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The Futility Of Two-Party System In Nigeria

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Basically the countries that are known to be operating a two-party system are United States of America, Japan, Jamacai, Hundaras and to a large extent, United Kingdom, Great Britain. But even in these countries, small parties still exist. Such parties are restricted not by legislation but by their capacity and modes of operation.

In other words, they do not have national presence. Here, you have two parties emerging and becoming strong such that when there is need for election people are now faced with the choice of just the two parties at the national and state levels.

In Nigeria, section 40 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has guarantees freedom of participation to every individual. Subject to INEC recognising any political party and looking at section 221 and 227 of the constitution they spell some regulations which INEC can impose on parties.  These have been tested in court but that is not my brief.

In other words, INEC has been given the regulatory power. It registers, regulates and also supervises political parties. That is why we have over 50 political parties.

Historically in Nigeria, this is the first time. We are going to have that number of political parties. From the first election in 1959 which ushered in the independent government, we had a few political parties – the National People’s Congress, the Action Group, the United Nigeria Congress and the rest. A few, not more than six.

The second republic which was Alhaji Shehu Shagari-led government had a few political parties as well namely  National Party of Nigeria, (NPN) the Unity Party of Nigeria, (UPN) the Great Nigeria People’s Party (GNPP)  and a few others which did not have national spread.

As could be seen, even in the first Republic, the fight was straight between the NPP and AG, other parties like the UNDP teamed up with  Action Group, whereas the NPC and NCNC teamed up in coalition or quasi coalition.

Now in the second republic, the NPN was of majority but some how, it had quasi coalition with the NPP led by Nnamdi Azikiwe. The UPN was left to stand on its own as the principal opposition party.

In the botched third republic that is the diarchy ran by General Ibrahim Babangida, what emerged was a two party system. They were the National Republican Convention (NRC) and the Social Democratic Party (SDP). The experiment of that time cannot be assessed at this moment because it was a diarchy and the election that would have allowed us to assess that regime was aborted or annulled by that government. So we cannot fully assess the advantages and disadvantages of a two-party system in Nigeria.

Historically, Nigeria has been operating a multi-party system even though limited to a very few number of political parties. This is the first time we are experimenting with more than five or six political parties. The question one would ask is, “Is that beneficial? And I believe that is why the debate at the National Assembly is hot. Because on one side of the divide there are people who are saying that “yes, two-party system is the answer”,  and on the side, there are people who are saying “This is the first time we’re having it so, good in terms of expanding the political sphere and allowing people to operate, so two-party system, No”.

There is also a middle course group which is insisting that we can allow multi party system but let us go back to the old system of having a least five or six and then with a caveat; independent candidature so when you juxtapose all these arguments vis-à-vis our historical background you will realise that we are still young in our democratic experiment.

The countries officially practicing a two-party system have advanced democracy. For instance, the Japan constitution of 1946 has not created a two-party system.

Infact it is only in Nigeria to the best of my knowledge that the issue about creating a political party is provided for in the constitution. In Afghanistan there is a general right for every citizen to form a political party or belong to a political party. There is no regulation of any kind. But the only condition is that the political parties must not be based on tribe or ethnicity and must not have foreign affiliation.

When you consider the fact that Afghanistan is a monolithic society in terms of the fact that the 2004 constitution of Afghanistan made it the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, you will consider that even in such monolithic society, they have allowed multi-party system to operate.

Nigeria is too large, too multi-ethnic, too multi-cultural to just have two parties. Japan is a monolithic society as well. They speak one language basically but that they are targeting two-parties may be because of their cultural background. But if you look at United States of America uptill today if there is a need to include another state in America they will emerge at the mercy of the constitution.

The constitution provides that states may still be incorporated, into the union if the need arises. Even though they are practicing a multi-party system, they have restricted it to two-party not by legislation but by evolution, by growth. They have allowed as many political parties as possible; but by evolution based on ideologies, two schools of thought have shaped the Republicans and the Democrats Parties.

The Democratis are considered to be for the poor, the deprived and the immigrants. So when they are campaigning they campaign along this line.

