Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Nigeria: An Opposition In Tatters



 
By Paul Utho

“We’re Our Own Dragons As Well As Our Own Heroes, And We Have To Rescue Ourselves From Ourselves’’ – Tom Robbins
Following the results of the 2015 general election wherein the All Progressive Congress (APC) swept the polls, Nigerians expected the opposing political parties to present a stiff opposition, challenge the APC on governance, the delivery of dividends of democracy to the people and to hold them accountable on their electoral promises.
Nine months down the line after the APC took over as the ruling party, Nigerians are yet to see any real opposition from the other political parties, except the APC opposing itself in most cases. While the APC continues in its policy somersaults, internal party wrangling and denial of campaign promises to Nigerians, the other political parties are on sabbatical and are yet to come to terms with the enormous responsibility expected of an opposition in a peculiar democracy like ours.
The main opposition party, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) which had been in power for the greater part of our democratic experience seems to be the major culprit in playing the role of an opposition and meeting the expectations of millions of Nigerians who not only voted them in the last election but have continued to keep faith with the party. Instead of dusting itself off the defeat of the last election and consolidating on its recent successes in the Bayelsa gubernatorial election and Supreme Court judgments on Rivers, Akwa Ibom & Taraba State election tribunal cases, the PDP has been bedevilled with one crisis or the other.



The Arms deal scandal may have contributed to the woes of the party on the one hand but on the other hand, ego, greed and pride appears to be the major issue confronting it as it now parades three different National Chairmen and its planned National Convention scheduled for the month of March 2016 is now in jeopardy.
Keen observers of the political scene in Nigeria had expected that after their loss in the 2015 general election, the PDP would constitute a high powered committee not just to re-appraise its performance in that election but engage aggrieved members, especially those who felt short-changed by the National leadership at various levels i.e gubernatorial, NASS & State Assembly aspirants who paid heavily for their nomination forms but the party has continued to turn a deaf ear to the grievances of these individuals while playing the proverbial Ostrich.
The present National Working Committee (NWC) of the party seems more concerned about their individual political future than that of the party as an institution and this may have further compounded the crisis in the party. not just by their insistence on staying put in office and seeking an elongation of their tenure but by making dubious appointments that are strange to the party constitution and engaging in a ‘divide and rule’ tactics where a select few are rewarded for their patronage in a ‘motor park’ approach. Unfortunately, these same individuals without verifiable constituencies and who lack creativity & professionalism, continue to embarrass both the party and themselves
The fumbling attitude of the ruling APC that should have been a high point in the life of an opposition party has been grossly underplayed by the PDP. From the appointment of questionable characters as ministers, the continued massacre of innocent Nigerians by Boko Haram despite all the promises to crush them in two months, to the presentation of the dubious 2016 budget by the president, the voice of the opposition seems to have been drowned in the ocean of sleaze and filthy lucre. Those that are supposed to present a formidable opposition have turned against themselves and have shared the three colours of its logo among three party chairmen while allowing the falsehood propaganda machine of the APC roll unchecked
The implications of having three substantive party chairmen are numerous among which are. 1. The further factionalization of a supposed opposition party and incubation of more splinter groups within its fold. 2. A weakening& systematic collapse of its party organs. 3. Inability to take concrete decisions to move the party forward. 4. Litigations and court cases that may arise from different factions within its fold. A case study is the appeal of a faction of the Anambra State PDP that approached the Supreme Court to nullify the election of some serving Senators on its party’s platform. 5. Inability to present a common front & speak with one voice on national issues (as a political party). 6. Misleading& deceptive tendencies by forces within who may use their connection with certain party leaders to take advantage of party faithful financially or otherwise.
In this era of ‘change’ and the fight against corruption, the PDP needs a total break from the norm and allow men and women with proven integrity and credibility pilot it’s affairs. The continued factionalization of its chairmanship seat can only lead to the death of the party which the ruling APC will gladly explore to its advantage. The PDP needs to CLEAN HOUSE and it has the right people within its fold to do so if only they can be sincere and look inward. The party needs to allow technocrats and individuals with proven means of livelihood more room to operate within its fold so as to rescue its brand from fading completely and going extinct.
The APC is failing but the PDP is not endearing itself to Nigerians in anyway. The online jabs at the ruling party do not translate to offline decimation of their ranks. In most cases, majority of the PDP State chapters have not met since the last general elections and some are just waiting for the emergence of a third option that may be an answer to their political yearnings and aspirations.
No opposition thrives in disunity. The PDP must work harder at promoting the bond of oneness within its fold if they hope to make any meaningful impact now and in the future, both online and offline. There is still a lifeline and an open window it can take advantage of in mending the cracks in its walls and solidifying its base once again. This is the only way the party can find its voice and footing again, and become a credible opposition to the ruling APC 

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