“The logic that applies to the system of democracy should apply also, it is argued, to the internal affairs of the political party organizations themselves. The objective of democracy is that the people should have the right to choose. Through elections, they select and gain control over their political masters. Just as the citizens of a nation are entitled to cast ballots in elections, so the citizens of a political party – the members – should be entitled to select and to reject their leaders, office-holders, and candidates for public office” – ACE Encyclopedia
Not in Nigeria. The ACE Encyclopedia can ‘tell it to the marines’ because in this country the ‘system of democracy’ neither applies in general elections nor in internal party elections. Powerful politicians would rather destroy the country than allow votes to count. They fight to finish. They descend on political opponents like the USAF F-22 Raptor fighter jet. Politics in Nigeria is war. It is the shortest road to stupendous wealth and power.
As a result of the absence of internal party democracy, party congresses of the major political parties, APC and PDP are almost always marred by the monster called “Parallel Congresses”. Smaller parties like APGA, YPP and ADC also get bitten by the bug.
A lot of pre-election matters that oftentimes end up at the nation’s Supreme Court are cases filed to determine which of such parallel congresses are authentic. The judiciary is called upon severally, on account of parallel congresses, to perform what ordinarily are the sacred duties of party members and the voting public.
Recently, party congresses conducted in Anambra State to elect governorship candidates for the APC, PDP and APGA were tainted by parallel congresses/primaries. The parties ended up producing more than one candidate each.
Last Saturday’s APC state congresses witnessed the emergence of two sets of executive members in many states as a result of parallel congresses.
PDP state congresses conducted last Saturday in seven states – Oyo, Kwara, Lagos, Adamawa, Borno, Kebbi, and Ebonyi also recorded incidents of parallel congresses.
Why do the political parties get enmeshed in parallel congresses?
Two main reasons can be deduced. First and the one that accounts for most of the cases, is the resistance put up within the parties by victims of political impunity and oppression. Second, is the plot by politicians to weaken the strongholds of opponents.
In other words, parallel congresses are conducted by victims of oppression within the political parties to force a stalemate and get opportunities for reprieves inside the parties or in the courts. Parallel congresses are also planted in the strongholds of opponents by politicians in order to cause confusion, send wrong signals and disorganize opponents.
Parallel congresses are products of the autocratic and undemocratic activities of powerful party leaders who brazenly exclude legitimate party members from participating fairly in party congresses. They are the reactions to the actions of powerful anti-democratic forces that manipulate and falsify delegate lists, ballot papers, choice of congress venues and officials.
Powerful party leaders prevent perceived opponents from getting nomination forms, and if they get nominated, they are prevented from participating in elections. These leaders even prohibit their own supporters, who they did not anoint, from purchasing nomination forms.
They are modern-day slave masters and neo-feudalists who wield enormous powers as Governors, Cabinet Ministers and Chief Executive of juicy government parastatals. They are called “Leaders” on account of the top government offices they occupy but they subvert the very essence of participatory democracy.
It is baffling that these political leaders are so afraid of internal party democracy. It is mind-boggling that they claim to be very popular and yet are scared of open and fair contest. It is appalling that they are consumed by atychiphobia – extreme fear of failure.
Like coupists, these electoral paperweights dress themselves in the garb of supermen. Having skewed the process to produce predetermined results, they call for voting and challenge opponents to electoral contest. What a shame!
Like armed robbers that rape women in the presence of husbands and children; with the air of conquest and arrogance; these political leaders dismiss parallel congresses; that are the products of their greed; as mere “naming ceremonies”. How despicable!