DEMOCRACY, LEADERSHIP RECRUITMENT AND NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
BEING SPEECH DELIVERED BY DR STEVE AFOMA WORDU (JP) OF SOCIOLOGY DEPARTMENT, UNIVERSITY OF PORT HARCOURT ON THE OCCASION OF A WORKSHOP ON “TOWARD SUCCESSFUL NON VIOLENT ELECTION IN RIVERS STATE” ORGANIZED BY NIGER DELTA RELIEF FOUNDATION, WHICH HELD ON THURSDAY MARCH, 17, 2011 AT TAI LOCAL GOVERNMENT COUNCIL HALL, SAKPENWA.
“The elite (leader) recruitment pattern both reflects and affects society. It expresses the value system of society and its degree of consistency and contradictions, the degree and type of representativeness of the system, the basis of social stratification and its articulation with the political system and the structure and change in political roles. As a factor which affects change, elite recruitment patterns determine avenues for political participation and the kind of politics that will be enacted to accelerate or retard change and influence the stability of a system (Nation)” Seligman (1967).
The excerpt cited above vividly defines the title of my speech and draws attention to the recruitment of political leaders as the supreme role of electoral democracy. Democracy as a political system and model of organizing society is assessed on the basis of pattern of recruitment of political leadership. Political leadership as a dependent variable of democracy is assessed on the quality of governance it generates and by implication and extension the National development it engenders.
We are in an era where the Nigerian state and society is at the brink of collapse. It has been admitted by several persons who operated Nigeria politics and electoral system that the mismanagement of past elections has unleashed on Nigeria, low quality governmental leadership, systemic corruption, anarchy, poverty misery and human suffering
Prof Uya captured this comatose state of the Nation, when he observed that:
“Crises abound in virtually all sectors of our national life: frustration and precipitous decline of once vibrant civil societies and communities, stunted political, social and economic growth, massive unemployment; insecurity of life and property, collapsing health, educational and infrastructural services; stark poverty of many in the midst of the opulence of few, pollution of values evidenced in massive corruption indiscipline and moral decadence and the near collapse for the thoughtfulness or the vision of a United country”.
It is from the background described above that my speech is focused on critically examining unfolding political activities in the context of assessment of 2011 general election, as a process of political leadership recruitment.
The assessment will focus on three major stakeholders in political leadership recruitment.
1. The electoral management Body (i.e. INEC)
2. The political parties
3. The citizen electorates.
How these stakeholders carryout their statuary duties and civic responsibilities constitute the structural and functional process and strategies for political leadership recruitment in a democratic system. To achieve this objective, I shall first capture and present a conceptual framework of analysis on the theme of electoral democracy and political leadership recruitment. In addition to that the speech will examine the nature and pattern of leadership recruitment in Nigeria and articulate the implications for National development.
A reasonable number of key concepts and issues are inherent to the theme of this workshop and topic of speech i.e. leadership recruitment, electoral democracy, good governance and national development. I shall attempt to capture various definitions and clarification of issues.
Leadership recruitment: is defined as the induction of individuals into different roles in the political system in which State and community, authority thrusts and resources are invested. There are different modes of recruitment according to the system of politics and government. There are three major types namely, (1)Traditional (mainly ascriptive), (2) Autocratic and (3) Democratic. The traditional and the autocratic methods are based on imposition and not on rational choices made by subjects, citizens and electorates. The democratic system is judged to be the best system of leadership recruitment because it is based on election
Further definitions will help to underscore the imperativeness of leadership to National development. John Naggai cited in Bill Newman (1997.p6) defined
“leadership as the discipline of deliberately exerting special influence within a group to move it towards goals of beneficial permanence that fulfils the group’s real needs”.
Ted Engstrom anchored his definition on the leader as a “person who guides and develops the activities of others and seeks to provide continued training, inspiration and direction”. Northouse defined leadership as
“ a process whereby a person influence others to accomplish an objective and direct an organization state or community in a way that make it (country) to be more cohesive and coherent.
Newman emphasized that leadership is an awesome responsibility. It entails the following:
• Knowing what to do
• knowing what is important
• Causing people to take effective action
• Knowing how to bring appropriate resources to satisfy the needs at hand.
