By Prof R. A. Ipinyomi, University of Ilorin, Nigeria
Nigeria is running a multiparty system in theory, or at least a quasi form of it, but in practice Nigerian politicians all want to belong to a winning party. They seem to lack the necessary capacity to appreciate and run the multiparty system because of the seemingly lack of understanding and lack of adequate knowledge about democracy and about governance. For now, it would apear that Nigerians’ attitude towards party formation and management is not driven by any underling ideologies and programmes but from a calculated attempt to hijack leadership power by cabalism of like minds. Nothing binds members of political parties together beyond position seeking, national wealth sharing and ability to run down opposing views by all means. We end up having artificial political parties and toxic leadership.
The story of PDP should be written at another occasion and by great experts and insiders ready to be honest and uneconomical with the truth. How did they come together in 1998, who did what, and others? Why did some leaders leave the party and others publicly tore their membership cards? If the foundation of a house is good the house may leak during a heavy storm but because of its perfect foundation it may not fall. Whereas if the foundation had been poor its roofs may not leak but storms can carry the entire house away. PDP should look into its book and refusing to go into extinction.
I met some brilliant young PDP members recently who radiated some hope with enthusiasm, provided those old recycling men would allow them run the affairs of the party. There is a misnomer and a misunderstanding too between government and governance, between a ruling party and who may serve in that, between politics and politicians. You can be a successful politician without ever winning a government and you can be a winning politician and an unhappy one at the end. Everyone should endeavour to understand his or her callings and staying therein. This is part of the school of thought of these young up coming PDP members I met. They had been around for a while but the older ones always suppressing their views and voices because of money. Over confidence is killing the older generation because they had always lived in total impunity and alacrity all their lives; above the law individuals. Many courts in the land are ready to give judgement in their favour. A PDP crisis by projection can destroy our legal system and destroy also the entire political spectrum. It is PDP that can save itself.
Why, for example, would a PDP Senator wish to share in an APC government without a priori agreement between the two parties? What gives him a sense of protection, safety and a probability of success in his political gambling mission? Whose interest is being served? Such an apparent greed for power hijacking, from individual arrangement, would rob the entire system directly or indirectly. On the other hand if an APC with majority of seats in Senate has failed to form it’s government it may negotiate with other parties for cooperation and sharing of positions. Therefore the consequences of erronous steps taken by individual politicians actually have great consequences on their respective political parties beyond the immediate time. If a PDP is in crises today it is the result of accumulated wrong assumptions of each elected member of PDP at one time or the other. A honest house or honest political party should not have been in a crisis of leadership, crisis of convention concealed, crises of litigation, etc. There would have been enough common ground, enough love and enough measure of unity of purpose to forestall such crises.
This is not to assume that the ruling party APC is in a healthy state. No, it is not a healthy party because it has allowed, through its weaknesses, an intruder to lead it’s Senate by sharing government with an opponent who at the same time is working as opposition. APC was asleep when the leadership of Senate was being elected. It is a sign of failure on the part of APC but the entire PDP has to pay the price of behaving the way it’s members have behaved. Many politicians just wake up to think that whatever has not been spelt out in the book is permissible. Again it is no, because the law has both the spiritual and the physical interpretations and whete the two must agree to avoid confusion. The first of our unsolicited suggestion in reducing the crises in PDP is that all members of that party must leave APC to govern and return to heal all the wounds already being inflicted on PDP. Just as PDP may think it could make governance impossible for APC to attain, in the same vien APC can actually destroy PDP to the point of extinction, especially because many of PDP members want to occupy positions at the expense of party integrity. Individuals have integrity just like political parties have integrity to defend. Integrity means that there are limits of behaviour and expectations beyond which is a rejection region. Ability to operate only within the accepted region is some level of integrity. Politicians are supposed to be very loyal to the party that elected them and not work alone as individuals. Even when an individual is building political bridges and connections, the principle of party loyalty remains supremo or they are accused as disloyal to the party. Lack of party integrity can ruin not only a PDP but all the other political parties in the land. Thus when a former president was quoted saying that the very political party, the PDP, that elected him twice is dead, we think that he is only advising the party to brace up otherwise they could be dead.
Nigerian politicians have to understand and correct what we are referring to as “toxic leadership”, the type they are providing. By toxic leadership we mean leadership that does not transition to development in a timely way, and public compassion becomes toxic. When leadership does not transition to development in a timely way, it becomes toxic. We hardly intend to, but we can hurt those we seek to help. So when we end up hurting those we intend to help we may also call that a toxic leadership. Similarly President Buhari’s intentions may be to providing a genuine leadership to move the nation forward and reduce the society inequalities as possible. The Nigeria public has many imposed expectations on Buhari irrespective of the state of the economy, social unrest, Buhari’s personal limitations, and so on. If his administration will have no quick positive impact on the society, especially it’s welfare, development and security then his also will be an example of a toxic leadership; a “cloud without rain” leadership.
As leaders, people expect us to have the answers. They look to us for vision and direction. They seek us out to solve their problems and provide creative solutions. And, more often than not, we are happy to meet these expectations without objection. Sometimes we even derive internal gratification helping and working for the public. The reality is that we like providing answers, casting vision, solving problems, and receiving all the admiration that comes with doing so. University professors like to think that the know all the answers and their students like such confident and friendly professors. It feels good to be needed. More than that, being able to deliver what people need is what legitimates our leadership. It’s what makes us feel competent. It’s also what makes our leadership toxic.
Therefore it is all up to PDP and his family doctor to know whether the party is dead or still alive. The young men I met in Lokoja, Abuja and here in Ilorin recently are not ready to participate in the burial rites of PDP but to see more of the dead woods in their party buried. They have great expectations for their party and they are totally against the Buhari’s administration to a hate level. That is the hope of some young Nigerians in PDP who believe in themselves and in the country. Politicians who mined oil wells and pipelines, politicians who armed their regions and prepare their youths for war, are actually the ones dead needing burials. Many of us may never be appointed even as commissioners of states let alone governors or presidents and yet we will be successful and happy. The decease we suspect that may finally kill PDP is “inability to provide the party a true leader beyond those who have stolen monies”.
Prof R. A. Ipinyomi