Is PDP fail­ing as an op­po­si­tion party?

Sunday Trust - - INSIDE POLITICS - By Muideen Olaniyi & Saawua Terzungwe

Unar­guably, the Peo­ples Demo­cratic Party (PDP) is the lead­ing op­po­si­tion party in Nige­ria. But there is an im­pres­sion that the PDP is fail­ing as an op­po­si­tion party, judg­ing by the role played by the cur­rent rul­ing All Pro­gres­sives Congress (APC) when it was per­form­ing the task of an op­po­si­tion party.

The de­funct Ac­tion Congress of Nige­ria (ACN), in par­tic­u­lar, bat­tled the PDP when it planned to com­pletely re­move fuel sub­sidy in Jan­uary 2012. In a state­ment is­sued in April 2012, the ACN even asked former Pres­i­dent Good­luck Jonathan to apol­o­gise to Nige­ri­ans for what it called his gov­ern­ment’s ill-ad­vised re­moval of the so-called fuel sub­sidy.

A state­ment signed by the ACN Na­tional Pub­lic­ity Sec­re­tary, Al­haji Lai Mo­hammed, who later served in the same po­si­tion in the APC be­fore Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari ap­pointed him as the Min­is­ter of In­for­ma­tion in De­cem­ber 2015, op­posed the de­ci­sion.

The party said the re­port of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Com­mit­tee that probed the man­age­ment of the sub­sidy had shown that the re­moval was an egre­gious er­ror of judge­ment that had left Nige­ri­ans feeling swin­dled by their gov­ern­ment.

“Against all in­formed pieces of ad­vice, even from well-in­formed in­dus­try in­sid­ers and an­a­lysts, Pres­i­dent Jonathan ap­proved the re­moval of fuel sub­sidy and went ahead to de­fend it. Well, the Pres­i­dent is hu­man and there­fore can also be wrong. But when he is, as it has now been proved, he should be hum­ble enough to ad­mit it and apol­o­gise,” the party also said in the state­ment.

The party also told the former Pres­i­dent to re­vert the fuel price to the pre-Jan­uary 2012 price of 65 kobo per litre and then pro­ceed to im­ple­ment the rec­om­men­da­tions of the House com­mit­tee with­out de­lay, es­pe­cially the pros­e­cu­tion of all in­dicted per­sons and com­pa­nies.

“In more-civ­i­lized climes, those who bandied spu­ri­ous fig­ures to Nige­ri­ans and hinted that the econ­omy would col­lapse if the sub­sidy was not re­moved would by now have ten­dered their res­ig­na­tions - with apolo­gies over the dis­cov­ery that what the gov­ern­ment has been sub­si­diz­ing over the years are cor­rup­tion and in­ef­fi­ciency, not fuel….

“In state­ments af­ter state­ments, we told the Pres­i­dent that there is no sub­sidy on fuel, and that what the gov­ern­ment claims to be sub­si­dis­ing are cor­rup­tion and in­ef­fi­ciency. We quoted in­formed an­a­lysts, who proved - with facts and fig­ures that the av­er­age true price of a litre of fuel is N34.03. We sug­gested ways in which the gov­ern­ment can truly dereg­u­late the sec­tor with­out in­flict­ing un­told hard­ship on Nige­ri­ans. But in the end, as al­ways, the gov­ern­ment ig­nored all the in­ter­ven­tions and went ahead with its pre-med­i­tated ac­tion,” the ACN also said.

Be­sides, the APC kept the PDP gov­ern­ment on its toes as it mon­i­tored the war against the Boko Haram in­sur­gents in the north-east.

On Novem­ber 20, 2014, the party ac­cused Jonathan of sab­o­tag­ing his own ad­min­is­tra­tion’s war against Boko Haram on the al­tar of per­sonal vin­dic­tive­ness and po­lit­i­cal des­per­a­tion.

The ac­cu­sa­tion fol­lowed an al­leged at­tempt to pre­vent Aminu Waziri Tam­buwal, the former Speaker of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from en­ter­ing the Na­tional Assem­bly to con­sider Jonathan’s re­quest for an ex­ten­sion of the State of Emer­gency in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States.

