A few days ago, 39 political parties including the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) and a breakaway faction of the All Progressives’ Congress (APC) agreed to form an alliance called Coalition for United Political Parties (CUPP) to “put an end to nepotism and tribalism”; but more importantly, to produce a candidate capable of defeating President Muhammadu Buhari in next year’s elections.
Does that sound familiar? Yes it does.
It was almost the same exact lines used by the now defunct All Nigeria Peoples’ Party (ANPP), the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and a splinter faction of the PDP when they merged in 2013 to form the APC.
“We resolve to form a political party committed to the principles of internal democracy, focused on serious issues of concern to our people, determined to bring corruption and insecurity to an end, determined to grow our economy and create jobs in their millions through education, housing, agriculture, industrial growth etc, and stop the increasing mood of despair and hopelessness among our people.”
Like now, the sole aim of the APC was to unseat former President Goodluck Jonathan, which was a success for them.
It is quite a role reversal for the parties, but following the same format and having many of the same actors. As a matter of fact, the quote above came from Chief Tom Ikimi, who headed the merger committee for the ACN – and who read the memorandum at the formation of CUPP on behalf of the PDP.
Nigerian politics is a lot of revolving doors and a game of musical chairs at the same time. It also involves a lot of sloganeering; as you observe, the parties used the same lines without going into specifics on how they intend to achieve them. Don’t hold your breath waiting for the specifics either. In the coming months, we will have many more of such situation, including at the state levels.
It is easy to say that this is good for our democracy as these politicians are only exercising their constitutional right to freedom of association while giving the electorate more options on who they will want to govern them.
But it begs the question: what comes out of all this politicking? Why have we been barely moving since 1999 when we returned to democracy? Why are we still such an under-achieving nation?
It seems that we believe that a democracy is only about elections, and we vote just for the sake of it. There is no debate on how voting for one party or candidate over the other leaves us the better for it – and our politicians have mastered the art of giving us fluff over substance.
We will hear of alliances, meetings, grand schemes and all sorts of machinations between now and the elections. But not for once will the agenda of these meetings be how to change the narrative of Nigeria being the poverty capital of the world, or how to reduce our huge budget deficit and indebtedness or how to provide infrastructure quickly.
It is almost as you cannot trust a group of Nigerian politicians to achieve anything as much as change a light bulb. They only delight in holding political power without having any idea on how to wield it for the benefit of the majority of the population.
As the 2019 elections approach, it is very important that we do not get carried away by such antics. We must demand explanations from those seeking to govern us on how they will do things differently. They must answer the tough questions, and we must ask the right ones too.
Rhetoric and personalities should not be enough to make anyone be in government. It is what we have been doing all the while and look where it has taken us so far.
Until we the electorate push these politicians to act better, they will not because it is not in their interest. Counting on their altruism to be better is akin to asking turkeys to vote for Christmas.
We deserve better, and we should demand for better.