Nigeria’s Best Hope

Nigeria’s Best Hope

Nigeria has a weak link in our aspirations for development. That link is the duopoly in our political system. APC and PDP have now become political corporations structured to ensure their survivals and dominance irrespective of the quality of their products. Provided their immediate stakeholders are fine, the very customers they are supposed to serve – the Nigerian people – do not matter. So, just as in markets, they are anti-competitive because they are duopolists.

The difference between APC and PDP is the same between half-dozen and six. Practically, there is none. It is all business for the politicians. With no core beliefs and no clear distinctions, the parties and the players are indistinguishable.  For them, it is one thing: “permanent interest, no permanent enemy” and that means no permanent core values. That is unfortunate. APC may be young on registration forms, but the members are as old as legions in PDP.

Understanding politics is the best way to read markets, because politics affects markets. In short, politics is the economy as no economy can exist without its politics. In Nigeria, the season has started, and the jockeying has begun, for 2019 elections. Most APC Senators who were in PDP have indicated they would march with former President Obasanjo as he launches a new movement in few days. PDP members looking for new lives are also coming along. Do not be deceived: nothing is changing because the actors are still the same people.

I am not going to ask anyone to join the fray because politics in Nigeria is extremely turbulent. You need to be normalized before you can become a winner. Yes, the party structures demand acceptance of their rules of engagement before the beatification. But where you can, now is the time to begin the discovery. Nigeria needs new ideas and new people in the political arena. What we have now right now is not working.

Sample of political parties in Nigeria (Source: Punch)

Yes, just as in markets, duopoly is never really good. You have these two dominant players who are more interested in their own gains than their customers. In the political industry, the customers are the voters – the Nigerian people. For Nigeria to innovate, we would need a redesign, and get out of the stasis we have found ourselves in this duopoly.

Yet, in the midst of the quagmire, Nigeria could have a future and a very good political party which does not need to be a party. That party is the hope of the Independent Candidacy which the APC restructuring committee has suggested.

Independent candidacy: … the committee still recommends that the party should support the demand for widening the political space by allowing for independent candidates. We believe that this will make the political party more honest.

The fact is simple: if we can allow the modification of the constitution to allow independent candidates in our political systems, you would see some pressures on the duopoly. The very fact that a Lagos banker could come home, and contest an election, would make the party gatekeepers irrelevant. If the man or woman has been good, and known in the community, nothing would stop victory.  Independent Candidacy would make it possible for contestants to avoid the same people they have despised (ideologically), at least in local elections, and go out and win, for the good of the nation. We have to find a way to make that Independent Candidacy part of the law of the land because that is our best political party, if we hope to recover the soul of Nigeria, from APC and PDP.

That is how markets work; when you have a duopoly, the only way to fix the market imperfection is to enable new entrants. I am very confident that the National Assembly would allow that to happen. By having new entrants, you can improve the quality of the product, through competition. But it does not have to be just new political parties; independent candidacy would be the best for competition, as it reduces the burden for people with great ideas. We should demand for it to be!


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