…as greed, internal wrangling throw opposition parties into confusion
- Why stakeholders must urgently restructure PDP, LP, others – Insiders
Disconcerted by internal strife and an obstinately uncooperative attitude towards constituted authorities by some of their eminent members, Nigeria’s opposition political parties have shown a lack of capacity to muster the kind of robust engagement that can keep the ruling party, particularly at the centre, in check, analysts have said.
Going by the outcome of the 2023 national elections, it may be safe to say that one of five top political parties in Nigeria, out of the 19 recognised by the Independent National Electoral Commission, is in control of, at least, one state.
They are: the party at the centre, the All Progressives Congress, the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, All Progressives Grand Alliance, Labour Party and the New Nigeria People’s Party.
Those who spoke in separate interviews with The Point said the main opposition, PDP, had not been able to overcome the disaffection that spilled over from the election to select its presidential candidate.
The party went into the 2023 presidential election with five of its elected governors at the time – Nyesom Wike of Rivers, Seyi Makinde of Oyo, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu, Ikpeazu Okezie of Abia and Samuel Ortom of Benue – openly working against their presidential falgbearer, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.
Wielding a very strong influence, Wike has dared the PDP to either suspend or carry out any disciplinary measure against him.
Uncharacteristically, the party has not been able to call Wike’s bluff. So, for the first time, the PDP has a prominent member who has refused to quit his party, but accepted to serve in the cabinet of the ruling party.
Explaining his action, Wike said that he remained a member of the PDP but on national assignment, working with President Bola Tinubu and not the APC.
Calls and text messages sent to the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Debo Ologunagba, and a former Spokesperson for the party, Kola Ologbondiyan, to get their reactions to the PDP being in a state of disarray, were not answered.
When the Director, Atiku Media Office, Paul Ibe, was contacted, he declined to comment.
“I think it is better you speak to the chieftains of the PDP who are members of the party. I think that is a better approach,” Ibe said.
“Nigerians should stop taking Nigerian politicians seriously, they are all the same. I think it is only when they are campaigning that they are more vibrant. Once elections are over, people try to align just to ensure that their pocket is buoyant”
However, a political analyst, Peter Emovo, said the PDP had become decimated and weakened all because of “greed”.
According to him, the PDP did not honour the agreement to have its presidential candidate emerge from the South, a situation that led to bad blood between members.
On the situation in the party, Emevo said, “One simple thing. It is just greed on the side of the stakeholders in the party. This is because if you look at the political calculations before their primary election, there was an agreement that a southern presidential candidate should emerge. But that did not happen.
“Again, look at the tussle that started all the way up to (Uche) Secondus who tried to stop the primary before the court ordered it to hold. The greed had shown from the very beginning. (For the PDP primary), we had Wike on the list, we also had Peter Obi on the list and quite a number of other aspirants. But Atiku was spreading the dollars around and before he emerged as the presidential candidate, the house was already divided.”
“Obi pulled out of the party and then joined the Labour Party. And from there, a mass movement from the PDP to LP started. And I am afraid that the PDP will suffer a whole lot more like that going forward,” he added.
Emevo particularly noted that Atiku’s emergence as the presidential candidate of the party actually led to the PDP’s divided house and that it would be difficult for the party to turn its fortunes around because Atiku’s claim to be a unifier was a ruse.
“The PDP will find it difficult to correct the situation because their house is divided. It is as simple as that. And Atiku that claims to be a unifier has not even proven that. His self-acclaimed status of unifier is a ruse. I have yet to see real actions on the ground.
“He could not bring the G5 together. You could see how the G5 basically took their allegiance elsewhere and we can also see where Wike is today and calling what he did ‘playing politics’. I am shocked that he sits as the FCT minister, yet he is still a member of the PDP,” Emevo said.
An academic, Dr Olufemi Oyediran of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, said opposition parties in Nigeria had suddenly gone to sleep because of greed, love of money and positions.
In an interview with The Point, he said the development was dangerous to the fragile democracy of the nation and called on Nigerians to see themselves as watchdogs and hold those in power accountable.
The university don, who lectures at the Department of Nursing, OAU, opined that there was no difference between the politicians in power and their counterparts in opposition.
He submitted that the opposition political parties in the country were gradually losing the influence they garnered during the last general elections, adding that the minor parties that were able to make it to the National Assembly had not lived up to the expectations of the citizens.
“Nigerian politicians are the same. It is like a woman that is putting on many clothes, and when they get to that inner caucus, some of them forget their agenda and manifesto and because the government of the day will take care of them in the same manner or way.
