BACKGROUND OF POLITICAL SUMMIT
The National Political Summit was initiated by the Save Democracy Group Africa (SDG-Africa) following the landmark success of the 2015 General Elections.
The election was indeed adjudged historic as it was the first time an opposition Presidential candidate would defeat an incumbent President in a general election in Nigeria. It is also the first time a Presidential candidate who is a sitting President, Commander-in-Chief openly accepted defeats in an election and subsequently congratulated the challenger in an electoral contest in Nigeria.
In a country marred by continuous absence of internal democracy among competing political parties, lack of party discipline, absence of ideological framework and inability of participants to develop a positive political culture, the lessons of the 2015 elections need to be unmasked and discussed for the sustainability of our democratic experiment.
More importantly, the continuous call for political dialogue at any turn of event shows that key issues in our democracy and in our body politic are not yet settled. As Nigeria continues to advance in her democratic experiment, we reasoned therefore, that a platform need to be created for continuous dialogue of the political leaders, practitioners and researches for the survival and sustainability of our democracy.
The National Political Summit is therefore created and established as an annual political platform for constant dialogue across party lines between political stakeholders for the purposes of enriching our political experiment. This patented programme shall be an idea breeding ground for the advancement of our democracy. It is our belief that ideas, policy issues and decisions of the meeting shall always be transmitted to the legislative arms of government as bills for enactment into laws or for inclusions into the constitutional amendment processes while consensus reached on policies, projects and programmes at the summit shall be presented to the executive arm for consideration and implementation.
Save Democracy Group Africa therefore believe that this project is one which its time has come and which will benefit the overall interest of our democratic development. While we have initiated it, we want Nigerians to own it and to make it work. This is the spirit with which we are bringing different stakeholders and is partnering with a number of organizations to ensure that it is institutionalized.
To be the avenue to elucidate on the need to uphold the principle of internal democracy for all our political parties because Nigeria democracy can only survive when we succeed in enthroning the principle of internal democracy among political parties.
NPS provides opportunity for a discussion on ways to ensure that our parties gradually evolve to have ideological addresses which shall form the culture of the party and to regulate the behaviors and character of its members.
It provides a confidence-building platform for the political class especially as they are coming out of a general election.
The Summit will attend to propagate positive conducts such as the culture of honesty in political context, nonviolent and peaceful conducts during campaigns and elections, nonuse of profane language during campaigns and restricting the major actors to issue-based campaign devoid of name-calling.
THE BIRTH OF POLITICAL SUMMIT
Nigeria has successfully concluded yet another landmark general electioin. Contrary to the predictions of pundits, the 2015 General election was concluded without any major crises thus giving Nigeria an uninterrupted 16 years democratic experiment. The 2015 General election was indeed historic as this is the first time an opposition candidate would defeat an incumbent in a general election in Nigeria. It is also the first time a Presidential candidate who is a sitting President, Commander-in-Chief would accept defeat in an election and subsequently congratulate the challenger in an electoral contest in Nigeria.
This year's election has thrown up a number of lessons which if consummated will advance and develop our democratic experiment. A cursory look at our democratic history shows a continuous absence of internal democracy among competing political parties, lack of party discipline, absence of ideological framework and our inabiility to develop a positive political culture.
16 years into our democracy, parties are still militarized and the wishes of the majority are secondary in selecting who carries a party's banner in the general election. The import of this is that the popular votes do not count and the party leadership cared less of the wishes of the general electorates. Unpopular candidates and persons with questionable character are therefore allowed to contest elections with the expectation that such character will maneuver to win at the polls. It makes background checks of a would-be candidate to be unnecessary. This method of enthroning party candidates and leadership affects the level of discipline in the parties. Whereas, a candidates does not need to be of good conduct and may depend on the wishes and votes of party members to carry their banner, then the respect such a person would have on the party is impaired. This development has indeed contributed in eroding the much needed political culture which ought to have advanced as the number of years of our democracy continues to grow.
As the 205 General Election season comes to an end, it may be apt to say that the party with better internal democracy and discipline carried the day. What that means is that a lot of changes are coming to our political system and that it can never be political as usual, Also we must give it to the former ruling party and indeed the former President, Dr. Goodluc, Ebele Jonathan, Commander-in-Chief for the peace which prevaded the nation after the elections. Their open acceptance of the election outcome is novel to the annals of our democratic experiment. This is indeed a political culture that must be imbibed by all political actor in the polity.