This is the official blog of the Nigeria-based Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), a human rights organization which promotes, protects and projects the rights of Muslims. This group condemns terrorism and all acts of violence. Its motto is 'Dialogue, Not Violence'
Thursday, July 6, 2017
ENTRENCH INTERNAL DEMOCRACY IN POLITICAL PARTIES
ENTRENCH INTERNAL DEMOCRACY IN
Ominous signs of the disintegration of Nigeria’s major political parties
have started emerging. At least one began manifesting at the national level
three years ago. Another one began rearing its ugly head at state level, in
Lagos State to be precise, a few months back.
The failure of a once powerful political party to respect a pact on power
shift and a single term led to its fall at the center in the 2015 general
elections. But just as contended by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel in his
Phenomenology of Spirit that the only lesson men learn from history is that
they learn nothing, Nigeria’s political parties appear to have closed their
eyes and ears to the lessons of history.
This explains the rumblings at state level in a major political party over
alleged imposition of candidates in the coming local government elections. If
the attendant open protests in several cases are nothing to go by, the
disenchantment of a national officer of the party with the undemocratic process
cannot and should not be ignored by any serious political establishment.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
regards this development as a meteorological early warning signal and a
barometer for gauging the political environment. The yellow light is up and
Nigerian politicians must act now before it changes to red.
We expect the emergence of a mature and clearly defined political culture
after fifty seven years of post-independence political experience. But there is
nothing close to that in the political arena. What we have on ground is
alarming: bolekaja politics, feudalism and godfatherism. These have led some
political leaders to claim absolute control over who becomes what and who gets
The result is the emergence of feeding-bottle political office holders
whose only vision is how to service the interest of their feudal lords and how
to line the pockets of their political godfathers while neglecting the primary
purpose of occupying political offices, namely, to serve the electorate.
Although we are not politicians, MURIC is concerned today because this
ugly phenomenon is causing discontent in political camps. Political uncertainty
often affects the stock market. The country’s foreign exchange experiences
somersault. Prices go up and the masses cry for their dinner. The bandwagon
effect cannot be interrupted.
We cannot ignore what is currently happening in Lagos State because every
political development affects the lives of the citizens. It is either positive
or negative but this one is more of the latter because it is capable of
precipitating a political earthquake of monumental proportion. Allegations of
imposition of candidates for coming local government elections are so loud that
even the deaf have started complaining of noise-making.
Of course we do not have to be politicians before
addressing issues affecting our dear country. Afterall we are, first and
foremost, bona fide citizens. Secondly, we took our cue for speaking up on
issues affecting Nigerians from Prophet Muhammad (SAW) who urged mankind to
“use their hands to change evil, to speak against it if they could not use
their hands and to pray against it if they are unable to speak …” But he
concluded that mere praying against it is the weakest form of resistance to
MURIC appeals to
Nigerians to wake up and show interest in what is happening around them, be it
religious, social, political or economic. It is high time we changed from being
triangular citizens whose lives revolve around working, eating and sleeping.
The tragedy of the Nigerian nation today lies in the passivity of its
citizenry. That is why a Senate filled with ‘awaiting trial’ lawmakers is still
in session and a House of Representatives has the temerity to initiate
outrageous and pro-corruption bills. Nigerians must realize that freedom is
never given on a platter of gold.
We do not have to be political
scientists before we know that there is a symbiotic relationship between
economic progress and political stability. This is why the top echelon of
affected political parties must address the issues raised now. Internal
democracy must be entrenched in our political parties to avoid them from being
pocketed by a few money bags and political feudalists intent on establishing or
expanding their self-serving political empires. It is always better to build
strong institutions than to encourage the emergence of individuals who are too
One would have thought that the judicial acrobatics and factional
razzmatazz being experienced currently by a once powerful political party would
teach the others a lesson but it seems common sense is not so common. The time
has come, therefore, for all stakeholders to speak up. Afterall the impact of
the misadventures of politicians will not be felt by the politicians alone. On
the contrary, just like the grass suffers most when two elephants fight, it is
the common man who bears the grunt.
It was Steve Biko who
said, “Thefuturewillhavenopityforthosemenwho,possessingtheexceptional privilegeofbeingabletospeakwordsoftruthtotheiroppressors,have insteadtakenrefugeinanattitudeofpassivity,ofmuteindifference,and sometimes,ofcoldcomplicity.”
Finally, our appeal
goes to leaders of political parties to tow the line of genuine internal
democracy. Imposition of candidates robs society of the best materials. It
sacrifices excellence on the altar of mediocrity. It is tyranny, feudalism and
totalitarian dictatorship all rolled into one.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)