A gubernatorial aspirant in Oyo State, Professor Adeolu Akande, has said the All Progressives Congress, APC, needs a strong and honest leadership to be successful in the 2019 elections.
He said the experience of the party in the last four years has raised questions on the capability of the party and other parties in Nigeria to successfully play the role of political parties in a democracy.
Akande spoke as one of the guest speakers at a retreat orgnaised by the Edo State Government for newly elected members of the Edo State Executive Council of the APC.
Akande who teaches Political Science at the Igbinedion University, Okada, Edo State, identified the key factors for the success of any political party to include strong and honest leadership, an ideology or well spelt out philosophy or programmes, an efficient party bureaucracy, work ethics, accountability, good communication and a viable conflict resolution mechanism.
He also identified a viable financial system, robust membership and internal democracy as important variables for the success of the party.
Akande said the history of political parties in Nigeria including that of the APC raises questions about the capability of the parties to play the role of catalysts in the democratic dispensation.
According to him, the existing parties lack ideologies or distinctive philosophy and programmes that differentiate one party from another.
He explained that this lack of ideology or distinctive philosophy and programmes is responsible for the ease with which politicians decamp from one political party to another.
He revealed that “I was at a programme like this where I asked participants to identify the distinctive factor of the PDP. They all chorused “PDP.” The irony was that more that 50 percent of the participants who were APC members were members of the PDP few months before that occasion.
“If PDP is corrupt, how come that most of the people in the audience were comfortable in the party for years before they left?”, he asked.
Akande also identified lack of internal party democracy as a major cause of inability of the parties to play their critical role in the deepening of democracy. ”The political parties are appendages of godfathers and elected officials who exploit their financial sustenance of the parties to deny other members of their rights within the parties,” he said.
He described such domination of parties as responsible for the widespread resentment within the parties, leading to party foot soldiers reluctance to work for the success of the parties at polls.
He also identified weak conflict resolution capability of the parties for their failure to be successful at election as well as deliver the dividends of democracy to the people. ”The APC just finished its congresses and there are crisis in 22 of the 36 states of the federation. Many of these cases are in court and there are threats in most states to approach the courts for resolution of the disputes. What does this say about the capacity of the APC to resolve its conflicts if almost two-thirds of the states are in court to resolve their disputes?,” he asked.
He said the failure of the parties to establish viable conflict resolution mechanisms have always been responsible for the departures of members from such parties leading to the eventual loss of such parties at the poll.
“We are all conversant with the crisis that led the PDP to the grave. The APC has to avoid such scenario if it wishes to last long in government not only at the federal level but also at the state level.”
He lamented that four years after the registration of the APC, the party has not been able to compile a comprehensive membership register nor give membership cards to its members.
“Many times when Nigerian political parties quote the number of their members, one wonders where they get those figures from. Nigerians do multiple registrations with political parties just as they register with multiple communication service companies. They are simultaneously members of several parties, ready to vote for any party that presents their preferred candidates. This is because they lack confidence in the parties to guarantee free and fair congresses and primaries. In this kind of situation, the parties cannot say for sure the number of their members. No one is even sure that anyone who proclaims membership of a party is not at the same time a member of other parties,” he said.
Other guest speakers at the two-day event included former secretary to the government of Edo State, Professor Julius Ihonvbere, the Vce Chancellor of the Igbinedion University, Okada, Professor Eghosa Osaghae, the chairman of APC in Edo State, Barrister Anselm Ojezua and Comrade Austin Osakua, of the Foundation for Good Governance and Democracy.