GUEST COLUMNIST

Nigeria: An Amazing Country By Idang Alibi

Nigeria, my country, never ceases to amaze or wildly fascinate the non-initiates. By ‘the non-initiates’ I mean the foreigners, especially the diplomats and spies amongst us, who are paid by their home governments to report certain developments here back home for officials designated to make sense of such stuff to analyse and digest their significance. I often honestly wonder how these diplomats and spies can themselves make sense of some of the often bewildering, confusing and confounding things that take place hereto be able to explain them to the understanding of the officials back home. Take, for example, the recent registration, re-registration or revalidation exercise undertaken by the ruling APC.
 I doubt if there is a similarity anywhere in the democratic world to the concept of party registration, re-registration and revalidation that we undertake here. It is, in fact, a parody of having an authentic record of party members which some political parties have in their countries. What people have elsewhere is usually a register of party men and women who share in the ideals of a party and are most likely to vote for that party in elections based solely on their beloved party’s ideology. They, therefore, do not have to reregister or revalidate a member’s membership. Were their data mixed up somewhere or has fire gutted the records to warrant a new exercise?
In other places party men work assiduously to win new men and women, especially those who have just come of voting age, who believe in the philosophy of the party. There can be no limit to the drive to win new converts to the party because that makes the task of winning elections easier for the party which has plenty members. But in our country, registration or revalidation of party men and women is not about increasing the membership of a particular party. In fact, it is an exercise often aimed at delisting or decreasing members who owe loyalty to certain god fathers of the party who have fallen out of favour with the ruling faction in the party.
When you hear a clamour for party registration or revalidation in Nigeria, just know a plan is afoot to get rid of certain persons belonging to a faction that is considered a source of irritation to the ambitions of certain members belonging to the ruling faction usually beholden to the president, the governors and the LGA chairmen.It is an invidious effort designed to clip the wings of some godfathers who have grown wings that need to be cut to size so they do not pose danger to some who belong to the ruling faction especially in the primaries of the party to select those who will fly that party’s flag in forthcoming elections.
When the PDP was in power that was the weapon it used to employ to disempower some unfavoured and unwanted party members. Now APC is employing the same weapon which this same ‘past administration’ it loves to blame for most things that have gone wrong in our country, used to use so cynically.
While in other climes party membership is a tool for inter party political contests, here, it is a potent tool for intra-party fights. I doubt if there is a parallel of such a thing in say USA or UK.  Can the Joe Biden and Barack Obama wing of the Democratic Party in America come up with an idea aimed at ‘’dissolving’’ or ’’abolishing’’ the membership of men and women belonging to the Bernie Sanders wing of that party? Impossible. The simple truth about the registration and or revalidation of party members in Nigeria is that it disempowers some members to empower some factions within the party.
As a man who was elected on a banner of being ‘Mai Gaskiya’, ‘the Honest One’, some of us expect that under President MuhammaduBuhari, such a crude, underhand and shameful tool will not be a part of our politics any more.  We feel Buhari is, or should be, above this type of pettiness and that he will want to grow our democracy to become established.
Which leads us to ask: ‘’When will we as a people learn to do things right? Things that are honourable, admirable and honest? Things that others do in their places to ensure that the system works well in the interest of all?

Idang Alibi is an Abuja based public affairs analyst.

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