The Political Culture of Good Governance, by Zubaida Baba Ibrahim
A lot of arguments have emerged over the length of time on the attitudes and beliefs that are capable of promoting and retaining good governance.
In my previous article titled ‘Beyond the Secessionists Agitation in Nigeria’ I explained how marginalization, ignorance and poverty has fueled a hate-filled fight for the breakaway of the different regions in Nigeria. Agreeably, issues stated above can all be made right with good governance. So the question is how is that going to be achieved?
Undoubtedly, the average Nigerian acknowledges the obstacles of ethnic pluralism and inter-ethnic conflict in the society. However, rarely it is that a good number of citizens make a link between the partisan politics behavior, the political culture in the country, and its contribution to national cohesion and development, or otherwise.
The peculiarities of a political system known as the political culture in any society has dire consequences on the strength of leadership. That is to say that there is always a link between the workings of the political system in assessing whether good governance is practicable.
Admittedly, in Nigeria a number of wrong partisan politics behavior such as party switching or ‘decamping’ by incumbent office holder to a ruling party, taking payment from political office holders to fund the political party, vote buying using money or materials, amongst others, has persisted overtime and has become the norm.
It is unfortunate to see some still fall for the empty promises of politicians, and feel optimistic towards good governance without thinking first to demand for the restructure of the political culture.
Therefore, before plummeting into how the political culture and partisan behavior is hindering development, let us discuss what good governance is for Nigerians.
The idea of good governance can be said to be notional, due to its meaning different things to different segments of the population. In some societies, ideal governance entails the activities and processes of governing, not necessarily about the outcomes, rather how it wants to be achieved.
This can be good governance in Nigeria if the methods through which the country’s affairs are managed are coming is led with responsiveness, transparency and accountability; publicly, financially, administratively.
Again in other societies, for good governance to be achieved the administration must manage public affairs which embraces the basis of political authority and openness to the citizens.
In both of these dynamics, there is an emphasis on accountability, legitimacy and transparency which is obviously absent in the present political setting. The reason is a direct link to the political culture adapted in Nigeria, namely parochial political culture.
The development of this political culture primarily stems from poor political socialization on the part of the citizenry in a way that not only are the masses unaware of the structures and functions of the government, such comprehensive awareness does not really exist and even if it does, it is doused in primordial sentiments. This pushes them to be engrossed ethnic and religious enclaves than the affairs of the central government.
Having said that, it does not only stop there, even the financially-average Nigerian who is aware of the failures of the nation has an ambition to get as much money as possible by giving and taking of money or food items etc. in order to make arrangements for politicians to buy votes from those whose electoral conscience is dry. Some also take monetary and material things as their way of ‘tasting the national cake’. Commensurately, this produces a vicious sequela in the sense that the demand for accountability and transparency is lost.
A kind of ’the one who pays the piper dictates the tune’ thing. Another deteriorative impact on the development of the nation is the inappropriate funding of political parties by the incumbent officeholder. This gives those who fund the party to dominate it, and also, in the process of soliciting for funds some of these officeholders perpetrate fraud and embezzlement to meet up.
Furthermore, to preserve governmental position, cover past atrocities, seek for more power, and reconcile personal aggrandizement, political leaders that occupy key positions engage in party switching without first of all resigning from the sit they occupy. Although the legality of party crossing is still controversial, it does weaken Nigeria’s democratic strength due to the fact that it is done in the interest of an opportunistic few.
A lot of us will confess to how the problems in Nigeria seem to progress more than its prosperous innovations and that is obviously not the signs of development, and though there is a colorful collection of issues, we have not been able to extensively discuss how the country’s partisan politics behavior contributes to the obstacles when in fact it is primarily to bring about wellness and evolutions.
In saner climes, the portrayal of strong nationalistic attitude is apparent in the population and this is actually bred in the bone right from birth. While we can put the bulk of the blame on the political figures, said persons come from the population and when the citizens have a negative perception of public policies, good governance might never be attained.
Though this point can be disputed but the way we think, comport or react to the nation’s issues make some of these leaders to openly resist solutions. The laziest effort one might show regarding regular incidents like a hen laying an egg is what Nigerians will display towards the news of 200 school children being abducted, resident doctors going on strike, slumping exchange rate and other mishaps plaguing the country.
In an electoral democracy, the fundamental power the public hold is to question the government intermittently, however when people are careless towards nation shaping, while heavily relying on political leaders for everything the promises of good governance becomes a teeter-totter of half-truths and deceptions.
Zubaida Baba Ibrahim
Staff Writer at PRNigeria Center,