Recent political events indicate that as much as things change, they seem to remain the same. From the spate of defections in the polity to the drama surrounding the primaries of the three major parties in the Anambra State governorship election, the political culture in the country appears to be on a steady decline.
In the case of the latter, the conduct of parallel primaries and emergence of two candidates and the claims and counterclaims that trailed the processes do not just leave so much to be desired but captures the depth of crisis in party administration in the country.
From the point of view of this newspaper, it appears that there is no conscious effort to arrest the drift so as to build some form of system to infuse a modicum of morality into the political system vis-a-vis the political consciousness of the party leadership. There is no gainsaying the fact that the political parties are bereft of any discernible ideological pathway.
From self-centred defections, gross indiscipline of party faithful to distasteful money politics and resort to violence, political parties have continually lost the very essence of their formation, if there was any in the first instance.
The concept of party discipline and supremacy seems to have been confined to history as it were. Parties today are a far cry from the platforms for robust exchange of ideas on how to manage the complex affairs of state and forge a clear narrative on how to project the country.
Instead they have increasingly become decrepit vehicles for the attainment of parochial, pecuniary interests.
We recall with nostalgia how the political system operated in the past especially in the second republic when political parties, though imperfect, didn’t just have firm control of political structures but more essentially, the quality of governance. It is told how elective office holders would often appear before party leadership to account for their stewardship in the light of the party’s manifesto with which they contested and won political positions.
Presently, adherence to party manifesto is at the whim and caprice of political office holders who largely dictate to the leadership how the party should run, a situation which fuels the alienation of office holders from the people they ought to serve. It is no wonder then that the quality of governance has over the years depreciated, culminating in unemployment, corruption and the level of insecurity that are so pervasive.
And as the party politics become more attuned towards serving as an access to public funds rather than to serve the public, the intense battles to secure positions have become warlike. Perhaps it is for reasons like this that some have argued that there is a nexus between the current instability in the country and the crisis in political parties.
This newspaper will not flow with the argument that what is manifesting in political circles is reflective of a stage in the political evolution process especially after the long military sojourn. The thinking for those who share this view is that the political consciousness is yet to rise above the effects of years of military rule.
However, we believe that the quality of political engagement in the country cannot afford to depreciate any further than what we are experiencing. It is time to have a rethink on how the parties are managed at the moment. The thinking that they exist solely for winning elections and securing parochial interests should be jettisoned ahead of the next election. The quality of political leadership should be raised beyond what is happening today because it is a strong ingredient in the drive for quality governance.
Therefore, we suggest that the recruitment process into political party administration should be critically looked at. It would seem like the only benchmark on how party leaders emerge is solely on the patronage of key party stakeholders. This scenario has contributed to making party leadership more tailored to the interest of a few persons rather than to the overall interest of the ideals of the party and by extension that of the nation.
On the whole, the need to have ideology-driven political parties cannot be overemphasised. Beyond stemming the symptomatic issue of defections, ideological driven parties would largely help to build the strong party structures and help enhance accountability in governance.
This is critical at this time not just because the major parties are embarking on massive membership drives across the country but because they have been posturing their platforms as the best for the teeming youths. We don’t expect that the current set of political leaders should transfer political structures lacking in political ideology and morality.