By Salisu Uba Kofar Wambai
One of the basic tenets of democratic principles is building political parties on sound ideological ground. Ideology is an orientation that characterised the thinking of a group or nation. Thus, the people of the same thoughts on running public affairs come together to establish a party, preaching the gospel of a particular ideology to ascertain its primary objective in government or public sphere if they’re voted through an electoral process.
However, the missteps and embarrassing blunder committed by the Nigerian politicians in the party formation in 1998-1999 democratic process was enormous, and the country is paying the huge price now. The politicians then were overwhelmed with the military government’s commitment to hand over power to the civilians. Unfortunately, they hurriedly built the parties; thereby, the ideological consideration of the politicians was grossly undermined. The parties were just a kind of machine to let the military go.
The people democratic party (PDP) encompassed and encapsulated politicians of different ideologies by looking at their political background, which is the machine that shapes and moulds their thoughts and ideological thinking style. How can one explain forming a party with unrepentant progressives like Abubakar Rimi, Solomon Lar and topnotch conservatives like Lawal Kaita and Alex Ekueme in the same party! They had different ideological backgrounds by all calculations. They were purely strange bedfellows.
The other two most notable parties then were APP and AD. APP were just people who lost grips of power with the death of General Sani Abacha with revivalism agenda, and AD was nothing more than ethnic and regional irredentists. Therefore, the parties were all ideological-free. Their main aim was only to let the military go and let the civilians take over.
The PDP experienced intense intraparty wrangling and turmoil because the party’s bigwigs were not ideologically the same. And this led to much chaos and internal divides among them, which led to a new crop of politicians as governors hijacking the party and get rid of them politically with the backup of the presidency. It was the beginning of governor-turn-emperor as we see it today.
Retrospectively, in the First and Second Republics, the politicians had based-ideology. For example, it was NEPU that produced Malam Aminu Kano, who had been a minister and yet died with only 112 Naira in his bank account because the ideology of his party was to emancipate the masses from the subjugation of elites and traditional oligarchs who formed their NPC as a party with their aim of maintaining the status quo. And in the Second Republic still, the parties were ideological because PRP was an offshoot of NEPU, and NPN was NPC. That’s why the politics then was not much of the money-bags type. The political parties’ members were committed to bringing change according to their ideological bearings.
The politics of ideology produced the likes of former governor Balarabe Musa, who died with only his old tractor as a farmer. It produced people like Abubakar Rimi, who had to secure a bank loan as a governor before he built his house and left the government house with only 50 thousand Naira in his possession. It produced Aminu Kano, who had not even had a paltry freezer in his room, rather a traditional (randa) muddy-pot.
We had equally seen the lifestyle of Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa and the late Northern Premier Sir Ahmadu Bello Sardauna. It was all politics of ideology that made them. They all left this world owning only a local house in their towns when they could accumulate a lot had wished so.
Today’s ideology of our politicians is nothing more than gripping onto power, begin to run the governments like their personal companies, enrich themselves at the expense of the masses, building mansions, accumulating senseless wealth through looting and embezzlement, creating laws that only serve their interest, flaunting their newfound wealth and leaving their subjects dying in poverty and diseases.
Nevertheless, you can hardly find a politician who represents his people in the National Assembly, not a billionaire or close to billionaire status today. You can only see the effects of all these borrowings with them, leaving the electorate with no security and with nothing called social amenities.
It is up to our youth to form or join the ideological political trains, form parties of explicit ideologies, and bring positive changes if they want their names to be written with gold and remembered as heroes like Aminu Kano.
Salisu Uba Kofar Wambai writes from Kano State and can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you, Sir!
As you rightly pointed out, our political parties are ideology-free. This is apparent given the image of how our politicians cross-carpets to any party that suits their interest at their desired time. How I wish the electorates can be wise enough to hold onto Prof. Jega’s sermon.