A mega opposition party moved from fantasy to reality with the completion of at the weekend of congresses by three different parties to ratify their merger into a new, formidable opposition party – the All Progressives Congress, APC.
Before this time, gullible Nigerians had been duped by these same political characters, promising to give the nation a well-deserved opposition party but failing to do so at every critical point.
It is a settled question that this country needs a strong opposition to check the arrogance of power of the ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. With more than a decade in power at the centre, the PDP has shortchanged Nigerians with a democratic dictatorship. They have given us a mantra of democracy but there is no democratic spirit. Fourteen years down the road, the nation has democracy in structure and form but the malcontents are overwhelming.
Only the arrogance of power proceeding from the dominance of a single party can give a vast country populated by 170 million as we have, a leader who will say I am tired and disinterested and at another time, a dying man whose preoccupation in office was his health, not the people he leads. Only a single party system can give a country a president not fit for the job and a dictator who unleashes the state’s instruments of coercion upon just anyone who disagrees with him. Single party rule has given several countries, Nigeria inclusive, a leader who knows next to nothing; a leader who does not even know the strategic importance of the country he or she leads. We are, perhaps the only country on the continent who don’t even know the clout, purpose and the mission of Nigeria in Africa.
These days, even the political parties, when they open up to talk, admit that the country’s problem is leadership. Yet until now, the opposition seemed uncommitted to doing anything to change the unwanted situation; the opposition until now seemed to say as the British do, that we all talk about the weather but there is nothing we can do about it.
There is no country in Africa with our endowments in all respects. When you reckon with the others, they pale into insignificance in comparison our country. Look at the intellectual resources, the intelligentsia, the scholarly Nigerians, the skillful Nigerians, the artists – all of those Nollywood and Kannywood characters – not even South Africa is a match to Nigeria. How many professors of reckoning do they have in Kenya, Ethiopia, Namibia or The Gambia?
Sadly for us here, equity, hard work, honesty and the culture of love of the neighbor have been in a retreat for a long time in this country. Today in Nigeria, religious and tribal militant groups in Northern Nigeria in tandem with some loose cannons of our politics have nearly overrun the police and the army at least in the North-East and North-Central sub-regions. Kidnapping is everywhere in the South. Even government(s) is/are openly being accused of patronizing this systemic form of violence as an instrument to win at all cost, the up-coming state, legislative and presidential elections in 2015.
The good thing about this historical merger is not necessarily that PDP should be thrown out office although, really, they need not to be spared if they go on messing things up. The ruling party needs to have someone shadowing them. It is important for this and any other democracy that there is an opposition party, robust and agile to which the given country can give power. Without an opposition ready to take power, no ruling party is impelled to give its best to the people that put it in office.
Of the three major political parties in the new formation, the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN is the most robust and successful and therefore a senior partner in the APC whether anyone concedes to this openly or not. The ACN, whose popularity is concentrated in the South-West, has been returned victorious in all but one of the six states in the sub-region. It is mostly populated by the Yoruba. The Congress for Progressive Change, CPC on the other hand gained a lot of ground among the Hausa-Fulani in the North-West and the North-East in the run-up to 2011 general elections, which they on their own mismanaged. It has a strong leader, General Muhammadu Buhari who, it is widely believed, did not sully his hands while in office as military Head of State.
The All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP is only next to the ACN in the number of Governors, state and federal legislators anyone is bringing into the alliance. But the ANPP is perhaps the country’s most unfortunate political party when it comes to knowing what to do. They have been showing signs of mental exhaustion to rejuvenate themselves.
The All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA should ideally be irrelevant in the new party but has to be mentioned because a bright politician, Governor Rochas Okorocha keeps showing up at every event.
How has ruling party, the PDP reacted to this political typhoon threatening to sweep them out of power? Going by all recent reports, the PDP is not taking any lessons from the emerging political landscape. The party is in a state of total disarray in large parts of this country. Thanks to a President who insists on his pound of flesh, the turmoil in the South-South in the PDP, his own home region appears to be worse than you have in other sub-regions. The authorities appear to have hit up a ploy to destabilize the party and government in any PDP state where a governor shows any signs of presidential ambition.
Tribal leaders between Ijaw patriarch, Edwin Clark and the youthful ones behind them such as Presidential Adviser Kingsley Kuku and ex-militant Alhaji Asari Dokubo have openly called for violence in the country without a hand raised against them by our often over-excited security officials. They (Ijaw leaders) may as well have the implicit blessings of their political mentors in Abuja.
With all of these things happening across the landscape, one thing that keeps most Nigerians going is their tireless confidence in the resilience of their country. That’s reason why everyone including the PDP members are saying welcome to the new opposition alliance. Nigeria has a way of solving the worst of crises that anyone could imagine for a country.
It is not possible at this time to predict what lies ahead for the country in the face of the new party alliance and the civil war going on in the ruling PDP, except to say that the country has the resilience to outlast the swelled up crises outlined and the uncertainty that accompany them.
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