These definitions hint that the life of a society, country or nation is predicated on leadership as the determinant of the outcome of the exercise of legitimate authority in political and social power
Electoral Democracy: Webster’s Encyclopedic Dictionary 2006 (583-584) defined election as:
“the act or process of organizing systematic (s)election (permitting mass participation and method of choosing) a person or persons by vote for a public office position in which state authority is exercised”
Uyo (2000.1) extended the meaning of election outside the scope of state governance to be inclusive of corporate and community organizations when he defined election as:
“A procedure that allows members of an organization or community to choose representative who will hold position of authority within it”
Roberts and Edwards (1991.41) are in agreement with the definitions offered above as they defined election as:
“A method for the selection of persons to fill certain offices through choices made by an electorate; those (citizens who are qualified to vote under the rules and procedures of the electoral system”
The definitions presented above have as their common item, the democratic ideal. James .W. Lanare (2001.p59) captured the concept of democratic ideal and the essence of elections when he argued inter-alia
“for the democratic ideal to be anchored elections should be the major means or principal way by which the public (citizens) selects or fill government officers (recruitment of leaders), and it should be relatively easy for people to vote: ideally democratic elections makes it difficult or impossible for a few persons or organizations (i.e. political parties and incumbent government) to dominate the lives of the many through the control (or manipulation) of the political system”.
A large number of scholars and intellectuals accept that election is the hub of democracy and leadership recruitment. Godwin Okaneme (2008) stated that:
“Contemporary democracies, election have been the most acceptable and universally acclaimed method or means of effecting leadership change in countries that subscribe to democracy as a system of government”.
Jeff Manza, Clem brooks and Michael Saader (2005) convey the same meaning when they declared that:
“Democratic governance in the modern world presumes regular election in which the rights of citizenships include in principle equal participation and the exercise of collective influence over the composition of government” (pattern of leadership recruitment)
Their view resonates with that of Elaigwe (2005:297) who affirmed categorically that:
“One of the cardinal principles of democracy is that the people have a choice.., They should make the choice (and change) of leadership they want.., it also means that the people have a choice of values such as freedom of thought and expression; freedom of dissent, freedom of association and movement.”
The point of emphasis articulated in this conceptual analysis recognize that for the citizen to make rational choices on democratic values and for the (s)election of leaders to conform to the ideals of democracy and for democracy to guarantee the role and rights of citizens in leadership recruitment, the election process must be reasonably open to voter participation.
But election and the vote do not come about merely by the sway of human imaginations, or mere proclamation of rational choices but rather electoral politics and leadership recruitment is mediated by intense competition between political parties. The point of emphasis here is that the understanding of election processes and pattern of leadership recruitment should be based on the activities of political parties.
PARTISM AND LEADERSHIP RECRUITMENT
The conceptual analysis continues with exploring the link between leadership recruitment and the nature of party politics. There are several definitions of partism and political parties. We shall offer a brief review of a few, just to have a conceptual framework to assess the current state of party parties in Nigeria. In most scholarship and literature the concept of political parties and party politics are used interchangeably, though their is a point of analytical departure where it is necessary to establish the differences in order to capture a clearer picture of the dynamics of electoral politics and leadership recruitment We can go as far back as Max Weber (1864 -1920) who defined political parties as contending groups that struggle for political control within corporate bodies. Neumann(956:395) defined the concept this:
“A political party is an organization of society active political agents who compete for popular support with another group or persons holding diverse views”
This definition places politicians and candidates for leadership recruitment into both elective and appointive positions as principal actors and the objectives of party organization is to capture governmental powers. This definition is similar to that of Mildred Schwaz and Kay Lawson 2005 who opined that:
“A political party is an organization that nominate (presents) candidates to stand for election in its name and seeks to place representatives (leader) in the government”
By the theme and context of these definitions, the primary objective of political parties is that they seek to organize and dominate the organs of government and to provide governmental and national leadership. In the view of John. G Greer (1998:3)
“A political party is a group whose members act in concert to win the support for leaders who seek to govern…., it has the formal procedures for making at least some of its decisions”
Political sociology treats political parties as formal organizations and democracy as a party political system of government. The democratic system encourage the formation of party system which exists in different form or variety ranging from the multiparty system of liberal democracy and the one party (monopolistic) state. The multiparty system is strong in Liberal democratic societies like United State of America, Britain, France, Germany. The one party system (i.e. state monopolistic and often autocratic) is especially evident in African countries such as Kenya, Zimbabwe, Egypt, Tunisia etc.. In which ever form party system develops its organization structure, internal activities and discipline influence or determine broader democratic (political) environment. As an example it is clear that internal activities of political parties or conflict of interest over methods which rival political parties adopt in competition for leadership recruitment can spill over to aggravate tension or outright conflict in a society.
