2015 Presidential Election: Tomorrow On The Run by Odusote Oluwakayode
In the First Republic, the AG led by Former Premier of Western Region and First Republic opposition leader Chief Obafemi Awolowo understood the role of the opposition in a democracy. He mobilized his disciples of quality with the resources at his disposal to put immense pressure for development on the central government.
Those periods witnessed a virile opposition that was alive to its democratic responsibilities.
In our present democratic setting, there has not been a virile opposition formidable enough to put the PDP led government on its toes. Except for the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), most of the political parties have allowed internal party conflicts rob them of their time to voice a strong opposition.
The challenges faced by political parties are not different from what the political parties of the past republic faced. What has been able to stand ACN out for now is because those presiding over the affairs of the party have learnt from past mistakes, therefore, guiding their party machinery from moles that would corrupt its system of party politics. What destroyed the Alliance for Democracy is very much alive as a lesson.
Our politicians woke up from their slumber when four political parties decided merging to contest the 2015 elections against President Goodluck Jonathan’s People’s Democratic Party. The mutual conclusion to have a name called APC was birthed on February 6, 2013, which comprises the All Progressive Grand Alliance, the Action Congress of Nigeria, the All Nigeria Peoples Party, and the Congress for Progressive Change.
The two biggest parties in the merger are the Action Congress of Nigeria, whose governors control most of the country’s southwestern states including Lagos, the commercial capital, and the Congress for Progressive Change, led by the north’s biggest opposition figure, former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The alliance also includes the northern All Nigeria People’s Party and the All Progressive Grand Alliance. In total, the proposed opposition party has at least 10 governors to carry out designed assignments.
Indisputably, the governors caused a jittery in the Presidency when they visited their contemporaries in the volatile state of Borno and Bauchi states in solidarity with the people of the state and to make cash donations as a support of aid. The states visited were places the president had painted as “in secured” to the world in the past. The Presidency and the advisers who perceived the governors visit as a threat to his claims forced Jonathan to Maiduguri. The governors got the president scared but as usual, he tried hiding it under his fake smile of braggado.
Of recent he was forced again to reconsider his stand of granting amnesty to the Boko Haram sect. Till the proposed opposition clamored and maintained their stance of the offer of amnesty, the president is used to boasting that he would not negotiate with faceless groups. The questions raised in some quarters is that if they are faceless, it means those arrested so far with allegations of involving in terrorist acts are likely to be faceless and the JTF claims of killing commanders of the group a hoax. Of course, he has surrendered and the proposed opposition is forcing the hands of time as they have ignited to put tomorrow on the run.
The opposition groups have combined the incisive wit and boldness of their respective leaders, the outstanding performances of some of their governors and the ideological strength of their respective mouth pieces, in the discharge of the important responsibility as the opposition.
The agreement to form a formidable opposition is logical, not because of a need to get rid of the PDP alone, but to bring about a political landscape where the choice of the people will be dependent on the quality of programmes a party proposes. Our politics and democracy must be effectively guided by the principles of ideological debate and orientation as it is practiced in developed world. Having two strong political parties is an advantage to our polity, because a government’s performance will be held responsible for actions taken while the opposition will always put up effective pressure and the electorates will make the necessary electoral change.
As witnessed in the aborted second republic, Chief Obafemi Awolowo led UPN maintained strong check on the President Shehu Shagari led NPN as the official opposition, as we currently witness, a number of weaknesses beset the second republic. Government spending increases arbitrarily, the frictions among political parties and the federal government and states aided the tensed political landscape. Corruption was on the increase and the opposition warned the government of the consequences of a nose diving economy. The opposition publicly denounced the rising political violence, insecurity, lack of electoral integrity and corruption. As we presently experience the scourge of transparency and good governance, structural defects and constitutional maladies in high places, our fourth republic is just as we had the second republic.
The need for a strong opposition party that cut across ethnic line is important for us as a nation. The government in power at any given time must also accept the roles an efficient opposition plays in a democratic setting. Issues of national importance which are critical for democracy, equality, transparency and justice must not be personalized.
