During last year’s general election, some 20 parties participated, especially in the presidential poll. But no sooner than the election was over, besides a vibrant Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) much of the opposition parties may have retreated into its shell. LEADERSHIP SUNDAY’s BAYO OLADEJI explores the peculiar scenario over the past one year
Last year’s general election followed the footpath of the previous ones, especially as the outcome was the victory of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) at the expense of the opposition parties.
Many perceive them as being on bed sleeping doing nothing except one or two that come alive through press statements on national issues and interviews by some prominent politicians where they attack the ruling party.
When democracy took off in 1999, there were only three political parties, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the All People’s Party (APP) and the Alliance for Democracy (AD).
But today, a lot has happened on the political scene, the APP has become ANPP, AD has given way to the ACN while the number of parties has grown to about 65 but out of these only 20 of them took part in the Presidential poll held last year.
The final election results of the presidential poll released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), were as follows: Goodluck Jonathan’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP) 22,495,187 58.89; Muhammadu Buhari, Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) 12,214,853 31.98 Nuhu Ribadu Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) 2,079,151 5.41, Ibrahim Shekarau of All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) 917,012 2.
Mahmud Waziri People for Democratic Change (PDC) 82,243 0.21 Nwadike Chikezie Peoples Mandate Party (PMP) 56,248 0.15 Lawson Igboanugo Aroh Peoples Progressive Party (PPP) 54,203 0.14 Peter Nwangwu African Democratic Congress (ADC) 51,682 0.14 Iheanyichukwu Nnaji Better Nigeria Progressive Party (BNPP) 47,272 0.12 Chris Okotie Fresh Democratic Party (FRESH) 34,331 0.09 and Dele Momodu National Conscience Party (NCP) 26,376 0.07
Other results were Akpona Solomon National Majority Democratic Party (NMDP) 25,938 0.07, Lawrence Makinde Adedoyin African Political System (APS) 23,740 0.06, Ebiti Ndok United National Party for Development (UNPD) 21,203 0.06 John Dara National Transformation Party (NTP) 19,744 0.05, Rasheed Shitta-Bey Mega Progressive Peoples Party (MPPP) 16,492 0.04, Yahaya Ndu African Renaissance Party (ARP) 12,264 0.03; Ambrose Awuru, Hope Democratic Party (HDP) 12,023 0.03, Patrick Utomi Social Democratic Mega Party (SDMP) 11,544 0.03 and Chris Nwaokobia Liberal Democratic Party of Nigeria (LDPN) 8,472 0.02.
The question is where go all these parties and their chieftains? If the like of All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) and the Progressive People Alliance (PPA) and a few others have been literally silenced by their involvement in the government, what about the rest? But for the ACN, the CPC and to some extent the ANPP, there are no other parties that give the PDP sleepless night again.
According to an Abuja based Legal practitioner, Barrister Sayo Odumosu, but for the internal squabbles within the PDP that make them oppose the leadership, the ruling party would have been doing a lot of havoc to the nation without anyone raising voice once election is over in the country.
“I don’t believe we have any serious opposition in the country. What we have are people making occasional noise either for personal reason or to draw attention to themselves. We have over 60 political parties but may be three of them could said to be making these occasional noises that is democracy?
Since the departure of the Awolowos, the Aminu Kanos, the Waziris, the Adesanyas, the Bola Iges and a few others, we have lost the potent voice of the opposition. But for the internal crises within the PDP they would have sold us into slavery without knowing.”
Barrister Odumosu might be right after all; the moment elections were over parties closed the shop and their chieftains return into their personal businesses. Most of them are contractors and what they have being doing is shuttling from one ministry to another in search of contracts. Perhaps this helped the PDP to have become a colossus.
The party has become the Goliath that has no David to dare him.
Interestingly, that is the position of the spokesman of the ANPP, Emma Eneukwu, when LEADERSHIP had a brief chat with him over the activities of the opposition in the last one year. He bemoaned a situation where the ruling PDP cornered the resources of the country to themselves using it to oppress the opposition parties. According to him, being members of the opposition parties in the country is not a Sunday stroll as there is little or nothing to be shared.
“The PDP controls the resources of this country; it controls the police, the military and every other state machinery. Running opposition party in this country is not easy at all. It is very expensive.
The purpose of the opposition includes dislodging the PDP from power. The PDP has squandered the resources we have in this country and it has bought anything that matters; yet it is a colosal failure in the last 12 years.
