Can Friendship and Politics Ever Mix?

Everyone seems to struggle with their friendship in some way. Don’t believe it? Ask any of the many Nigerians whose friendships ended as a result of disagreements over the Nigerian presidential election and the recent Lagos Governorship Elections. Limiting one’s social circle to those who share similar political ideas is not uncommon in other countries, particularly in Western countries where politics is more complex.

In America, for example, we hear about the left and the right, conservatives, liberals, democrats, and republicans, among other things. Every group has a set of ideals that they live or swear by in order to make society and their country better and stronger. There may be differences of opinion within a camp on specific issues, but a number of values are shared and considered sacred. Certainly, there are internal squabbles, but the shared enemy is the most essential. Friendships are kept inside an ideological circle. Some people on the other side of the aisle are more forgiving of rivals, but most of the time, close relationships are best kept inside one’s own group.

Building an intimate friendship with someone outside the circle is what Christians refer to as being “unequally yoked.”

That is how serious it is. In the West. Evidently, in Nigeria as well, where civic involvement in politics, particularly among the younger population, was jolted back to life and gained popularity arguably four years ago as a result of the EndSars Protest. The campaign for better governance began with the fight against the Nigerian brand of police brutality, and it continues to this day. 

So much so that it appears that many people are willing to forsake friendships where political expectations do not align. Actually, it is less about the philosophy of the party to which their preferred candidate belongs and more about what the candidate stands for. Although Nigerian political parties have distinct labels such as “Democratic,” “Progressive,” “Labour,” and others, their ideologies are unpopular because the emphasis remains on the promise of improved social infrastructure and welfare. Government offices are vital, but some are more important than others, and the Presidential Office is the one that has fractured relationships.

Opinions about one’s choice of candidate and the consequences thereof, as is typical of a social media generation, are often communicated in posts and updates.

During the election season, it was typical to see updates like the ones below:

“Just know that if you support so and so, you and I cannot remain friends. Be warned!”

“How can you support so and so knowing the atrocities he commited when he was Governor of ABC State. I can’t with you guys!”

The above are not actual statements from dissatisfied voters, although they are close. However, when the writer questioned if people would break off friends who did not support the same candidate as them, she received the following responses:

“Someone said “I don’t burn bridges” and I said “for some very intricate reasons, I will” …this election wasn’t just a hassle between political parties for me, it was a proof of where people’s morality, values, and humanity are at, if they have any at all.”

The person also gave an example of a buddy who supported a candidate solely for personal gain, greed, and selfishness. This misguided friend has been relegated to the status of an acquaintance.

For Dada, cutting off a friendship because of differences in candidate preference is a severe approach.

He dismissed the action as humans being their typical greedy selves, always wanting everyone to agree with their goals. He believes that getting along with followers of the opposition party is preferable because politicians are all buddies anyway. His conclusion is that if one cannot get along with friends who support an opposing political party, one can keep a distance but not fully cut them off.

People are cutting off so-called friends, according to Folake, because they never defined friendship correctly and may never have been friends with these individuals in the first place. Yet, she understands why people will cut their “friends” off because of politics. This is because friends have a large influence on how one views life and makes decisions in life. For example, if a friend has the capacity to persuade you to vote for a party you despise, you might be better cutting them off. 

Preye believes that having friends or family members who support a different political party than yours is fine.

As long as it is all about disputing ideas and ideologies. But when it degenerates into throwing insults, tribalism, and issuing threats, things have gotten out of hand. When problems deteriorate in this manner, she concludes, it is painful. 

In government agencies, systemic failures abound, and everyone feels frustrated. It is only normal for friendships to suffer as a result. Should we lose ties with friends over politics? Yes, no, and maybe. It depends on the strength of your friendship, the gravity of the circumstance, and your personality. Some people have severed friendships for simple issues, such as a faulty phone charger, and politics is not a simple issue. Friendship, like other personal relationships, may be difficult to maintain. You would absolutely fall apart if you had not learned how to communicate and work through problems. It’s just a matter of time. 

Have you read “Having A Heritage Gives You A Sense Of Direction“?

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