There is time for everything: time to sow and time to reap…The time to reward or punish political parties has come. We punish evil act to check or discourage it. And we reward good act in order to encourage and promote more good work. The performance of political parties during the period 1999- 2022 is the basis of basis of our evaluatiòn. .As I pointed out recently at an NUJ event in Benin city:”Elections are about change of government or renewal of mandate”. Democratic Elections are also opportunity to pass judgement on politicians, reward success and punish failure in governance. In Nigeria we vote for political parties to form government. In effect we pass judgement political parties during elections. Since 1999 when the Military left political power the barracks two political parties – the PDP and APC had had been voted to power ,led and managed the country.

Between them laid the explanation of the cause of the ills of the country today.Except in name both are very similar in many respects. The PDP took over power from the military in 1999 and stayed in government till 2015 when it lost the presidential election of that year.The APC took over power from the PDP in May 2015 till date. But each was just another side of the same coin.

The first area of concern is the abysmal poor performance of the two parties since independence.In 2022 there were many governance and social problems warranting positive response. Most of the problems had been with the nation for ages.Year 2022 inherited them from earlier times. This is important because they show a lack of capacity for solving problem by the Nigerian political elite . And we must bear their failure in mind as we make decisions about the 2023 General elections. We must blame them for our woes and punish them accordingly for defiling our collectively cherished values and conventional practice since 1999. This was a major problem of year 2022 .

Both parties had been guilty of under performance and misrule, mis- management , inept leadership, poor governance, injustice,corruption, insecurity of lives and property etc. Their conduct of the 2022 Primaries was disappointing and did not offer hope for a better future.And the leaders of both parties were extremely low in patriotism, nationalism and altruism, ethical and moral standards .They placed their narrow political interest of “winnability” over the national interest of unity, inclusiveness and survival.

But the snag here is mis priority or mis-placement of emphasis. The parties forgot that there has to be a NIGERIA first before political parties and leaders to man the country. Without a country’ there can be no need for rulers. For relegating the national interest to the background or putting their interest above national interest, they have no moral grounds to demand for our votes today. They are unworthy of our trust and support.

Such parties should be punished by the Voters for their intransigence and unpatriotic attitude to the cause of national unity especially for killing our collective dream of a prosperous,peaceful , harmonious country and wasting the opportunity to promote national unity and development. In a word, unpatriotic political parties and their self-centered leaders should not be vested with political power.

The two political parties have demonstrated gross inability enough beyond doubt to build the country aright since 1999. It would thus be fool- hardy to allow them to continue to enjoy our support and exercise political power any longer. Both violated the familiar rules of the game established and applied since 1999. For instance they jettisoned the principle of power shift and zoned their presidential candidates to the South west and North East respectively-contrary to public expectation.

In this way they perpetuated the much decried structural injustice and political exclusion of some section of the country the due access to political power. In this way they reopened old wounds that had started healing as a result of the salutary effect of the principle of power shift and related values.During the last primaries in Nigeria, both disregarded some important factors of national unity and development and side-lined shared values and conventions such as zoning,power shift that were already helping to strengthen national unity , promote inter- ethnic mutual trust and deepen faith in the future of the country as indivisible entity. Yet they were gleefully jettisoned by the political elite for narrow selfish interests. It is unwise and wrong to change a winning formula or change the rule of the game mid- way.Both failed to apply moral/ethical sense in the national interest.

Their action was unpatriotic move suggestive of grab- grab mentality and insensitivity to the national cause. It is immoral.But as I observed recently “the great worry is about the future of the country.Once beaten twice shy. It is a sign of of instability ,a pointer that some laws can be tinkered or disregarded in future if thought inconvenient by some political elite. “If the willful violation of shared values and conventions can happen once, and has happened recently during the 2022 Primaries, then it can happen again and again if preventive measures are not put in place(Abhuere at the 2022 NUJ Lecture15 DECEMBER,, 2022,Benin City). The refusal to vote for those who messed up our past, set aside our cherished values and productive conventional practice would be a good response here.

