There is no hiding place for Nigeria’s political opposition

April 5, 2012
3 mins read

LAST week, a few events significantly impacted upon my thoughts about our country. The first was the national response to Bola Tinubu’s 60th birthday; it galvanized tremendous enthusiasm for Tinubu’s political acumen and the role he has played in the nation’s political space, especially since 1999.

For our notoriously fractious political elite, there was genuine envy that amongst them, at least a political tendency was able to give the PDP a bloody nose and in the process, wrest control of an entire region of the country. Everybody therefore lined up to acknowledge Tinubu’s political ability and staying power.

Bola Tinubu’s dogged pursuit of his political agenda, even if one does not necessarily share his platform or philosophy, is certainly an indication of what is possible.

The second event is the picture which made the front page of many newspapers at the weekend. It showed JAMB Registrar, Prof. Dibu Ojerinde, displaying “handsets-embedded slippers”, allegedly smuggled into halls where candidates wrote university matriculation examinations last Saturday.

It was revealed that over 1.5million candidates wrote the examinations nationwide, but as has been the pattern in the past five years or so, we have again harvested massive failures in the examinations. We are lurching frighteningly towards a Federal Republic of Failure, as whole generations of students are making a habit of failure, endangering the country’s future! The desperate young people in the ‘handsets-embedded slippers’ scenario merely took a cue from a national trend of fraud,corner cutting and an erosion of the ethos of hard work, reigning in our society today.

Senegal‘s lessons in politics

Theall-round collapse is swamping us all, and ought to concentrate the minds of patriots. Against the backdrop of national problems that we all lament, the Ekiti state Governor, KayodeFayemi was also in Abuja during last week. We discussed various issues of politics in the country and the West African sub-region, with the comprehensive defeat of Senegalese President, MaitreAbdoulaye Wade, in Senegal. Senegal taught lessons in politics that Nigerian politicians must eat humble pie, and learn from.

Most central is that the number of political parties in a country, is not necessarily a handicap in the search for power. Senegal has about 60 political parties, but by pulling effort, Senegal’s political elite built the alliance which stopped Wade’s attempted subversion of the political system.

They consistently worked for the best interest of their country, placing those above parochial interests of various political tendencies. Parties of the left found common interests with those of the centre to ensure the survival of Senegal’s democratic culture.

The 2015 election is firmly at the heart of the Nigerian political process. PDP’s last convention was an elaborate project to position the party for President Jonathan’s 2015 ambitions. The opposition owes the Nigerian people the determination to break from its fractious ways.

The PDP is the greatest threat to democracy in the country as things stand today. But the PDP will continue to ‘win’ elections for as long as the opposition cannot make a strategic break from the old ways of doing things. We agreed with KayodeFayemi, that we need an alternative opposition platform to the PDP. But it will be height of delusion to begin to search for unity or alliances, a few weeks to the 2015 elections! Members of the political opposition will have to reign-in their very  tall egos and sometimes unrealistic personal ambitions, in the interest of a new political project of positing an alternative to the PDP’s hegemony. The hegemony has done more harm than good since 1999.

The groundswell of frustration in Nigeria today, has seeped into the violence consuming a huge swathe of Northern Nigeria.

It is a national problem even if there are some who cynically think it is a problem for Northerners alone. Today’s problems are largely rooted in social injustice, which must be addressed at the level of responsible governance and of politics. The PDP constitutes the major obstacle to finding a solution to basic social problems of underdevelopment and the mind-boggling levels of graft and corruption.

The opportunity has therefore opened for a new set of political actors to pitch for power, if the appropriate political unity can be cobbled out of the disparate opposition forces. This is the historical responsibility that Nigeria’s opposition must carry or it will end up largely irrelevant,boxed into little corners around the country.

There is no hiding place for a bumbling opposition that cannot face its historical responsibility of helping the Nigerian people to overcome the yoke of an absolutely incompetent ruling party and its clueless administration. 2015 is just a few years away and the PDP is not resting on its oars; it is re-invigorating itself, by sucking in political actors outside its fold, to widen the scope of its hegemony. We await the opposition’s response.


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