Nigeria’s political parties have many similarities than differences, the only visible difference being their names. It is sad we lack the opportunity to vote in terms of party ideology rather; we vote for personalities. This is because the best voters could do in the absence of party ideology is to look for the candidate of their choice.
Political parties during the days of the Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s Action group (AG), for instance, were social democrats, and when you voted AG, you would be sure to access free education if the group won the election. Today we lack parties that prioritize the needs of the citizens.
Parties are no longer after the doctrines, myths or beliefs; they do not offer anything special to differentiate them from other parties.
While the people may desire change in the government, they also want credible ideologically grounded candidates and not those forced on them by the political parties or the so-called political ‘godfathers.’
I have observed carefully how our Politicians talk during campaigns without a definite belief in what they can offer better than their rival parties in power. It is not enough to identify your opponent’s weaknesses or failures using all sorts of dirty tactics to malign their image in the eyes of the citizens. Most of them capitalize on what other parties have done wrong and how it all went wrong. It does not even stop at that; they also go as far as blackmailing each other all in a bid to gain the upper hand going in the elections.
The citizens are becoming more enlightened; they are making wiser decisions than in the past. As the saying goes once beaten twice shy, the people cannot afford to continue to be played over and over by political gimmicks.
The absence of ideology in Nigeria’s political parties is of great concern. Parties are no longer after the doctrines, myths or beliefs; they do not offer anything special to differentiate them from other parties. All they talk about is what the other party in power is not doing for the people. They use this as bait for the citizens without any clear definitions of how they intend to achieve what is inculcated in their manifestoes. Some of them lack manifestos; they clearly rely on the ability of their party’s ability to rig elections for them.
The parties’ agenda for the nation matters a lot. The agenda of parties influences the decisions of a few of the voters at the polls. Voters should look at the bigger picture of governance rather than looking on the popularity of the parties.
The approaches to be used to achieve the set agendas matter most. A government may promise to deliver a lot of things and yet they are impossible to deliver since the ideological grounding is lacking and resources are limiting. More often, we read in the newspapers or hear politicians in their inaugural speech unveiling seven-point agendas; some go as far as ten or fifteen point agendas. Eventually at the end of their governance period, they have not achieved any of the agendas outlined.
I strongly believe that younger politicians are far more likely than their conservative elders to implement massive reforms. And that means four years from now Nigeria should strive to have a young ideologically driven president with the motivation to not only espouse reforms, but implement them, too.