The inability to solve age long problem of national unity and development and cultural diversity is another reason to reject the two old leading political parties – the PDP and APC. The diverse cultures of the country have often been blame here the disunity and under-development of the country. But thanks to the lessons of history we now know exactly where the problem lies. It is with poor leadership , bad governance, mismanagement, injustice including the lack of opportunity for maximum participation by citizens. It is high time we changed the narrative, and do things correctly .

Time now to turn to truth in order to set us free from darkness .

For too long, Nigeria has lived in falsehood , lies- self denial. This has proved to be dangerous and very unhelpful. As an unknown author has observed: “lies give you temporary victory but eventually defeat you . Lies are seeds you sow in a hurry not knowing that you are preparing the grounds to eat the fruits painfully. The process of lies may be simple but the product is an ill wind that blows contrary to you. No one excels in lies because the fruits of lies are bitter at the end of the day”.

In critical moment of planning for the future the two major parties made a poor choice that is inimical to the interest of the country.What the parties abandoned is far better than what they preferred and took. Thus it will be unhelpful to follow them sheepishly. Their choice had always been associated with selfishness, division , disunity, disharmony , acrimony, denial and deprivation. On the other hand, what they discarded with has been known to produce the opposite positive effects especially of unity ,citizenry participation, hope, faith.etc. They are real “positive values that had enhanced and enriched nation building efforts, sustained and deepened collective hope and faith in one Nigeria by majority citizens.

It is needless to remind ourselves that these values which include power rotation, power shift and power zoning to ensure inclusiveness had been with us for long now especially since 1999 and had proved useful . They have remained in our collective consciousness especially since 1999 when democracy was restored in Nigeria. Also, they have served well as effective aid to promoting the unity and development of our country. By keeping hope alive for each of the ethnic groups of having a chance to win political power sooner or later no matter how long it takes to come to pass, they keep hope alive and deepen our collective belief in one Nigeria.

The choice made by the two major political parties to abandon power shift to the correct zone- which to me is the SouthEast Geo- political Zone is an unfortunate decision with painful effect on the psyche of many citizens. The country suffered a terrible moral shock as a result from which she is yet to recover”. The pains of their unpatriotic decision is one the reasons we should not vote for either of them. They can not be trusted with rules conventions and collective values.

As I have emphasized elsewhere,shattered values and violated traditions and convention hurt people deeply. They hardly die or fade away from men’s heart or from institutional memory. And they have a way of resisting and fighting back and creating serious crisis of confidence, distrust, divisions, confusions and disunity. Rehoboam lost the United Kingdom of Israel because of value conflict between the king and his subjects.

In Matthew 19:24 Jesus said : “I will say it again- it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God”. Neither the APC nor the PDP would be able to do the needful for the country because of their moral moral/ ethical burden. For instance, it is difficult to see how the APC in 2023 will be able to restore the trust between South East and South West nearly destroyed or badly wounded and affected by the failure of its political elite to “micro- zone” their presidential ticket to the South East. Or how the PDP will be able to dissolve or reverse the thick cloud of anger and control the horrible ghost of North- South dichotomy resurrected by the emergence of the PDP presidential candidate from the North East instead of South,and more specifically the South East. Yet we need all these for the survival of the country.

It is not just all about winnability or influence of the candidates as some politicians have argued but about justice, inclusiveness, citizens’ perception, the morality of what has been done and associated injured feeling and above all the survival of the country.

Positive Values are important in nation building because they are “fundamental to organization’s activity” they define the choice people make and the steps taken to achieve them.

As Charles Hampden – Turner and Fons Trompenaar (1994) have shown in their study of value system of creating wealth in some countries “in any country or culture, a deep structure of beliefs is the invisible hand that regulates economic activity . Cultural preference or values are the bedrock of national identity and the source of economic strength and weaknesses”. And their violation often lead to crisis in the polity.

They listed seven fundamental valuing processes including:

1. Making rules and discovering exceptions : organizations and nations must create rules and regulations to ensure compliance .

2. Constructing and Deconstructing: To ensure improvement nations and organizations need to constantly do “self seeking and self renewal “.

3. Managing communities of individuals : Every great nation , organization and communities, must do self care and love for it members and citizens. This means also looking into their needs.

4. Internalizing the outside world : According to the authors Organization that are able to respond favorably to the events outside its internal environment do better than others who do not.

