By Wole Olujobi
Nigeria should not be in a state of flux. The nation that struggled to gain independence through the blood and sweats of her prominent citizens to promote standard of governance for progress and development cannot afford to intentionally plant mines and dig trenches on her path to national redemption and salvation.
But the present plot by the coalition of lawmakers-elect in the minority parties, which failed to win popular votes in the general elections, to control the parliament in the presidential system of government led by the All Progressives Congress (APC), presents a dangerous political gambling capable of setting back the progress made so far to build on the successes recorded in nation-building efforts in the last few years.
While coalition of minority parties tends to be more successful in the parliamentary system of government, same cannot be said of the presidential system of government, particularly of the Nigeria hue. Besides, minority-controlled parliament in the presidential system of government is also much less stable than a majority-controlled parliament because if minority members can unite for a purpose, the opposing majority parliamentary members may rally their numbers to block the quorum needed to pass the former’s bills into laws. This is besides the veto by the President from the majority party with the executive powers.
Essentially, the failure to form a coalition parliament for a successful performance is chronic in the presidential system and implies, legislatively, ineffective government, deadlocks, and the eventual breakdown of the democratic dispensation.
Minority parties seeking to hijack the government is a dangerous and an open invitation to anarchy. The President has a superior authority in the land by the virtue of gaining power through the voters across the country based on voters’ consent with his manifesto, while minority lawmakers gain their power through narrow, delineated constituencies. To now seek or devise other means, such as an isolated constituency sub-power, to hijack the national authority anchored on wider national consensus through national election is something alien to the practice of democracy in Nigeria’s presidential system of government.
In presidential system of government, the ruling party seeks to implement the programmes and policies enunciated in its manifesto. The majority party in the parliament seeks to support its manifesto in governance as espoused by the Executive, whereas the minority has no manifesto or mandate to implement, having lost in the general elections.
Coalitions are more common in the parliamentary system of government, owing largely to the failure of a political party to have a popular majority votes, that is, more than half of the total numbers in the parliament, to form government. Political parties then come together in a coalition terms often in a charter of agreements, including who becomes the coalition leader, to form a government. The coaltion leader then becomes the Prime Minister. Same does not exist in the presidential system of government.
In multi-party states, a coalition agreement in the parliament is an agreement negotiated between the parties that form that coalition. It codifies the most important shared goals and objectives of the parties. It is often written by the leaders of the parties.
But in the present coalition plot by the minority parties in Nigeria after failure to win popular votes during the February 25, 2023 general elections, who are their leaders? Where is the charter of their agreements, mission statement and vision, among others?
Or can minority parties coalesce to form a parallel government? What happens when minority parties without common agenda and vision flex muscles in the parliament and APC’s “almighty” President waits in ambush to assert his executive powers through veto as bestowed on him by the majority votes of Nigerians in the general elections and with the stamp of authority by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria? Chaos, chaos and chaos is the answer!
In a democracy, the majority always have their way while the minority have their say. But by the scheme being worked out by lawmakers-elect in the minority parties, they want to have their way while the majority party will have their say in the politics of minority coalition that has no agenda, vision and mission statements, policy and ideology.
While the executive can veto legislative acts and, in turn, a supermajority of lawmakers in the minority parties may override the veto, hence logjams and deadlocks, where does that lead Nigerians in their thirst for development and progress through good and effective government? In case this supermajority in minority parties have their way, can they force the Executive to execute the laws that mainly appeal to the whims of the supermajority in the minority parties?
Therefore, attempt by a group of minority parties with varying objectives and goals to hijack government after failure during electoral process to secure majority votes to form government is nothing but a coup, which is the first enemy of democracy.
To control the government, each party must have a programme appeal that addresses the challenges of the people, and use that manifesto to seek pan-Nigerian mandate through popular votes to form and control the levers of power in government. That is why in democracies, for example, the United States, political parties in the executive arm of government thrive to control the parliament to ease passage of bills for ease of implementing the objectives and goals of their campaign promises.
A coalition platform without pre-formation, formation, implementation, maintenance and institutionalisation of principles, vision and mission statements, role descriptions, guidelines, workgroup guidelines and agenda, credible reputation and public support, among other features, is nothing but an anathema to the ethos of the presidential system of government of Nigeria’s variety.
Building a multi-partisan platform and solidarity anchored on divergent political persuasions and values to hijack power after election loss by the minority parties is nothing but an open invitation to chaos and a convenient and expedient marriage of strange bed-fellows, which is a direct threat to the sanctity of electoral mandate by the popular votes of Nigerians, while also endangering good government in general.
Nigeria needs a breather from the suffocating essence of political cleavages over narrow partisan pursuits at the time national solidarity is needed to build a virile nation.
* Olujobi, former Deputy Director of Media and Publicity, Ekiti State APC Presidential Election Committee, writes from Ado-Ekiti