Njundu Drammeh

(JollofNews) – Pericles stated that a man who takes no interest in public affairs is not only harmless but is also a useless character. And by all indications, public affairs is Politics, regardless of whether it Politics with the small “p” or with the capital “P”. However, the mere mention of “Politics”is met with derision and scorn.

For most of us, Politics is a dirty game, a debasing business only scoundrels engage in, an exercise only for people who are “half educated”. In my neck of the woods, they say “politico mu mmaa koi nga baarakeh eeti” (politics is ‘help me to be more blessed than you’). Unfortunately, the behaviour of some politicians have gone to confirm the distaste of people against politics.

The current mindset regarding politics should change. We must disabuse the minds of people about “politics” as a “dirty game” and challenge and hold to account people whose sole aim of engaging in politics is to get rich quick or have influence to control the sources of power. We must make politics our business and make everyone know that politics affects every department of our lives, in private and public.

Interest in politics will begin with each and every adult becoming a paying or card carrying member of a political party. We are political animals, first and foremost, and must be interested in politics, that game which affects our lives in its totality. He or she who is not is, as Aristotle says, either a beast or God.

We should begin to regard party politics as very ‘serious business’ just like the stock market. You invest in it today and get your returns after a while, and not immediately. Unfortunately, we often become actively involved in the affairs of a party when we eye a position therein or want to be elected/selected/ nominated as candidate for the Parliament. And why should the party nominate us? What do you know about the political party? How active have you been in the local politics? How much do we know about the practical politics of that party, all the shenanigans and manoeuvring and negotiation and compromises that happen behind the scene and the influencers therein?

To encourage mass interest in politics would require that our political parties develop and strengthen their structures, from the village cell to the constituency cell to the district cell to the regional bureau to the national executive or politbureau. Development of grassroots politics encourages not only interest but also accountability at both the party and national levels. One must not become a member of the Executive council without going through the ranks. When one reached the top, then one is well prepared and poised to lead the party to greatness.

To the aspiring politician, one who eyes political office i say:

Join a political party and be very active in it. Take part in what it does. Participate in its meetings and rallies. Take the platform and mike and articulate the programmes and policies in the languages of the masses. Play a leadership, establish a name for yourself and carve a niche in the hearts of the party faithful.

If you are a student volunteer for a political party and help educate people about that party, what it stands for and its programmes and policies if elected to office. This would not only build your skills in organisation and public speaking but may serve as a political nurturing ground for you. Be interested in student politics. The best nursery or training ground for any politician is student politics ‘re student unions, councils and all.

Learn from the elders in the political party. Identify a mentor and let that person groom you. To be a politician takes a while process. You learn the art and with daily practice you perfect the skills. “Champions don’t become champions in the ring; they are merely recognised there” J.C. Maxwell

If you are interested in party politics, you cannot dissociate yourself from the realities of the people, from their concerns and aspirations. You must build your community or local base. “Go to the people, live with them, eat with them, work with them, learn from them and when you need their hands they will give you.” Connection is an important part in building human relationship and to win the support or votes of the people, one must not lose the common touch. “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” The heart must go before the hand.

When we become actively involved in party politics, when we see politics as all-affecting and intruding, when we become truly political animals, we will make our political parties stronger and truly democratic, our politicians transparent and accountable and ourselves worthy candidates for political offices.

By Njundu Drammeh