“So dislodging PDP is not easy at all, the party has enourmous resources on hand to penetrate the opposition. We have over 60 political parties in Nigeria and PDP has over 50 of them whom they use to polarize the opposition. This is the problem but I want to assure you we would get there.”
On what his party has been engaging itself with since the last general election, he disclosed that ANPP had been strategizing over reconciliation with the aggrieved members who had left with a view to bringing them back. “The leadership has been meeting to plan, to strengthen and to refocus it and perhaps more importantly to take over the mantle of leadership from the PDP come 2015.
Having admitted that no single opposition has what it takes to dislodge PDP from power, Eneukwu called for a working arrangement among the five leading parties- the ANPP, ACN, CPC, Labour Party, and APGA. He strongly believes that once the five could be able to join forces together, then PDP would find itself falling down flat.
He is very optimistic that with the failure of the ruling party to deliver the good to the people, it is high time the opposition flushed the party out of power.
During the week CPC raised an alarm that it had uncovered a plot by PDP to cause disaffection and confusion within the party. It claimed that in the latest plot, the PDP plans to use the renegade group, led by Senator Rufa’i Hanga, to mobilise unsuspecting party men into a meeting where a noxious vote-of-no-confidence decision shall be passed on the substantive National Executive Committee (NEC) of the CPC.
In a press release, which was signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Engr. Rotimi Fashakin, the party stated that it is understandable that the PDP, at the lowest ebb of popularity with the Nigerian masses, is willing to employ all pranks to cause distraction within the CPC to give it a bad name so that it will he hanged.
“Having failed to cater for the security and welfare of Nigerians, being the basic constitutional requirements for responsible governance, the PDP seeks to languidly lay hold of straw of hope by deliberately sponsoring confusion within the Polity,” the statement read.
A critical study of the political scene since May 1999 reveals that political parties and their candidates only flex their muscles during the electioneering campaigns to intimidate their opponents.
They go comb every nook and cranny of the country canvassing for votes but once the electoral battle is fought and lost the stage is left to the ruling party at the centre and the state levels. The only factor that could prolong the verbal war is the post-election litigation and once that is over all political warlords are on vacation.
But some parties accuse the INEC of being a factor by shutting its gate against them once the general election is over. They wonder why the electoral umpire would make itself unfriendly to them since they are supposed to be partners in political business.
The Deputy National Chairman of Democratic Peoples Party (DPP), Olisaemeka Akamukali, said on Monday that INEC officials were not making themselves accessible to party officials on administrative issues.
“Political parties and Electoral Commissions anywhere in the world are supposed to be partners in progress, but the reverse is the case in Nigeria,” he said. “INEC is so unfriendly to political parties in Nigeria; the distance between the INEC and the political parties is too wide.
This is unnecessary under the democratic dispensation; INEC should be friendly with the political parties and desist from creating bad impression about itself.”
In a related development, the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) said in most cases, INEC was not carrying the political parties along in some of its activities while in most cases it gave priority to few political parties.
Osita Okecheukwu, Chairman CNPP, said: “As a political party, we are supposed to be friends of INEC, but the reverse is the case. More often than not, officials of the political parties are being harassed by uniformed men in INEC and sometimes, party officials are not allowed to gain entry to INEC office, this is not too good for democracy. There are sometimes one will send in a request to see the INEC officers, there will be no response.”
He advised INEC to remove all the barriers hindering the party officials to have free access to it and its officials.
He said INEC had been friendly with the political parties, but recently at a meeting in Calabar, members of the political parties walked out on INEC officials when it was a time to discuss the code of conduct for the parties.
In keeping the Presidency on its toes, ACN is second to none since the party’s spokesman, Lai Mohammed is always in the bunker firing arsenals at the direction of either the Presidency or the ruling party.
The party has been so alive taking the Presidency to the cleaners on any unpopular policies. The party was in the fore-front of the protest that shut down the country in the wake of the fuel subsidy withdrawal.
Another one is the on-going crisis in the judiciary that led to the suspension of the President of the Court of Appeal Justice Ayo Salami for allegedly lied against the then Chief Justice of Nigeria, Katsina –Alu over the gubernatorial tussle in Sokoto State.
The opposition led by ACN wants Salami reinstated as recommended by the National Judicial Council but the ruling PDP disagreed.
It is this type of controversy that makes ACN relevant in the polity while others are on vacation. General Muhammadu Buhari, the presidential candidate of CPC too usually kicks against some unpopular policies of the Federal Government like it happened recently when he warned the ruling party to let a free and fair election be come 2015 or face the bloody consequence.