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Need to rescue Nigeria’s democracy from one-party state

Opposition political parties play a critical role in strengthening democracies in all advanced democratic nations around the world by exposing the pratfalls of the ruling…

Opposition political parties play a critical role in strengthening democracies in all advanced democratic nations around the world by exposing the pratfalls of the ruling party or fulminating against its injudicious policies, shortsighted decisions and grave delinquency through either constructive or destructive criticisms to safeguard the public interest.

However, a pristine and applauded democracy will never be actualised when the thunderous voices of opposition parties are not being heard. Political scientists view their vocal and vibrant voices as a guiding lantern that helps illuminate the ruling government to recognise its debacles, lapses and dereliction of duty. So, opposition voices are regarded as vital nutrition to the healthy growth and survival of our fledgling democracy. They prevent the ruling government from becoming authoritarian.

It is unobjectionable that Nigeria’s toddling democracy is now getting itself into a very tight spot and sliding into a one-party state owing to the lack of a very strong opposition protesting against the ruling government whenever it comes up with wrong decisions or ill-advised policies confirmed to have been detrimental influences on the masses.

In the current hard and pitiable condition in which the masses are going through an ineffable plight on account of escalating insecurity, abject poverty, ill-advised policies which led to hyperinflation, devaluation of the country’s currency and bad governance of the ruling party, it is expected to hear some constant fear-provoking thunders of constructive criticisms from members of the country’s opposition parties. Their voices and mysterious silences are raising questions such as: Are they afraid of being intimidated by the hunting dogs of the ruling party? What is the evidence sliding the country into a one-party system?

Firstly, the appointment of members of the opposition parties into the President Bola Tinubu-led administration is among the strongest evidence for throwing the country into a one-party state. The typical examples are the appointments of some prominent leaders of the PDP into Mr. President’s cabinet including Mr Nyesom Wike, Mr. Chiedu Ebie, Mr Ifeanyi Okowa and James Ibori who are all PDP stalwarts.

Secondly, some evidence has vividly shown that the ruling party is now laying the groundwork for absorbing key members of the country’s major opposition political parties. The recent call made by the National Chairman of the APC, Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, in which he invited other opposition political parties to join his party, is very strong evidence of pushing the country into a one-party system.

Now, from all indications, President Tinubu has thrown his gargantuan fishing trap in a river to capture some tiger sharks to rejuvenate his feeble popularity and pave the way for his continuity in the presidential campaign and election of the upcoming year of 2027. His main target is the supreme leader of the Kwankwasiyya movement, owing to his unmatched role and importance in the country’s political arena and huge loyalists across the nook and cranny of the northern region. An important question which will come out from poor Nigerians is: Will Dr Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso join the ruling party or not when they contact him directly? If yes, can his defection be good and better for poverty-stricken Nigerians?

Last year, in May, he delivered his speech as a guest speaker at the 21st Annual Symposium to mark the 40th Memorial Anniversary of the late Malam Aminu Kano which was held at Mambayya House in Kano, on the theme: “Democracy and the challenges of good governance in Nigeria: What next after the 2023 general elections?”, a renowned political scientist and former Vice Chancellor of the University of Abuja, Professor Nuhu Omeiza Yaqub, said “Over the past 24 years of the return to democracy, the country has witnessed series of leaders and democrats, but failure to have a strong opposition that will challenge them on their wrongs has destroyed democracy and good governance. Every election time is witnessed with a series of polytypical parties and contestants, but immediately after the election, they will be moving to the ruling party just to have a share of the national cake. This is wrong. For us to have a standard democracy, we need a strong opposition in the country that will challenge those in power; through that, they will serve the country better.”

Besides, in November of last year, the Head of the National Coordinating Secretariat of the United Action Front of Civil Society of Nigeria, Mr Olawale Okunniyi, said “We wish to call on leading opposition leaders in the country such as Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Mr Peter Obi, Dr Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, among others, to immediately rise and unite to rally opposition forces in Nigeria to resist heightening impunity and recklessness in the governance of Nigeria, especially in defence of the future of the country’s democracy as done in other advanced democracies around the world. He added, “We wish to reaffirm that unless political opposition becomes formidable, engaging and active in any country, popular governance will shrink and die.”

Besides, in November of last year, when he received a delegation from the National Executive Committee of the Inter-Party Advisory Council of Nigeria (IPAC), even the former president of Nigeria, Mr. Atiku Abubakar forewarned and said, “Our democracy is fast becoming a one-party system, and of course, you know that when we have a one-party system, we should just forget about democracy. We have all seen how the APC is increasingly turning Nigeria into a dictatorship of one party. If we don’t come together to challenge what the ruling party is trying to create, our democracy will suffer for it, and the consequences of it will affect the generations yet unborn. The project of protecting democracy in our country is not about just one man”. A crucial question here is: Is Atiku Abubakar the type of patriotic leader that our country deserves to have?

Nigeria’s fledgling democracy is now whining and looking forward to having patriotic leaders that are analogous to that of the first and second republics whose spirits were imbued with an unwavering sense of patriotism and political ideology, issues-based politics, not like those politicians whose hearts are riddled with political parochialism.

Lastly, Nigeria’s major opposition parties should be reminded that in a full-fledged and functional democracy, they are indeed considered watchdogs for monitoring the ruling government’s movements, protecting constitutional rights and well-being for penurious Nigerians and emancipating them from ineffable hardship and ferocious asphyxiation of hyperinflation as a result of the ruling government’s recent ill-advised policy of fuel subsidy removal that keeps sinking the country deeper into a quagmire of artificial multidimensional abject poverty, starvation, decreased economic growth, socio-economic decline, unemployment and fiscal deficit. As a last resort, Nigerians are currently pinning their hopes on the opposition parties that are expected to do their damnedest to wipe their tears off and relieve their pains and sufferings.

 

Mustapha Baba Azare wrote from Bauchi, Bauchi State

 

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