PDP and post-Supreme Court judgement, road to virile opposition, by Uchechukwu Ugboaja and Osita C. Nweke
For any democracy to flourish and the government in power made to fulfil most of its promises to the electorates, there must exist a virile and responsible opposition. This did not exist in the first two years of the current All Progressives Congress (APC) administration at the center. The reason being that PDP was in the limbo, struggling to live with the challenges associated with its new status as an opposition party in a country where it boasted it would rule for 50years.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which lost power in 2015 after 16years was bedevilled by intra party conflicts that lasted for over 14months before the Supreme Court judgement ratified the Makarfi Caretaker Committee as the authentic leadership of the party. A victory that has been described by political watchers to have provided another window for PDP to provide the necessary opposition to keep the ruling APC in check.
Although analysts are of the opinion that the functions of a political party in opposition is better appreciated in a parliamentary system of government especially the West Minister model in United Kingdom, where we have a shadow cabinet which is made up of senior members of the parliament from the opposition party that are designated with ministerial portfolios that they are expected to defend and proffer their party’s position during parliamentary debates. This could also be well replicated in the current presidential system of government practiced in Nigeria today where the opposition can clearly provide the party’s position on any government policy.
Secondly, the PDP minority caucus in the Senate and House of Representatives are expected to be more active in presenting positions of the party on topical issues of public interest during their debates in the National Assembly. This is actually imperative to the extent that the people appear to be more closer to the Parliament than the executive in terms of constituency access.
However, the important things is for the public to be aware of PDP position on critical national issues for example the citizenry will like to know the position of PDP on current clamour for the restructuring of the Federation ? What is the PDP position on how to revive the national economy and dwindling exchange rate of the naira against the dollar ?
How can the PDP government solve the recurrent Boko Haram insurgency, sessionists agitations by Indegenous Peoples of Barry (IPOB), the incessant threat of militants in Niger Delta region, the rise of commercial kidnapping in the South-west and the endemic scourge of the Fulani herdsmen against farmers in various part of the country as well as their position on the rehabilitation of Federal roads and other infrastructure.
Another issue the PDP has to address as we move towards 2019 general elections is the reorganisation of the party. The forthcoming elective national convention billed to take place in December 2017, will provide the forum to resolve the contending issues of the party that was responsible for its intra party crises after the 2015 general elections. First in the list, is the resolution of all outstanding intra party conflicts at the national and state organs, the Peace and Reconciliation committee which have been set up must resolve all the disputes and put members in one page.
Secondly, the party must be seen to embrace internal democracy in its national convention and state congresses. Imposition of candidates both in the election of its party leadership and its flag bearers for elective position should be resisted. The funding of the political party should be democratised, let all members contribute towards the funding of the party.
How does the party plan to deal with the activities of god fathers which normally start with the provision of the entire revenue of the party ? If the PDP is interested in winning the hearts of the people again, all these should be discouraged. As a matter of urgency the first priority of the new chairman of the party after the national convention will be to engaged in a robust membership drive across the country. This should include bringing back aggrieved members of party that decamped to other political parties as well as wooing new members to join the party.
If the PDP is able to bring its members together and eschew those factors that weakened it before the 2015 general election, it could spring up a surprise in future elections.
Finally, we cannot overemphasised the need for Nigeria to have a virile opposition to check the ruling party from sliding into a dictatorship or tyranny of any sort and for the rule of law, freedom of speech to be sustained even as we must differenciatiate government criticism from hate speech which must be condemned in its entirety.
Since any government without opposition or any known threat of been removed through the ballot box normally shirk its responsibilities, it is therefore the responsibility of the PDP to dig deep within itself and provide the needed opposition that will ensure Nigerians better governance from the APC.
Osita C. Nweke
International Institute of Journalism, Jahi District Abuja.