For some time now, one of the raging political news in the country has been All Progressive Congress (APC) stories and the controversies surrounding its registration as a rival party to the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The controversies have been deepened by the emergence of two other groups laying claims to the same acronym APC. These political associations are alleged to have been PDP-sponsored effort to truncate the registration of the newly converged – All Progressive Congress (APC) – a merger of about five opposition parties. The bigger the better! It seems is the political philosophy behind this effort.
However, it is pertinent that big parties are appreciated more in Nigeria because of the enormous resources and manpower for genuine and mischievous political actions, needed to run parties and to contest elections for power which small parties cannot generate and therefore, remain unattractive to politicians in terms of membership recruitment. Ordinarily, if money were not the issue in Nigerian politics, small parties would not have been bad political business because, ideology which some of them represent, means a lot for politics and society.
In Nigeria’s second republic, Peoples Redemption Party was a small party but ideologically driven along the lines of progressive values and interests. Members even contributed money to build the party led by Mallam Aminu Kano who championed the cause of the oppressed. The party in 1979 won two states of old Kano and Kaduna, which today include Jigawa and Katsina states.
But Nigerian politics of today has been over-driven by money and culture of extravagance, making it difficult for political parties in power to serve the needs of the people. Therefore, despite the movement towards two strong and big political parties in Nigeria. There is still the need to have smaller parties like Labour Party, All Progressive Grand Alliance to participate in the democratic process as they remain the saving platforms for the ordinary people when the big parties deny the “people’s candidates” their platforms for elections.
These parties should remain to serve the need of the masses and the candidates who have the interest of the people at heart, despite the financial intimidations money-bag politicians, political parties and power of incumbency constitute to them. After all, the good work Governor Olusegun Mimiko is doing today would not have been possible if he had succumbed to the threats of money bags in Action Congress, or the power of incumbency of the Peoples Democratic Party in 2007 or in 2012. Governor Rochas Okorocha defeated the powerful and incumbent PDP’s Ikedi Ohakim in 2011, with poor and weak All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA).
We cannot afford to surrender all our politics and aspiration as a people to the dictates of money politics. The people-centred politics is needed to get things moving in Nigeria. So, let the small and ideological parties also live alongside the big ones. Both are good for democracy.
Jim-Nwoko, a development policy and budget analyst, writes from Abuja