” which seems prevalent in modern evolving democracies and is what the fits the mold of the PDP.
The catch-all model has the following elements that define their nature and distinguish them from other party models. The first is the receding significance of ideology which is evident in these parties. The second is the ascendance of leadership groups because of their contributions toward the success of the parties rather than their attachment to their original goals. The third is the loss of relevance which individual members suffered in managing the affairs of these parties. The fourth is the inclination of these parties to place less emphasis on social status and class when mobilizing support. The fifth is the gradual ascendance of special interest groups, mostly with financial and or political clout, in these parties especially in deciding their affairs (Kirchheimer, 1966).
I have been asked to speak on the POLITICAL PARTY STRUCTURE IN NIGERIA. This also is nothing strange to this august audience. Most of you here have been associated with political parties in Nigeria in one way or the other. However, I would want to concentrate on the PDP that I am more conversant with because I served the Party as the 1st elected National Publicity Secretary in 1999 during Chief Obasanjo’s first tenure.
In fact, it is remarkable that since the 1999 general elections that brought it to power, PDP has managed to remain the only party substantially intact from organizational point of view until 2015. Its two contemporaries, AD and APP, had suffered a less glorious fate. AD had split into factions, a situation which saw its decline and loss of relevance in Nigeria’s electoral space. APP, however, had merged with other parties and changed its identity and character. The formation of PDP dated back to the historic step taken in 1997 by a group of 18 eminent but angry Nigerians known as the G18. The grouse of this group led by the late Dr. Alex Ekwueme—Nigeria’s former vice president in the Second Republic—was Abacha’s militarization of the political space and his perceived plan to transform himself into a civilian president at the end of his transition program in 1998 (Osumah & Ikelegbe, 2009).
This group later expanded its membership to 34 and became known as G34. The fundamental mission which this group set for itself was the total and unconditional demilitarization of Nigerian politics. It called for democratization and even gave Abacha a deadline for the transfer of power to civilians (Osumah & Ikelegbe, 2009). Before Abacha could respond to the demands of the group, he died together with his perceived self-succession plan. Power changed hands and Gen. Abdulsalam Abubakar became Head of State. Under Gen Abdulsalam Abubakar, the political space was opened to interested players. With this development, a number of political associations mostly those denied registration by NECON under Abacha such as the All Nigeria Congress (ANC), Peoples Consultative Forum (PCF), Social Progressive Party (SPP), Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM), and Peoples National Party (PNP) joined G34 and formed a single umbrella organization—the PDP with Solomon Lar as its protem chairman. The party was registered with INEC on July 28 1998. Its performance in the local council elections of December 1998 made it the largest party with the widest geographical spread in the country. And unlike AD and APP, its two contemporaries, PDP had a truly national composition and outlook even at that period. Indeed, it was the only party that was not associated with any one ethnic or religious group in the country.
Basically all political parties in Nigeria have about the same structure comprising:
- (a) The Ward Executive Committee
- (b) The Ward Congress
- (c) The Local Government Area Executive Committee
- (d) The Local Government Area Caucus
- (e) The Local Government Area Congress
- (f) The Senatorial District Executive Committee
- (g) The Senatorial District Caucus
- (h) The State Working Committee
- (i) The State Caucus
- (j) The State Elders Committee
- (k) The State Executive Committee
- (l) The State Congress
(m)The Zonal Working Committee
- (n) The Zonal Executive Committee
- (o) The Zonal Congress
- (p) The National Working Committee
- (r) The National Caucus
(r)The Board of Trustees
(s)The National Executive Committee (t) The National Convention
The fundamental flaw in the political structure in Nigeria is
- Almost all organs of the party have been rendered powerless by a few comprising elected officials and financiers who have usurped the functions of these organs.
- The leadership recruitment process has been abused to the point where a national emergency needs to be declared across all political parties.
- The reward system has left party faithfuls yawning while thugs and cronies hold sway as a result of nepotism and parochial interest of those entrusted with elective mandates.
- Internal democracy is the least consideration in deciding party candidates for office or appointment irrespective of how critical credibility, capability and capacity affect the party’s fortunes in running the affairs of state outside interest of the esoteric conclaves.
- Party members live in a captive state, and feel obligated to compromise their individual integrity to be in the good books of the members of the conclave to be appointed into public office or to be eligible to be favored to run for an elective office, hence servile loyalty is demanded.
- Funding is completely at the hands of elected officials and favored contractors with godfathers who see organs of the party as a structure to sustain their dominance on the party
- There is a “shut out” of merit and integrity as members of the public who have interest to serve in political office are either scared of dire consequences or backlash on family and streams of income available to them.
THE CAPTURED POLITY: Nigeria has become a captured polity where their common interests cannot be realized because they have all been held hostage by political parties who seem to have consolidated their grip in fostering parochial interests of financiers or conclaves whose ideologies are a million miles away from the wellbeing of citizenry through good governance. Nigerians hardly know a choice they can confidently make amidst what has been thrust on them after 20 years of democratic rule between 1999 to date. The recent licensing of 23 new political parties attests to the hunger and frustration of a hungry public for good governance.
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
- The organs and structure of the parties as outlined show clearly that the game of politics and influence peddling in Nigeria reside with whoever has control of these structures. Whoever has control can instill his ideals and values on how the leadership recruitment process can be directed
- Institutions that mold and shape opinion and are supposed to be agents for good governance (churches and mosques) because of their spiritual role MUST roll up their sleeves and get in the ring of political activism and sponsor men and women of integrity to partake in politics bearing in mind the effects and injunctions on the ecclesia and the state. The functions are very distinct, but the effect is generic permeating the fabric of society.
