By Francis Ogbimi
NIGERIA has over 50 political groups. How can anyone say that Nigeria needs political parties? Yes, Nigeria needs political parties. This article is written to show why the present political groups in Nigeria are not political but political machines and conspiracies which do not represent the ideals, aspirations and hopes of Nigerians. The article is also written to show how Nigeria can achieve rapid economic development and establish political parties speedily.
President Dwight Eisenhower (1956) of the United States, reflecting on the issue of political party, said a political party deserves the approbation of the American, only as it represents the ideals, the aspirations and the hopes of Americans. If it is anything less, it is merely a conspiracy to seize power.
About 20 years later, Daniel Boorstin (1973), American historian, again reflecting on the issue of political party, said, a political party is organised for a purpose larger than its own survival; a political machine exists for its own sake, its primary purpose is survival. I agree with President Eisenhower and Boorstin.
Political groups in Nigeria do not represent the ideals, the aspirations and hopes of Nigerians; they exist for their members alone. Politicians at the local government, state and federal levels get into government to become rich overnight.
Nigerian political machines and conspiracies connive with foreigners to deceive the ignorant people and adopt programmes which though have beautiful names and acronyms, do not promote growth and development. No one except the politicians and their experts know what the programmes and beautiful acronyms are meant to achieve.
Nigerian politicians have never had development programmes because they have only been increasing the level of poverty and national indebtedness in Nigeria.
The political machines in Nigeria claim that they are committed to the welfare of Nigerians and will promote education, build roads and bridges, develop agriculture. In practice, they do disjointed things that do not promote growth and development.
The development process of a nation may be likened to a journey. When Nigerian politicians make their wasteful trips to Europe, America and Asia, they inquire beforehand how to get to their destinations. So it should be in the development process.
If the political groups were to represent the ideals, aspirations and hopes of Nigerians, they would have been interested in finding out how nations develop, how the technological developed nations did it. That would enable Nigeria to avoid the mistakes of older societies.
Our decades-long curiosity-driven research results revealed that there are fundamentally two types of nations in the world today. They are: 1) the industrialised and rich, found in Europe, America and some parts of Asia and 2) the non-industrialised and poor, found in Africa, Latin America and some parts of Asia.
The industrialised and rich nations which now manufacture uncountable products were poor agricultural nations like African nations of today for 2000-3000 years before they achieved industrialisation. The principal objective of Nigeria ought to be the pursuit of industrialisation. Sadly, Nigerian politicians have not been the pursuit of industrialisation.
Nigeria gained political independence from Britain in 1960, about 61 years ago. The geographical space now called Nigeria was colonised in the period approximately 100 years, 1850s-1960.
The parliamentary system of government in Britain has evolved for thousands of years with kings ruling. It was the first modern industrial revolution, IR, which took place 1770-1850 that changed the economic, social and political life in Britain. The Labour Party was established 1906, over 50 years after the IR occurred.
The United States of America started as farm settlements/colonies for British businessmen and government in 1606. By 1775 there were 13 colonies in the area now occupied by the United States of America.
The colonies revolted against the British crown in 1775 and fought the Revolutionary War 1775-1783 and won. The confederation which fought the war organised a convention to write the federal constitution in 1787 (Bartlett, et al., 1969).
The American presidential system and its constitution became operative in 1789; they belong to people who have lived together for over 400 years; the constitution being about 230 years. The Americans acknowledged that their presidential system is less responsible to the people than the British parliamentary system (Hall, 1971).
The political journey of a nation rarely matures and brings rapid relief. It is the economic journey that brings rapid transformation; it is the one that a wise people should focus on. It is the acquisition of scientific and technological capabilities that make a nation great, not mere adoption of the constitution of a great nation.
Wealth, arms and ammunition are products of scientific and technological capabilities. The Latin-American nations adopted the American type of presidential constitution over 200 years ago but they still do not have a clear direction in the development process.
The British parliamentary and American presidential systems are too advanced for Nigerians; Nigeria needs a simple Federal Government and a good economic programme that would transform Nigeria economically and politically, readily.
The relationship between the economic and political spheres of a nation may be likened to that between the kettle and the water on the coal-pot on the one hand and the fired coal in the coal-pot on the other hand.
It is the heat generated by the coal-pot (the state of the economy) that determines the temperature of the water in the kettle (the political sphere). No economic growth; no political growth, no democracy.
The great economic programme Nigeria needs is to mobilise all Nigerians for learning (education, training, employment and research). This suggestion is based on our research results which showed that learning is the primary basis for achieving sustainable economic growth and industrialisation, SEGI.
The more the people mobilised for learning the sooner a nation achieves industrialisation. Japan mobilised all her citizens 1886-1905 and achieved industrialisation. China mobilised all her citizens for learning in 1949 and achieved industrialisation in the early 1980s.
As for the political change, Nigeria needs a more humbled Federal Government than the American presidential system. The six geopolitical zones should be made additional federating/learning levels. Our towns/villages need attention too.
The town/mayoral learning level/federating level should also become operative. Six national vice-presidents, one from each geopolitical zone should be elected. Each will take turn to head the Federal Government for two years.
Election at the federal/central level, a community election, should be based on personality, not on party basis for now. This is to reduce the tempo, waste and distractions of political activities for now.
This also follows from the fact that there are no political parties in Nigeria today. Elections and offices at lower levels of the federation should follow accordingly. The well-defined economic activities and simple political setting will readily establish a strong economic foundation for our nation. The low-key political activities should readily establish the basis of political parties.
Prof. Ogbimi, an economic analyst and author wrote via email@example.com