The Republicans are called the grand old party because they are conservative in nature. They are believed to be for the rich and also believed to be anti-immigrants. This extenuating circumstances apply to some extent to Nigeria but, not all. We have more people in this country but we don’t have immigration as an issue. But we don’t have ready ideologies that is why you see some body decamping today to one party and coming back again.

In Nigeria, there is no ideological frame work of any of  the political parties. So, we cannot effectively practice two-party system, at least for now. It could come up tomorrow, it could evolve. Legislating into a two-party system does not enjoy my support. But I will toe the middle line.A two party system is not ideal in Nigeria. I believe that about 10-party system is okay.

No matter the  ideological school, culture or tribe, you must necessarily find a space to operate within this 10-party structure. And again, I will add that I am in support of independent candidature so that if per chance you discover that you cannot fit into any of these political set ups, then you run as independent candidate

Sebastine Hon is a legal practitioner and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).

 

Sebastine Tar Hon

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APC Denies Zoning Chairmainship To N’Central

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The All Progressives Congress (APC) has denied zoning its national chairmanship position to the North Central.
The National Secretary, APC Caretaker and Extra-ordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), Sen. James Akpanudoedehe, said this on Monday in Abuja when he spoke with newsmen.
Akpanudoedehe was reacting to a media report that the party had zoned the position to the North Central, adding that the issue of zoning was not part of the mandates of the CECPC.
“I have the mandate to report that whatever decision the CECPC takes and to the best of my knowledge the committee has not discussed zoning,’’ he said.
He added that with the party‘s national convention slated for February 2022, it was expected that party members would come up with different zoning speculations.
“People are just flying what will favour their interest, all I know is that the caretaker committee has not discussed or reached a zoning decision,’’ he said.
Also, Senator Victor Lar, Media Director, Sen. Ali-Modu Sheriff Campaign Organisation, said that the report was laughable describing it as figment of the imagination of those who planted it.
Senator Ali-Modu Sheriff, a two-term governor of Borno State, is a frontline aspirant for the APC chairmanship.
“We find the purported story as very laughable because the organs of the party that are supposed to communicate that kind of information are not the ones communicating it.
“For that reason, we will take it with a pinch of salt.
“Again, the APC as a party has never adopted zoning, therefore, the story of it zoning the national championship to the North Central can better be described as a figment of the imaginations of those who planted it.
“We find the report as the very poor scheming of people who are scared of contesting the position with Sheriff,’’ Lar said.
He said it was obvious that Sheriff’s hard work and his manner of campaign had unsettled other aspirants.
This, he said, was especially because he had gained unprecedented support from party members and critical stakeholders from across the country.
Lar added that the race for the APC national chairmanship was an open contest, saying that the best candidate should be allowed to emerge.
He said this was necessary for the party to be galvanised for victory in the 2023 general elections.
He said that Sheriff- a two-term governor of Borno State remained the best candidate for the APC national chairmanship.  On the approval given by President Muhammadu Buhari for the party‘s National Convention to hold in February 2022, Lar said there was a need for the National Executive Committee (NEC) to meet and rectify the date. “Though we had commended the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) for taking the initiative to meet with Buhari on the need for the party’s National Convention to be conducted.

“The decision to hold the convention in February 2022 has to be taken by the party’s NEC. The president does not have the constitutional powers to call for a meeting.

“Neither do the governors elected on the party’s platform. It is only the party’s NEC that can take such a decision as regards when its national convention will hold.

“The February date must therefore be rectified by the party’s NEC to make it constitutional,” he said.

Lar appealed to APC members and Sheriff‘s teeming supporters to remain calm and focused.

“We are on course and victory is certain.
“I want to assure that Sheriff will work amicably and with an open heart with everyone, irrespective of religion and tribe when he becomes the party national chairman by God’s grace and with their support,” he said.

