By Rotimi Fasan
EVEN if nothing else comes out of the defeat of the Peoples Democratic Party in the presidential election of 2015, Nigerians should count themselves lucky once the defeat can lead to the consolidation of our politics by way of giving room for the formation of viable political parties. But this is if our politicians would allow it. From the look of things, however, Nigerian politicians are not prepared to see our so-called nascent democracy grow into something more enduring.
Otherwise, the defeat of the PDP at the presidential polls should not determine the fate of the party in the present or its future survival. Indeed, that the All Progressives Congress won the presidential election should be reason why those still in the PDP ought to be focussed on winning the governorship and other state elections. Rather than this, what Nigerians have witnessed since the declaration of Muhammadu Buhari as winner of the presidential election is a floodgate of defections by many card carrying members of the PDP.
So far the APC has been receiving them with open arms without for once raising questions about the true intentions of the defectors. This surely is a potent recipe for the destruction of the APC, and ultimately, Nigerian politics. Sooner than later, it would be obvious to the defectors, the APC and the rest of us watching from the sidelines, that we are back where we started from- the-winner-takes-it-all politics that ruined the PDP.
Should it not astonish us all how the victory of a party at a national election should cause members of the defeated party to practically close shop and seek to move en masse to populate the victorious party? Where then are the issues animating the professed ideologies of these parties? What are the goals that set them apart from their counterparts? When it comes to party politics and electoral contests, must Nigerians always have to choose between the lesser of two or more evils, the candidate less alienating than the others, and not the best available at all times? But that is our lot in Nigeria where politicians are not famous for principled pursuit of goals much less class. Muhammadu Buhari has defeated Goodluck Jonathan and henceforth everything he does is right. The APC automatically becomes the only party in town.
Elsewhere, a defeated party takes stock of its performance, assesses the reasons for its failure and goes back to the drawing board to plan for a better performance next time around. But here in Nigeria, that is never the case. The defeated insists on sharing in its opponent’s success, wants instant gratification and cannot abide to stay out in the cold of ‘opposition’ politics, while working to regain the trust of the people.
Everything must be ‘sharp-sharp’, instant and immediate. This is where the Nigerian voter has a job to do. Since Nigerian politicians cannot see beyond that which benefits them in the immediate, then Nigerian voters, the very same that terminated the tenancy of the PDP candidate in Aso RockVilla, should be ready to teach defecting members of the party and their overjoyed friends in the APC both the virtue of delayed gratification and the necessity of seeking the common good over and above group interest. It is rare to see either the Democrats or Republicans controlling both the White House as well as Capitol Hill at the same time. The Nigerian electorate must do the same for Nigeria.
If one must judge by the patterns of voting in some of the places where elections have been held in different parts of the country in the last two years or thereabout, Nigerian voters are getting more sophisticated. They have been able to send some politicians home where such politicians had thought they were in control, while retaining others against the wishes of bullying godfathers.
But the growing sophistication of the Nigerian voter is being stymied, even sabotaged, by the determination of the Nigerian politician to play politics of self and group interest. They live in the past and continue to operate in a manner that shows that what holds them together in their cult groups misnamed political parties, is their shared interest in the plundering of the country’s resources.
Nigerians have always known that what members of the PDP meant when they described their party as the only national party in the country is that their predation of the country is more ethnically diverse than that of rival parties. At the height of its power and even now, Nigerians from the various political and ethnic zones, can be found in the PDP, giving their incompetence a national colouration.
It is a well known fact that the APC, even prior to its recent victory in the centre, harbours a large population of disaffected members of the PDP in its fold. This makes it hardly different from the PDP. But now that Nigerians have made their choice of president at the polls, it would amount to a great betrayal (which is the defining character of Nigerian politics anyway) for the APC to blur the emerging line that the Nigerian electorate are trying to draw between the two parties by carelessly opening its doors in a ‘come-and-chop’ fashion to latter-day defectors from the PDP.
What Nigerians are hoping for with the current, post-March 28 party configuration, is the growth of at least two strong national parties in the fashion of the Democrats and Republicans in America or Labour Party and the Conservative Party in Britain. Aside these two parties, Nigerians can hope for several other smaller parties pursuing different agendas while not closing the door against independent candidates.
This is the path of growth and consolidation for party politics in Nigeria. Any other thing, especially anything along the line being followed by deserting members of the PDP and their welcoming friends in the APC, can only spell doom for the future. It is the way to a one party state, a civilian dictatorship that was our destination had the PDP won the 2015 presidential election.