Confused Opposition


The 2015 elections have finally come and gone. The fever pitched atmosphere that characterised and inundated the polity pre-election has been doused by the seemingly credible, free and fair election of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari. The pre-election doomsday prophesies and innuendoes that the elections were going to make or mar the unity of the country, has come to pass. The commendable performance of the umpire of the elections under the stewardship of Prof. Attaihiru Jega should be recognised and must be commended. The conduct of the two gladiators (the outgoing and incoming presidents) before, during and after the elections must also be acclaimed. More especially, the gesture of President Goodluck Jonathan and the symbolic phone call to concede defeat even before the final results were officially announced should highly be extolled and would go down well in the annals of history. Never in the history of our burgeoning democracy has such magnanimity and statesmanship been exhibited by a politician aspiring for the highest office of the land. The gesture, without a doubt, forestalled any hatched plans by evil doers to scuttle the latter stages of the elections. Definitely, this is a milestone that is indelible in the history of Nigeria.

The 2015 elections which were the 4th elections to be conducted since the beginning of the 21st century saw an opposition candidate winning the presidential elections and the results allowed to stand. This is also a feat worthy of acclamation, good for our political development and every discerning Nigerian should be proud of. The wind of change has suddenly filled the atmosphere. You can almost touch it in the Northern region of the country. You can feel it in the Southern parts and you can sense it, albeit minimal in the Eastern parts of the country. Everywhere you go; Nigerians are looking forward to a government of the people, by the people and for the people. Anything short of this, the power and voices of the people through the ballot would surely be put to good use once again in the next elections. However, while majority of Nigerians are still basking in the euphoria of an opposition/Buhari victory, discerning Nigerians are concerned about the “opposition’’ in Nigerian politics. Is there really an opposition in our nascent political development? Opposition in politics simply means “the major political party opposed to the party in office and prepared to replace it if elected.” The APC emerged as the major opposition in 2013, and from developments in the just concluded elections, it is going to formally replace the PDP come May 29. A salient fact here is that majority of the candidates who won elections under the banner of the APC were former PDP members. Take for instance, north of the River Niger, almost all the gubernatorial candidates (except perhaps in Jigawa) who won elections in their respective states, were former PDP members. The APC government hasn’t officially taken over power and we are already witnessing an overwhelming amount of politicians decamping to the APC. In other climes, politicians are identified as “the opposition” and are well grounded in such parties. Is it that in Nigerian politics, the end justifies the means? It seems it doesn’t matter where you are coming from or how you made money or where it is gotten from, provided you’ve got loads of it, you can switch to any political party and aspire for any office in the land and win. Most of these victorious gubernatorial candidates under the APC were either in the House of Representatives and the Senate under the PDP banner. Most have held ministerial and top positions in the PDP-led government. However, they all have suddenly become “Messiahs” of change. In some parts of the country, an APC ticket is automatically a ticket to victory, irrespective of competence, antecedence, or integrity; likewise the PDP ticket. Precisely, a PDP ticket in the south-south and south-eastern zone is a sure ticket to government house and office. In the North, an APC ticket is also a sure ticket to government house and office. Largely, our political parties do not possess any clear-cut and well-defined ideology. It seems politics in Nigeria is akin to the “stomach infrastructure” ideology popularised by a sitting governor in the South-west.

Nevertheless, there have been opposition members since our emergent democracy in 1999. There have been people who have vociferously and silently been playing the role of the opposition, in trying to ensure that Nigeria carves out a healthy democratic development. There are unsung heroes who in their quest to legitimise a viable opposition, have died and lost everything along the way, believing in their cause. They’ve lost an arm and a leg but still remained steadfast and dogged in the opposition movement. There are some who have resisted tantalizing overtures and juicy appointments of sitting administrations, believing instead in a formidable opposition. These are the true opposition members who gave victory to the incoming President with their time, effort, sweat, blood and lives, not some now masquerading as apostles of change. These people were the ones who initially painstakingly built this “Buhari brand” most people are now clamoring for and sadly exploiting.

The incoming president should be wary of sheeps in wolves clothing, screaming change, acting like proponents of change but are not necessarily agents of change. Perusing some of their self-aggrandizement motives, they exploited the popularity of the General and the overwhelming cries of teeming Nigerians for change at the helms of affairs. Most are opportunist and might reveal their true colours after being officially sworn in. I recall being at my polling booth to vote during the presidential and National Assembly elections. On the ballots papers were only logos of political parties and boxes beside them for thumb printing. I recall being on the queue and was asked by several people what were the names of some Senatorial and House of Representatives candidates. Most people didn’t know the Senatorial and House of Reps candidates of the various parties. Majority of the electorates there, having thumb-printed APC for the presidential ballot paper, also thumb-printed for the APC’s Senate and House of Reps. candidates; without necessarily knowing their names. During the gubernatorial elections, it was a domino effect that occurred having declared the APC presidential candidate “winner’’; understandably, most people just voted for the gubernatorial candidates of the APC.

The elections are over and challenging problems await the incoming president. He needs capable hands, proven and tested, with like-mind vision, capable of taking Nigeria to greater heights. He needs capable individuals, regardless of political party affiliation, ethnicity, creed and gender who believe in the project called Nigeria. He needs to act as a leader of Nigeria and Nigerians, not a leader of a political party or particular region of the country. He needs seasoned professionals and technocrats from far and wide, home and abroad, who are willing to build a brighter future for the teeming youths of Nigeria. The incoming President’s journey began sometime in 2002 when he got into partisan politics. It has taken him a dozen plus one years to achieve his goal. He knows how arduous and pain-staking it was, eventually getting this illusive victory; credited to the teeming populace who believes in him. It is now the turn for him to meet the aspirations of teeming Nigerians who are looking up to him for the prophesied change they voted for. With great power come greater responsibilities. Whoever much is given, much is expected. There are great expectations on the shoulders of GMB. The timber and caliber of the “soldiers” who he appoints as his ministers would be scrutinised serially. Indeed, they would determine the direction his government is going to take. The fire of change is still burning. The expectation of hope is still alive within the populace. The passion with which Nigerians came out en-masse to vote for an agent of change, whose integrity and honesty is parallel to none, is still blooming. Surely, Nigerians wouldn’t want to be disappointed. Surely, Nigerians wouldn’t want the flame to be extinguished. Nigerians wouldn’t want their hope to be dashed. Nigerians wouldn’t want their efforts to be in vain. 2019 is not too far away, however, before we get there, Nigerians would want a bigger, better and greater Nigeria. Anything less and the President would surely face the music.


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