- The churches especially MUST think of evangelism more in terms of replicating heaven on earth by activating THY KINGDOM COME, THY WILL BE DONE IN EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN through actively infiltrating the political space with ready, available and willing DAVIDS, DANIELS and JOSEPHS ready to serve in the political vineyards as agents of change and ready to evangelize through godly living and selfless service to gain more souls for the kingdom than being expansionist in establishing outreaches and building large state-of-the-art auditoriums without any spiritual or human development impact for a society dying for effective and purposeful leadership.
- Strengthening of democratic institutions. We must look into political activism with an aim to strengthen institutions of state. If we must take power, we MUST as a matter of cause, have in mind the determination to enroll, campaign and vote in party leaders whose aim is to strengthen democratic institutions and enforce the rule of law and make all accountable for the benefit of all and not a select few. This cannot be achieved without successfully permeating the political space by intentional, purposeful and strategic collaboration of individuals with integrity and selfless expectations in ALL FAITHS
- Funding of a sincere political party MUST give opportunity to all stake holders to contribute. Funding limits must be placed on all in order to allow for equal stake holding and uninhibited contributions in shaping the values and ideology of the party in caucus meetings as well as freedom to elect best candidates of the party through consensus building and internal democracy
If the ecclesia focuses on modern evangelism through good governance and pays more attention to political evolution, they would aim to penetrate every fiber of the political spectrum and control their decision making organs to enthrone righteousness to exalt a nation as the bible advises. They must aim to get vocal members into Ward Executives, Local Government Executives, State Executives and National Executives of viable parties to be able to craft an ideology by which political parties can be recognized. This must cut across faiths to effect the much needed change envisaged to make the right impact necessary for the much needed expectations of Nigerians and Africa in general.
The Declaration of Independence in America was just that; a declaration to the British that the American colonies were to be independent of their rule. The Declaration of Independence was the catalyst for the changes in government and the establishment of the freedoms America has today. America was to become the envy of all other nations because of a mission for the pursuit of happiness for all. The Declaration of Independence was much more than an opportunity for rebellious and political men to make a statement or to boost their own egos. It was a document that carried with it severe consequences as well as priceless gifts for future generations.
In signing their names to the Declaration of Independence, the signers were effectively signing away their protection and anonymity from British forces. John Hancock, president of the Continental Congress, probably had the most cause for fear as he was the leader of the revolution against the British. True, he was described as a flamboyant character who liked attention. But his large signature on the Declaration of Independence was not to boost his own ego. It was a powerful response to a decree that had been delivered from England in early 1776 offering a large reward for his capture and the capture of several leading figures. On signing the Declaration in his famously clear and obvious way he commented, “The British ministry can read that name without spectacles; let them double their reward.”
In the time following the signing of the Declaration of Independence we see that the British threats were serious, as five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died. This was done because at the time, the signing of the Declaration of Independent was an act by the signers to fight their own government. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned, losing all of their earthly possessions. Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army; another had two sons captured. Nine of the fifty-six fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War.
Yet with all of the risks, these 56 men knew that in order to create the nation of freedom that they dreamed of, they would need to take a stand. These men were influential, wealthy, popular, educated, and talented. They represented leading authorities in many professions. Thomas Jefferson alone was a lawyer, agronomist, musician, scientist, philosopher, author, architect, inventor, and statesman. These men had everything to lose and risked it all to declare that citizens of America would no longer be forced to be subject to the whims of unfair British rule. Because they did, America lives in a nation with liberty and justice; a nation that is united and seeks to foster general welfare and justice for all of who have the privilege of being Americans.
Nigerians have no lesser expectations. Nigerians are waiting for the General Overseers of Mega Churches and Imams who believe in leading souls to heaven to lay the foundation by leading Nigerians to seeing the law as the protector of all, education as available for all, healthcare not a privilege but available for all, utilities and infrastructure not a preserve of the rich and influential but a necessity for ALL and to lead the advocacy towards realizing same for all. Nigerians are waiting to see legal luminaries spearhead a judicial revolution by taking cases that affect the fundamental human rights of indigent citizens who pro bono for the advancement of our democracy. Nigerians are waiting to see legal luminaries file cases against members of the Bar and Bench known to collude with political gladiators to deprive the polity of viable and capable candidates with the manipulation and twisting of the judicial process for fat pay checks. Nigerians are waiting to see gallant security personnel disobey evil orders to shoot, kill or maim innocent Nigerians with “orders from above” and face court-martials or dismissals. It takes consistent, hard work at mentoring, advocacy and deliberate stoicism to achieve this. My prayer is that this 4th anniversary wont be another talk shop but would advance the cause of this group that started as a social media Forum to a level where Nigerians would be awakened from their deep docility to stand up and demand for what the inalienable rights and freedoms are.
Those to lead this crusade are not Nigerians of small means. These are Nigerians of high estate who believe in generations to come and who are ready to lay a foundation for that Nigerian dream of being the giant of African in content and context. These are Nigerians who have big names, deep pockets and large influence. The absence of this kind of patriotic awakening will definitely lead to disastrous consequences in the near future where social disobedience maybe inevitable resulting in a worse dimension than Rwanda.
My question is, do we have to wait for a Rwandan experience???
May God bless and keep Nigeria
Hon. Emmanuel A. Ibeshi