The beauty that abounds in such a political landscape where the opposition is strongly positioned helps the governed to be exposed to activities of the government. The views of the opposition could also be measured by assessing claims against the government. Through these, the electorates as the audience will be provided with options of choosing credible alternative to a failing government.
As I understand it, the merging parties are preparing ahead of 2015 general elections and they have maintained that the marriage of the different political parties is to advance the best interests of Nigerians by correcting the misrule our democracy has been subjected to since 1999.
We are used to complaining about the PDP largely due to their hold unto power in the central. What is the trust the electorates can place in the emerging APC if their only goal is to unseat President Goodluck Jonathan and to see to the death of PDP? There are critical issues to be addressed by Nigerians. As much as I welcome a formidable opposition, the drive must not be targeted towards a political vendetta. The task must be driven towards better Nigeria for Nigerians; therefore, the APC must demonstrate its sincerity, not just as a propaganda, for equity, fairness and practice of true democracy.
The task for the electorates is to assess the opposition’s manifesto critically in order to separate personal political ambition from collective political will. There must be an understandable outline of priorities the emerging opposition intends to achieve. There are numerous problems ranging from power, unemployment, agricultural development, affordable and standard health care services, free education, infrastructural development, eradication of poverty and corruption etc. We do not hope to have vague promises but reasonable and achievable targets within the stipulated constitutional term.
Just as Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo personified the structures and system of government, the emerging APC must be conscious of the people’s feelings and emotions, therefore, the pertinent and important task available for the APC is to personify the systems of government, treat such system with caution and care and maintain a party character that sees power not as a gift but as a responsibility to the governed.
The present administration has been a disappointment at least this is not the “shoeless’ Jonathan Nigerians hoped for when they were promised ‘fresh air’. Many Nigerians voted with sentiments that the north cannot continue to lay claim to power as their traditional birth right. Some were emotionally blinded to the fact that our elections should be guided by the quality of programmes an aspiring leader and party presents.
Just as we had a need for a change then, we are faced with the need for a change now. The onerous task is now for us as Nigerians to choose between emotion and quality. Our tomorrow as a nation has started and we do not need to wait till 2015 before decisions are taken in a hurry. Tomorrow is on the run and waits for no man. We have travelled this emotional path before without leading to a logical destination.
It must be noted that the task lay on the electorates to effect a positive change because the past experiences of the second republic and the June 12, 1993 elections are evidences of a needed change that was eventually marred by unnecessary military intervention. History is relevant so as for us not to be victims of misfortunes. History tells us of the days of NPN /UPN that led to a Muhammadu Buhari take over and the SDP/NRC that led to a Sanni Abacha take over.
Opportunities abound for the emerging opposition party. They have the opportunity of taking the advantage of the PDP led government’s mass failure to exert their influence and policies that are humane to the governed. A successful opposition turned government in power may also create a comparative platform to rate the past government of the PDP accurately.
The opportunities must include a transparent nationwide positive transformation as it concerns our polity. A good voter-education programme needed to demonstrate the Importance of political participation from the grassroots. There must be a zeal to fight corruption, unemployment, epileptic power supply and decaying moral standard.
If the APC as a virile emerging opposition is prepared to govern a multi ethnic Nigeria progressively, it must tell Nigerians how it intends to govern responsibly.
Nigerians understand that the present administration’s claim to fight corruption is a blatant lie. Evidences of corrupt practices are glaringly displayed without recourse to human dignity, moral and respect for the constitution the government swore to protect and uphold. All that is therefore needed is a bold government that will be a light in a darkened nation.
The bulk lies in the votes of the electorates. We have a choice to make but in making those choices, we must be careful that emotional sentiment is not attached to our consideration. Activities of our tomorrow have been ignited, tomorrow is already on the run and unless you catch up, you’ll be lost in the realm of dreams only to maintain the usual complainant status when the time has gone.
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