In Jan­uary, 2014, the APC di­rected its mem­bers in the Na­tional Assem­bly to block all leg­isla­tive pro­pos­als.

“We com­mend our mem­bers in the Na­tional Assem­bly for their un­equiv­o­cal sup­port for our stand, and for un­der­stand­ing that fil­i­bus­ter­ing or leg­isla­tive non­co­op­er­a­tion are ver­i­ta­ble tools of democ­racy,” the party said in a state­ment is­sued in La­gos by its former In­terim Na­tional Pub­lic­ity Sec­re­tary, Al­haji Mo­hammed.

The APC was also vo­cal at re­ject­ing the plan to post­pone the 2015 gen­eral elec­tions be­fore the Pres­i­den­tial/Na­tional and Gov­er­nor­ship /State Assem­bly elec­tions were fi­nally resched­uled from Fe­bru­ary 14 and 28, 2015 re­spec­tively to March 28 and April 11, 2015.

The APC Na­tional Chair­man, Chief John Odigie -Oye­gun, called the post­pone­ment of the gen­eral elec­tions over se­cu­rity chal­lenges “set­back” and “highly provoca­tive”.

The 2010 Re­port of the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion for Democ­racy through Law (Venice Com­mis­sion) states that the op­po­si­tion is ex­pected to of­fer al­ter­na­tives to the de­ci­sions pro­posed by the gov­ern­ment, im­prove leg­isla­tive de­ci­sion­mak­ing pro­ce­dures, scru­ti­nise the leg­isla­tive and bud­getary pro­pos­als of the gov­ern­ment, su­per­vise and over­see the gov­ern­ment and the ad­min­is­tra­tion as well as to en­hance sta­bil­ity, le­git­i­macy, ac­count­abil­ity and trans­parency in the po­lit­i­cal pro­cesses.

But can we say that the PDP is cur­rently per­form­ing as a duty this role? At the early stage of this ad­min­is­tra­tion, the PDP which lost its 16 years’ grip on power to the APC fo­cused on the ac­tions and in­ac­tions of the new gov­ern­ment when Chief Olisa Me­tuh was the party’s spokesper­son.

At that time, Me­tuh be­moaned the ab­sence of an eco­nomic team and went ahead to say that Pres­i­dent Buhari’s re­gional tour to Niger and Chad ex­posed APC’s hypocrisy. It ac­cused the gov­ern­ing party of dou­ble stan­dard and in­sin­cer­ity for chastis­ing Jonathan for seek­ing re­gional co­op­er­a­tion to solve the chal­lenge of in­sur­gency are now hail­ing Pres­i­dent Buhari for toe­ing the same line.

The PDP also chal­lenged the ap­point­ment of Lawal Daura, the Di­rec­tor Gen­eral of the De­part­ment of State Ser­vices (DSS) for al­legedly be­ing a card car­ry­ing mem­ber of the APC and the ap­point­ment of Mrs. Amina Zakari as the act­ing INEC Chair­man.

The PDP ac­tivism, how­ever, went miss­ing when the Buhari ad­min­is­tra­tion in­creased the price of petrol from N86.50 to N145 per litre to raise money be­cause the coun­try was broke.

The cri­sis be­tween Sen­a­tors Ali Modu Sher­iff and Ahmed Makarfi fac­tions of the PDP had pro­vided a lee­way for the APC to catch-in on the par­ties weak­nesses.

Since the change of guard on the po­lit­i­cal scene in 2015, the de­sire of many Nige­ri­ans is to have at least, one or more vi­able op­po­si­tion par­ties that would con­stantly put the rul­ing APC in check.

This is, per­haps, se­quel to the fear that the gov­ern­ment might re­nege on its cam­paign prom­ises or abuse power if there is no cred­i­ble op­po­si­tion that would pro­vide con­struc­tive crit­i­cism.

Pun­dits say giv­ing the party in power heavy bash­ing, to a large ex­tent, im­proves so­cio-eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal life of a na­tion and ex­pands its fron­tiers.

