According to American Philosopher George Santayana, ”Those who cannot remember their past are condemned to repeat it”. I don’t know if Nigerians have not come across this quote, but even if they have, I want to use this avenue to capture the importance of this maxim to the growth of our democracy.
To some of us 2015 may be very far in our eyes but it is definitely not so in our thoughts. I want to believe that the events that occurred in our quest to enthrone credible leadership in Nigeria through the 2003, 2007 and 2011 elections are just too fresh in our memory and we afford to allow another range of it in 2015.
We cannot keep a blind eye on an early call to review the Nigeria Electoral Act to suite what Nigerians want. In the Nigeria local parlance, there is this saying that goes thus, ”early to bed, early to rise.” In view of this, I am of the opinion that there is need to start building up for the next Nigeria general elections.
The many states election that have been conducted after the 2011 elections have shown us enough evidence that there are still more work to be done to get it right with our electoral system. The result of the litmus test which they serve is very clear for all to see. It is only those playing the ostrich that will dispute this fact.
I hold my view sacred that it is rather unfortunate that less than 3 years on the way to 2015 no one is perturbed on the need to address the mistakes of the past in our electoral system. This desire has not pricked Nigerians in their dreams. Hence, the little concern that is been expressed towards the defects in the administration of our election in Nigeria.
Nigerians no more talk about the good recommendations of the Uwais Report. They have been swept under the carpet for the main time. As a Nigerian, I have come to observe that Nigerians rather want to be eaten up by a problem instead of taking precautionary measures to tackle it.
The psyche of an average Nigerian has been tilted to the hopeless DIE-MINUTE attitude that produces fruits that cannot be sustained.
This approach has now been adopted by Nigerians in handling vital issues and expects to get them right. It is not out-of-place to argue that Nigerians like repeating history. They fail to comprehend the facts that doing one thing same way every time is retrogress to our growth. The answer to our progress and development is visiting changes on damper clauses.
As a giant of Africa, One would have thought Nigerians have excelled above such nonchalant attitude given to an all important matter. Election is the crux that needs to place in the right dimension in Nigeria. This issue have an overwhelming influence on the leadership of this nation; the result of the wrong steps that have been taken in this direction is what is causing ripples on the fabrics that unite us as a country.
You will agree this writer that there is need to reform our electoral system owing to the many defects that have been exposed by successive elections in recent times. To the surprise of many who share in this view, what is seen in the political scene is a grave silence towards this issue. There is no one raising his voice in the direction of these problems that demand the attention of all and sundry.
As a student of Politics, I have studiously followed the activities in the run up to the American Elections. The convention, primaries, tours, campaigns, debates etc. And in all of these, I realized that there is a long road to travel in order to get it right in Nigeria. This journey can only be successful when Nigerians decide to wake up early from their political slumber.
One important issue in the American electoral system that drew my attention is the Party Finance. I read the analysis about party funds. How the parties publicly announced the monies gotten from the Donations, Fundraising and Contributions made by Americans. This accountability will go on until and even after the elections have been concluded because it part of the electoral process.
No lover of progress will defer with this writer that this practice will checkmate corruption, and prevent the parties from been hijacked by unnecessary forces-Godfathers and lootocrats and will also limit money-bag politics. Obviously this accountability did not come about as a result of goodwill; it is a child of the America Election Finance Act. Nigeria as a copy-cat of American democracy cannot close its eye to this practice. We must work to entrench this tradition into our system.
Another point that caught my impulse was the issue-based campaign and debates. The two candidates contending to occupy the seat of the world most powerful man were subjected to critical debate on the policies they will pursue. These policies were never restricted to home policies but also to American Foreign Policies.
It was not about coming forward give a verbose speech but also give the specifics- job creation, tax policy etc. At the climax, one could see that the campaigns of the candidates are not different from the philosophy of the parties. The same manifesto runs in the veins of every party member. Coming back to the home scene, I wondered if any true definition can be given to the manifestos cum the philosophies of the over 50 Nigerian political parties. Do members of these parties know the philosophy of the party they support and that is only if they have one.
Another interesting to note is the issue of the party system. The two-party system of the US one can say is most efficient without mincing words. It has helped them to reduce cost.
The system narrow down monies spent on many party conventions, campaigns activities, minimize complexity in the system- no need for thousands of court cases arising from excuses that some parties and their candidates were excluded. No waste of government funds sponsoring business political parties.
In our own way can we request the many Nigerian political parties to borrow a leaf from this example. Can the mushroom parties for National interest wind up for a two-party system and work towards strengthening the electoral process? I want to conclude by telling us that this not a review piece but a wakeup call to all. If Nigeria must not repeat history we must plan early or have we plan to fail again?
Mr. Jefia Dede is a political scientist and wrote in from Warri, Delta state.