What Today Means For Nigerians | Independent Newspapers Limited
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What Today Means For Nigerians

Posted: May 29, 2015 at 12:34 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Temidayo Akinsuyi,  Lagos


With the conduct of the 2015 general election, Nigeria’s former ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), lost out as the party in government while the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC), from today, becomes the ruling party. Today thus marks a very historic point in the development of Nigeria’s democracy.


Playing second fiddle

This is PDP’s new status. Since its formation in August 31, 1998, the PDP which until recently has been Nigeria’s ruling party bestrode the nation’s political landscape like a colossus. The party, which prides itself as the largest political party in Africa, has had its fair share of highs and lows. Always enmeshed in one form of crisis or another,  the party, which was a modern version of the Second Republic’s National Party of Nigeria (NPN), has always wriggled itself out of difficulty, settling most cases ‘in a family affair’ way.

The out-going and the in-coming president, Jonathan and Buhari

The out-going and the in-coming president, Jonathan and Buhari

The PDP has produced 10 national chairmen since its formation.  The late Chief Solomon Lar, who was the founding national chairman was succeeded by Sen Barnabas Gemade. Others were Chief Audu Ogbeh, Ahmadu Ali, Chief Vincent Ogbulafor, Chief Okwesilieze Nwodo, Dr. Haliru Mohammed, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, Bamanga Tukur, and the ‘Game Changer’ Adamu Muazu who recently resigned his position after leading the party to its first ever national election defeat. In what could be considered as a trend, the tenure of nearly all these men was shaped by dramatic intra-party relations which formed the core reasons for their premature exit.

It is also noteworthy that three of these men namely, Ogbeh, Gemade and Baraje are now major stakeholders in the APC.  From the look of things, others may still tow the same path in the days ahead.

For a party that has boasted that it would rule Nigeria for the next 60 years, the party fell from grace to grass as it was trounced by the opposition, APC, in the general elections of March 28 and April 11. Apart from losing the presidency, which it held for 16 years, the PDP lost its majority in the National Assembly and will be the leading opposition in parliament in the next four years having won only 46 senatorial seats out of 109. Same is obtainable in the House of Representatives where it lost its majority status.

From being in control of most states, the party only won in 10 states having lost its traditional strongholds, especially in the North.  This has prompted a change of guard at the NEC even when the current leadership boasts one year to the expiration of its tenure.  Apart from Muazu who tendered his resignation as the national chairman, the party’s Board of Trustees (BoT) chairman, Chief Tony Anenih, also threw in the towel.

Having been in power since 1999, it however remains to be seen if the PDP has what it takes to form a strong, virile, and effective opposition against the APC. The party has, however, vowed to provide credible opposition to the ruling party, without propaganda, insults and lies.

According to its National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh, “the PDP is a political party built on values, tradition and utmost respect for democratic tenets. Our manifesto and ideology center on national peace, stability and prosperity and we shall uphold this at all times. In this wise, the PDP as always, will continue to work in the general interest of the Nigerian people.

“We will not resort to insults, blackmail and lies with the aim to distract or ridicule the person or office of the President. However, we must state in very strong terms that we will not allow them to lead the nation astray. So we will firmly oppose any anti-people policy and programmes as may be introduced by the APC. We will do this by presenting sound alternatives in such a manner that Nigerians will be the utmost beneficiaries especially on issues that will lead the nation in the path of national unity and development.”

Also speaking, a former Minister of Information and member of the party’s BoT, Chief Ebenezer Babatope said the party will give the APC a good fight in the days ahead.

According to him, “We will form a very strong opposition against the APC because we want our power back in 2019. Circumstances of Nigeria’s political history will force s to come together and offer APC a very effective opposition. All of us are still suffering from the trauma of the election loss. In a few days time, we will be out of power.  The defeat was not only sudden, but when you look at the mystery, the conspiracy and the general behavior of people that got us out of power, you just cannot but suffer the trauma. But I can assure you that the PDP will bounce back.”


Challenges before the APC

The major challenge before Nigeria’s new political party, the APC is how it aims to fulfill most of the electoral promises it rolled out during the last election.  With its ‘Change’ mantra, many Nigerians will be watching with keen interest how the party aims to wage an effective battle against corruption, revive the economy, tackle insecurity and other myriads of challenges left unresolved by the outgone PDP government.

The APC has accused the Jonathan administration of sabotage for deliberately handing over the nation in its worst state since independence in 1960.  According to a recent statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, President Jonathan is handing over the nation in deep crisis, but it urged Nigerians not to lose hope. “No electricity, no fuel, workers are on strike, billions are owed to state and federal workers, $60 billion owed in national debt and the economy is virtually grounded.”

The party, no doubt, has a serious work to do and the PDP will be lurking around the corner to fault any misstep from the ruling party.

Another challenge before the APC is how it will effectively manage the crisis arising from distributing of key positions. Already, in the National Assembly, there is a key division amongst the lawmakers of who will emerge as the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives. This crisis almost paralysed a two days retreat organized by the party for its senators-elect in Abuja. The party in a recent statement denied zoning the position to any region. It also debunked rumours that it is backing any particular candidate, promising to give a level playing ground to all the contenders.

According to a political analyst, “it will be worthwhile if All ProgressiveS Congress makes no pretence or wastes no time to unveil its power sharing formula and other related or vexatious issues that seem to have kept the Peoples Democratic Party one step forward and two steps backward. Obviously, pussyfooting about these basics will definitely mar the fortunes of the party.”

Another issue before the APC is how it intends to manage the influx of new entrants, especially the fair-weather politicians from the PDP who will be bent on continuing the same lifestyle and pattern of the PDP in the party.  With these developments, many are wondering if the APC will be able to effectively manage its new position without causing any implosion in the near future.