After the 2011 election was concluded and landslide victory given to President Goodluck Jonathan, political observers gave little chance to the ability of opposition to revive and make any meaningful impact in Nigeria’s political scene.
However, to the surprise of many, a subtle move towards coalition of opposition parties began in a manner that many analysts doubted its success.
Even the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which claimed to be the Maradona in Nigeria’s politics, boasting that the supposed alliance of opposition parties would hardly change the political status quo, was taken aback by the development.
Analysts are of the opinion that the survival of the nation’s democracy, as it were, rests solely on the emergence of a strong and virile opposition amalgam All Progreessives Congress (APC) which has left no one on doubt of its resilience and capacity to overtake the ruling party.
Events in the recent past have shown that the ruling party has its match in the opposition which is poised to give it a run for its money by 2015 general elections.
A member of the House of Representatives and a prominent member of the opposition APC and Chairman House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts, Rep Solomon Olamilekan Adeola, in his comment on 15th anniversary of democracy in the country yesterday said “the best to have happened to this country in the last 15 years is the formation of a virile opposition to checkmate the excesses and impunity of the ruling party. In this House, the opposition has become the conscience of the society having intervened on countless occasions to check the excesses of the PDP.”
“At the risks of sounding immodest as an an opposition member, the nation would have degenerated beyond this level but for the emergence of the APC that has provided a shoulder for beleaguered Nigerians, who have been emasculated by the PDP misrule, to lean on”
Equally commenting on the development of democracy in the country, Rep Abiodun Akinlade, Chairman House Committee on Science and Technology, said it has given the people a say in how they should be governed.
According to him, democracy has opened up the space in participatory and representative system of governance with people now having the opportunity to ask questions on why and how certain decisions are being taken on their behalf.
But the lawmaker observed that the nation is still in the learning process because certain things being taken for granted in older democracies all over the world are being resisted in the country.
The lawmaker lamented that certain developmental projects tied to the budget passed by the nation’s parliament are left unimplemented for no just cause. He called on the government to critically look into its activities and ensure that projects meant to bring succour and dividends of democracy to the ordinary Nigerians are implemented without delay.
The roles played by the opposition in upholding the sanctity of the legislature in the last fifteen years cannot be over-emphasized. Obnoxious policies by the government which would have been passed unhindered following the majority of the members of the ruling party in the parliament are being checkmated by the opposition members.
With the formation of the APC, debates and resolutions in the House of Representatives, for instance, have been reflective of the real aspirations of the people and those policies considered ill-thought out by the executive are immediately jettisoned.
Political watchers are unanimous in their submission that the nation’s democratic development in the last 15 years has been progressive. The ruling party has never had it this tough until the formation of the mega opposition. Attempts to forge a united front by the opposition parties ahead of the 2011 general elections was frustrated by the inability of the frontline protagonists to agree.
Hitherto, opposition parties, which could be safely regarded as regional groups, held sway with little or no political muscle to tame the ravaging ruling PDP.
Prior to the formation of the APC, elections are won by the candidates of the ruling party in,it’s states of the federation after the emergence of the candidates at the party primaries.
This made the PDP to grow into a monster which became a law unto itself with no one to challenge the shenanigans within its fold. The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) held sway in the South West; the All Progressives Grand Alliance was synonymous with the politics of the South East by its membership composition, even though it controlled only a state in the region; the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) had its bulk of membership from the North. The only truly national party before the amalgamation of these parties was the ruling PDP whose membership transcended regional and religious boundaries across the country.
The filler of merger first came to the scene in June 2012, when the two arrowheads of Nigerian opposition politics; General Muhammadu Buhari and Bola Ahmed Tinubu, met behind closed door in Kaduna residence Buhari, to initiate this merger plot.
It is would be recalled that while Buhari is the leader of Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), on whose platform he emerged the second runner up in the 2011 presidential election, Tinubu is the opposition leader of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), which is the most dominant opposition party in Nigeria, with seven states in its control.
