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Phantom political parties

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It is important for the Nigerian people to debate and take a position on the number and quality of political parties desired or desirable in our democracy. This we should do now since we have close to two years before the next general elections that will take place in 2019.

Why the urgency in the debate and why is the debate necessary and desirable? Why can’t we continue with the existing political parties and the existing electoral framework and avoid unnecessary debates and heating up of the polity?

These are legitimate questions and concerns but we must never run away from confronting challenging issues and questions. We must banish the ghost of postponing debates and shying away from confronting intricate and thorny national issues on grounds that feathers will be ruffled or that national unity and security will be threatened. Nations and countries do not make progress and leap into a new age without ruffling feathers and confronting national challenges.

Why then is it desirable to confront the challenge of the number and quality of political parties in Nigeria? At a quarterly consultative meeting with leaders of political parties held at the commission’s headquarters on the 15th day of March 2017, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu confirmed that Nigeria has 40 registered political parties and 86 pending applications.

The implication of this is that by the time Nigeria gets really set for the 2019 elections, Nigeria and Nigerians may be confronted with over 100 political parties jostling for space on the ballot paper. Do we really need 100 political parties in Nigeria and must the ordinary people of Nigeria be forced to wade through a ballot paper containing the logo of over 100 political parties? My answer is no. Why then should we allow phantom political parties clog the ballot paper and confuse the Nigerian people?

My position is that those that framed the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999(as amended) never envisaged and never wanted the existence of phantom political parties or parties founded and anchored and based in the regions or the states.

In other words, the framers of the Constitution want Nigeria to have national political parties with national outlook and appeal. I am strengthened in this view by section 221 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999(as amended) which provides that “No association other than a political party, shall canvass for votes for any candidate at any election or contribute to the funds of any political party or to the election expenses of any candidate at an election.” The gravamen of this section is that a political party must field candidates in an elections and canvass votes for its candidate.

Any registered political party that sits back and refuses to field candidates in an election and refuses to canvass votes for its candidate is no longer a political party but an ordinary association that can operate without being registered. It is therefore counterproductive to clog the ballot paper with the logo of unserious political parties who have reduced party politics to a mere joke.

Of course I understand the politics of mergers and alliance but the fact still remains that it is irresponsible for 20 political parties that have refused to act and behave like political parties to band together and claim that they have adopted or endorsed the governorship candidate of another political party.

Furthermore, section 222 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is clear and certain that regional or state-based political parties have no place in our electoral system. It provides that for any association to function as a political party, the membership of the association must be open to every citizen of Nigeria irrespective of his place of origin, circumstances of birth, sex, religion or ethnic grouping.

It also provides that the name of the association, its symbol or logo that shall not contain any ethnic or religious connotation or give the appearance that the activities of the association are confined to a part of the geographical area of Nigeria. Going further, section 223 of the Constitution provides that the constitution of registered political parties must ensure that members of the executive committee or other governing body of the political party must reflect the federal character of Nigeria.

The members of the executive committee or other governing body of the political party shall be deemed to reflect the federal character of Nigeria only if the members thereof belong to different states not being less in number than two-thirds of all the states comprising the Federation. It is evident that the framers of the Constitution want national political parties to take the centre stage in the electoral process.

Unfortunately, some individuals, groups and organisations have exploited the lacuna in the Constitution and the Electoral Act, 2010(as amended) to form portfolio political parties with no identifiable ideology, organisation or desire to be political parties.

As a member of the 2007 Electoral Reform Committee headed by the Hon. Justice M.L Uwais, part of our mandate was to make recommendations relating to the registration and regulation of political parties. We tried to interface with the political parties but some of them have their offices in business centres while some could not be located. A number of them vehemently resisted attempts made by the committee to visit their offices because they had none.

Some of them rented or hired offices for purposes of registration and dismantled them immediately they got their registration. Some of the leaders of political parties ran their parties from their portfolios and computers.

This phantom political party organisation thrives because section 222 of the Constitution requires parties to have their headquarters in the Federal Capital Territory Abuja and no more. What matters is not the geographical location of the office but the fact that it is located within the parameters of the area called the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The size of the office is also immaterial.

The rest of the requirements for the registration of political parties as encapsulated in sections 222 to 229 of the Constitution involve paper work which anybody can put together.

Of course I understand and appreciate the argument relating to political pluralism and having political parties existing and representing diverse interests. However, those that framed the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria considered those arguments and settled for national political parties aggregating the interests of all Nigerians.

