By Edozie Okeiyi
The role of the opposition in a democracy is very important and cannot be over emphasized. Apart from the traditional role of checkmating the excesses of the Government, by far the most important role of the opposition is to provide an alternative programme and agenda for the country. This way the electorate can choose between two or more alternatives.
The newly elected (selected) leadership of the All Progressive Congress seems to be struggling from day one. As the euphoria that accompanied the Convention fizzled out, they were trust straight into their first battle. The Ekiti Gubernatorial Election was the perfect opportunity for the Chief John Oyegun led Executive to announce their arrival in grand style. That Fayose won is no longer news. The real news is that APC came a distant second. According to the Returning Officer for the 2014 governorship elections and Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Oye-Ekiti, Professor Isaac Azuzu, the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Mr. Ayodele Fayose had a total of 203,090 votes to defeat other candidates who participated in the exercise. APC candidate and incumbent governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi had 120,433 votes to come second. Certainly it was not a close race. Those of us who expected a neck and neck battle were shocked to see APC fall like a pack of cards on a slippery surface. APC lost in all the 16 local government areas of Ekiti State.
The implications of this result would become manifest as we countdown to 2015. It is very important to mention that a Coalition of Election Observers has declared the exercise free, fair, and credible. One begins to wonder if APC can indeed rise to the big challenge next year or will continue on this road to self-annihilation. My opinion is that APC is not strong enough and therefore cannot displace the PDP in a free and fair contest. I have identified some self-inflicted handicaps on the table of APC.
First is that APC lacks a national outlook. The PDP has remained relevant in Nigeria because of the national umbrella it has maintained. Although it has its own problems, but it cannot be said to belong to a particular group. The APC has done very little to allay the fears of Christians that APC has a hidden agenda against them. Instead of addressing these weighty fears and suspicions, the APC has rather kept mute on the matter. When the former Aviation Minister Femi Fani Kayode resigned his membership citing the religious bias of APC, the Party instead of addressing this serious allegation, rather responded by saying that Femi Fani Kayode was not a registered member in the first instance. This is like sweeping a serious matter under the carpet and hoping that the news will fizzle out one day.
Whether the APC likes it or not, there is a general perception by a significant section of Nigeria that the party was established to project the interests of one religion above the other. While this may be true or not, a party that cares about her image and public perception must address this issue otherwise the perception of voters would continue to influence electoral results against them. Perception is different from facts, but the reality is that voters vote largely on how they perceive you or your party.
The second problem with the APC is the overbearing influence of the chief financier Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. A chieftain of APC Chief Tom Ikimi alleged recently that Bola Tinubu single handedly selected persons for all the top positions. This mafia-like posture does not cast APC in good light before Nigerians. It grossly lacks internal democracy. One godfather calls the shots. Chief Ikimi maintained that the ruling PDP is not owned by anybody. It is a national institution that accommodates all and sundry equally.
If APC is to be taken seriously by Nigerians, it has to rise above this one man tyranny and make conscious efforts to make APC a party for everyone. Nigerians would love a party that is built on our national pillars without too much attachments to one man. Internal democracy is badly needed in APC if they are to make progress. At the moment if Tinubu catches cold APC would sneeze. This is an insult to Nigerians. One begins to wonder what roles Tinubu would play should APC win the next general elections. Would he give the President free hand to govern without interfering? Your guess is as good as mine.
The next problem with APC is that it seems to be the amalgamation of strange bed fellows only united in their lust for power. The membership of APC was drawn from different political parties with diverse interests only united in their quest to capture power from the PDP. While there is nothing wrong with this arrangement, what is however worrying is that the differences instead of getting narrower is getting wider. Chief Ikimi spoke the minds of the silent majority. There seems to be no love lost among the top echelon of the party. The most probable prediction judging from the above is that an APC government would be marred by crises and power tussle should they find themselves in power.
APC also lacks a defined ideology. Every opposition that wants to displace the incumbent must work hard to define and market the agenda to the People. Presently most Nigerians do not know what APC stands for. Most People do not know what APC would do differently. These are the roadblocks that may cost them dearly in 2015 and beyond. If President Jonathan wins the 2015 Presidential election, as widely speculated, it wouldn’t be because he is the only person eligible to be President, rather it would largely be because there is no credible alternative. Nigerians would love to have a robust debate before the elections. Nigerians want a healthy contest. At the moment the opposition is inadvertently helping Jonathan to win. Nigerians want a credible opposition against the PDP, not a poorer version of it as an alternative.
Edozie Okeiyi via http://edokeiyi.com