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In Search Of a Viable Mega Opposition Party

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“The truth is that PDP as an opposition party is dead or perhaps in a state of coma. This is why the masses must now rise up to the occasion to form a mega opposition element for the success of this government.” – Author

Any democracy without a thriving opposition party tends to transmogrify into dictatorship no matter how sanctimonious the drivers of the process might appear to be. In fact, to get the best out of democracy, a strong opposition serves as a necessary ingredient, the spice and the salt that brings out the taste in the system.

Nigerians are living witnesses to the fact that for over fourteen years of being in the saddle of governance, the now opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) almost took the whole country for a ride until sometime in 2013 when a real opposition party emerged to give the PDP a run for its money. That was when the now ‘governing’ All Progressives Congress (APC) came into limelight and kept the PDP on its toes for the remaining two years of its reign. Politics became so interesting and many keen followers savoured the beauty of democracy. 

The polity was indeed hot as the then opposition party poked the ruling party on every side with criticisms, propaganda and sometimes, an outright political confrontation that degenerate into public debate. For its pains, the APC was rewarded by posterity which handed over the mantle of leadership to it, courtesy of the 2015 general elections.  

The beauty of the picture painted above is not that a hitherto opposition party ousted a ruling party in an election. No. What made the whole episode so interesting and rewarding was that for over one and half years of the emergence of the APC, the PDP woke up from its slumber knowing that any misadventure at that point would cost it the central government (as it eventually did). 

Beyond that, a government that was hitherto not listening so much to the voice of the people in the hope that it could always manoeuvre its way to retaining power started bending to the will of the masses. Flashes of good governance were noticed, albeit too late at both federal and State government levels. For the first time in sixteen odd years, Nigerians felt the impact of governance, but there was really no time to contemplate a second chance for the then ruling party as it called itself. Such was the beauty of a viable opposition party.

The elevation of the APC to the position of a governing party has left a yawning gap—a vacuum yet to be filled. At some point in the life of the new administration, (when the APC was still struggling to get its rhythm), Nigerians began to feel that they fared better with APC as an opposition party as they got nearly all its strokes right. Unfortunately and as it stands now, the new opposition party—PDP has already lost its voice. No thanks to the bullying from the governing party (whether for the right or mere political reasons). 

From Olisa Metuh to Uche Secondus down to the Fani Kayodes have all been fighting a war of self-survival leaving the work of opposition to none. Where are the Doyin Okupes? Where is Abati? Where is Akpabio? These are but a few PDP members who showed early signs of spearheading the opposition role for the party. All of them cannot afford the luxury and risk of raising an eyebrow lest their sins or fabricated sins hunt them down. The truth is that all the opposition figures are aware that no matter how you wash the anus (pardon my language), the smell of feaces cannot be completely eliminated.  

Almost all the opposition voices have been silenced and this is not good for our democracy. It does seem that most of them have skeletons in their cupboards and any attempt to raise their voices might bring to the full beam of Buhari’s searchlight. You know what that means. The masses are not spared this intimidation. The other day, it was in the news that the Nigerian military flogged protesting women in Delta State. Did that really happen in a democracy? I personally doubt the veracity of that news. May be it is one of those sensational captions some media houses use for selling their papers. 

The only man standing right now is the intrepid governor of Ekiti State, Governor Ayodele Fayose who has vowed never to be intimidated into silence. How far can he go with this avowed pledge? He that must come to equity must come with clean hands. The recent invasion of the State by men of the DSS appears to signal the beginning of the end of Fayose’s loud voice no matter how clean he comes out of the raid. Key members of his cabinet and those he fell out with were being screwed, perhaps for information that will be indicting with which to silence him. When the ‘oppression silence every opposition’ is completed by the governing party, we might end up swallowing whatever pills the government of the day brings to the table without questioning. This is dangerous for democracy. 

The governing party from inception has left no one in doubt that it is between ‘us’ and ‘them’. I have no iota of doubt in my mind that this government headed by President Muhammadu Buhari means well for this country (I don’t know about his acolytes). Something inside of me tells me Nigeria will fare better under the present administration even if the leaders have negative intentions (which I still doubt). But then, our fledgling democracy must be allowed to thrive. Its beauty lies in the existence of a viable opposition. 

The truth is that PDP as an opposition party is dead or perhaps in a state of coma. This is why the masses must now rise up to the occasion to form a mega opposition element for the success of this government. A people that allow itself to be intimidated into silence would likely die in chains. Civil society groups must consciously assume this onerous role in order to save our democracy. Where are our seasoned writers and columnists? This is the time to show that the pen is mightier than the sword. 

We must point the way constructively without necessarily antagonizing the government. Where there is need for commendation, we must not deny them the credit and where there is the need for condemnation, we must not only condemn, but proffer alternative views. The social media has in recent times proved to be a potent tool for shaping public opinion and governance, this is the time for objectivity in taking the role of lacing our democracy with the much needed opposition element so that the dividends can be savoured. 

The mega opposition party as it stands can only be formed by a coalition of civil society groups, the social media practitioners, the writers and columnists, every politically savvy Nigerian and the indefatigable masses. All of us owe ourselves and the nation a duty to protect our hard earned democracy. This is the time to strengthen it lest it turns to tyranny.

Ohiri is a Public Affairs Commentator and writes from Abule-Oshun, Lagos; Contact: chuksohiri@gmail.com. Phone: 08060321965.


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