This they did considering the dangerous ethnic and religious mix of Nigeria and the fact that some fifth columnists can exploit a loose and regional-based party to further polarize Nigeria and exacerbate our ethnic and religious fault lines. It does not make sense to have 100 political parties representing nothing just because we want to be seen to be politically correct.

There is no interest or national ideological persuasion that 10 political parties cannot represent. It is demeaning to call the telephone lines of acclaimed national political parties and have same ring in a business centre.

The National Assembly should tighten the regime for the registration of political parties. National political parties should have at least a functioning and functional office in the six geopolitical zones of the federation. The National Assembly should also revisit the bill for the creation of a Political Parties Registration and Regulatory Commission.

An independent political party’s registration and regulatory commission will be more focused and more professional in the handling of the affairs of political parties and free the INEC to concentrate on its core mandate of organising and supervising elections. We must drop the puritanical “follow follows” ideology of text book conformism and tow the path of what works for us as a people.

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Carabao Cup final: Aguero, Aubameyang in marksmen showdown

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     …De Bruyne, Ozil also go head-to-head

 

Arsenal and Man City will continue their rivalry as they battle for the Caraboa Cup on Sunday at the famous Wembley Stadium but much focus will be on the striking war between City’s Sergio Aguero and Gunners’ new recruit, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. While Aguero has been one of the most prominent players in the league owing to his awesome goal-scoring record since joining the Sky Blues in 2011, Aubameyang is seen as Arsenal messiah for goal scoring.

The Citizens’ point-man seems to be well-focused for this tie such that he decided to let go a Wigan fan over an on-pitch bust-up as the Argentine claimed the supporter spat at, tried to punch and verbally abused him in the shock loss to Wigan at the DW Stadium on Monday.

Since joining from Borrusuia Dortmund just before the close of the January transfer window, Gunners faithful have found a new wave of optimism that their search for a pointman in the mold of club legend Thierry Henry is over.

The Gabonese striker showed Arsenal fans and a glimpse of what he would be bringing to the table as he scored a brilliant goal in the 5-1 whitewash of Everton some few weeks ago; although he was slightly offside from the move.

He was to be at the receiving end of a poor call exactly a week later when his goal against Tottenham was ruled offside but the replay showed he was level with the Spurs’ last defender. In recent time, Arsenal, to some extent, have been masters of Cup football as they defeated Man City and Chelsea on their way to winning of the FA Cup last season.

The win over Chelsea, whom they also defeated to win the Community Shield, was their third success in four years in the FA Cup and they will be eager to keep up their good record of late at Wembley. Another head-to-head war is expected in the midfield between Kevin De Bruyne and Mezut Ozil.

De Bruyne has been one of the most prominent players for Pep Guardiola’s team this season and the Belgian’s relentless consistency has seen him in the running for the player of the season. Apart from scoring vital goals, he also has the vision to set up the likes of Aguero and Raheem Sterling and his one-touch football is second to none.

Ozil, on his part can, also initiate moves that could break the resistance of the expensively-assembled City rear guard. And with assist specialist Henrikh Mkhitaryan roving in the midfield, if the German find his right element, his supplies to the likes of AUbameyang and Danny Welbeck may see Arsenal enjoying another bragging right of another cup success in England.

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If in doubt, please quit!

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A major trust of news reporting in journalism is: “if in doubt, leave out or drop the story.” In my days as a News Editor, whenever a reporter couldn’t substantiate his facts, I will drop the news item. It is a norm that conforms to the best professional practices. Integrity and truth are the hallmark of media practice but with the advent of social and online media, those valued ethics seem to have been practically jettisoned. And the consequences of such professional delinquency daily stare us in the face, regrettably though.

This same ethos applies to those planning their conjugal affairs on a sandy soil of anxiety, doubt and uncertainty. If betrothed lovers are frequently experiencing rancour, threats of breakup and relating to each other with mutual suspicion and fear, they don’t need a soothsayer or a prophet to tell them that they are not compatible. Many of those in desperate mood to remain in troubled relationships are women.

Reasons adduced for their tenacity usually centre around fear of the unknown, age, social class, low selfesteem, economic factor, religious affinity and beauty among others. Some of them prefer to go into ‘trial’ marriage and fail than let go their abusive partner.

The reckless decision they often make is to blindly walk down the aisle with partners they can’t have peace and desired happy matrimony with. A 31-year-old woman would not let go off her fiancé of two years despite her frustration and constant abuse in the relationship.

Twice she had called it quit but she reconciled on both occasions without her boyfriend showing any sign of remorse. Devising a way to end regular disputes, she moved into his apartment unannounced thinking perhaps they would understand themselves better by living together. Her boyfriend’s response was to bring another woman home for the weekend. Yet, she stayed on, weeping, begging for his love. They eventually got married and it only lasted for nine months! She packed out with seven months pregnancy when she almost lost her life due constant battering.

