Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Nigeria: Drifting To A One-Party State

By Victor Effik
Nigerians may have to expect a full blown one-party rule unless the opposition parties gear up and put their houses in order. 2019 may just end up as a one horse race. The evidence is simply overwhelming. As I write, the ruling party is using all the political tricks in its bag  to lure many members of the opposition PDP in the National Assembly into its fold. Their soft targets are the serving members who may, in the estimation of the party apparatchik, not get a return ticket for another term; they are also targeting those who are not in the good books of their state governors.
And that reminds us that the greatest problem in the opposition camp are the governors. Apart from bringing a frankenstein monster called Sheriff, they seem not intelligent enough to know where their power stops. Some of them are even antagonizing serving members of the National Assembly who should add political value to the party and by extension, their second term ambitions. And apart from Rivers State’s Wike, not many of the serving PDP Governors can withstand the heat of  federal might during elections.
Really, the opposition PDP is in tatters. That has been the plan of the ruling APC. The plan is working well now. No thanks to overzealous state governors, lack of party cohesion and discipline that characterize Nigerian party politics.
The feeling from within the ruling party is that except a death blow is dealt on PDP given its 16 years dominance, there is a threat that it might bounce back. So, the strategy of the ruling party to dismember it was carefully hatched. Let us now look at the following scenarios:First, the Sheriff strategy fitted the bill. Given his case with EFCC and the likelihood of him being roped into the Boko Haram conundrum, he was seen as an easy prey who will play ball. And he has done that so perfectly. The APC strategists did their homework well.
Second, a section of the judiciary perceived to be hostile must be brought to its knees if the Sheriff strategy must work. Those judges perceived to be a stumbling block needed to be singled out and dealt with. True, the state may have a genuine case against some of them, but like the anti corruption campaign has shown, the campaign is heavily skewed in favour those ready to acquiesce.
Thirdly, the electoral umpire, INEC and the security might of the state needed to be mobilized to ensure that the ruling party makes an inroad into South-south and captures the Edo and Ondo top prizes ahead of 2019. That too seemed to have worked well in Edo and Ondo and partially in Rivers.

One of the greatest weapons being employed successfully by the APC strategists is the fear factor. Some governors and National Assembly members from the opposition PDP are scared stiff given the deployment of state power during elections in Rivers, Edo and Ondo. Some of them may not have the liver of Wike to withstand such brutal engagement.
It is this fear factor in particular that has made a state governor from the South-south and some members of the National Assembly to consider jumping ship to survive this political tsunami likely to be unleashed on the opposition strongholds. Some serving governors from the opposition are also not helping matters as they are alienating some of the members of the National Assembly whose political value back home is immense.
With the wave of defections likely to hit the PDP in months to come, and with the state-sponsored national leadership crisis  in the party aided by the judiciary coupled with the politics of survival characteristic of Nigerian politicians, it will be a miracle for the party to survive the heat. Except there is a realignment of political forces as presently contemplated by forces in APC and PDP, Nigeria should be ready for one party rule.
With 2019 obsession, governance suffers and the condition of the average Nigerian is getting worse by the day. Prices of goods are out of reach; unemployment and inflation rates have reached double digit; there is so much hardship in the land; Boko Haram is still doing the hit and run; precious lives of Nigerians are being snuffed out through inter-ethnic and inter-religious crises; nepotism, corruption and inertia still persist in government; over 80 percent of  2015 election promises are yet to be fulfilled; anti-corruption fight of the government is being used as a tool to intimidate the opposition.
Power supply has fallen to an all time low of a little over 1000 megawatts. Nigeria seems more divided now than ever before, according to a recent UN study. The list can go and on. What is the fate of an average Nigerian in all of these? Must the people be hypnotized again? Why are the citizens so complacent about their fate? Why have the media and the civil society suddenly become dumb? Just questions begging for answers.
*Effik, a commentator on public issues, writes from Abuja.

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