The Three Opposition Musketeers by David Adeniyi
The three musketeers, a story of three inseparable friends- Athos, Porthos and Aramis, who lived by the motto “all for one, one for all” reminds one of the merger talks initiated again by three leading opposition parties in Nigeria ahead of the general elections in 2015.
No doubt, the merger talks going among the three leading opposition parties-the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), must have been sending jittery to the camp of the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). But, there’s still much more to be done.
As much as I admire and respect the doggedness of the opposition leaders to come together again after a failed attempt in the build up to the 2011 general elections, I’m still skeptical about whether the merger talks will sail through this time around or not. Should the merger talks fail this time again, I’m sure; it would deal a deadly blow on the psyche of the already impoverished Nigerians, who are desperate to have a change of government at the centre. Because, they cannot wait to be disappointed again.
Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, one of the leaders of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), General Muhammadu Buhari, a leader and a two-time presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in the 2007 and 2011 general elections, and Chief Ogbonnaya Onu, the Chairman of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), no doubt, are quintessential politicians who had made their marks and created niche for themselves in the political history of Nigeria.
It is indisputable that without Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, there wouldn’t be an ACN to talk about today; without ‘Jagaban’ (as he’s fondly called) Lagos would not have survived the marauding onslaught of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, the then president of Nigeria in 1999 and 2003 under the platform of the PDP. But what’s the essential of a party that claims to be progressive, but lacks the sanctity of internal democracy. Or how can we come to terms with a “progressive party” which allows the cronies and family members to be handpicked to run for elective offices at the expense of a free and fair party primary process?
General Muhammadu Buhari, I know, was a Military General and an astute politician. He is a soft spoken and I love his mien. But I believe it is the mark of a great leader to apologise for actions that offend commonsense. The only thing I have against the General was that he showed no humility to say “I’m sorry” when he came to Lagos and was asked to explain why his military government terminated the Lagos metro-line project which the then action governor of Lagos, Alhaji Lateef Jakande had initiated to ease transport in Lagos and environs. This singular action terminated the hope of millions of Lagos people and the south-west for advancement in infrastructural standard. I doubt if General Buhari would have dared cancel such a laudable project were it in the North. Anyway, that’s a story for another day.
Chief Ogbonnaya Onu was also not a novice in the political development of Nigeria. He was the first Executive Governor of Abia State between 1992 and 1993, and consequently became the National Chairman of the ANPP after defeating Chief Harry Akande who polled 1,479 votes against his own 3,945 votes.
Now, as beautiful as their plans to wrestle the power from the ruling party is, it is not going to be an easy ride except they put their acts together and form a formidable force against their “common enemy”. Else, it will be another pipe dream; an exercise in futility.
Succinctly put, the opposition in Nigeria is lame and presumably confused, and if they are to be taken serious as an alternative come 2015, they must demonstrate commitment and resolve by having good strategies as well as forming a united front with a strong determination to win elections and not to cry foul after the elections.
But are really ready to unite and speak with one voice instead of their “Jeremiah’s lamentation” of being rigged out by the well grounded ruling but corruption-ridden party? Will they allow the centre to hold this time? Would their egos and personal greed not frustrate their merger talks and truncate their aims of sending out the PDP government out of Aso Villa in 2015?
If the truth must be told, it is not only PDP that lacks internal democracy in the selection of candidates for elective offices, but also the other parties. In the build up to the 2007 and 2011 elections, virtually all of the opposition is guilty of failures on internal democracy. The ANPP imposed or wrongly substituted candidates in Yobe, Kaduna and Kano. In the same vein, the CPC which is about 3 years old also wrongly substituted governorship candidates in Kano, Katsina and Bauchi. Also, the ACN did impose candidates in the south-western states. The PDP is the grand master that committed the most crime against internal democracy in Taraba, Bauchi, Anambra and of recent in Bayelsa, the president’s home state and a host of others. No political party is a saint!
The truth of the matter is, unless and until these opposition parties form a synergy and chase out the ruling party from the government, there may not be a way forward in our political life.
If you ask me if I have problems with the present government at the federal level by the PDP since our new democratic dispensation began in 1999, I will tell you a big YES! A government that finds itself incapable of summoning the courage and will to make refineries work, public or private; a government that wallows in its own filth and corruption, yet finds the temerity and shamelessness to descend on the citizenry and deal heartless and senseless blows on them at will.
That a country as big as Nigeria with abundant resources still struggle to survive is a crying shame. Nigerians can no longer afford to be governed by another “trainee” as a president at this critical period of our national existence. Abi, if you married a wife/husband and she/he wanted to snuff life out of you, won’t you consider going for a divorce and remarry? The answer is Yes! Should we still continue to allow mediocrity to rule over intelligence? No! Should we still fold our hands and give room to visionless and directionless leaders to be at the helm of affairs again? No! Nigerians are sick and tired of a government that had failed in providing the basic necessities of life to them. Nigerians are short-changed in the affairs of their fatherland. The hope of waiting for miracles from the present government is fast fading steadily as day follows day.
As opined by Jane Goodall, “Every individual matters. Every individual has a role to play. Every individual makes a difference”. Every one of us has a key role to play if this country must move, because it doesn’t move, citizens cannot move. Every one of these opposition leaders should “pocket” their pride and channel a common course together for the rebuilding of our nation. We must strive to make a better Nigeria; to work for our collective destiny as a people. Not for any personal aggrandisement again. They should remember that “a i rin papo ejo,ni o nje omo ejo niya”(meaning the failure of snakes to move together is the cause of their problem). They must be united, coordinated and focused.
Should the merger talks failed this time again, many Nigerians would not forgive the opposition parties for failing to reach a compromise and make their talks yield positive results. Then, another post-election violence is imminent; and the ruling PDP party remains in government.
Would the opposition parties allow the PDP to wriggle itself into power again by lack of unity and purpose? Or will the merger talks sail through? The answer is in the wind and only time will surely tell. Nigerians are eagerly waiting!
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