POLITICS: Ballot In Favour Of Ideology Or Sentiment

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By Efio-Ita Nyok| 28 March 2015| 9:00 am

Today, Saturday 28 March has been set aside by Nigeria's electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), headed by Prof. Attahiru Jega, for the Nigerian electorate  to cast their ballot in favour of any presidential and National Assembly candidates of their choices. Whereas, 11 April will witness gubernatorial & state assembly elections.

It's trite fact that politics is a viable avenue where the people/masses enthrone or dethrone the views of government. And the masses do this through the ballot. These political views are what is referred to as ideology. And they are embodied in political parties. In fact, what distinguishes one political party from another is the ideological orientation.

Nigeria has 26 registered political parties. But, only 11 of these have presidential candidates, in the 2015 general elections. Prominent among these presidential candidates are the PDP's Goodluck Jonathan, APC's Mohammadu Buhari and more recently Ms. Remi Sonaiya(Nigeria's first female candidate) of the KORA party.

In my opinion, these political parties are bereft of ideologies. Their proliferation is not based on multiplicity of variant ideologies but on what one may not readily hinge an argument on. To the question, what is the ideology of the PDP or APC, etc? May incite a difficult response(s),  if at all any. They say, theory precedes practice. And practice without theory is empty. The most any observant electorates has heard about the PDP is 'power to the people' and 'transformation', the APC keep eliciting such term as 'change'. That is all we hear for that is all they are and have. They hardly tell us how they intend to 'transform' or 'change' the ordinary Nigerian. Consequently, I am forced to dismiss them as not having an ideology. But, I stand to be corrected.

In the absence of an ideology, sentiment of varied types take the centre stage. In the 2015 general elections, as in other general elections, the prevalent sentiments are religious and ethnic. Most, if not all Nigerians will vote for Buhari or Jonathan not on ideological grounds but on religio-ethnic considerations. Majority of the electorates will vote for Buhari because he is a Muslim and from the north of the country while others will vote for Jonathan because he is from the south and a Christian. This is pure sentiment. They won't be voted into public office because of the sound credentials of their policies if given the opportunity. As such, mediocrity, nepotism, tribalism,  corruption, injustice, etc  becomes the order of the day.

The negative effect of enthroning sentiments cannot be emphasised. The consequences for the economy, body-politic and culture are negatively profound. It's the pro-sentiment politics, devoid of ideology, of this nation for about 4 republics that has preceded our downward spiral in virtually every sector of our statehood. This explains why I say that the APC, Nigeria's foremost political opposition party does not mean well for Nigerians. What do they want to do, and how do they want to accomplish it? They have the former but are wanting in the latter.

As we proceed to the polling units, we should vote in favour of the ideology of the party despite its paucity and near inexistence. Sentiments of whatever orientation should be far from our considerations. We should try, and very hard to compare between 'change' and 'transformation' and the in depth components of these appellations before casting our votes. It's not too late to give thoughts to this before casting our votes in reality.