5. Synchronizing fast processes: Good amount of time put into good use plays a great role in the success or any nation or organization.

6. Choosing among Achievers: Organizations who show respect and recognition to persons who played their part in the success of the organization, do much better than other organizations.

7. Sponsoring Equal Opportunity to Excel: Successful organization today are built on opportunity for maximum citizenry participation.

Since the end of the 2022 primaries, it has become clear to me that the two leading political parties cannot be relied on any longer to lead and salvage the country from the ruins caused largely by them since 1999. For over twenty years they were given the rare opportunity to exercise political power but they made a poor use of it.Through words and actions, they debased our values and set the country on the path of inter- tribal hatred and intergenerational conflict.

Thanks to selfish interest of the political parties’, year2022 did not prepare the country well for the 2023 General Elections, and better life -peace, harmony and stability after the elections.The culprits were largely PDP and APC top politicians. The God fathers of the APC and PDP who master- minded the evil game are most guilty here.They messed up the situation and lost the opportunity to lay solid foundation for a better future..They were insincere, uncommitted to national unity,equity , conventional practice, shared values and Justice. In particular driven by what they call “winnability”, they twisted the process of the2022 primaries to a predetermined end thereby stabbing justice at the back. In a word the process was corrupted.Unclean process cannot produce clean results.

Consequently, collective trust and faith in governance were broken and hope and aspirations for national unity and developments were severely dimmed or even lost .The adverse effect of the manipulation here of the process by the political elite will haunt the country in 2023 and far beyond. The damage done by the political elite to the cause of national unity had been much and far beyond reason and pardon.

The political elite betrayed the public confidence and trust in them.

They are now like the goat who cannot be trusted with yam because of ceaseless unfaithful act of consuming the yams under its care”. Or like a thief who cannot be trusted to lead the search team for the recovery of the item he has stolen. No positive result can be expected from such efforts.A house built on clay sand cannot be expected to be firm.This is a major cause of concern today” by every patriot including the youth.

I am a nationalist and I believe that Nigeria based on principle of Justice, fairness, equality, rule of law, respect for shared values and conventional practice good governance, comes first. I will not vote for either of the parties- APC or PDP. Because they put their narrow interest above national interest.That is my way of punishing them for their woeful neglect, failure and violation of shared values, belief and conventions.

I am terribly disappointed with the lackluster performance of both parties since 1999. And for the sake of national unity, peace, development , security, Justice, participation of all ethnic groups, confidence building , restoring faith and hope- in short in the national interest of survival of the country , I will not vote for either party and indeed any candidate outside of the South East Geopolitical zone. I appeal to other Nigerians to do same.

What is good for the goose is good for the gander. It is the right time to wake up from our prolonged slumber and use the sledge hammer- our PVC wisely and effectively to change the country for good.For their disappointment of popular expectation, acute failure and far below expectation -performance in general and their abandonment of shared values and principles such as power shift in particular, the political parties that refused zoning, their presidential ticket to the SE ZONE should be rejected by the voters.

For this and other reasons Nigeria needs new watchmen, new drivers and better hands on deck the political scene for better results and to avert the self- destructive crisis that lay ahead of the country especially because of the shoddy conduct of the 2022 primaries “Once beaten, twice shy”. As Charlie Boy has observed “our mumu don too much” – meaning our stupidity and docility are painfully too much. The incompetence and injustice by the the APC and PDP had gone beyond reason. It was time to say no to a return of the country “to the days of the jackals”.

As I observed in an earlier piece “It is clear today that the country needs new pathfinders “.However, the presidential candidate based on our collectively shared values and conventions in operation since 1999 and the principle of justice should of necessity come from the South East Geo- political zone and outside of the two major political parties that failed to respect power shift. Nigeria needs leaders with high sense of patriotism, strong spirits of nationalism and altruism, broad knowledge of theories of nation building and national development, high skills in leadership, management and governance. She needs men and women of good character who are imbued with strong moral and ethical armament, correct national values and creative ability to lead the country , inspire national emotions of citizens, build confidence, strengthen faith restore hope and commence rapid nation healing through positive efforts in nation building.

Professor Abhuere is of Centre for Child Care Youth Development, Abuja

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