By John Kokome
All over the world where democracy is practiced there is always a ruling party and the main opposition party amongst several other opposition parties in a multi-party system democracy, to check the excesses of the ruling party and put them on their toes, to ensure they deliver on their campaign promises.
Constructive criticism from a well-grounded opposition party helps democracy to thrive in trying times and not necessarily to bring down the ruling party, in the absent of a strong opposition party the country might slide into a one-party state which is usually a big threat to the survival of democracy in any society.
Recent events in the polity has further raised more questions than answers in Nigeria; Are there opposition parties in Nigeria? If indeed there are, why the graveyard silence in the face of the rising cases of insecurity and palpable ethnic tension in the country? Or the very deplorable state of the economy without a word from the opposition on how to fix the economy.
Being in the main opposition party is not a tea-party, it is a big responsibility, if the idea of the opposition is only to contest elections every four years for grabbing power from the ruling party, then they had better make a rethink, that kind of mentality could be likened to a lame-duck approach and a very weak political strategy.
Right from the first republic, there have always been opposition parties in Nigeria. However, in the current political dispensation, we have seen different political parties play this role effectively well. One of such parties is the Action Congress of Nigeria(ACN) that later metamorphosed into the All Progressive Congress which was the amalgamation of various political parties to include; All Nigeria Peoples Party(ANPP), Congress for Progressive Change(CPC), a faction of All Progressive Grand Alliance(APGA). That was the era we experienced a very robust opposition deploying both constructive and destructive tactics combined to achieve its objectives of putting the government of the day on its toes.
Today, we are experiencing a swap of role with the then opposition party APC now the ruling party and the then ruling party PDP becoming the main opposition party. It appears the All Progressive Party seems to have settled down as a ruling party, though with some snags here and there but unfortunately, the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) is yet to come to terms with the reality on ground that they are now the main opposition party in the country, and as such should act in that regards. The party has virtually lost its voice in the polity and gradually moving into oblivion.
At every opportunity, one expects that the PDP would lend its voice to the various national issues beleaguering the country, they have continued to fail to live up to the billings as expected of an opposition party, this obviously has created a vacuum that needs to be filled urgently. The ruling party now plays the role of a ruling party as well as that of an opposition party, a trend if not checked and quickly corrected could see to the emergence of an authoritarian system of government. With the gales of defections, being experienced in the ongoing APC membership registration and revalidation with big wigs from the PDP defecting in droves this might be the final straw that might break the camel’s back, a situation capable of throwing the PDP into a state of comatose.
However, one thing is clear both the ruling party and the opposition party(s) all lack solid ideological foundation, which is primarily responsible for the deficiency in the leadership recruitment process in the country, thereby unable to prepare a sound and realistic programs and manifestoes that are implementable upon assumption of office of the party’s candidate.
There is need to have political parties with strong ideological principles guiding their modus operandi, than having several political parties without any form of ideology as their guide. This is a clarion call to all opposition parties in the country to wake up from their slumber and begin to live up to their responsibilities by providing veritable opposition to the ruling party.
Opposition political parties must not only provide an alternative platform to the people but must also be proactive in their approach in providing strategic opposition to the ruling party. In other to save this country from sliding into a one-party state, which is a fast route to authoritarianism. Men and women of goodwill with the right ideological mindset must urgently rise up to the occasion to provide an alternative platform as against what we currently have in the PDP as a main opposition which clearly is a failure on the part of the party to provide a robust opposition to the ruling All Progressive Congress in the country. The time to salvage the country from this slide is now!
John Kokome is a Communications Strategist & Public Affairs Analyst