Typically,a political party is a political organization dedicated to the cause of winning political power,usually through participation in elections.Roughly founded on a given ideology,it attracts people of similar political opinions,aims and ideas.It seeks to influence society,by gaining governmental control,through the capture public offices,and then organizing government in line with it’s ideas and world view.Vibrant and focused political parties are necessary to achieving successful governance,as they act as mediators between the government and the governed,conveying people’s needs and problems to the government,while informing and educating the people about the government’s actions.
The twentieth century has witnessed the emergence of two party models or paradigms:the rational-efficient model and the responsible party model.Under the rational-efficient model,the party is viewed as a machine for contesting elections.It concentrates on giving it’s candidates ballot access to the exclusion of other functions.It does not emphasize ideological coherence.Unlike the efficient model,the responsible party model demands that the party should have both coherence and cohesion.Coherence is necessary so that a party can be identified with a distinct program,by which the electorate can judge it’s performance.Cohesion is needed to give the party the necessary unity,to enable it execute it’s agenda.
Under the responsible party model,a political party,in addition to contesting elections,has these other duties:Aggregating the thoughts and ideas of it’s members and supporters,and turning them into party policies;mobilizing and encouraging people to actively partake in the political and electoral process;educating and sensitizing the people on the workings of the governmental,electoral and political system;actively engaging with the people and transforming their opinions into party policies;acting as a channel to convey the public’s views to the government.However,the most visible duty of a political party is preparing and training people for elections.
A look at the Nigerian political scene, shows that our political parties are organized in line with the rational-efficient model.And no wonder.In a clime,where people have been disenfranchised because their votes do not count,as elections are blatantly rigged,it is only natural that people are deeply alienated from the electoral and political process.And the parties,not needing the people’s votes,do not give a hoot about the voters.So great is the disconnect between ordinary people and the political parties that,for these folks,the parties might as well not exist.And vice versa.Elections here are all about rigging successfully.Normative rigging,over the years,has turned Nigeria into a virtual one-party state,with grievous consequences.
This level of rigging promotes carpet-crossing and ideological incoherence.First,when politicians understand that people’s votes will not count,they will simply join the ‘winning’ party,usually the party in power,which can guarantee electoral victory through it’s incumbency powers.All the politicians whose only interest is being in power,will desert their parties for the ‘winning’ party.Witness the frenzy with which politicians are ‘joining’ and ‘re-joining’ the ruling party in Nigeria
Second,as politicians from different ends of the ideological spectrum converge in the ‘winning’ party,the party can not be ideologically distinct or coherent.Given that they can ignore the electorate,these prostitutes of power,who are only interested in power and it’s perks,have no need to articulate an agenda to which they can be held.And this simply means they can not be accountable,when in power.