Political parties as voluntary organisations of free citizens in democratic states feature their candidates for positions and strive to gain the best results in elections. Political parties differ immensely in various countries, depending on political, party or electoral systems they act upon. Those systems immensely form their attributes; however, the one attribute which characterises political parties in all democratic systems is competition or some other form of power struggle . Political party is “an assembly of individuals which form constellation of rival groups”. meaning of political parties, that parties are “groups which members mutually operate in competitive power struggle”. Internal party democracy is a key ingredient of any democratic system of government. This is because democracy ought to begin from the parties and how they choose their candidates for the election proper. If the candidates are chosen otherwise than in line with tenets of democracy, then the political space would be tainted and no true democracy can be said to be in existence.
Consensus is an act of imposition. It is an avenue for political godfathers and party tin gods to practically picked and chose favoured candidates and godson at will without any concern for the good and progress of the party. Such godfathers prefer their loyalists to popular candidates with no regards to members interest or choice. Hence the forget the key ingredient of internal democracy is the avoidance of imposition of candidates on the party. Every candidate interested in an elective office should be given the opportunity to test his popularity within his party by a democratically – conducted primaries which will produce the most popular candidate for the election proper. Anything short of this is a total detour from democratic norms and prThis practice is a threat to democracy as it does not give room for party members to have a say in the choice of candidates to stand for the main election. It sounds in breach of the fundamental rights of party members to deny them the right to elect candidate of their choice. The series of consensus candidate in Nigeria political parties reduced the morale of members. It is a practice that is capable of shaking the belief of members in their party and in its internal mechanisms. It is a direct affront to democracy which reduces the game of polities to a process of sheer selection, godfatherism, favouritism and particularism. No doubt, this is a total threat to our fledgling democracy. This issue of consensus candidacy needs to be addressed in Ondo State. The state governor, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) should look critically into this matter as the number one member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state. The result of a consensus arrangement might be dangerous to his re-election bid, as the members who aspiring for positions might feel shortchanged and leave for other political parties. The governor should see to this and advise the party executives to allow democracy to flourish in the party, and to prepare members for the November election. The outcome of the local government election has great implications for the future.
The leadership of the party should shun consensus as an option to encourage total democracy in the party. This would not only sustain the members’ interest but put the party in the right position in Ondo state. It is a simple syllogism if A then B, not -A then -B “Members then party, no members then there is no party”. Party excutives should also be reminded that the constitution speaks more of members than executives. Imposition of candidates on political parties by influential leaders has become the rule rather than the exception in the country. This practice has destroyed many political parties and even their candidates whose political ambitions had been truncated undemocratically in preference for some anointed candidates. The party needs to be very careful and not give some political self-seekers who are mere politicians of fortune reasons to cross over to another party should they fail to realize their ambition.
There is gainsaying the fact that Governor Akeredolu has tried his best all areas of government in the state, and even on the national stage. Mr Governor has also done well in ensuring that democracy reaches the grass roots for development purposes. But he also needs to know that many members wish to take over from him and are looking for every means and tactics to place their manifesto on the spotlight. The forthcoming local government election alone can make or mere the re-election depending on how it is well managed. Using consensus candidates to fill seats in local councils is not advisable at this time in the state. Not only does this consensus practice shortchange our democracy, it also threatens our national stability.It is dangerous to national security. It is worse than insurgency. In a democracy without free and fair party primaries, there will be no government to fight insecurity and insurgency because the people are the government and if candidates are imposed, no one will have believe in the government and they won’t give any support. There will be breakdown of law and order. Let us protect and preserve our democracy for posterity sake.
Abayomi writes in from Okeigbo, Ondo state