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Rejigging the reward system for attainment of renewed hope

Let me proceed in this conversation with a clarification and a disclaimer. First, a clarification. All political parties in Nigeria have at one time or…

Let me proceed in this conversation with a clarification and a disclaimer.

First, a clarification. All political parties in Nigeria have at one time or another observed the party reward system after election cycles. But there were also some observed breaches by all at both state and national levels regarding the political party reward system since the advent of the Fourth Republic in 1999.

However, the All Progressives Congress (APC) appears to be in the lead for breaches of the political party reward system. This is particularly evident in the last eight years of President Buhari’s administration. The underlying assumption is that, while adherence to the political party reward system ensures consistency and stability, its non-adherence is a harbinger for chaos which thus, explains the political turbulence leading up to the 2019 and 2023 elections.

Secondly, this is by way of a disclaimer. Several individuals in Nigeria have been affected by the political party’s failure to adhere to the party reward system, as earlier mentioned, since the establishment of the current republic. The focus of this opinion piece is on the APC government.

This opinion piece stemmed from my concern about the need for adherence to the party reward system, which I strongly believe is essential for robust party politics and a renewed confidence in democracy and its consolidation in Nigeria.

Reward could be taken to mean, recompense, remunerate, or award. Within its usage in the political party reward system, political scientists, such as E. E. Schattschneider, Maurice Duverge, and Robert Michels have, amongst others and at various times, appeared in tandem that a political party reward system is a mechanism that allows parties to allocate benefits, positions, or resources to their members or supporters based on loyalty, contributions, or service to its goals. It is a system or process that aims to incentivize and maintain party cohesion and ensure a united front in pursuing political objectives.

In the United States of America (USA), for instance, an election victory by a political party is followed by a reward of appointment into key positions in government roles, advisory positions, or diplomatic posts. This method becomes a way to acknowledge and repay supporters for their loyalty during political campaigns. Additionally, successful fundraisers and influential backers receive access and influence within the newly formed administration.

The practices in the United Kingdom, France, and Germany are no different. They all recognise the reward of party loyalists after an election victory through appointments to government positions, including ministerial roles, advisory positions, or committee memberships. Supporters who often have demonstrated dedication and loyalty to the party are accorded patronage appointments that allow them to contribute to policy decisions that shape the government’s direction and policies.

Against this background, two issues are thus clear about the political party reward system in developed democracies. One shared factor amongst these countries is that the party reward system has enabled the parties to entrench party cohesion among their members. Two, the cohesion has ensured the political parties maintain a united front in pursuing their political objectives, the pursuit of state power for nation-building purposes. It is pertinent to now ask, does the Nigerian reality reflect this?

The practice of the political party reward system and its benefits have dotted the politics of the First Republic and the Second Republic. However, not much of it can be said in the Third Republic, as it was short-lived. It was with us at the inception of the Fourth Republics.

Shortly after that, a seeming shift appeared since the assumption of the APC as the ruling party under the leadership of President Muhammad Buhari. This could be gleaned in the manner several party loyalists, including those who were very strategic in the 2015 victory at the poll, were abandoned as soon as the new administration was inaugurated.

This development, as argued by many, was not unconnected to the manner of the APC’s emergence. It was a hurried merger of disparate groupings in the Congress for Progressives Change (CPC) and Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). Others are the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) and the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). This makes it, as the argument goes, difficult for the party reward system to effectively hold.

Added to this, is the insinuation that President Buhari, being a retired military general and not conversant with partisan politics, least understood the virtue of party reward and therefore, chose to act in its breach.

Resultantly, APC stalwarts, such as Engineer Buba Galadima (President Buhari’s one-time right-hand man), Hakeem Baba Ahmed, and many others, were left in the lurch. Curious to note is that Hakeem Baba-Ahmed was President Buhari’s and the APC’s Returning Officer at the 2015 Presidential Election. Had anything untoward happened during the Orubebe standoff at the International Conference Centre (for those who still remember), he would have been counted as part of the collateral damage. Perhaps, to be ascribed as having paid the supreme sacrifice for the survival of democracy in Nigeria.

While the foregoing situation had worked to deprive unity and cohesion in the APC, it unleashed a great wave of uncertainties not only within the party but also in the build-up to the 2019 and 2023 general elections.

Now that the 2023 election is over and Bola Ahmed Tinubu inaugurated as President on the 29th of May 2023, with the agenda of Renewed Hope, there has followed a rising expectation for a turnaround in the country’s political, economic, and social reality. While it is embedded in the Renewed Hope agenda a determination to pursue a policy of inclusion, the reality is seemingly different.

For instance, the talk of promoting inclusion would have found more meaning if and when those who worked to ensure victory for the APC were not left out in the party’s reward loop (some have mooted that it is too early in the day to be apprehensive). Now already eight months into President Tinubu’s administration, it is seemingly threading the path of the erstwhile Buhari administration of non-adherence to the party reward system.

Be that as it may, the economic hardship imposed by fuel subsidy removal and the reforms in the forex sector is biting harder and making life difficult for the average Nigerian.

This thus, calls for absolute caution towards ensuring that the political environment is not further polarised, reminiscent of what obtained after the 2015 General Election and in the build-up to the 2019 General Election. To this end, the APC and President Tinubu would do well by rejigging the party reward system; acknowledging and rewarding the contributions of party members. This, in my opinion, remains the only path that would ensure stability and cohesion in the APC, and avail itself robust ideas that would help to get a grip on the country’s myriad challenges.

 

Ahmed, Ph.D wrote via

[email protected]

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