As Nigerians deal with the horror story that is life under the Buhari Administration, the prospect of the 2023 election has stirred up a discussion on whether there are differences between the ruling APC and the major opposition party PDP.
Ideally, the very fact that the current discussion needs the use of VPN to be had in the first place should be enough but Nigerians wouldn’t be Nigerians if they didn’t make simple things difficult.
The very fact that there was never a PDP president who was believed to be in support of his kinsmen committing mass-murders all over the country and presenting themselves as a menace to the whole of West Africa should be enough to end the discussion and allow for focus on better topics but Nigerians wouldn’t be Nigerians if they didn’t try to whip water into becoming butter.
Some even talked about policy similarities between the two major parties and balked at the idea that the APC had left-wing tendencies while the PDP had right-wing leanings so let’s look at what these terms mean and where they came from.
The use of the term “Left” for this ideology dates from the 1790s when Socialist Representatives in the French revolutionary parliament would sit to the presiding officer of the French Parliament while the other camps would sit on the right.
These Leftists stood against the interests of traditional elites, wealthy traders, and the aristocracy and believed that social welfare was the most important goal of government and this logically led to the Left being associated with Socialism (and in some instances, Communism).
Left-Wing Politics is focused on using state control of economic and political tools and institutions to achieve egalitarianism.
Right-wing economic ideology favors market-based solutions that open up the economy and motivate private sector participants to solve problems and bring economic growth.
The major reason why this is more likely to work is that it lets the market allocate resources by rewarding what gets results and dedicating less resource to what is deemed as inefficient.
A meritocracy is more likely to emerge in this environment.
Leftist Governments are less likely to let results guide the allocation of resources. Relationships and Political goals are much more influential in those spaces because profit simply isn’t a priority.
That’s why we have refineries in Kaduna and billions being budgeted for railway networks to the Niger Republic while there’s no train service linking Onitsha to Lagos.
Leftist policy is more useful for sharing the pie than it is for growing the pie.
Nigeria has to focus on getting a bigger pie.
When you have a pie that’s way too small for the number of people trying to eat from it, the focus naturally goes to becoming powerful enough to keep people away from the pie or seize the slices they already have.
So theoretically Left-wing politics supports social equality and egalitarianism and professes a desire to take away social and economic inequalities but in practice, the Animal Farm situation is what plays out.
People get into power and become “more equal” than others.
What unfolds in practice in left-wing governance especially in Africa is that the ruling party uses its control of the government to place a network of family and friends in control of major sectors of the economy.
Private Sector involvement is discouraged and what emerges is a pseudo-monarchy that plunges the country into poverty while it enriches itself.
This is what has gone on in Nigeria for decades.
State-ownership of everything from Telecom companies, football teams, factories to airlines and hotels. It didn’t work.
The improvement that came from 1999-2015 was not perfect but it was a step forward and the process should have been improved instead of abandoned.
It is key to note that this change in 1999-2015 happened under the guidance of Southern presidents who were less motivated to serve feudal interests and encourage Statism instead of Private Sector participation and the relative efficiency and effectiveness it brought.
The APC is the result of a merger between the feudalist CPC and the AC and the CPC is the senior partner in the arrangement that gets to impose its own culture, goals, and values.
The attitude of the government to the private sector is very clear to see. The urge to have the government being as involved as possible in the marketplace is clear to see.
The use of schemes like Tradermoni is the nod to social welfare but they have been nothing but cosmetic.
Nigeria’s flirtation with leftist economic policy has failed it woefully. It has created a system that rewards mediocrity and grows poverty. Let us commit to a better model that gives us a chance.
We have to embrace the marketplace and make the adjustments and the political parties that are inclined towards the private sector and economic growth are those we should give more support to.