Nigerian Democracy Needs A Robust Opposition | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Comment, Opinion

Nigerian Democracy Needs A Robust Opposition

Posted: May 15, 2015 at 12:50 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Tochukwu Ezukanma


In addition to its defeat in the presidential election, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lost its dominance in the Senate and the House of Representatives and control of some time-honored PDP states like Plateau, Niger and Benue. Following these losses, the party is in deep political crisis. The decamping of it members, en masse, and the unremitting bickering and acrimony within the party is enervating it and threatening it with something of an implosion. It is extremely important that PDP revives itself because Nigerian democracy needs a vigorous opposition: a robust and vibrant PDP that can successfully play its new role of opposition politics.

Understandably, PDP is writhing in the pains of electoral trouncing. With a touch of hyperbole, the Senate President, David Mark, said that, the party is already in coma and hemorrhaging and “unless we halt the bleeding and find the necessary therapy, we may be heading for the final burial of the party”. It is hard to swallow the politician’s hemlock: rejection by the electorate. But to the PDP, the pains and sorrow of defeat are even more inconsolable because, due to the orientation of the party, electoral defeat was inconceivable to its members – and thus, not in their political calculus. They believed, as a onetime PDP chairman, Vincent Ogbulafor, once, blustered: the PDP will remain in power, (uninterrupted), for 60 years. He expected the party to remain in power for that long, not because it will continue to command the people’s confidence and mandate, but because the amoral and do-or-die politicians that suffuse the party will continue to hold on to power through electoral fraud and political intrigues.

As Nigerian politics changed, the PDP remained welded to this mindset. The opposition political parties coalesced into a formidable union. The social media became a powerful tool of political discourse and campaign. The Nigerian electorate became more politically savvy due to increased awakening of their political consciousness and aspirations. And as such, for the presidential election, they expected more than mere political sloganeering and verbal swiping of political opponents. They expected issue-based campaigns. They wanted the candidates to address our myriad of problems and proffer policies that will tackle them. Clinging to its outmoded modus operandi, the PDP remained oblivious of these political changes.

For the election, as an incumbent president, President Goodluck Jonathan was to trumpet his accomplishments in the last six years, and tell Nigerians what he planned to do, if re-elected. But, as his presidency was an unmitigated failure, he had no achievement to trumpet. With nothing to proclaim, and lacking credibility, as he did not fulfill his earlier election promises, the PDP could not campaign as a ruling party. It took to mudslinging. Relentlessly, it tried to defame the main opposition candidate, Muhammadu Buhari. They accused him of not having the minimal constitutionally required educational qualification to run for the office of the president.

Utterly exasperated by President Jonathan’s disastrous governance, Nigerians were unimpressed by these slanders and slurs. A lady on a radio program summed up this mood, when she said, “even if Buhari brings his NEPA bill as his certificate”, I will still vote him”. While education is a necessary pre-requisite for being the president of Nigeria, there is no direct correlation between the number of degrees one has and his ability to lead the country. In addition to education, good leadership demands leadership qualities like vision, courage, discipline and incorruptibility.  Education will enhance these qualities if you have them but will not substitute for them if you lack them. Goodluck Jonathan, despite his many degrees, lacks these qualities. Not surprisingly, he made a terrible president.

With his doctorate degree, he has many certificates: First School Leaving Certificate, West African School Certificate, Bachelors Degree Certificate, Masters Degree Certificate and Doctor of Philosophy Certificate. And the other members of his administration, like Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, Dr. Doyin Okupe, Dr. Ruben Abati, etc also have many certificates. Wow! These guys have a ton of certificates. But then, it seemed they were out to irreparably damage Nigeria with their trailer-load of certificates. They took impunity, arrogance of power, corruption, grasping avarice and theft of public funds to hitherto unknown levels. They were contemptuously indifferent to the deepening economic woes of the generality of Nigerians; scornfully insensitive to the sensibilities of Nigerians and totally unresponsive to public opinion.

In exasperation of this governing team, Nigerians voted for change. They voted for a leader, Muhammadu Buhari that can lead Nigeria out of its morass of official corruption, insecurity, government ineptitude and dysfunctional and crumbling institutions. And because the chairman of the Independent National Election Commission (INEC), Attahiru Jega, maintained his neutrality as an election umpire, the people’s vote counted; the PDP lost. Expectedly, PDP is in the agony of defeat. The frustrations and regrets of PDP members are all in order. The problem is their refusal to take responsibilities for their actions, and in looking for alibis and scapegoats. These have led to quarrels, blames and accusations that are debilitating, and portend to cripple, the biggest party in Africa.

Appropriately, the senate president, David Mark, is counseling PDP members. He is asking them to learn from their electoral misfortune, come together and rebuild the party. He is urging them to embrace PDP’s new status of an opposition party with all honesty, sincerity of purpose and dedication to duty. The party members should heed this magnificent advice for a PDP committed, in all honesty, sincerity and dedication to duty, to its new role of opposition politics will be a redoubtable opposition party – an indispensable ingredient for Nigeria democracy.


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