OFFICIALLY, political parties had begun their campaigns since September 28, and therefore Nigerians ought to have tasted more than a whiff of their political campaigns. However, THE HOPE observes that this has not been the case. Rather, we have observed a lot of rhetorics and noise making mostly by supporters of candidates across ethnic and age divides. The major contestants on the other hand have been battling with the constitution of canvassers and mending broken fences in their political parties. Thus, junketing in and out of the country for peace meetings and consultations had taken preeminence over the actual business of building, articulating and proclamation of both parties and candidates manifestoes.
MANIFESTOES are not verbal vituperation meant to sway peoples’ sympathy and emotions for vote casting. Rather, manifesto, just like the well-known Communist manifestoes, is a written statement ‘declaring publicly the intentions, motives or views of the issuers’. It is therefore a reference point write-up detailing verifiable intentions, promises and focus of parties and candidates.
RIGHT now, we observe that the dearth of manifestoes is traceable to the absence of party manifestoes. The foundation of a viable manifesto is the function of political parties. Unlike what is prevalent in Nigeria, candidates are supposed to operate within the confines of their party’s basic ideology. Political parties in Nigeria lack basic ideology and loyalists to party ideals. This lack of ideology is what makes it easy for power loving politicians to defect conveniently from one party to another, and blend comfortably. Also, the lack of party ideologies has made it difficult to differentiate one political party from the other; made choices difficult and promotes vote buying.
AS of now, many political parties and candidates only copy programmes, talk peripherally on them, and promise to provide the needs of the people. Thus, there is a regurgitation and recycling of programmes without a concrete methodology of action that would deliver to the people. It is therefore common for parties and persons to role out many points agenda that are not premised on any ideology. Therefore, the lack of concrete manifesto has made many political parties to deny many promises made to the people, and seemingly get away with it. Nigeria’s democracy has come to an age where the chanting of songs, proverbs and jabs are presented as party manifestoes.
WE also reiterate that vocalized candidates’ promises and programmes cannot be accepted as manifestoes, since political parties are the harbingers of candidates’ actions and inactions. We therefore insist that political parties must have published and widely disseminated manifestoes (not just programmes) that generations would continue to pursue within that party. Beyond the mudslinging and cynic call to violence, citizens, must by Parties’ manifestoes, be able to predict the activities of political parties and candidates when in power. This lack of party manifesto is the reason for policy somersaults, abandoned policies, projects, programmes and developmental projects; and of course, the implosion of political parties in Nigeria.
POST-INDEPENDENCE political parties in Nigeria were distinguished by their manifestoes which they adhered to, through the years of their existence, and therefore had fanatical followership based on magnetic force of these manifestoes. We recall that even the SDP and NRC of the Babangida era had manifestoes hinged on the budded ideology of being a little to the right and a little to the left. Over the years, Nigeria’s focal point has been on the areas of education, security, economy, national integration, foreign policy and fiscal federalism.
ON these hang other issues of industrialization, national development and corruption. Therefore, industrious, dedicated, loyal and true political parties should be able to develop unambiguous mission statements, processes, method and means of addressing all these issues within their stipulated perceptions, interpretations, analysis and understanding of the nation-state and her position in the comity of nations.
WE also implore Nigerians to shun festivities camouflaged as campaigns. Rather, we all should demand for party manifestoes, verifiable programmes and concrete appraisable intentions of parties and candidates. To this end, Nigerians must demand that candidates and parties participate in national debates, media engagements and town hall meetings that would serve as platforms of interaction between the people and those seeking to govern them.
ONLY these would enable Nigerians to make rational decisions in the forthcoming elections and subsequent elections. The manifestoes of political parties are the signed contract between the rulers and followers, and we insist that it must be publicized and endorsed by all parties and candidates for the purpose of accountability.