Need For Ideology Based Political Parties
ABSENCE of ideology is a major threat to political stability and good governance in Nigeria. It is responsible for indiscipline among members, unruly behaviour among party officials and lack of accountability on the part of public officers. That is why Nigeria has more than 90 registered political parties even though, only two parties are always strong enough to win substantial number of seats at the national elections. It is also the case that governments at the state and national levels are run by fiat of a Chief Executive that does things at his own pleasure, or with conviction or pleasure of a ‘cabal’.
WHEREAS political parties are associations of men and women sharing a conviction on how best to undertake governance, competing to win elections, and share spoils of office, democracy is about popular participation, periodic elections, rule of law among others. Because there are diverse interests in any system, interest aggregation becomes imperative. This is the business political parties do. They constitute the main instrument of organisation and style. Political parties go about interest aggregation in two major ways, by formulation of the general policies that combine interests, and by recruiting personnel committed to a particular pattern of society. In terms of organisation, a political party may be authoritative, dominant, non-authoritative, competitive. The party system may be two-party or multi party competitive. In style, there could be secular-paradigm-bargaining, absolute-value-oriented or ideological particularistic or traditional.
THE Communist party in China or the defunct Union of Soviet Socialist Republic was authoritative and dominant. The United States of America operates a two party system whose presidential system makes for stability as in a fixed four-year tenure for general elections into the Executive and the Congress. Whereas in the United Kingdom, the Conservative and Labour Parties are most dominant, growing influence of smaller parties is undermining this classification and threatening its stability. Italy and other European democracies that have multi party, parliamentary system are ‘notorious’ for regime turn over, characteristics of multi party systems as often need to form government of coalitions. The political reform of the Babangida years that introduced National Republican Congress (NRC) and Social Democratic Party (SDP) needs a revisit. More than any other feature, the peaceful atmosphere in which June 12, 1993 elections were free, fair, credible and cost-effective should market it to politicians, political enthusiasts and public officers.
IN South Africa, African National Congress has dominated the political scene for almost a century. Its launch pad was nationalism seeking to abolish apartheid and now working hard to eliminate racial discrimination. It also seeks economic emancipation. Other parties in South Africa seek recognition by exposing corruption and hypocrisy in the ruling party. They consist mainly of youths and an emerging sub class of the ruling elite.
SINCE pre independence era, Ghana has nurtured a class of nationalists opposed to western imperialism and economic subjugation. There is also another class promoting competitive market forces. The Nigerian nationalists were mainly those believing in self government, provision of social infrastructure free or at affordable costs; those favorably disposed to Western dominance and sectional particularistic interests. Then the military came with its command system playing up several political characters without clear cut ideology.
THIS is a political climate in which every party does as it likes hustling all manners of members including many without integrity. Hence there is an urgent need for ideology based political parties.
AS to ideology which could be summarized as a preferred method of governance conceptualized and adopted for delivery of public goods and services, we need not go too far to get materials and references. Discussions, interviews and debates in the presidential electioneering 2019 suggest two major tendencies. On one hand, emphasis is on probity, accountability and infrastructural development.
THE other is a liaise faire tendency and privatization. The next level should be for government to promote debate at various levels, institution and sectors. Politicians and intellectuals should rework the principle and purpose of the Nigerian state from which political parties should each generate and produce an ideology. Absence of ideology we must remember, gives birth to defection or cross carpeting. Serial defectors automatically enjoy the status of leader in their new party whose health and prosperity do not concern them. They promote indiscipline through their antecedents relegating them to ‘repeater stations’ reactivated every four years for election purposes. Political socialization according to Gabriel Almond, the process of induction into the political culture brings about development of a set of attitudes among members of the system. There would be a new party system where members are initiated into politics and the parties are known on ideological platforms.