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Building a Balance Political Participation in Nigeria

Prof. R. A. Ipinyomi

By Prof. R.A. Ipinyomi, University of Ilorin, Nigeria

In the field of inter-party relations our goal is to bring about a peaceful competition and stability among political parties. Periodic conflicts among different political parties are inevitable. Ideally political parties should emerge from different ideological basis and therefore inter-party conflicts cannot be eliminated but minimized by using various techniques diplomatically and strategically. We notice that conflict between states is best solved by the concept of balance of power. The simple definition of “balance of power” between two (or more) political parties is when the two parties have fairly equal chances of winning in the election. That option is to be preferred to a situation whereby one party is extremely bigger than any one of the opposition parties; such may often lead to or simply look like a one party state. Generally a one-party state is anti-democratic and may be anarchical or dictatorial in practice.

PDPThe type of balance of power we define should offer a comparatively sustainable solution to bring about peace and order among conflicting political parties and forcing them to work together and respect each other.  When a political party designs for itself multiple strategies to win an election other than through a free and fair election a dangerous disagreement may break out.  If the state involves has an asymmetry political system that is one party is very dominant whilst others are insignificant by numbers, the electorates and the communities can only grumble and be apathetical. An asymmetric political setting is usually indicated by one political party having excessive majority of elected members. The concept of balance of power ideally ensures that power is distributed in such a way that no single party is able to dominate the entire political system or all the various arms of governments. The objective is to ensure inclusive governance, participatory democracy, speedy and even development of the entire land space which are the beauty of democracy. The other objective is the hope that each segment of the society would find the opportunity to advance self economic resources, determine the distribution of national wealth and play a central role in establishing which parties occupy the positions of major state powers. When a state is successful in this balancing strategy the consequence is the insurance of peaceful co-existence of citizens and it is a precondition of the preservation of the state development system.

This brings us to the main stream of this discussion as it relates to Nigeria, a very fluid and uncertain political environment. Nigeria is where one wakes up one morning and discovers that many of the so called big politicians are shifting from one political party to another. At another morning the shifting continues from a party to another. These movements are not determined based on political agenda or national constitutional requirements but individuals and group disagreements. These men and women have very little or no interest in our collective peaceful and sustainable existence but only on self expressions or personal gain calculations. Their movements ought to have originated from their meetings at ward levels, say following the advice or otherwise of majority of their respective ward members. Nigerian politicians are not only fluid and self centred they have little interest in their wards or members of the wards. For example we challenge each one of the elected officers anywhere in Nigeria to publish the situations or states of their respective communities before and after their elections. You would find that roads that were passable before are now completely out of use or taking twice the number of hours to go through same kilometres, taps that were bringing little water, say one hour in a week before, are now totally dried up every day, schools that had many qualified teachers before now have only teachers that are always on strike because governments fail to honour simple agreement and Biology Teachers standing in as Additional Mathematics Teachers. More worrisome is the situation that a Senator in Nigeria is happy to be earning 2,000 times the minimum wages it is recommending for its citizens when he or she ought not to earn more than 20 times the so called minimum wage. The minimum wage of a nation is the baseline for political wage settings.

Hence there is no indication that the equally strong political parties we desire can ever emerge from a set of people always on their own personal agenda; their quests individually and collectively, whether in PDP or APC are just how to be in power through party A, party B, party C or any other way. During the time they were in opposition (or in power), instead of them to have used the opportunity to advance alternative courses and how to solve the larger Nigerian protracted underdevelopment in the midst of plenty, they went on a pilgrimage of different missions whose results would be unfolding on themselves in due courses. If a political party is not ruling well, or faced with both internal and external crises after crises, the PDP of Nigeria is one right now. Can the opposition cease on this opportunity or would they only lead us deeper into the dungeon of darkness and misery?

Unfortunately the stakeholders in the different political parties may only be engrossed with personal disagreements, egoisms, individual quests rather than for the first time see the miseries of the middle class citizens and the majority living below the poverty line and act. It was quick to have claimed at a certain time in Nigeria history that certain individuals were not Nigeria Messiahs but up till now no Messiah has arisen in Nigeria. The Messiah of Nigeria needs not be a politician but should contribute into locating a saviour for Nigeria. A system that can save Nigeria must involve a two-equally strong political system across the entire land space, irrespective of religious, ethnic, or cultural differences and built on a sincere level playing field. The way to get there is not through fighting, political bickering, malice and rancour but through fashioning economic and ideological masterpiece to enhance the vision of our people and on the basis of free-and-fair elections all the times.

We are therefore faced with two classes of thoughts and both classes are actually one set with one coming after the other. The first is the idea of making it through raw man power using a combination of money, guns, charms and thugs. This has been the idea in most developing countries where intimidation, kidnappings, assassination of opponents’ character or physically rain supreme. The second thought is the brain power through taking informed decisions and making the society realise the difference between deceitfulness and the reality truth, between magic and miracles through the science of truth and hard work. The apostles of “just now solution” or “just me and now” would never solve any of our socio-economic problems. Meanwhile embracing the “free and fair” elections approach, where the electorates dictate the tune, has both the short and long term effect to build the society.

Prof. R.A. Ipinyomi,

ipinyomira@yahoo.co.uk or/and raipinyomi@unilorin.edu.ng

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