As the APC Congress draws near, political patronage is central to what ails the political party administration viz-a-viz system of governance. We must not continue depicting Nigeria as a soft state and a weak nation, where it is unable to apply the law equally to all its citizens. It is no longer news that our political parties and institutions are captives of the oligarchy and serve mostly their interest and that of the few rich allies and powerful politicians. Our leaders failed to unite and inspire our diverse peoples as a nation. These are symptoms of political patronage, peripherals feeding on themselves, defining us after many decades of this practice.
Our dysfunctional democracy gets its root from failed party system and administration is one that can best be described as a failure of an electoral system to excise the virus of the politics of patronage that has infected our so-called elections. This vicious politics of patronage has allowed few oligarchs and bosses to rule us from colonial times to post-colonial times, and their rule has brought us nothing but a facade of democracy, its mirage but not its miracle.
Furthermore, the agenda of the oligarchy, the political dynasties, clans and cabals who get their candidates sponsored by their over burdened influences in party administration and get elected allow their legitimate capture of state institutions. They build on this dominance and perpetuate themselves in power, positions and wealth. It is unfortunate that all these deformities are intertwined and protected by the lapses of adhering to our 1999 Constitution. And this clearly call for a paradigm shift both from the political parties and to the system of governance.
The best that can happen to any of our political parties is having an enigmatic leadership that is full of energy, vibrancy, intellectualism, focus driven and free of all liability baggages. The country needs leaders who will lead and not hide behind the power to escape accountability.
There must be an agenda with patriotism as the hallmark for all those seeking party and public offices. Those that don’t require us reading between the lines. At this time what we don’t need are the many of them that usually go to the extent of using God in courting votes but they’re actually after their personal interests.
As the public expect more drama to unfold, the bunch of aspirants seeking the Chairmanship of the party is a welcome development for a party in governance. And this is starring the party and its various leadership groupings. Other political alliances may also step in as the election fever heats up. At this point, however, neither of those in the old class or maintaining status quo deserve a place in the new party leadership, the APC deserve it better now than ever to maintain the lead and improve its electoral fortunes.
To all of the aspirants to the Chairmanship, the decision to go for it should be as sacred as going to the poll booth to vote. Since the vote is sacred, there is a bigger responsibility on the part of potential leaders to decide and prepare to be a leader of this party and country.
A Chairmanship candidate must bring before the APC members by extension the people a vision of the future and the nation, which he will strive to realize if he is fortunate enough to get elected. That vision must be personal, shared by his party and supporters if he is lucky. He cannot substitute for this the vision or record of his predecessor or political godfathers; in the end he must lead alone.
Any of the aspirants could quickly become serious and viable candidate for the party’s highest office if he can do things differently when he announce his candidacy in the coming party Congress ones he can do the needful.
First, he should run on a platform of conviction politics – of his fundamental values as a new breed politician, and what he believe will best serve the party and its purposes.
Second, he should go against the grain of the entrenched political culture of dynastic politics, sectionalism, favouritism, money politics, parasitism on the public payroll, cronyism and patronage.
Despite APC seeking a consensus to the emergence of a new Chairman, Conviction politics should be the main drive, the party needs someone that will campaign based on his own fundamental values or ideas rather than attempting to represent an existing consensus or simply take positions that are popular in polls. And from various analysis it is keen to mention that only thorough-breed new political actor can best be described to fit in to this category and from all indications Senator Sani Musa is on this radar.
There are a number of arguments for conviction politics of Senator Musa. One is that he is seen to be more honest to be accepted by the various interest and groups that form the APC; he is a politician that simply say what he believe rather than shading his opinions to be more palatable to his audience. Another is that he is always voicing strong opinions, push public debate forward and promote a genuine discussion of political issues. Even if he lose, he will have promoted his particular political ideas and persuaded some voters of his value.
Bakare is a public policy commentator and analyst. He wrote from Abuja.