 

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No Father Christmas In Politics, Ayu Tells Youths

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The incoming National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr Iyorchia Ayu, has charged youths not to fold their arms and wait for power-shift but rise to the challenge of leadership at various levels, noting that power is never given on a platter of gold.
He gave the charge at when a delegation of Benue youths, under the auspices of Benue Transition Mentees (BTM), paid him a courtesy visit at his Maitama residence in Abuja, recently.
Youths in the country have consistently accused old politicians of sitting tight in power and denying them the opportunity to govern.
But Ayu, a former Senate president, who advised Nigerian youths to channel their energy into the right direction, said the future belonged to youths who prepared themselves.
“We often hear that youths are the leaders of tomorrow, but that is not automatic. The future really belongs to youths who follow their passions, who prepare themselves and who go after what they want.
“There are youths who are doing drugs, who are into all sorts of vices like kidnapping, prostitution, what they call Yahoo-yahoo. Some make up the battalions in the banditry ravaging the country. The future does not belong to these.
“Organise yourselves, mobilise your large constituency and go for what you want, including public office. There is no Father Christmas in politics.
“Sometimes, young people forget that many of us started out on this route as young men too. I became a graduate at 23, got my PhD at 31, was a senior lecturer at 37 and was elected to the Senate at 39 where my colleagues made me Senate President at 40. I can say that for others too.
“And in many of these outings, we successfully competed against older, more experienced people. So, when youths say, ‘Give us a chance,’ I tell them, ‘Chance is not always a gift. Power is never given on a platter or in a parcel.’ So, mobilise and take your chance as we march to 2023,” he said.
Meanwhile, allies of a former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, under the aegis of Waziri Atiku Political Family and Associates (WAPFA) have appealed to Nigerians to return the PDP to power in 2023.
They also called on PDP leaders across the six geopolitical zones to rise above partisanship, regional interest and endorse Atiku as consensus presidential candidate for the election.
A statement yesterday by the WAPFA National Coordinator, Deacon Elijah Afolabi, said PDP would rescue Nigerians from what he described as mis-governance.
But reacting, the Director General of Voice of Nigeria (VON) and a chieftain of the APC, Osita Okechukwu, in a statement yesterday said the PDP cannot be trusted.
He argued that the PDP had been in power for 16 years but failed to deliver good governance to the masses.
“How can Nigerians trust our sister political party, the PDP given their antecedents riddled with trust deficit? We know that times are hard; it is better to allow APC to fix Nigeria,” he said.

 

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Orji Blasts Sit-Tight Politicians

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The immediate-past Governor of Abia State, and Senator representing Abia Central, Senator Theodore Orji, has said that re-cycling of expired politicians and the refusal of sit-tight politicians to vacate the political space for the younger ones are the reasons Nigeria is not making much progress in governance.
Senator Orji, who stated this while addressing newsmen in Umuahia, restated that his decision to quit elective position come 2023 was irrevocable. He said that his decision to bow out at the completion of his second tenure at the Senate was to allow the young generation prove their mettle.
Orji argued that there was no way the Not Too Young to Run Act signed into law in 2018 would be effectively implemented without the cooperation of the old politicians.
According to Senator Orji,  the Not Too Young to Run Act will remain a paper tiger until the old politicians are willing to vacate the political space.
His words: “I don’t speak from both sides of my mouth. By 2023 I will not seek elective position again. “Dominating the political space till eternity is inimical to raising new crop of political leaders.”
Orji who further explained that his decision to step aside in 2023 was personal and not under any pressure, urged old politicians to allow the young ones test their hands on the saddle.
On the corruption allegations against him being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, which his kinsman and critic, Prince Benjamin Apugo, has always used against him, the former governor regretted that “Apugo does not comprehend the fact that being investigated by the EFCC does not automatically translate to being found guilty.”
Senator Orji dismissed Apugo’s attacks on him as misguided vituperations which he would not dignify with a response.
The former governor further  said that “unlike Apugo who is already in court with EFCC  over land grabbing, EFCC has neither indicted nor charged me to court for any offence.”
He accused his detractors of writing petitions against him to distract him. Senator Orji also said that the Bill on the conversion  of Abia State Polytechnic Aba which he sponsored was still awaiting  presidential assent so that Abia would rightly get a Federal Polytechnic like other states as provided for in the Constitution.
On the delapidated Umuahia-Ikot Ekpene federal road, which has been recently awarded for reconstruction, Orji expressed hope that the federal government would live up to its promise.
He attributed the feat to a collaborative efforts of National Assembly members from Abia and  Akwa Ibom State.

 

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