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The opposition Nigeria deserves

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A strong and viable opposition is one of the enduring characteristics of any thriving democratic structure. The evolvement of democracy is a dynamic and gradual process which is still evolving even within the western democracies or countries that have practiced democracy for centuries. Our democracy can gain a lot with a viable and robust opposition.  The current trend with the emergency of APC and PDM is indeed a welcome development.

As INEC announce the registration of APC, it was greeted with cheers by the party members of the merging political parties and those who felt it is high time another strong party that can dislodge the PDP comes on stream. It is also worthy of note that the new party has gone through a lot to make sure it is registered not only on the same name but right on time to set the ground rolling before 2015. This journey started with a lot of obstacles, road blocks, pessimism and lets watch and see attitude by some interested observers and stakeholders. It took INEC till the last day of constitutional deadline of thirty days to register the party shows that it was not an easy decision; but a decision they must make.  In addition to this some close watchers of the intrigue, planning and due diligence of the party groups before the formation of the political party will agree to the pain seeking measures put in place to ensure the emergence of the political party.

The joy for the registrations of the political party should not be lost on the conveners as the real work and politicking starts now before the 2015 election. The party hands are full as for it to be a force to reckon with in 2015 general election. It has to engage in an aggressive planning, organisation and re-strategizing to be a formidable force.  The party needs to sort out its identity, perception, ideology, internal democracy and a demonstration to Nigeria that it would be 180 degree different from the PDP. It also needs to ensure a good political showing in the forthcoming election in Anambra State. It would also need to tackle the increasing conflict within its fold on who controls the party structure in the states.

The also newly registered PDM is also a strong force especially by the name. if it represents the PDM of one of the finest political strategist to have emerged from the country in the person of Shehu Musa Yar adua. The then PDM based on the comprehensive machinery had one of the fiercest political networks. The likes of Chief Anine and Alhaji Atiku and others are some of the off shots of the PDM. If the recent PDM can replicate the activities of the past PDM then there should be course for worry by the PDP. Although the fear is that let it not be a one man affair.

As a result of the countries past military intervention in politics and the role played by the civic society groups and individuals, the country did not develop the kind of opposition culture that is needed in a democratic set-up. In addition, the citizenry were not equipped with the right frame of mind to engage in democratic participation and critical engagement of its leaders. Most of our political parties were set up with the mind set of taking over government. The current ruling party in the country was political machinery set up specifically to wrestle power and take over from the military establishment that held the country captive in most of the country's independence. This explains why it is not only a party with an internal opposition but with different layers within a fold. Most of our parties are devoid of any abiding political ideology or guiding principle. We need strong political parties that would compete with each other in a healthy manner.

It would have been ideal if we have two strong political parties that would be good for our enduring nationhood. The parties should be based on ideology and should be ideologically inclined.

In the parties which claim to serve as democratic vehicles, majority of the parties are run like personal estate and lack the basic tenets of democracy. From the party organisational structure to the lack of freedom of political participation and some other practices that negates democratic practice. The level of energy devoted to rigging of elections is a major impediment of the political association and growth of democracy.

To be in the opposition does not mean that the only way to show that is by hauling insult and personal attack on the occupant of the elective position. It is not by negative criticism of all the action and inaction of the incumbent. In addition, it is not by hiring or sabotaging the effort of the ruling party. The ruling party should also not take any criticism as an attack on the ruling party .A viable opposition entails the following and many others.

The opposition should be able to set-up a shadow cabinet of all the relevant government agencies .The role of these shadow cabinet is to be able to critically look at the policies by the ruling government and fashion out policies that would better serve the population. In doing this the opposition should deliberately look at the policy direction of these entire government agencies and get potent points to use to tell the masses that they would perform better than the ruling party. They should study, research and proffer a better solution to the mirage of problems confronting our nation.

Added to this, the opposition should also be able to run its political party in a democratic and conventional manner. It should ensure transparency and accountability in the running of affairs of the party. It should serve as a model in party organisation and also ensure the emergency and adherence of through democracy in her fold. The imposition of candidates which negates the tenets of democracy should not be tolerated in the opposition. In addition the opposition should be able to set examples with the states or government structure it controls. This model will go a long way in convincing the electorate in voting for the opposition in the forthcoming elections.

As we all know that in our current situation most of the ruling government at all levels rigged the election that brought them to power. Although some may argue that a party has to be popular before rigging an election but that is not always the case in Nigeria. The opposition can go a long way in helping the populace minimise the spate of election rigging from the ruling party. This can be done be creating a watch dog and being conscious of the rigging intrigue of the ruling party. The opposition should go the extra mile in fashioning out and extracting traceable evidence that would be able to thwart and nullify election falsely declared by the electoral commission in a court of law. By this the various effort of the opposition would help the system in the long run.

Some of the odd practices in our current democratic setting would be greatly reduced with a viable and well run opposition parties. Some of these anomalies include the issue of god-fatherism, patronage, imposition, corruption in the party system, nepotism, favouritism, non- ideologically inclined orientation, party discipline, monetisation and creation of effective leadership structure and orientation and also emergence of party and elective leadership . Added to this is through the opposition party, the education of the voters and the citizenry on not only their civic responsibility but also education on the tools necessary for an enduring democracy.  The opposition should be on substance and deep on issues affecting the nationhood.

It is unfortunate that the current opposition in all the states and  the nation are made of similar stuck from the ruling parties .The singular objective of both the opposition and the ruling party is what to get out of the system as drivers of the system and not to sustain the system. Although I would not blame both because they are all a product of the same environment but it is high time we start making a difference.

As the nation gradually imbibes some characteristics of democracy and democratically run states, it would benefit us as there seems no alternative to democracy. The long years of military rule and the emergency of retired politically minded military class have impaired our sense of judgement on what constitute genuine democratic governance. We would get there as the signs of democracy are gradually evolving.

As a result of the current fault lines in the country, it would have been ideal for there to be only two strong political parties so that the opposition would be able to muster enough financial and human resources to be able to challenge the ruling party at both the federal and state level. We should aim at two political parties with a strong national outlook .This would enable the citizenry to actually study the two political platform  and decided on the  best possible platform that would represent them. In the country now, it appears that the emergence of the APC as an opposition party would be a viable opposition to the ruling PDP if it gets its act together. It would be a thing of joy if it can emerge with the current PDM as a viable political association. It seems APGA and Labour party would soon collapse to the big two political parties.

A viable opposition is one of the main ingredients of a sustainable democracy. It is in the interest of the political and economic development of the country that we have a strong and viable opposition that would serve as a check to the ruling party.

Ogwu Paul Okwuchukwu
Abuja, [email protected]

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