De­spite the ex­is­tence of about 40 reg­is­tered po­lit­i­cal par­ties in Nige­ria, the hope for one that can at least, have some bite, lays on the PDP be­cause of its strength and the fact that it held sway as the rul­ing party from 1999 to 2015.

But the PDP has re­mained co­matose, fol­low­ing in­tense lead­er­ship tus­sle within its fold by former gov­er­nors of Kaduna and Borno States - Sen­a­tors Makarfi and Modu Sher­iff.

The party has lost its strong voice against the rul­ing party as both camps only throw tantrums against each other. Ob­servers say this is the op­po­site of what the APC did when it was in the op­po­si­tion.

The APC, as an op­po­si­tion party then, played a key role in deep­en­ing the na­tion’s democ­racy by con­stantly check-mat­ing the PDP-led gov­ern­ment and pro­vid­ing con­struc­tive crit­i­cism to some of the gov­ern­ment poli­cies and pro­grammes, an­a­lysts said.

But when the PDP is in the news now, it is mostly when tongues are wag­ging over its pro­tracted lead­er­ship tus­sle, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult to do any­thing a po­tent op­po­si­tion party should be do­ing.

It is im­per­a­tive to note that the party has re­laxed on cer­tain is­sues it ought to have spo­ken against.

The PDP Young Lead­ers Fo­rum in a com­mu­nique read by its leader, Barr. An­thony Ahilebo, at the end of their meet­ing, in Abuja, said, “in­stead of fight­ing in-house, they should put acts to­gether and fight the very peo­ple that are si­lenc­ing, de­hu­man­is­ing, de­stroy­ing and dev­as­tat­ing the Nige­rian peo­ple through in­hu­man poli­cies and im­pru­dent lead­er­ship.

“There is a need to rise up and stop the loom­ing an­ar­chy and doom stem­ming from the lack lus­ter lead­er­ship of the APC.”

Sim­i­larly, the gover­nor Se­ri­ake Dick­son-led PDP Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Com­mit­tee has urged the PDP lead­ers not to con­cen­trate more en­ergy fight­ing in-house but work to­wards chal­leng­ing the poli­cies of gov­ern­ment where nec­es­sary to en­sure good gov­er­nance.

Ob­servers have ex­pressed dis­may that the Sher­iff camp of the party has never is­sued a state­ment or at any of its press con­fer­ences crit­i­cised any ac­tion or in­ac­tion of the APC-led gov­ern­ment.

While the um­brella has been torn into shreds, key de­ci­sions and poli­cies of the present gov­ern­ment such as in­crease in the pump price of petroleum prod­uct; con­tin­ued at­tacks in the north east; ris­ing cost of liv­ing and the Dol­lar among oth­ers have not been crit­i­cally as­sessed by the PDP.

Both camps have al­lot­ted more time and en­ergy to in-house fight­ing than com­ing to­gether as one united fam­ily to per­form the main op­po­si­tion role. Sim­i­larly, even when such crit­i­cisms were made by the Makarfi group, they don’t carry much weight be­cause the party has been di­vided.

Our cor­re­spon­dent re­ports that most of the times the two spokesper­sons from the two camps dis­agree or dif­fer on an is­sue of na­tional im­por­tance and go to bed, while the cri­sis lingers, giv­ing the gov­ern­ment enough hap­pi­ness.

An­a­lysts learnt that the PDP has re­mained quiet on sev­eral prom­ises which the APC made but could not re­deem. It has been silent on the N-Power scheme de­signed by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment for un­em­ployed grad­u­ates in which youths have been given of­fers and paid stipend only once or twice since De­cem­ber, 2016.

One of the ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the N-Power pro­gramme posted to Nasarawa State, who pleaded anonymity for fear of be­ing vic­tim­ized, told our cor­re­spon­dent that since the pro­gramme started, he re­ceived alert only once.

An­a­lysts ex­press hope that the PDP will put its house in or­der and rise up to the oc­ca­sion by putting the APC on its toes.

Ahmed Makarfi

Ali Modu Sher­iff

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Nigeria

© PressReader. All rights reserved.