Take, for instance, the opposition party members in the National Assembly, one had expected them to be different, especially as it related to the screening of the then ministers-designate of President Bola Tinubu. But what did they do? They joined the ruling party members in allowing the cabinet members to go without telling Nigerians what they would do differently.
“Nigerians should stop taking Nigerian politicians serious, they are all the same. I think it is only when they are campaigning that they are more vibrant. Once elections are over, people try to align just to ensure that their pocket is buoyant. So, they can’t but lose their influence,” he stated.
Commenting on the allegation that candidates of opposition parties were begging President Bola Tinubu for appointments, Oyediran said, “That candidates of the opposition parties are seeking appointments from President Tinubu shows that there is a long way for us to go in Nigeria. If the opposition decides to be begging the ruling party for positions just within a few months of election, then it shows we have a problem.
“It is even disheartening that the case is still before the tribunal and one expects some seriousness and focus from the opposition parties. The problem is that both the ruling and opposition parties are working towards the same goal and this will not help us as a country.”
“With the trend of events, it is like we are moving towards a one-party system since anyone that loses election wants to align and make friends with those in power so that they can also have their own share of the national cake,” the don added.
While noting that the Independent National Electoral Commission may not be able to salvage the situation, Oyediran averred that “the INEC can only do its duties during election periods and once that is over, they step aside. So, for me, there is nothing INEC can do to ensure that vibrant opposition comes on board.”
“I feel the Nigerian populace can call their political leaders to order. For instance, we have senators and representatives and they emanated from certain constituencies and if their constituents can ask them questions, I believe we can put them on their toes. But, it is unfortunate that because of the high poverty level, constituents are only interested in some money from their representatives and once they get that, they keep quiet,” he stressed.
Chief Spokesperson for the Peter Obi-Datti Ahmed Presidential Campaign Council, Tanko Yunusa, dismissed fears that a factional chairman of the party, Lamidi Apapa, and his members would pose as fifth columnists against the party.
Speaking with The Point, Yunusa said that, rather, Apapa’s actions would only continue to strenghten the party to gain more popularity.
He added that party members, who were aggrieved, should seek redress from the relevant platforms in the party vested with that responsibility.
He said, “There is no court ruling that pronounced Lamidi Apapa as the chairman of the Labour Party, none. In fact, it was only Abure that had been properly affirmed by the court as the chairman of the Labour Party.
“If any other group or individual has issues with the leadership of Abure, nobody is above the law in Labour Party, we’re a disciplined political party. It is expected that whoever is aggrieved should bring up his petition to the National Executive Council or National Working Committee to deal with the matter but none has been received by any group as we speak. They only took the matter straight to court, which has already adjudicated that the chairman of the party is Abure.
“With the trend of events, it is like we are moving towards a one-party system since anyone that loses an election wants to align and make friends with those in power so that they can also have their own share of the national cake”
“But then, when you take up a coup against the leadership, it shows that you’re not interested in the progress of the party. So, I wouldn’t call them any names, rather, if you’re aggrieved, there is a committee set up by the same Abure to look into grievances of members of the party, it is normal in a political setting. They should bring it up and we will deal with it accordingly.”
“In politics, bad news and good news are good news for the party, it makes us more popular. So, let them continue, they’re only making the party stronger and more popular, it makes us look more inwardly at some of the issues raised and provide a mitigating solution to them,” he added.
Sharing his thought on the performance of the Labour Party’s National Assembly members so far, Yunusa said, “I can assure you that they are not rubber stamp members of the Labour Party in the National Assembly. They are coming up with different ideas based on the documents and manifesto of the Labour Party.
“I think some of them who are new in the process of legislation are learning the ropes and they are being properly guided by the party’s constitution and manifesto, then they’ll perform in that light. It’s learning in progress for some of them who are relatively new in the aspect of legislation.
“Most of the activities we’re doing at the moment, focuses on Peter Obi’s litigation at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal.
Until that is over, it will give us a leeway to know exactly where we’re heading towards. Quite frankly, he is the arrow head of the movement and the Labour Party provided him with the platform. So, we’re trying to focus attention on how we’ll merge these two interests together at the moment.
“How do you form a correlation between the two, where you’re challenging the legibility of the government and you now give so much attention on how the government is being run when you’re challenging the entirety of the government?”
“So when that particular issue has been taken off the ground, we can now focus on probably what the government is doing. Gradually, we’re also responding to some of the particular issues, especially when it comes to the well-being of the people, like the level of poverty and the lack of preparedness of the assumed government as the case may be,” Yunusa concluded.