Tuesday, 30 August 2016

2019: Join a Political Party Now by Bobby Udoh

The famous Abraham Lincoln’s definition of democracy is: government of the people, by the people and for the people. This has been our longest democratic dispensation (17 years) since independence but there has been very little democratic growth.

We must get involved politically now and to do so, we must stop calling or seeing politics as a dirty game. A lot of decent people have vacated the political scene, leaving it to be dominated by people of questionable character. Yet, our political leadership at all levels, policies and national programmes for our development, are determined by politics.

Interestingly, while most Nigerians are scared of politics, they do have political views and do express them strongly and consistently on social media and wherever two or more Nigerians gather. Also, many are active members of one association or another (Alumni, Cultural, Social, Religious groups) which means, Nigerians have what it takes to become active players in the political scene.

2019 general election is just 2 years and 9 months away (if we stick with February elections). In politics, this is a short time away. So, what must we do?

Join a leading political party: More Nigerians, with a heart for Nigeria’s development, need to register as members of PDP and APC to refine the parties’ organisation, quality of candidates, improve funding, increase transparency and enable a level playing field of all.

With more credible Nigerians as members, the influence of huge moneybags, powerful Governors and Legislators will be reduced.

Join one of the emerging political parties: Since most Nigerians have a huge dislike for PDP and APC and consider them unchangeable, more Nigerians need to research into parties such as KOWA and then register with the party of their choice.

The emerging parties have less moneybags and godfathers and as such, they are likely to be more democratic and innovative.

Join hands with like-minds to form a political party: For those who desire to work with people who share the same mindset and core values, forming a new political party is the route to go. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has guidelines published on their website on how to register a political party. It is not complex.

What can we bring to our political parties?

Party Manifesto: Many citizens who have great ideas will get involved in developing party manifestos that will harness our numerous resources for our development.

Imagine for a minute what 2019 elections will look like if many political parties presented well researched manifestos and how that will influence the quality of debates between the parties. I believe the rivalry will cause all parties to raise their game.

Party Organisation: We can bring such expertise from running social, cultural and religious groups into political parties to ensure an effective and efficient party secretariat is operational at national, state and local government levels.

An effective party organisation will ensure most members pay dues, special levies and the money raised from donors and sales of candidate forms are properly utilised, cutting down the influence of moneybags.

An effective party organisation will also aid more quality member recruitment; good publicity of the party and her programmes long before elections; organise rallies to reach the grassroots and gain support; run a vibrant youth wing introducing youths into politics from an early stage, etc.

Party in Opposition: We will raise the quality of opposition as better run political parties properly hold the current government to account by highlighting loopholes in their policies to citizens.

Good opposition parties will offer citizens alternatives to a specific policy or approach. This way, the quality of our national debate and the understanding of the masses, is greatly improved to ensure better line of citizen action in response to government.

Party Primaries: The quality of party primaries for all elective positions will improve and that will encourage more credible Nigerians to put their selves forward for office. These will also de-emphasise the power of money and emphasise the power of ideas and credibility.

Credible party members will replace people with little or no idea about governance as delegates to party primaries thereby ensuring credible candidates represent the party. When several parties present credible candidates, the campaigns will likely be of good quality and whoever wins is likely to be a significant improvement on what we have currently.

Also, emphasis will not only be placed on Presidential and Governorship positions. We will ensure credible candidates are put forward for Local Government Chairmanship and Councillorship, State and National Assembly positions and non-elective positions such as Advisers, Ministers, Commissioners and Heads of MDAs.

Summary

It is pertinent to note that there must be a change in mindset and core values in us in order for us to deliver a different outcome in our political parties from what currently exists. The fact remains, most of our best educated and exposed citizens (especially those called Technocrats) are not involved in party politics and this must change.

So, any citizens with a passion for Nigeria’s growth must get involved in party politics. Which political party will you join?

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