Partisan and ethnic politics is a socio-political culture that promotes party or ethnic interest over the collective good.  A majority of Nigerians really don’t care about the inadequacies of their leaders especially if they are from their region or religion. Once, you can demonstrate that you protect their ethnic interest, even if it’s by mere association, all your sins will be forgiven. No crime you commit can make you lose the support of your base.

Politicals Partisans and ethnocentrist think about issues from the standpoint of party or ethnocentric interest/agenda.

The better alternative to this, however, is the Independent mindset.

Independents are not staunchly loyal to a party. Rather, they think from a national interest standpoint and can sway to either party based on the performance and agenda of electoral cadidates and thier parties.

If we take a look at the two-party system in the United States of America- Republican and Democratic parties, a measure of political partisanship does exist but political support both from coalitions and grassroots is primarily driven by issue and performance and this is why in American elections, the determining factor is tied to which party can sway the gather the votes of the independents.

This problem of the partisan mindset, however, is not just a Nigerian problem, it’s a fundamental problem that some advanced democracies face.

So, although we may be partisans, the question is, to what degree? I’m not against being partisan but the need for balance by way of independent support is paramount.

The sad reality is that Nigerians are still very blinded by the bias of primordial, religious, tribal and ignorant sentiments and until we overcome these key psychosocial problems, we will remain where we are.

And guess what? Everyone suffers the aftermath of this decision, from the winning to the losing party in every election. This is because we simply reinforce the idea that we really do not care about performance, if you can represent our tribal/ethnic bias or interest, regardless of whether it trumps the national interest, we are good.

Former President of the Nigerian Bar Association and human rights activist, Dr Olisa Agbakoba (SAN) posited this in an opinion piece titled, ‘2019 Presidential Election: Ethnic Consideration vs Governance Consideration.’ published last Wednesday. The SAN noted that the election was not devoid of irregularities and that the voting pattern of the presidential election showed that ethnicity played a significant role.

In his words, he looks forward to a new Nigeria, strong and united; a new Nigeria that will not vote on the basis of ethnic and primordial sentiments.

As opposed to the results of 2015 elections stirring our hope for democracy, the results of 2019 elections are making the strong statement- “If you don’t perform, you can be reelected.”

Agbakoba strongly feels that unless something is done, 2023 will follow the pattern of 2019.


Where do we go from here?

The answer to this question lies in a coalition of efforts. Everyone has a role to play;

  • For members of the winning party, you can do better this time by speaking the truth to those in power and holding those you supported/campaigned for responsible. The era of supporting the bad decisions made by those you’ve elected, especially by your silence or inaction is not sustainable because by doing so you are becoming part of the problem. Do not be silent when things are going wrong.  

We need to weaken the idea of parties serving as a cover for ineffective candidates. Rather than amplifying names, our parties need to be defined by working ideologies that promote good governance.

  • And for the opposing party, it is time to really oppose constructively and continue to speak the truth to those in power in the interest of Nigerians.


  • Civil societies also have a role to play beyond the social media campaigns. They need to turn their focus to desensitize people from making ethnic-based judgements in governance. This is the way to raise an army of voters that vote with principles.


As for everyone else who believes that Nigeria is a work in progress, a conscious work to re-educate the voting population about the importance of holding those they elect accountable is a task that must continue.

Until we get to a point where our leaders know that regional affiliation and representing our biases is not enough and that you have got to deliver, until we achieve this level of consciousness, Nigerians will always lose in every election irrespective of who wins.

And oh, lest I forget, dear election winner, the work hasn’t ended. This is a wake-up call to make good and deliver on your agenda offerings.