“My country, Nigeria, falls into this category of nation-states where inter-party collaboration is acutely needed to help eradicate some primordial sentiments and concerns that have dragged the nation backward politically.”
Amina Gamawa Director Political Affairs, All progressives congress, Nigeria delivered the speech below at the Moscow Zoom Conference
EFFECTIVE INTER-PARTY COOPERATION: PANACEA TO POLITICAL INSTABILITY IN NIGERIA
Let me set out to restate here that there is no alternative to inter party collaboration in a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-religious, multi-party and widely dispersed nation-states. It’s embracement will not only diminish the sharp differences and divisions that have characterize many political systems, especially, those in Africa but will also help yield healthy polity that would promote sustainable economic and political development and growth of such polity.
My country, Nigeria, falls into this category of nation-states where inter-party collaboration is acutely needed to help eradicate some primordial sentiments and concerns that have dragged the nation backward politically. Indeed, apart from manageable socio-economic challenges that have buffeted my country in the last few decades, a notable problem that have exerted us negatively is the subsisting penchant of political parties not to work together for the betterment of the nation. My country has a population of over 215 million with more than 400 ethnic nationalities with 94 political parties that was reduced to 18 political parties early last year.
It is not that key actors in the political ecosystem are unaware of the benefits of inter-party collaboration for being a process of participation through which political parties work together to achieve desired results. It also helps in accomplishing shared vision, achieving positive outcomes for members they serve, and build an interdependent system to address issues and opportunities. Further, collaboration also involves sharing of resources and responsibilities to jointly plan, implement and evaluate programs to achieve common goals with members of the collaborative effort willing to share vision, mission, power, resources and goals.
In distance past, out-of-party political alignment and re-alignment on individual basis have thrived with actors reaching out across party lines to build alliances and bridges to work towards wining elections even as this was accentuated on inter-party front between the decades preceding now, but this in recent years have taken a back seat with many of the political parties rooting to go it alone without any form of collaboration being considered. In these decades, poplar inter-party collaboration did witness alliances between and amongst political parties rooted strongly in ethnic and regional lines.
It was in era as this, that political parties like that of Mallam Aminu Kano’s Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU), was formed to oppose the NPC’s dominance in the north, The United Middle Belt Congress (UMBC), formed from the merger between the Middle Belt’s People’s Party (MBPP) and the Middle Zone League (MZL) with clear aim to pursue interest of those in the middle belt of Nigeria.
In the eastern region, the United National Independence Party (UNIP) would break away from the NCNC and stand in contention for the eastern part of Nigeria. Then, in the Western region, the Nigeria National Development Party (NNDP), formed by Chief Akintola, would break away from the Action Group to contend with the, Action Group, AG for the Western region. However, Chief Akintola would later merge the NNDP with the NPC and MDF to form the Nigeria National Alliance (NNA). He would also form a coalition in the east with the NCNC to form the United People’s Party (UPP). Chief Obafemi Awolowo, on the other hand, would reorganize his Action Group to forge a coalitions with the NCNC, UMBC, and NEBU form the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) ahead of the 1964 elections.
Therefore, the NNA and the UPA were the major political coalitions in Nigeria for the elections in 1964 indicating strong collaborative penchant by politicians of that ear. The military would eventually take over, banning all political activities in the process. The ban on all political parties and political activities would later be lifted for the 1979 elections, as Nigeria prepared for the transition from military rule to civilian rule.
From this period the winner-takes-it-all election victory which feature prominently in western presidential system of government have been taken to a whole new ridiculous level in our political clime and have resulted in all forms of construction of political alliances for electoral and non-electoral struggles with no clarity as to its proper classification but nevertheless enjoy nondescript appellation either being in the ideological mould of national-liberation, national-democratic, popular-democratic, etc
The point being made is that political parties are not investing time, energy and resources in the collaboration process to simply remove a particular, dominant party from the highest office since inter-party collaboration has potential to produce a better outcome for all political parties if they mass together as governing the country is a collective responsibility of all citizenry regardless of political parties they belong to.
In a nutshell , political parties play crucial role in modern representative democracy like in my country, Nigeria. They act as initiators of reform, gather demands from society and turn these into policies, recruit people for executive and legislative positions and exercise control over government. In performing these roles, competition between political parties is inevitable, and again, away from the public eye, political parties can more easily overcome conflicts or concerns, and create the preconditions for inter- party cooperation. Indeed, political party dialogue platforms are now being initiated by younger political parties while older ones have begun to find out that it is the only way to build mass political consensus and acceptance.
And this have proved to be crucial mechanisms by which parties can build consensus, seek the common good and take the lead in developing agendas that represent a shared long-term vision for the country. These platforms also make it easier for parties to engage with other stakeholders and representative groups, to enrich and implement their views and to ensure that any agreements made can be kept under constant review. Inter-party dialogue and collaboration, therefore, has therefore been able to help resolve conflict in young democracies and broker fundamental reforms in more established democracies which we seek to embrace.
Finally, in Nigeria, in the medium term, efforts are being directed by political movements, associations and political parties to work together. In doing this, they are largely concentrating on building collaborative capacities centered on commencing with a unifying purpose, creating, maintaining and revisiting Constitutions and Manifesto, setting measurable goals and objectives, setting high expectation, identifying leaders for the collaboration that are open minded, willing to share leadership and empower others, and showing respect for proposed/identified collaborative effort.
Director Political Affairs
All progressives congress, Nigeria.
- Amina Gamawa delivered this speech at the Moscow Zoom Conference