A Professor of History, Osun State University and Director, Centre for Black Culture and International Understanding in Osun State, Prof. Siyan Oyeweso, yesterday, stressed the need for the establishment of new political parties if Nigeria must develop.
He said this at the 20th Nigerian Academy of Letters, NAL, Annual Convocation, Induction, Scientific Session and Investiture of new NAL Fellows in Lagos.
Oyeweso said: “Nigeria must reinvent political parties. People must establish political parties, not just the not too young to rule but, on politics of ideas, politics of development, politics of sustainable growth. But today, it is a tragedy.
“Take a look at the United States of America today; it is very difficult for a Republican to tell you that he is decamping to the Democratic Party. Take a look at the history of the US, you will not find the Clinton family in the Democratic Party. This culture has taken root there and it is where we borrowed our presidential system of government.
“What we are asking our political parties and politicians to do is to play the politics of ideology. Politics of ideology ended in 1979. In the First Republic, parties like the Action Group, preached African socialism and some form of conservatism. In the Second Republic, it was the politics of ideas.
“The Unity Party of Nigeria, UPN, will tell you about their four cardinal programmes, which includes among others, free education for all, free medical treatment and employment.
“Even Aminu Kano, who co-founded the Northern Elements Progressive Union, preached reformism; Chief J. S. Olawoyin (of blessed memory) established the Ilorin Peoples Party.
“Today, there is absence of ideology in any of the dominant political parties in the country. It is now a convenient vehicle for hijacking political power at any point in time and sharing the resources of the Nigerian states.
“The defection that has taken place, are not based on party A, B or C. What really matters to them is electoral success. People making enemies about any political party are just fooling themselves. Look at the issue of corruption, if you join party A, you are a devil, if you join party B, you are a saint. If you are there yesterday, you are forgiven and all your sins are cleaned up.”
While he lamented that Nigeria remains a negotiated concept since 1914, Oyeweso said: “Nigeria is a negotiated concept from 1914, we have always negotiated Nigeria. We, Nigerians, have the preface to the 1999 constitution; we did not sit down and mandate the late General Sani Abacha to act on it.
“The military rules by fiat and by decree. On the basis of that, we have the 1999 Constitution which today is also the author of many problems. We should not throw the 2014 Confab away, let us look for the best right there.
In his remarks, NAL President, Prof. Olu Obafemi said: “The academy is a noble body in our discipline, it looks for merit and excellence among our members and once you become a professor and you are 10 years as a professor, you are qualified for this academy, someone recommends you and also puts down what you have contributed to knowledge in humanity.”