Views From Post-Election Summit | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Views From Post-Election Summit

Posted: May 18, 2015 at 12:46 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Augustine Adah, Lagos


It is a usual thing for political parties to go on holidays after the general elections and wait until when another election draws nearer before kick starting political activities. To forestall such practice and avoid lull in the system, the leadership of the resuscitated Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), led by its National Chairman, Dr. Fredrick Fasehun, organized the first Post-Election Summit in Lagos. Tagged, ‘Revolution Through the Box’, the maiden occasion attracted leaders of the party across the 36 states of the federation and Abuja.

Though a NADECO Chieftain and former military governor of Lagos State, Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu (rtd), was initially scheduled to be the guest speaker at the summit, his absence shifted the responsibility to the Director General, Nigeria Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Prof. Bola Akinterinwa. Akinterinwa’s speech was more of a diagnosis of the present democracy in the country which started from 1999.

Looking at the topic, Ideology and Non-Ideology: Mapping the Genotype of this Generation of Nigerian Politicians, the summit offered the best opportunity for Prof. Akinterinwa to x-ray Nigerians politicians which he said has no ideological leaning. He stated that party politics in Nigeria is devoid of ideology and that may be why many politicians are members of People’s Democratic Party in the morning, while in the afternoon they moved to All Progressives Congress, in the evening they changed their loyalty to Labour Party while in the night they would be with All Progressives Grand Alliance.

He revealed: “The politicians we have in Nigeria are those who are PDP in the morning, APC in the afternoon, APGA in the evening and Labour in the night.” He then described the absence of ideology among politicians and political parties as discouraging to the level that a politician can defect from one party to the other on the eve of election.

In addition, the issue of campaign funding took the front burner during the summit. According to Akinterinwa, the desperation among politicians in Nigeria has continued to encourage more corruption in the polity and governance.

Hear him: “Politicians in Nigeria can sell whatever they have or obtain loans for the purpose of running for elective offices”. The action, in Akinterinwa’s observation encourages corruption of unimaginable proportion because when they get to the office their first priority is to offset every bill incurred during elections.

“When they are luck to win they would use the next four years to recoup the money they spent which may be loan from bank or other sources.” This attitude to Akinterinwa is the beginning of corruption in Nigeria; he frowned at the situation where people talk about corruption so much in the country without dealing with the systemic issues underlining corruption.

On the voting pattern in the last general elections, he said many voters did not vote according to political parties but on the credibility of various candidates that stood for the elections. Judging from that perspective, he advised UPN to present credible candidates for election if the party so desire to survive. “If UPN wants to survive as a party, it must look for better people to field as candidates during elections and also mobilise people of impeccable characters into the party.”

According to Akinterinwa, Nigeria has been able to produce two sets of politicians within the period of 16 years.  One of the groups he said are those who get whatever is available and wait for another opportunity, the second group which he described as very few are those who are viciously searching for solutions for the many political problems facing the country.

He described the holding of the summit as most timely because it would give opportunity to many politicians to identify their wrong actions and avoid them before the beginning of another electoral contest. The NIIA boss commended the convener of the summit, Dr. Fasehun, for his vision and concern for the survival of democracy in the country.  To drive home his point, he concluded that Nigeria need ideology and the country will be better politically if it can adopt ideology.

In his welcome address, the convener, Dr. Fasehun, who is also the founder of Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) expressed fear judging by crisis bedeviling the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) that the country may slide to one party state.  He said, “Today, the ruling party is on the down size of history, and new administrations are about to enter into power: We congratulate both sides. But we must sound a note of warning; Nigeria should prevent a one-party monopoly.”

Fasehun further highlighted that one party state does not breed democracy but totalitarian dynasties. A medical doctor turned politician stated that for democracy to thrive in the country there must be a robust opposition in the country after May 29 when a new administration will take over the reign of governance in the country.  “So from May 29, Nigerians must prepare a robust opposition to safeguard our democracy.”  In what some people may describe as a prophecy, Fasehun said. “In this nation, peace and plenty will abound, and the lamb and the lion will roam together.”

But to get to this stage, he encouraged the people to continue to tease their brains in order to work out political principles that will lead the people to found a nation of their dreams.  Fasehun believed that peace, growth and reduction in the rate of corruption would make Nigeria a country where its citizens would be able to mingle with citizens from advance countries. The OPC founder explained further that though the 2015 general elections may have come and gone, but like any human Endeavour, the election remain far from perfect.

He said: “The 2015 elections have indeed come and gone, and positions have been won and lost, but like human endeavour, those elections were far from perfect.”

He said the purpose of the summit, the first after the elections was intended for stakeholders to dissect germane issues thrown up in the election exercise. The summit would also afford politicians, activists to do a post- mortem on the polls and to raise some salient issues that came up before, during and after the exercise.

Fasehun advised politicians from other parties to close rank and brace up for the challenge of playing opposition role in the country. The leader of UPN insisted that the country would be worst of if the opposition politicians cave in and allow the country to slide further to a one party state as the coming signals indicate.

“History has shown that no country can survive democratically without a viable opposition that is why we must strive hard to ensure that the present situation in the country does not consume opposition politics in Nigeria.”

Holding a summit to appraise the conduct of general elections is not a new thing in the country.  In 2011, after the conduct of general elections, INEC had a post election summit with leaders of various political parties in the country. The International Foundation for Electoral System (IFES) facilitated the programme held at Tinapa Calabar, Cross-Rivers State. The party promised to engage Nigerians in more of such summits so that the country could get the best idea for its democratic practice.