ICYM: Full Text Of Fouad Oki’s Address At Launch Of Broom United Movement

PROCTOCOLS!Our Party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) was formed on 6th February 2013 in anticipation of the 2015 elections. On March 31st of that election year the Party won the Presidential election in addition to other elections at the State and parliamentary levels.

However, the Party like other political parties was weak, unstable, lacking functional party apparatus, while also suffering from low organizational capacity and lack of internal democracy. This was manifested in their Party Primary elections and the ensuing candidate selection process. This created several challenges which were padded for the elections to take place, hoping that the Party will revisit these issues after the election.

Mainstream rhetoric in Nigeria and popular discourses of the polity has often been centred on the claim that Nigeria is “consolidating its democracy”.

The evidence on the ground, however, contradicts this claim. It is perhaps most appropriate to liken the relationship between political parties and the sustenance of democratic rule in a particular society to that which exists between the umbilical cord and the foetus. Political parties are at the heart of examining the health of any form of democracy. Without doubt, to talk about democracy today, is to talk about a healthy system of competitive political parties.

Competitive party and electoral politics in Nigeria is expected to deepen and consolidate the democratic transition, which the country embarked upon in May 1999. While, we have experienced a successful transition and switching of power from one ruling party to the opposition party, political parties in the Country and APC in particular, have remained weak, lacking not only stable and functioning party apparatus, but also clear programmatic appeal.

Our Party suffers from low organizational capacity and lack of internal democracy. The resultant effect of this has been its incapacity to support our democracy as expected. Its inability to serve many important functions, including citizen mobilization, interest aggregation, public policy formulation, leadership recruitment and government organization. This apparent weakness underscores the need for reform and institutionalization of a process whereby professionals become more central to the running of our party.

The Broom United Movement is a forum within our mass-based progressives Party, the All Progressives Party (APC) which has adopted the focus of creating what can be termed a Rainbow Coalition of all members in one big and united enclave that will accommodate all shades of opinion, views and aspirations in a collective and healthy competitive atmosphere.
It is imperative at this juncture to quote one of the leading lights in our dear Party that, who stated that “The primary objective of the Founders of the APC is to build an enduring political Party capable of sustaining responsive governance that can bring positive change in the circumstances of this country. The challenge of transforming an electoral platform constructed from a coalition of entities led by self-asserting political leaders into one political party requires a deliberate effort and willingness to surrender old identity, promote mutual trust while remaining faithful to the collective purpose”.
What are the challenges on the way of our party in democratic in its drive towards consolidation?
These issues and many more are the reasons for the birth of Broom United Movement. Our desire in this voyage is to thoroughly interrogate and dissect the issues militating against the development and deepening of our party system in the face of the synergic cohesion which has eluded the Party since inception. The Party has not been able to engender peace, trust and confidence in its membership, “The undesirable cleavages of mistrust between the principal stakeholders is encouraging perfidious little minds especially at the Local levels to further sow the seed of discord among the stakeholders in the naive believe that they could gainfully exploit the cleavages for personal purposes”.
Sadly, there is no template established to promote inclusiveness and equity with a view to consolidating the fortunes of the Party, rather, the reverse has been the case. Today, we want to commence the process of building our Party by demanding genuine reconciliation of our members across the divide while assuring our members that, their voices will be heard and that their votes will count whenever such need arises.
Our Party in Lagos State has never been this divided and dis-united, the current grave yard silence that permeate our political landscape with a siddon look, A O mu erin j’oba syndrome is very dangerous. Political parties are vital organizations in a democracy, and democracy is stronger when citizens become active members of political parties. Certain characteristics of political parties such as high level of institutionalization, a localized level of candidate nomination, high number of women working at internal party offices and the presence of formal rules designed to increase the number of women in elected offices are vital for the deepening and sustenance of democracy. Unfortunately, the democratic culture in our State today is characterized by factors such as: illegalities, rigging, oppression, manipulation, marginalization and violence.
Competitive party and electoral politics is imperative in order to:
(a) facilitate internal democracy within our Party, through requirements like party nomination primaries, and the establishment of a party bureaucracy, involving a distinction between career politicians and party technocrats;
(b) engender a new democratic political culture through encouraging and nurturing the emergence of a “new-breed” of politicians, with a more positive and system-supporting orientation to politics;
(c) emphasize issue-based or ideological differentiae and to de-emphasize the personalization of party politics; and
(d) bring about accountability and transparency in the sourcing and spending of party financing.
Democracy and political participation are related to good governance; this relationship is complementary but appear to be antithetical in our political system. When democracy is abused, good governance becomes elusive and evasive.
This is described as virtual democracy, democracy that shares resemblance with true democracy but lacks basic tenets of democracy.
Today, our Party in Lagos State is fading into insignificance. Massive membership exclusion is becoming the order of the day with members withdrawing from the political space and constituting themselves into internal opposition.
It is in the light of all these, that the Broom United Movement will involve committed Party members who will bring moral authority, character and wisdom in handling the delicate issue of reconciliation, unity and accord. Members who will:
1. Initiate genuine reconciliation amongst members at the local level, listen to all the sides and appeal to all to sheath their sword with a view to embracing peace and unity.
2. Put Party interests ahead of all other interests
3. Anticipate likely outbursts and threats and prepare a measured response
4. Assure our members that, their votes will count and will be allowed to freely choose their leaders in a healthy competitive atmosphere
5. That, though there is a provision for consensus in our Party constitution, where however, such effort will not ensure justice, equity and fair play, election to select their representative is assured.
A political party is much more than an organization for seeking and controlling political power. More critically, it is an organization for expressing and harmonizing interests, as well as intermediating between the citizens and the political society, government and state. Political parties play very critical roles in democratization of any nation. Central to the successes and failures of electoral politics is the cardinal and strategic functions of this all important and an integral organ of
democratization which is core to its development.
It is in the light of the foregoing, that we have come together to birth the Broom United Movement. We are confident that this movement will complement the Party in developing organizational capacity, effective leadership, internal democracy, discipline, institutionalization, ideological platforms of mobilization and linkage to civil society as these are what is required to deepen democracy.
The existence of a vibrant Political Party is a sine qua non for democratic consolidation in any polity. It is patently ironic that our Party has pursued (and profess) democracy outside the gates and resist it within the gates.
Competitive party and electoral politics is expected to deepen and consolidate our democratic process and overall political development. Political parties are the heart of democracy and without which, democracy cannot function.
We hereby call on all well meaning and loyal party members to embrace our cause by joining hands with us to ensure that our party returns to its pride of place as the model political platform in Nigeria. It is a just cause and the time is now.
Fouad Alade Oki, Convener, Broom United Movement