Okay now, the elections are over! Well, not really; not until all the votes are cast, counted, made to count and results released. But then, the presidential election is over and from it a new government, new president and, more importantly, a brand new political party are getting set to take centre stage from May 29. From that date, the tables would turn with the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the eye of the storm, taking all the flaks for all that is wrong with our country.
On the reverse side of the door would be the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) riling at the ruling party (sorry the party in government) for everything from insecurity to why an obscure government worker is extorting money from service providers. But that is the beauty of democracy where there are systems of checks and balances in place to guard against tyranny. This would be even more interesting and crucial as APC comes into the federal government with a commanding majority of the two chambers of the National Assembly. So we expect the soon-to-be opposition party, the PDP, to be on its toes to provide the scrutiny of APC’s government.
It would be a clear departure from 1999, when PDP started its rule (well, that’s what we all knew it as until president-elect, Muhammadu Buhari, told us he would govern not rule). PDP never had it so smooth. To start with, its majority in the parliament was not absolute, so they quickly had to strike cooperation with the younger and smaller one of the two minority parties, the Alliance for Democracy (AD), to be able to get their ways through parliamentary work. With time, though, our majorly wheeler-dealer politicians in the opposition parties trooped into the PDP, to ride the gravy train. This is what turned the PDP into a behemoth with a rapacious taste for power. And that is what almost brought our politics, nay democracy, to its death.
It, however, took the stubbornness and tenacity of a few men standing like Bola Ahmed Tinubu to stick in there in the opposition, rebuild it, build bridges, create and enter into alliances to get to where we are today. APC emerged as an alliance and later a merger of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) that had earlier transformed from AD, the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) as well as a small group from the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). Of course, the APC had a major boost from the apparent implosion in the PDP which saw the defection of five state governors from PDP to APC. Going into the 2015 elections, therefore, it was heartening to note that Nigeria had finally got a virile opposition party and a balance of political power by PDP and APC.
It seems, however, that our politicians, most of them without scruples, are in a hurry to take us back to the era of 2003. This is because even before the inauguration of the new government and commencement of the ‘reign’ of a new party in government, many politicians in PDP are reportedly jumping ship, grabbing on straws and swimming towards the sparkling new ship set to berth at the port of political lucre. If this happens, we may end up having a reversed PDP by the name of APC and the country would be the worse for it.
Of course, we do not expect APC or any party to reject prospective entrants to its fold, but there is something fundamentally wrong with our ‘career’ politicians who see government as the only farmland there is and would thus do everything to be in, around, about, connected, affiliated, and associated with it or to hobnob with the persons in it. If we are still going to see past party chairmen and even chairmen of boards of trustees (meaning the custodian of the soul of a political party) leave such political party and move to another, then we are on to a most dangerous experience. Our democracy would sure do with some serious opposition just like the country stands to gain nothing if all the states are governed by a single political party. After all, Lagos survived 16 years of being governed by a political party different from the one running the federal government. Nobody should sell us the crappy line about the need for any state to ‘belong’ to the same political family as the one in the centre. After all, while Lagos under an ‘opposition’ party did so well, many states that were under PDP control for all times could not boast of any real advantage during the period.
We have celebrated this new phase of our democracy and we should work to strengthen it by promoting the culture of a virile opposition. We must not end up with another gravy train of a party in government which excels in manipulation and opaque governance and administrative practices. We don’t want to go back to the situation where the name of the party in government becomes so loosely interchanged with rigging and manipulation of public processes. If we end up with that, then we have gained nothing.
Published on April 13, 2015 in The Niche newspaper. http://www.thenicheng.com/apc-as-the-new-gravy-train/