In Nigeria, most political parties are platforms for contesting elections – nothing more. They are run like cults where members are not known, joining is like pulling teeth from the mouth of a lizard and the distinguishing ideology behind the parties and its members is not discernable to humans. Besides, any roster of the most prominent party members of PDP could easily be mistaken for an APC list.
Ostensibly, people run for office to serve, to represent, to implement ideas and policies and generally contribute to governance with the grand objective of improving lives and the fortunes of a place. Summed up, in the supposed words of Adams Oshiomole ‘people are not in politics to make a point’.
These words are not to defend Ribadu but to serve as a death knell for our current political culture and processes.
Taking Ribadu’s desire to serve at face value, he has little to lose from switching his APC sombrero for a PDP bowler. Let’s count the reasons why – logically and futuristically.
One, once Nyako was impeached the political muscle in Adamawa moved to PDP since most of the elected politicians have dropped the broom – the same way they dropped the umbrella in November 2013 – with little thought for more than political expediency.
Two, what APC structures exist in the state are in the hands of Atiku, who Ribadu allegedly does not get along with. Atiku, whose ambition is also glaring, would prefer a governor who will be loyal to him. As such the chances of Ribadu clinching the APC nomination are slim to none.
Three, all humans love validation. What could be sweeter affirmation than being courted to join the PDP with promises of a guaranteed ticket, maybe even billions for the campaign and the big carrot of 2019 when maybe, just maybe the North East might for the first time since amalgamation, be the proud home of the President of Nigeria?
With that in mind, we come to number four; what better way to prepare for this grand political prize than safely managing a state for the next 4 years, relatively free from the pressures of the 2015 general election and able to independently build a presidential war chest?
Five, APC is barely a party – it is a loose coalition of those not in the current power circle and has suffered blows in Ekiti and Adamawa. True, it is home to hard-core opposition members like Buhari and Tinubu who have never belonged to PDP, but both have direct and indirect links to the ruling party through political and business alliances and political contrivance. By misapplying the theory of ‘politics is a game of numbers’, APC opened its doors to every politician under every rug and mat under the sun and is now so hijacked into splinter interests that the National Executive Committee has not held a single meeting since it was consensus–ed into being last June.
And six, if the promised ‘automatic ticket’ turns out to be manual, then surely Ribadu’s chances are still as fair as they would be within APC?
In these circumstances, what rational choice would a person make if they were not in politics to make a point?
Undoubtedly, there should be other considerations for those who want to contest for public office, particularly about values but there is little space in our political arena for this. For those who believe that better minds, loftier principles and exemplary values are needed in politics and government and have a genuine desire to make a difference outside of the pulpit or civil society structures; the key question is ‘how do I get in’?
As we move closer to the 2015 elections, it is vital while undertaking any political analysis of the actions of Ribadu and others coloured with similar public perception of principles to note that those who have hijacked and benefited from our political processes over the last 30 years were never bogged down by considerations of shame and ethics. And this freedom from integrity might well lead to PDP reneging on the promises that brought Ribadu to them – a risk he must have considered – but will PDP suffer any political loss for acting without honour?
The pain and disappointment radiating from the commentaries following Ribadu’s decision to move to PDP is encouraging – it is a sign that some Nigerians still believe that politics should not be completely divorced from principles, values and dogma. There is a yearning for higher ideals and there is room in Nigerian politics for people who represent this. This is the opportunity that those within the major parties who want things to improve must tap into and start the revolution desperately needed within our parties. It is also the cue for those with ideals not to give up.
Other than that, the most important lesson from Ribadu’s move is ‘watch what you say if you have plans for politics’- the Internet has an unforgivingly precise interminable memory.