Season of Inter-Party Endorsements By Joe Onwukeme
As the race to the rescheduled general elections get intense, many political parties have stepped up in their politicking, while front line political parties are putting finishing touches on their winning strategies, political parties who are in the race with an ulterior motives are already making their intentions known.
According to INEC, out of the 26 registered political parties in Nigeria, only 11 submitted names of candidates to run for the presidency and so far some political parties without presidential candidates have directly or indirectly endorsed presidential candidates of rival political parties as their candidate, in some states, political parties without governorship candidates have endorsed the ruling party’s governorship candidates in the states as their governorship candidates in the forth coming rescheduled general elections.
With less than a week to the rescheduled polls there have been rumours of presidential aspirants stepping down for the ruling party’s presidential candidate.
According to most of the political parties, the choice of the ruling party’s presidential candidate was guided by “national interest and consistency”.
These precipitous endorsements was not without a price. What most political parties consider before any endorsement, is a political party that has the machinery and wherewithal to lobby for endorsements and “share the money” at will and since the beginning of our modern democracy, the ruling party has never failed in any of the above criteria.
This development is in contrast to what was obtained in the first second and third republics when political parties had a clear cut ideology which they pursued fervently.
The beginning of a new democratic era in 1999 ushered in many political parties without clear cut ideologies and manifestos, most of the political parties of the 4th republic were created to undermine other political parties’ chances of winning election in favour of another party and so far they have lived up to expectation.
Beyond “national interest and consistency” on what basis was these endorsements by other political parties anchored? Why will progressive minded opposition parties who are reputed in left wing politics endorse candidate of a rival conservative party with a contrary ideology and manifesto as their presidential flag bearer against a major formidable progressive opposition party whose presidential flag bearer is also going neck-in-neck with the ruling party?
Why the sudden interest and increase in inter-party endorsements by political parties? And how come it is the ruling party PDP that is getting most of these endorsements? Are these political parties indirectly telling us “national interest and consistency” has become a case of “highest bidder takes it all”?
In a related development, the ruling party’s presidential candidate and his campaign handlers in the past 3 weeks have besieged the South West to solicit for their votes and have expended millions of naira to whatever group that poses a threat to the president’s re-election, with the largesse so far, South West are still negotiating and making concessions without any endorsement yet.
At the other hand, Ohanaeze Ndigbo an apex Igbo social-cultural group that represents the interest of Ndigbo in Nigeria has endorsed president Jonathan for another term without him negotiating with Ndigbo.
If not for few personal gains, why did they not wait for Mr. president to come to the South East and negotiate with Ndigbo before considering any endorsement? That would have given Ndigbo an opportunity to partake in the largesse other parts of the country have benefited so far from the incumbent government.
The end might have justified the means for some of these political parties in this forth coming general elections but the disadvantage far outweighs the advantage, apart from the money that may exchange hands before or after such endorsements, adopted political parties have many a time in the past won other elective posts in strong holds of some of the political parties that endorsed them. These development has ended many political parties in factions and their members defected to other political parties.
Inter-party endorsements does not really represent the interest of the people, it represents the interest of few career politicians whose political parties have little or no value in our polity, they are after what they will gain before or after the general elections, hence the need for the endorsement of the highest bidder.
Inter-party endorsements should be guided by parties’ ideologies and manifestos, left and right wings political parties have always been rivals in World politics because of their contrary ideologies, ours shouldn’t be an exception.
As we approach the reschedulled polls, inter-party endorsements have limited our choice between centre-right and left wing political parties. This development will only worsen the disparity that has been in existence between frontline political parties and other political parties. Thereby weakening political institutions and eroding representative democracy.
Joe Onwukeme: Writes from Enugu
I tweet @unjoeratedjoe