A young man is currently battling with high blood pressure arising from constant cases of cheating, insults, threats to quit the relationship and coping with hardline rules of his fiancée. His reason for hanging on with this woman is her beauty. He said he would rather learn to endure than let her go.

“All my friends envy me because of her beauty,” he said. More than thrice, he had caught her pant down with other men. She cheats a lot. She insults him at will and set rules for him as condition to remain in the relationship. As you read this article, they are planning to wed in a couple of months’ time. Should we then ascribe these kinds of relationship to genuine love?

If yes, then, love is truly blind! It shows love can blindfold lovers when they are engrossed in it. In most cases, the love charm usually have a vice-hold on one of the partners. When blinded in love, they usually act blighted. Consequently, the traits of such desperate, confused and helpless partners are to:

• Defend weaknesses, character flaws that would eventually shred the union.

• Get fixated and unreasonably enslaved to their partners by trying to please, satisfy, compromise and sacrifice to tag along; forgetting that once they beg or manage to go into marriage, they need to keep begging and managing to remain married for the rest of their life.

• They are afraid of the unknown. Attitudes they won’t tolerate ordinarily or naturally would become their choice just to remain in relationship.

• They accommodate those things to feel “fulfilled” among their peers even when eventual failure looms large in the horizon.

• They often ignore every counsel that is not in tandem with their sentiments, interests and expectations.

• They often learn their lessons at a time the situation is beyond remedy. They calmly live with the scars because it was their choice. There are three levels of marriage:

• Marriage contracted in fear – desperation, low self-esteem, age consideration and social class

• Marriage contracted in reluctance – family and peers pressure, abstract considerations, marrying partners not wholly convinced or satisfied with many things about.

• Marriage contracted in wilful decision – marrying one’s dream partners, desired choice, best friend, feeling satisfied, fulfilled and complementary to her life. It is advisable and wiser to avert awaited marital failure by quitting troubled relationships. As it is often said, “A broken relationship is better than a broken marriage.”

Some are currently regretting their decisions in marriage because of the choices they made. While many of them have tried frantically to make their marriages work; but alas, they couldn’t get it right not due to their own faults, but because they paired with wrong partners.

There are those who might feel heeding a counsel that is against their wish is obviously denying them the right of choice in their personal affairs. I wish to submit that counsel is not a law. There’s no compulsion in it. Counsel is a piece of advice steeped in rich experience and knowledge. My sincere prayer is that may the song: “Had I Known” not be your anthem at last. Amen.

 

Send your responses/private issues to: mikeawe@yahoo.co.uk or 08035304268 (SMS/WhatsApp)

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Tinubu’s uphill task

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“You cannot influence a political party to do right if you stick to it when it does wrong” – John Bengough

 

When a doctor is called in to handle an ailment after the disease has eaten deep into the patients, the task of saving that life would depend only on divine intervention. It does not matter the quality of that doctor or his antecedents in handling such issues in the past.

The challenge of such doctor is analogous to the one being faced by the former Governor of Lagos State, Aswaju Bola Ahmad Tinubu, who was recently appointed the arbitrator and at the same time a reconciliatory officer to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

 

Incidentally, President Muhammadu Buhari who gave Tinubu the gigantic task cannot absolve himself from the problem. In fact, political observers believe that the problem of APC derives largely from the shortcomings of its leader, the President, due to his indifferent approach to political party matters.

 

Going by the analysis of experts, the style of the President in political party management has been underwhelming and clearly falls far below the required standard and this has led to the emergence of all kinds of cliques within the party. Pundits in political matters would always say that there can never be a vacuum in political space. The space President Buhari’s poor political strategy could not fill easily got occupied by pockets of chiefdom.

 

It is largely believed that the foundation of the myriads of APC challenges was long laid when the President at the inception of his administration told all who cared to know that he would not be interested in who emerges as the leaders of the National Assembly but when those he did not want emerged, he led the onslaught against them since June 9th 2015.

 

Political watchers believe that on the issue of National Assembly the hide and seek approach from the President actually helped to fertilize the crisis that eventually engulfed the ruling party.

 

Among those within the party who shared in the President’s obvious bitterness and anger against the leadership of the National Assembly was Tinubu who ostensibly remain embittered because his cronies in the parliament lost out in the scheme. Tinubu then literally supplied the amour with which the National Assembly particularly the Senate was and is still being tormented.