Given, the central role of political parties in the theory and practices of democracy, by extension leadership recruitment it is important that analysis of Democratic Party system focus on understanding activities within political parties. This entails a paradigm shift in the traditional study of the role of political parties to building knowledge about how parties operate and the effects of internal party activities in the governing of modern democratic states. The concept which attempts to capture this paradigm shift and transformation in the interplay between internal forces of political parties and wider democratic and electoral system is party politics
Kellay Stanley (cited in John G Greer 1998:p4) sets the tone of conceptualization when he argued that
“party politics costs a much wider net than the typical study of politics parties.., a net wide enough to capture the multifaceted interplay between politics and government”. With regards to (leadership recruitment, governance and national development).
Scholarly definition and empirical analysis of party politics have proved that internal activities of political parties; from its organizational standards, institutional capacity democracy and leadership recruitment, socio-political ideologies, manifestoes and programes, funding and campaign etc structure electoral process and affect the operation of government. Given these realities, it made good analytical sense to adopt an approach that cast wider conceptual net, which is what the concept of party politics portrays.
A typical example of how party politics shape or pattern leadership recruitment process is the selection of party candidate through delegate primaries. A primary is defined as methods used by political parties to determine or select each party’s candidate for (leadership recruitment) office contested in a general election. There are two forms of primary election (a) the open primaries which allows voters to vote at the polling place of a party to choose a would be candidate (political leader) regardless of the party with which the voter identifies. (b) The second form of primary election is the delegates primary. In this method, candidate to be presented for general election are elected by a small number of specially chosen delegates at party conventions.
However, primary election particularly, the delegates types often result to disenfranchisement since those who emerged as party candidates for general election are those who were imposed on delegates during primaries. The lack of internal democracy and other forms of internal conflicts and rancour impinge seriously on wider electoral integrity. In other words lack of internal democracy and violent disenfranchisement of party members precludes the electorates from choosing credible political leaders, a phenomenon that undermines democracy and good governance.
From the perspective of classical party responsibility model it is held up that political parties are expected to become more democratic by being well organized, disciplined and capable to drive the process of growth of democracy, leadership recruitment and good governance.
PREVIOUS ELECTION AND LEADERSHIP RECRUITMENT IN NIGERIA
It is obvious from our brief conceptual analysis that undemocratic, unconstitutional and other vile activities and practices of party politics may destroy the very essence of general (National) elections and by implication distort democratic means of leadership recruitment.
You will agree with me that the conduct of democratic election and leadership recruitment by a method that is free, fair and credible has been the bane of Nigeria’s politics and bobby trap of its democratization. Election contests in Nigeria has been characterized by a legion of irregularities and outright failure to the extent that it may be generalized with every dense of hopeless despondency that there has never been a successful election in Nigeria. This assertion is shamefully indisputable definitely, going by the experience from the most recent general elections, 2003 and 2007.
Scholastic appraisal made by academics, journalists and other well informed corps of syndicated observers of 2003 and 2007 general elections, affirmed that these exercise were the worst brazen display of electoral malfeasance. The two exercises were characterized by fraud, ballot snatching, thuggry, rigging, intimidation, violence involving fisticuffs, shooting, killing, maiming and the use of state apparatus of armed forces and security agencies involving the police, the army and state security services to give undue advantage to incumbents.
President Umaru Yar’Adua (2007 -2010) who came to power through the malfeasance described above, had the courage to admit that the election that brought him into office as president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was flawed, hence he promised to initiate constitutional and electoral reforms that would strengthen democracy in Nigeria. His statement reads like a scholastic assessment which vindicated the fact those fraudulent polls has become an anathema and shameful embarrassment to the country and to international community.
CRISIS OF LEADERSHIP:
I expect every person to agree with me that some disturbing political and social trends is taking place in our country Nigeria. The trend involves deprecating changes in the cultural and moral values of our society. The consequences of the situation are encapsulated under social problems which manifest into four broad forms as systemic corruption, immorality, criminality and narcissism.
The issues border on crisis of leadership and a dastardly decline in morals, values and education which are the basic elements for the development of any nation, also for any nation to attain respectability. Bill Newnan (1997) has lamented that “World wide we are facing a leadership crisis (where in) :business, industry, labour, community and the church are all starving from effective leadership.. (He added) that the great need of the hour is (how) to engineer positive, constructive, dynamic, creative and effective leadership., because every nation need to continuously develop leadership skills in order to accomplish success”
Bill Newman’s lamentations on global leadership crisis vividly portray the situation in Nigeria. The crises of leadership has been the dominant theme among intellectuals of all persuasion, even unlearned people gather at News stands and pepper soup joints to lament the comatose which their Nation has become due to apparent lack of quality and impeccable leadership at all realms. Politics and governance, industry, business, religion, the university, traditional institutions, even sports administration. We are aware of the diagnosis of the Nigeria state carried out by Chinua Achebe, and his report that “the trouble with Nigeria is leadership”.
