By Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, SAN


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By Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, SAN

Founded in August, 1998, the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, used to pride itself as the largest political party in Africa, whatever that means. It was founded by eminent citizens like Chief Solomon Lar, Dr. Alex Ekwueme and many others. Broadly speaking, the PDP represents a centre right political entity, adopting a neoliberal economic status dressed in ultra conservatism, thus favouring free market policies which support economic liberalism. It easily won the February 1999 election, fielding retired former military leader, General Olusegun Obasanjo to pair with a retired customs officer, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. It would later win the 2007 election through Alhaji Umaru Yar’adua, and the 2011 election through a retired teacher, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. It managed to retain a majority in the States and the legislative assemblies, through these periods, mostly under very questionable circumstances. Having tasted power, the PDP did everything underneath the sun to retain power, which it held on to for so long a period from 1998 to 2015. Whilst it held sway, the PDP virtually became a monster in power, trampling upon the rights of its own members and thriving in impunity and brazen violation of its own constitution, which led to the imposition of very unpopular candidates through electoral malpractices and manipulations. It was indeed a thriving moment for the party that once boasted its motto as: Power To The People, whereas only a few gathered themselves together to determine its fate and fortunes. So it was that the party became seemingly impregnable and even invincible, to some extent. All efforts made by the rival political parties to wrestle power from the PDP were always thwarted and contained, viciously. Nigeria was becoming more of a one party state at the time, until the opposition gathered its act together to form a major political alliance under the All Progressive Congress, in 2015. Even at that, it took the rebellious efforts of disgruntled members of the PDP, to completely decimate the umbrella party, through the newPDP and later the G5 governors.
On its own part, the Labour Party (LP) was conceived and birthed by the labour unions initially, but it got swallowed by political moneybags and then became a rudderless entity, available to be used by portfolio politicians who lost out in the game of power in the bigger political parties. The LP which was created in 2002 is supposed to be a social democratic political party, being a metamorphosis of the Party for Social Democracy (PSD) before its transformation. The LP is built on the ideology of social democracy and it aims to promote and defend social democratic principles and the ideals for the purpose of achieving social justice, progress and unity. The fortunes of LP took a swelling dimension on May 27, 2022 when former governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi joined the party, having lost in his bid to be the presidential candidate of his original party, the PDP. The LP fielded Peter Obi in the 2023 presidential elections and it garnered substantial votes across Nigeria. The LP has since been engulfed in an intractable internal crisis of factions upon factions, which has negatively impacted upon its capacity to play the role of an opposition party. On the one hand, two persons lay claim to being the national chairman of LP, resulting in multiple court cases. On the other hand, the labour coalition, being the parent body of the LP, is seeking to assert control over the party, leading to political turmoil and further factionalization. You cannot completely take away the filthy hands of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) from the dwindling fortunes of both the PDP and LP. Prominent members, sponsors and political juggernauts of the PDP are neck deep in the affairs of the APC, through which they managed to secure juicy political appointments. Although they are not officially registered as card-carrying members of the APC, they nonetheless canvass for votes and support for the APC. In a trending video, one of them is already campaigning for the return of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in 2027. The effect of the loss of power at the centre by the PDP has been very devastating indeed, as it has since fallen into some irreversible trauma, rendering staccato voices of total discord here and there and running around like some chicken drenched by a heavy downpour. Upon its loss of power, some mini gods have hijacked the party purely for their own interests. And as if to bury the PDP totally, the APC has been ruthless in power, hounding prominent PDP members into jail or temporary custody, whilst most of them battled to save their names and fortunes, and now the once largest party in Africa is presently facing internal implosion.

Now in the opposition, the PDP and the LP have lost their bearings, not knowing how to proceed in the business of social agitation, of media propaganda and political activism. They have been trailing the APC, which has been playing the role of ruling party and the opposition altogether. By all standards, democracy is people’s government, and you cannot operate it without mass involvement, which the PDP and the LP are not harvesting. In any democracy, the opposition has a major role to play, especially in the developing economies. This is why in the legislature, a crucial post is reserved for a member of the opposition as minority leader. His role is to constantly raise vital issues of national importance, with the government, when the government is not operating according to the will of the people. Holding its measuring rod, the opposition should painstakingly analyse every and all programmes and policies of the government, vis a vis the manifesto of the ruling party and the promises made during its campaigns. The opposition is expected to criticize the government in case the latter ignores its promises or conceals vital facts and would at times resort to protestations in the assemblies or mass action through the people. How can we remain in this nation with mass hunger, endemic poverty, worsening insecurity, galloping inflation, etc and yet, there is no single gathering or protest by the opposition parties? What other objective conditions would anyone desire in order to mobilize people for action other than the present confused government? Nigeria is presently crying for social revolution and yet the opposition parties are sleeping.

In a democracy, the opposition is the platform to raise awareness among the people over specific issues of national importance and to raise levels of political consciousness among them. It must constantly provide credible and objective alternatives to government programmes and policies and not just render criticisms for the sake of being heard or bringing the government down. The opposition serves as the watchdog of the system and in some cases, it would proceed to form a shadow cabinet to exercise vigil over the performance of the government. But what do we now have with PDP and LP as opposition parties? Graveyard silence! There are no court cases being filed day in day out, by the supposed opposition parties, to challenge impunity in governance and checkmate the glaring excesses of the executive. What is the value of an opposition that has no single bite at all? Of what use is an opposition that does not even understand its own vital role in democracy? If the government is all too powerful to crush the opposition, the latter should be potent enough to cause a stir, either in the parliament, in the courts or on the streets, against the government and force it to adjust or exit, through mass movement and agitation. How can you effectively play the role of opposition in the luxury of your offices and mansions, and expect to be taken seriously? There will be no democratic warfare at all? And yet you want to wrestle power? From these political monsters? Although we hear the solo voices of Alhaji Abubakar Atiku and Mr. Peter Obi once in a while, they only sound as empty voices without a bite. The platforms created by PDP and LP through their organs and structures should be the altar of democratic engagements. The African proverb is that when many people urinate together in one spot, there will be foam. Let the owners and handlers of the PDP and LP wake up from their tiring slumber and take up the task of credible and viable opposition. That is what democracy is all about. We are now sick and tired of the same narrative from the ruling party. Let us hear the other side, and imbibe the golden words of Plato that:
“The punishment of wise men who refuse to take part in the affairs of the government, is to live under the government of the unwise men.”

Let the PDP and LP hear this loud and clear, that opposition does not start and end with losing or winning elections. Opposition politicians must identify with the masses of our people in all that they are going through, and there must be some social revolution that will send potent messages to the ruling party that it is not business as usual. We need some action! Can you just imagine President Bola Tinubu in the opposition in present-day Nigeria? Where people can no longer feed? Where the whole country is thrown into pitch darkness due to constant and unending power outages? Can you think of what Tinubu would have done as opposition leader now? When for all his political life the President campaigned for restructuring, fiscal federalism, state police, devolution of powers, etc, and now the allure of office has dimmed his struggles. I am calling out the PDP and the LP to take opposition politics more seriously, by constantly engaging the government, by sensitizing the people massively and by proffering alternative viewpoints to the regular propaganda of the government. The PDP and LP should not allow Unity Park, Gani Fawehinmi Park and such other places of struggle to lie fallow without constant gatherings, mass rallies and civil protests. Enough of this slumber!

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