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OPINION: APC of President Muhammad Buhari May Have no Credible Opposition

By Prof. R.  A. Ipinyomi, University of Ilorin Nigeria

As thinking human beings, we have an unlimited capacity to find excuses, to discover ingenious and innovative ways to distance the perpetrator from the ill acts, to transform our societies and the minds of its people, or to build bridges across the oceans. They are better done in a free atmosphere of mutual fair competition, collaboration, comparison and complementarity. Hence for any government to work effectively it needs an effective alternative political part(s) with alternative views and opinions;  both the rulung and oppisition parties genuinely working for the same national goals.  Individuals in the society cannot do the job an opposition party is supposed to do, either legally or constitutionally. An individual, or even a group of unregistered individuals,  cannot take the place of political parties in democracy.  In this writing we are assuming that Nigerians desire and deserve good governance,  with all its components. Nigerians like others would want to raise intellectual and independent minds in the society but not lawless minds always criticising it’s government but not belonging to a political party.  It is therefore not whether President Buhari is good enough or not, but if all the necessary components exist and are doing their parts to enable the President and his APC party run the race as they should. We must be tolerant with the ruling party but also create enough space for opposition parties to legally and freely operate. The electorates will then be able to objectively choose between the ruling party and the opposition.

Alternatively a society like Nigeria may choose to ignore it’s needful task and living all its life in the blame game. Thus we can blame it on the youths, on the old aged, on parents, on children, on financial hardships, daily environs, psychological state, public intellectualism, even past administrations.  In military regimes , the political arena could be dominated by the  intellectuals and their ideas, ideas that enabled societal progress,  influenced public policy development, and improved governance processes at the time. There was not political party to guide but adhoc junta military orders. Not that the militaries had no ideas but the need to complement their ideas and bringing about the meeting between the town and the gown, the order of the gun barrel and town elites, became more obvious during the military regimes, both to tailor the dictatorial nature of the junta regimes and to let the the system have human face. Many of those who participated became known for it and later promoted themselves as politicians during democracy, that is those who survived the junta crackdowns. Democracy is supposed to invest in research to harvest and raise ideas, on purpose rather than waiting for ad-hoc contributions from news media.  Individuals who feel strongly about personal opinions or what they can possibly contribute to the societies should be encouraged to join a political party. Nigeria politics does not recognise independent candidates at present.  The national assembly should be look at that aspect.

The right question is not whether President Buhari is the Messiah at this stage and doing well or otherwise.  When President Obasanjo was recycled on us on 1999 it was regarded as an “out of order” because he had left that office as a military Head of State 20 years earlier.  Similarly while President Buhari came back in 2015 we also recalled that he was kicked out of same office in 1985, that is 30 years before that time. Even if these military guys had great ideas of how to develop their nation, we doubt if they would be able to update themselves to rule in the 21st century.  The intellectual and physical demands in the 21st are certainly different from  what they were in the 20th centuries, the colonial and post colonial eras.  As a 21st president and politician, Buhari will be expected to bring about some changes and more innovations both to the arts of governance and methods of solving all the socioeconomic equations of the time we are entering speedily and excellently. Such demands are better handled by the 40-year old politicians. But where are they in Nigeria?  Hence our beloved President Buhari,  currently maintaining his integrity and genuinely working on probing those he ought to probe, can best be regarded as a bridge between the expected new regime and the old regimes that have been recycling themselves on Nigeria since 1960. His Ministers with an average age of 55 years also belong to the old regime.  But where is the opposition party who should be seen fighting for the poor masses by genuinely questioning the ruling APC party and providing alternative opinions? All these not withstanding any politician that will genuinely transform our country from where it is now and bring it up  to where it  ought to be will certainly emerge  as a messiah. Buhari is a possible candidate despite his age and prevailing limitations around; we shouldn’t write him off.

The commencement of probe, which has just been on only one item – $3.2 billion meant to fight insurgents- has opened a scenario capable of sinking the ship of the then ruling party PDP, it’s entire passengers and crews. Morality test may sink both a nation or its institutions.  Yet we have on paper only allegations and no convictions,  only rumours that unknown looters are returning stolen “goods” no names of the looters or items they respectively carted away “by mistake”. The probe is part of the correction process if well handled, with less emotion, impartiality, comprehensively, and correct award of blames and appropriate punishments. The probe may not be seen as an end in itself but a state of moving the entire society forward. Similarly serving officials should learn from current probes and therefore serve the nation without expecting to be praised or stealing from the system, irrespective of the circumstances or situations.

How do we raise an appropriate opposition to complement a ruling party in an African setting and in environment like Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Egypt, Kenya and other places? The politicians themselves often express weaknesses and lack of self confidence, believing that being part of a ruling party is the only way to survive and have a fulfilling political career. On the other hand a ruling party in Africa is often very obsessed with alternative views and therefore forcefully fighting it. In countries like Zimbabwe, Egypt,  and even Nigeria opposition is subtly or vigorously fought and eliminated,  not only by a ruling power but on all sides. True democracy requires openness, fair competition, freedom of association and the existence of multi-political parties. Nigeria in particular is at a complex crossroads.  It’s official opposition party the PDP is facing a possible total extinction because of its past, a poorly organised party around personalities and fading godfathers, intra party disagreement and lack of internal democratic practices. It’s members are going to be more affected by the ongoing probes because only PDP had ruled since 1999 to May 2015. The party would like to confuse the public to believe along with them that the ongoing probe is a witch hunt and a cracking down on the opposition rather than their failures and corrupt style. Unfortunately also the ruling APC is not totally united on the probe as a number of them may be involved or are not so convinced to the core  like President Buhari and his few disciples in EFCC and in other places. Hence and whereas we desire correcting the society through a realistic new socioeconomic policy,  good governance, continuous probe culture and accountability, following democratic principles at every level, the actors and operators to implement decisions that will take Nigeria through the woods are seemingly weak, compromising, or non existing. The danger is that not only will the momentum of change (effect of change that has not even reached the masses) get slowed down if not quenched, corruption could fight it’s way back and strong in different dimensions;  including a scenario where everyone jumping to the ship of APC hoping to escape a probe or fighting for relevance and to avoid sinking with its party instead of building an effective opposition.

Prof R. A. Ipinyomi.


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