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Towards a virile opposition

Towards a virile opposition

Now that members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) can heave a sigh of relief that the Supreme Court has ended the protracted leadership crisis that rocked the party, Nigerians expect a virile and credible opposition that will put the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC on its toes.

The leadership crisis that split the former governing party into two major factions while it lasted, had no doubt, robbed the country of a formidable opposition required in a multi-party democracy like ours which through constructive criticism and alternative viewpoint goes a long way to deepen good governance for the ultimate benefits of citizens.

The Apex Court, we recall had recently validated Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee chosen from the May 21st 2016 National Convention of the party and terminated the Ali Modu Sheriff’s leadership of the opposition party.
We consider the judicial verdict not only as a total victory for the PDP but a victory for all political parties because hitherto controversies regarding the supremacy of the National Convention over and above other organs of parties were finally resolved by the Supreme Court in favor of the Convention.

Regrettably however, before now, the prolonged legal battles by the supporters of the main opposition, has done incalculable damage to credible opposition as the governing APC was left unchallenged even amidst unpopular and bad socio-economic policies that had left most citizens pauperized in the last two years.

It is also apparent that the 14-month-old internal crisis and the political intrigues playing out ahead of the 2019 general elections, made the PDP lose considerable steam in functioning as the main opposition.
Furthermore we observed that even other opposition parties that were not engulfed in any crisis were not helping matters as political maneuverings, blackmail and battle for supremacy bedevil their rank and file, thus giving the APC the leeway to roll out policies some of which are totaling at variance with the party’s electioneering promises and mandate given it by the electorate.

The rules, guided by the principles of justice, equity, fairness, inclusiveness and federal character principle were thrown overboard, thus aggravating the internal crises within the opposition parties, which denied them of a common voice on policies and programmes of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration. The gross devaluation of the national currency, the naira by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN which shot up the cost of goods and services to the roof is one clear example.

Therefore, we remind the opposition parties if they have forgotten that when the ACN and later APC was in opposition, it did not keep quiet as it constantly engaged the then ruling party, PDP, on government policies which put the latter on its toes.
We wonder why the opposition parties are not bothered about why the ruling APC government is running the country without any workable economic blue- print and several policy somersaults. The absence of this has brought the country and her people to their knees with many wallowing in abject poverty and some committing suicide under the current economic recession ushered in by the present government.

So, we challenge the opposition parties including the PDP, to sink their differences, join forces to give Nigeria a credible opposition in order to take the ruling government to task and arouse the consciousness of Nigerians to what government is doing. In fact they should begin to interrogate every policy of the government that is not in the best interest of the people. The opposition should galvanise Nigerians to let them see what is done right or wrong by government.

We particularly advise the main opposition party, PDP, to put its acts together, put its house in order, and design a roadmap on what to be done considering the fact that it is what it does now that Nigerians will weigh against it come 2019 general elections, which is less than two years away. It should unite and go ahead to proffer alternative to policies to those being churned out by the APC.
It is observed that instead of doing this, the opposition parties before now were busy fighting themselves instead of proffering alternatives because this government sometimes appeared not well co-ordinated due to absence of solid and progressive alternative views to challenge it.

We note that though the Organised Labour and the Civil Society Oganisations (CSOs) are there as part of opposition, they cannot stand for elections. Therefore it is the responsibility of the political parties that can stand for elections to be up and doing and be seen that they serve as good opposition to the government in power.
It is regrettable that PDP, after 16 years of ruling the country, cannot put its act together after losing the general elections in 2015. Instead of standing as a pillar to opposition in the country , the party has abandoned its roles to CSOs, the Labour and students’ union whose performance has not been encouraging.

But now that the party’s leadership tussle, which we agreed, was a “hard battle”, is over, PDP should look inward, learn from its past mistakes and ensure that things are henceforth done in a transparent manner. These become necessary because it was obvious that impunity and lack of respect for the party’s constitution and the rule of law contributed greatly to the defeats recorded in some states regarded as its strongholds.

The crisis by and large could have been averted if the party had played by the rules and not allowed impunity to reign. Leadership and it members should now put their house in order to reposition the party to be a virile opposition.
Also in our view members must be made to contribute to the funding of political parties to prevent them from being hijacked by the money bags. PDP should abide by its constitution while the members should not let it be manipulated for selfish interests by the leaders.
To further strengthen the opposition, we recommend amendments to the parties’ constitutions to make it difficult if not impossible for defectors to retain the seats after defecting to another part. Politicians should stay in their parties to let them grow and also guide against jumping from one party to the other at the slightest excuse.

We welcome the recent consultations/meetings by the highest organs of the PDP, namely the Board of Trustees, Expanded National Caucus and the National Executive Committee and the outcomes which clearly emphasized that there is urgent need for reconciliation through which the party can unite and take its rightful position as the main opposition to further deepen the nation’s democracy.
Internal democracy has been lacking in the party which is an aberration and this should not continue. Members of the PDP must allow the party reverts to few powerful individuals who can do and undo while funding must be clearly defined if the party is to play by the rules. Right now, the funding is to the highest bidder.

While commending the organized labour for their past efforts in letting the ruling government know their failings and that there is poverty in the land through their nationwide peaceful protests and rallies, we challenge them to see themselves as partners in the progress of continuous sensitization of the APC government to its bad policies.
Failure of the opposition particularly the PDP to keep the government of the day on its toes now may make its dream of forming the next administration at the centre in 2019 not to come true.

For a better society

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