Switching Parties

By Rev. Fr. Eva Chuma Nnamene

One Etisalat advertorial talked about switching. Switch your mobile carrier, retain your number. If you want to get more than what your present mobile carrier has offered you, you switch. If you are disappointed over what you get from your present mobile carrier, you switch. And when you switch, you retain your number. What you do is just switch.

Today in Nigeria, switch is on the air again. This time around, it is not switching your mobile line. It is switching your political parties. With the recent winnings of All Progressive Congress (APC) across the country, and especially as the forthcoming occupant of Aso Rock, is the APC President-elect, the political gimmick in Nigeria is switch parties. Politicians are switching from the People's Democratic Party (PDP) to the reigning party - All Progressive Congress. A high volume of Nigerian politicians are now thinking APC, and joining APC.

The reason is obvious. The argument is clear. If you align yourself to the ruling party, you are sure of your own slice of the national cake, namely, the dividends of democracy. After all, it was Ukpabia Asika who told the nation in the 1970s about these dividends when he said "onye ube ya ruru, ya rachaawa". In other words, if you get the opportunity of partaking of the national cake, you do so without hesitation. But this switching is really unhealthy.

The problem with it is not that one cannot or should not switch political parties. No. The problem with it is that it depicts a charade of a political system. A system bereft of any ideological foundations. A system not differentiated by any principles.

A system that is driven by only one mundane motivation: partaking of the national cake. But across countries, and across centuries, there are two primordial foundations of political systems and identifications, namely, conservatism and liberalism that govern democratic inclinations.

These broad perspectives of conservatism and liberalism have over the years of human experimentation of democratic governance shaped the ideologies and manifestoes of political parties and politicians. In Nigeria, it is difficult to say which political party has more or less conservative approach, or which political party has more or less liberal approach.

Moreover, the few politicians who have manifestoes may not even toe any path of ideological identifications or differentiations. There may be nothing that shades light to someone's motivation for his or her political ventures. In fact, if there is anything, it is the ravenousness of acquiring money and wealth; and having immunity after another to cover one's devilish pacts.

As a matter of fact, lack of ideological identifications and differentiations in Nigerian politics are the causes for the rush to switch to other parties especially to the ruling party. But this is sure to destroy the few democratic gains Nigeria has achieved as a nation. In a multiparty system which Nigeria operates, there is need to have two major and strong parties that can compete with each other. It is in that struggle of the two major and strong parties that the checks and balances of democracy dwell.

The guarantee of the democratic process is built around a strong opposition. If every politician switches to the ruling party, this robust opposition is lost; and the guarantee of democratic process is destroyed. Find a greater ideology for your party. Retain your party. Do not switch. A robust opposition is advantageous to democracy.

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