First, there was this bickering on whether the union would be merger or alliance. Secondly, the problem of rallying the four major opposition parties, including ANPP, ACN, APGA and CPC, to denounce their names and logos.
In addition, the efforts by the ruling PDP to frustrate the formation of this new opposition party formed the teething challenges of the APC. The most worrisome of these challenges was determining what name and logo the new party would adopt.
Within the period under review, the parties concerned convened severally to agree on modalities to adopt towards bringing about a formidable opposition party in the nation’s democracy.
First, they agreed that all opposition parties involved should go back and set up a merger committee for their respective parties, which will present the interests of the individual parties.
This gave rise to what was then known as ANPP, ACN, CPC and APGA merger committees, lead by Former governor of Kano state, Ibrahim Shekarau, Tom Ikimi, and Garba Gadi, respectively.
At this juncture, a meeting of the frontline opposition parties was summoned in Abuja, where the name All Progressives Congress (APC) was adopted as the acronym for the opposition parties.
To give prominence and support to the merger talks, ten opposition governors, except Governor Peter Obi and Olusegun Mimiko of Anambra and Ondo states respectively, embraced this merger.
After their meeting in Lagos, the ten governors elected on different opposition parties declared that they have agreed to belong to a united party, even though the name of the new party was not known then.
They pointed out that this is the only way to give vigour and meaning to Nigeria’s opposition politics, even as they vowed to wrest power from the ruling PDP in 2015 general elections.
From then till date, this new political association has been causing ripples, threatening the peace of the ruling party. This explains why a lot of hidden traps have been set by agents of the ruling party to ensure that this opposition party does not progress.
This effort to frustrate opposition in Nigeria politics was witnessed when a phantom APC was registered by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), just to force the opposition platforms to seek another identity.
Condemnation and commendations from foes and friends have continued to pour in for the new party. While some argue that the party will soon die like other coalition efforts made previously before this republic, some are of the view that the party will serve as a viable alternative for Nigerians and even make the ruling party more responsible.
Whatever is being said, the constant fact is that having two formidable parties in opposition and government is actually a good omen for Nigeria’s democracy.
It was because of these potentials of the APC to transform Nigeria’s democracy that made the public to rise up in condemnation of the plans by the PDP to stop APC.
In fact, this forced INEC to withdraw its stance, which invariably brought to an end, this question of two APCs, even though the matter is still in court at the moment.
However, the progress recorded by the APC since it was conceived is tremendous, especially given that the party was formed less than two years ago. This shows how determined the opposition is to wrest power from the ruling PDP. APC has continued to prove to Nigerians that it is out for a genuine and issue based politics.
As of today, the party has acquired a befitting office apartment in Abuja, which is in fulfilment of one the critical INEC’s requirements.
Going by the promises which these opposition part has in stock for Nigerian opposition politicians, about five PDP governors recently left their parties and joined the opposition camp.
This was sequel to the crisis in the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) election, in which the governors in the ruling party could not agree among themselves. This resulted in the factionalisation of the NGF; one led by Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers state and the other led by Governor Jonah Jang of Plateau state.
When it became obvious that the NGF has scattered, which is in addition to the irreconcilable difference with President Goodluck Jonathan and the PDP leadership, five PDP governors, including Babangida Aliyu, Rabiu Kwankwaso, Magatakadar Wammako, Murtala Nyako and Ritimi Amaechi, abandoned their party for the opposition APC.
From this point, the APC have sailed through so many challenges which many Nigerians believe would make the party to implode. One of them is the ward congresses and state congresses it has been able to hold. Political analysts had expected that the real challenges of the strange merger of opposition parties would manifest at the congress level.
However, the party has been able to slide through this without the negative expectations of the ruling party coming to reality. At the moment, the opposition party just has the national convention to cap it in the quest to oust the ruling party.
It is at this national congress that that the war team of the party, which is expected to lead the party to victory in 2015 would emerge, having got men at the state and ward levels. It is only left for the party’s leaders to get it right as usual.