Against the background of acute shortage of quality leadership. This discuss is premised on four theoretical postulations;
1. The lack of democratic culture is the bane of contemporary leadership crisis in Nigeria society,
2 That basic democratic and electoral processes must be (re)generated if Nigeria must overcome its leadership recruitment crisis;
3. That youths and students are the pivot for citizenship and leadership training;
4. That Nigerian pro-democracy movements and civil society organizations including the University systems and media must take responsibility for political civic education which is a requisite for sustainable national development.
INEC PREPARATION FOR LEADERSHIP RECRUITMENT:
Electoral Preparation for leadership recruitment encompasses the development- structure, composition and functions of an Election Management Body (EMB). It is necessary to critically examine electoral preparation as an issue for the assessment of 2011 general election/ leadership recruitment.
The conduct of elections and the management of their outcome require adequate preparation in comprehensive terms. The focal issues and activities on preparing for elections include the following;
• Establishing legal and administrative framework;
• Making funds available to the EMB;
• Registration of voters and the compilation of electoral roll;
• Recruitment and training of election personnel; and
• Building capacity for electoral security and electoral conflict management
Principal legal framework: the principal legal framework for the conduct of 2011 general election is duly established. The principal laws are:
1. The constitution of the Federal republic of Nigeria, 2010 and
2. The Electoral Act 2010.
Explanatory memorandum on the electoral Act 2010 affirmed inter alia:
“This Act repeals the Electoral Act of 2006, and Independent National Electoral Commission Act, cap 15, Law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004 and enacts the electoral Act, 2010, to regulate the conduct of Federal state and area council elections ; and for related matters”
Section 153 of the constitution of the Federal republic of Nigeria 2010 (as referred) has unequivocally established the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the Electoral Management Body (EMB) for Nigeria. INEC is imbued with the power of independence and autonomy with full responsibility for perpetual succession in its corporate name and entity. International standards and best practices on electoral management bodies stipulated that;
“Any election must be presided over by an independent organization with sufficient control over the electoral process to ensure fair competition between the contestants and accurate tabulation of result (IFES:2006)
The federal government through its appropriation bills 2010 has approved the sum of (above) N87b (Eighty Seven billion ) for the conducting of 2011 as requested by INEC. In a response to a question on INEC funds raised in an interview with AljazeeraTelevision led by Yvonne Ndege on Monday 26th Sept, 2010 (www.org/interview with Aljazeera, Professor Jega declared
“I am very happy to say that the minister of finance has discharged his obligation, He has given us money as and when agreed in our funding plan, as of now the problem if INEC is not funds”.
With these facts we can say that INEC is fully prepared to conduct credible leadership recruitment exercise.
Mandate protection: The power and right to participate in leadership recruitment - choose and reject representatives (leaders) at the ballot box is the fundamental foundation of any election. It is therefore the responsibility of the electorate to ensure that their wish through voting is manifestly done and ensure that there is no malpractice whatsoever.
To protect the peoples mandate means the combination of mobilizing and organizing citizens to insist that election stakeholders-i.e. INEC, police etc operate within the law and monitoring, exposing and challenging election fraud and abuse at every step in the abuse at step in the electoral process. Effective mandate protection is not an individual effort or event; it is a process, which demands on going communication among you and the election management bodies, police, political parties and the media to air grievances and seek remedies for electoral fraud. Its end result should be an electoral process that is broadly credible, so that people believe their votes counted and those elected to office truly do have the peoples mandate to govern.
It is not sufficient to cast the ballot or vote in an election, but is more noble to protect your vote…ensure that your vote is counted and that it counts.
Government affects (control) people’s lives in various ways such as in what we eat, wear, learn, hear, see and do. When citizen’s participate in election activities, it means that they ought to make rational choice and make contribution to decisions on matters that affect them specifically on leadership recruitment. This truth and reason makes voting to be sacrosanct. In the view of Thomas Janocoski et al (2005:201) getting most individuals to cast ballot is by far the most common act of citizenship in any democracy. Alan Keyes (2006) reinforced this view when he stated:
“The act of voting is one opportunity for us to remember that our whole way of life is predicated on the capacity of ordinary people to judge carefully and well”
The emphasis on the benefits of citizen participation, the effect of election outcome on policy in strengthening democracy, promoting good governance and development makes building confidence in the electoral system, become a matter of national urgency.
Politics (leadership recruitment) is too important to left to politicians
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