A Nigerian-based leadership platform and public policy organisation, The Kukah Center, says political parties in Nigeria have failed in their responsibility to provide quality representation in governance.
The convener of the National Peace Committee, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, stated this at a public presentation of the ‘Needs Assessment of Political Parties in Nigeria.’
The assessment report of the Kukah Center is part of its project under the European Union for the support of Democratic governance in Nigeria.
In his speech, Kukah bemoaned the obliteration of History from Nigeria’s educational curriculum and expressed concern over the country’s current lack of a shared political memory.
The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese also lamented the fact that Nigerians are “vulnerable to the rapacious attacks of raw politics which is leaving so much blood, pain, sweat, and tears in its wake” since there isn’t a clear historical narrative.
According to him,” The quality of actors suggests very clearly that there are no teachers, no guardians, no mentors in our political History.
He said:” In the absence of a coherent narration of its History, Nigeria and Nigerians have often tried to find a series of alibis to plaster over the visible cracks on the walls of their memories.
“The result is that there is dissonance in our definition and expression of ourselves, our histories and our cultures. Where did History fall off the cracks in the Academia? Why did History lose its allure and attraction to students and even teachers? What are the implications and consequences for our young generation of citizens today and the nation? In the absence of clear answers, Nigerians have often resorted to myths and fables as to how History became an ignored subject. For example, one often hears that the government took History off the syllabus of Nigerian universities because they were ashamed of the records they had left behind. Some argued that, in reality, History ceased to have market value, and as such, it fell victim to the law of supply and demand. Either way, there isn’t much pride in History and my argument is that we are paying the price in terms of lack of a common solution to our problems.
“The appetite to study History ended when it seemed clear that if you studied History, you would end up teaching in a Secondary school and not in the Bank or the NNPC unless, of course, you were the son of somebody.
“At a time when the Banks became the paths to the great rush, young women in skimpy skirts and young men in bow ties stepped and pounded the streets in search of deposits. In the 90s, if you were a young graduate, all everyone wanted to do was go to the Bank. While the banks made their money, young women would sooner than later begin to feel the moral pressures of being Bankers and the cost of finding deposits.
“Ironically, in the 80s and the 90s, the Universities of Ahmadu Bello, University of Calabar, Jos, Ife, and Port Harcourt, among others, were Centres of academic excitement and excellence as a generation of scholars turned History into one of the most exciting subjects in the Social Science Faculties. We all have memories of the robust ideological engagement between the state and citizens, fired by reputable professors and their student underlings.
“Professors and Students filled the air with robust analysis of the contradictions of society, the class conflicts between the bourgeoisie and the masses, the challenge to primitive capitalism and the urge for a revolution. Those were times of illusion and delusion over a new world that would come about after all the workers of the world have united.
“Today, times have changed. The young lecturers of yesterday and their student activist underlings have all matured and become largely incorporated into the social fabric of the much-hated bourgeoisie of yesterday.
“The shouts of aluta continua have since been replaced by aluta finita. The Marxist tools of analysis of yesterday had their time and use because they generated class consciousness to use the phrases then. I wonder if, today, it would be safe to say that these tools of analysis have been consigned to the dustbin of History or if they will ever be sharpened.
“All of this has consequences for our society today. Had the progression continued into political party formations, perhaps politics would have been different and more engaging in Nigeria.
“To say that the Nigerian political scene is a forest of chaos is to be charitable. The fact that we are watching the big fish consume the small fish is not out of place. Today, we have no collective political memory, no thanks to the disruptive and corrosive years consumed by the military.
“The missing links of History have left our people vulnerable to the rapacious attack of raw politics, which is leaving so much blood, pain, sweat and tears in its wake.
“The quality of actors suggests very clearly that there are no teachers, no guardians, no mentors in our political History.
“The result is that we are witnessing an end to the age of innocence and the nobility of politics.
“This is not an inspiration to the younger generation, who are likely to shun politics with the understanding that this is how things have been since the beginning.”
Continuing, Kukah explained that,” We at the Kukah Centre are poised to help create confidence in politics because we believe in the state as a vehicle for delivery of public goods.”
” Political Parties are the platforms on which politicians are weaned, trained and deployed to serve the public good. We want to dredge up some of the good, the bad and the very ugly phases of our national History so that we can have an idea of where we have come from. In the process, we need to see if there are any good markers or signs that those who came before us left.
“Hopefully, from their experiences, we can begin to think more clearly about how to make politics noble.
“Without a proper understanding of the role and place of Political Parties in a Democracy, we would be playing a game against the backdrop of what I have described above. We believe that no matter the energy of the youth, they will not be able to do anything different from their past and present set of politicians if they see politics as a blood sport. Politics was not meant to be a Casino machine or a Betnaija parlour. With a proper understanding of Political Party processes, young men and women with vision can have a clear idea of the imagination and the resources required to form political parties.
” When the European Union challenged us by opening up this opportunity for us at the Kukah Centre, we seized it with both hands because of its significance, and I was thrilled. The Staff at the Centre are largely young people with drive and ambition. This project is very important to us because it is my hope that it will be part of our learning curve, a testing ground. To this end, this project will benefit both our researchers, those engaged in the project, and those of us who will consume the products of this hard work,” he said.