Kukah: What we call parties in Nigeria can’t meet the standard of real parties

Matthew Kukah, bishop of Sokoto diocese of the Catholic Church, says strong institutions are imperative for the growth of democracy.

Kukah said this while delivering the keynote address at the Nigerian Tribune 70th anniversary symposium in Lagos.

He decried the absence of what he called real political parties to deliver the goods in the country.

He said the present parties lacked the right ideology to contribute meaningfully to the growth of democracy, as they all serve as mere platforms for politicians to seek power.

“What can one say about the state of our democratic institutions, our political parties, and our electoral processes?” he asked.

“All these notions are closely knit together and one cannot stand without the other. For example, political parties are platforms by which politicians canvass for votes and sell their ideologies to the people.

“However, how do we assess our political parties today? “We all know that what we call parties in Nigeria today cannot meet the standards of real parties elsewhere.”

He also took a swipe at President Muhammadu Buhari and Atiku Abubakar, the two leading candidates in the presidential poll, taunting them over the number of times they have changed parties.

“Every presidential election sees parties change their name or candidates change their platform. Take the two presidential candidates of the PDP and the APC for example,” he said.

“Close your eyes and see how many parties they have campaigned under: PDP, ANPP, CPC, ACN, APC and now PDP. Military rule made things even worse. Imagine if a Hotel, a Television Station, a Newspaper or a Church changed their name every so often. What would you make of it?

“What makes democracy beautiful is that Parties can be platforms for managing diversity. Ideally, a party should serve as a platform for men and women of diverse ethnicities, faiths and backgrounds to come together and pursue a common set of goals.

“The inherent competitive nature of Democracy should ideally provide platforms for encouraging losers to work harder and return to compete another. The weak foundation of politics in Africa leaves us too vulnerable with winners often endangering the future of the process.

“Often, these weak foundations cannot carry the egos and megalomaniac tendencies of those who wish to use power to enrich themselves and their friends or offer opportunities for a narrow group.

“When power sharing is so skewed, favoritism divides the parties and the people, and development becomes impossible.

“Petty nationalisms emerge and centrifugal forces take centre stage. As we can see in our situation today, alienation now breeds frustration and nihilism. This kind of politics does not unite people. It leaves no room for freedom or development.”