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.
A 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 principles.
In Nigeria, imposition of candidates on the party by some influential leaders has become the rule rather than the exception. This practice has spelt doom for many political parties and even their candidates whose political ambitions had been truncated undemocratically in preference for some sacred cows. It can be said that imposition of candidates is as old as Nigerian democracy. But this spate of imposition assumed disturbing dimensions with the advent of republican democracy in 1999.
Political godfathers and party tin gods went practically low wire as they 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 and criminals to popular candidates.
The imposition came to a head in the last general elections and thereafter as party members, who felt shortchanged during party primaries left in droves to other parties. It is important to note that imposition of candidates cuts across all the political parties. Recent experience has shown the tendency of this evil practice to cause the disintegration of political parties and to breed bad blood and discontentment in the rank and file of the parties. This 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.
Another dimension to the imposition syndrome is the practice whereby certain candidates who feel shortchanged in one party crossover to another party only to be given the opportunity to vie for elective posts or offered plum jobs over and above hardworking and loyal old party members. This also breeds frustration and bad blood in the system. It sounds in breach of the fundamental rights of party members to deny them the right to elect candidate of their choice.
The bane of our party politics since 1999 is impatience on the part of party godfathers and members to allow democracy to flourish in the parties. There is nothing interracially wrong with a party member deciding to pitch his tent with another party in order to realize his ambition or to identify with his personal ideals and manifestoes. But it is only prudent that such persons who cross over to other parties should exercise patience, bid their time and understand the party before taking a short at an elective position. It is indecent for someone who just joined a party to be handed over the mandate to represent the party in an election without regard to those members who have been loyal, committed and steadfast to the party.
The spate of imposition across Nigeria political parties dampen 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.
The present development where certain politicians abandon their parties midstream only to join other parties and seek governorship or other positions almost immediately is indecent. It should be completely discouraged.
Indeed, such persons who durmp their parties and seek elective positions in other parties can best be described as political self-seekers who are mere politicians of fortune. They will definitely cross over to another party should they fail to realize their ambition.
Similarly, where the legislature has impeached a governor, deputy governor or speaker, it is in bad taste for the speaker to aspire to the position of governor. Decency, wise counsel and good judgment dictate that such a speaker who presided over the impeachment of a governor should keep away from vying for that position immediately in order to give the legislature he led some measure of credibility.
This new practice should be checked or else our legislatures will embark upon impeachment spree all over the country to enable the head of the legislature transmute to a governor. This can spell doom for our democracy. Not only does this practice shortchange our democracy, it threatens our national stability.
It is dangerous to national security. It is worse than insurgency, which has gulped a considerable chunk of our national budget. In a democracy without democracy, there will be no government to fight insecurity and insurgency. There will be breakdown of law and order. Let us protect and preserve our democracy for our posterity.