 

The sudden appointment of Tinubu as chief arbiter at this time is therefore curious and raises a number of questions. The appointment is trying to help observers discern the mind of the President on the situation in the party.

 

Could it be that the President after his review of the situation has decided to embrace one of the factions in the party at the detriment of the others? Or is it that Tinubu has been identified as the bigger problem and has to be given the task of confronting the task of removing the heap of refuge he probably helped to assembly?

 

For Tinubu, the view out there on his new job is similar to what happens when a party to a case is appointed to make peace, two things are likely to play out, he buries his own interest and accommodates other people’s interests for peace to reign or he stands on the point of advantage and pushes through his own agenda. Either way Tinubu decides to go it’s not going to be an easy task both for him and the party.

 

That is why it is very germane the verdict of the embattled Comrade APC Senator of Kaduna State, Senator Shehu Sani that APC would be finally ruined if Asiwaju Tinubu fails in his mission to bring peace in the party.

Even though Tinubu is a master in the game of politics and the intrigue therein, he would need the courage of biblical David and the Wisdom of Solomon, David’s son, to figure out an acceptable solution to the APC crisis.

 

Other posers waiting to be unravelled in Tinubu’s assignment is whether the National Chairman of APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun who has spent the last three years of his political life eulogizing President Buhari would be thrown out just like that as has been the wish and desire of Tinubu? Why not, you may say, election year for politicians is a time of betrayal and sacrifice especially of those whose electoral value is inconsequential. Electorally, Tinubu stands head ahead of Oyegun, and this is not in dispute.

 

Also, can Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State dine together politically with Comrade Senator Sani and Senator Hunkuyi whose building was even demolished during the fight?

 

After Governor Ibrahim Ganduje of Kano State declared publicly recently that he has parted ways forever with his former boss, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, and his Kwakwasiyya group, would Tinubu make him leak his vomit?
What of Tinubu himself, can he stand with the Senate President Bukola Saraki to say old ways have passed away for a new way to begin? Even when it’s widely believed that he contributed to the inconveniences that prevented Saraki from enjoying fully his number three position? Today if you Google Saraki the image you get is not that of a nation’s head of parliament presiding but that of a criminal suspect in the dock, can this wound be easily healed by Tinubu’s drug box?

However, there is this optimistic attitude indicating that in politics everything is possible. Believers in this optimism easily embrace Maurice Barres, the French novelist who captured the never say die spirit of politicians in his statement that “the politician is an acrobat. He keeps his balance by saying the opposite of what he does”. How sincere is Tinubu and Buhari on this reconciliatory project?

 

 

There are so many other possibilities to Tinubu’s assignment that cannot also be overlooked. It could have been a strategy of a drowning Presidency itching into general election and hoping to keep up with whoever can help at such a critical period.

 

It could also be the geo-political North’s own strategic response to halt the seeming unity in the Southern Nigeria, a development that could be the deadliest blow to the Northern hegemony. There couldn’t have been a better way to tie apart that dangerous geo-political romance in the South than pulling out the biggest political tree in the region and whispering into his ears, the goodies that await him. There couldn’t have been an easier way to achieve this especially as the Aswaju is not enjoying the best of relationship with the Yoruba socio-cultural and political group, the Afenifere, who has been at the forefront of this crusade. There is also the other treachery aspect indicating that Tinubu might just be playing a fifth columnist role against the system for deserting him after victory only to rush coming because the day of reckoning has arrived.

 

 

Also as a possible instigation to Asiwaju’s assignment is the scorching attack by the former President Olusegun Obasanjo on both President Buhari and his ruling party. The easiest way to contain and possibly help divert the conversation away from the huge effect of that outburst on the government and the party is cleverly to draft from the same region as Obasanjo a formidable political iroko to quell the accompanying political uprising.

 

It could also have been that what President Buhari did in drafting Tinubu to go and make peace in a war where he has been a top commander is just the extension of taking the people for granted. No wonder American Journalist, Franklin Adams once remarked that “there are many politicians who believe, with conviction based on experience, that you can fool all the people all of the time.”

 

But in reality, after President Buhari and his party rode to power cruising on the falsehood of propaganda and deceit, can they fool Nigerians again after the hellish journey since 2015?

 

For Tinubu, there are some landmines on his political career that he must apply all his political wizardry to manoeuvre his way in this difficult assignment. At stake is his goodwill with the people and no politicians would want to toy with it.

 

American businessman, Marshall Field, aptly captured it better in these words: “Goodwill is the only asset that competition cannot undersell or destroy.” Nigerians are watching to see how the Jagaban will writhe out of this. God help Nigeria.

 

 

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