By Lukmon Akintola
A vibrant civil society can challenge those in power by documenting corruption or uncovering activities like murder of political enemies. In democracies, this function is mostly performed by the media, NGO’s or opposition parties – Evgeny Morozov
The success of any nation’s democratic system is largely a function of the constructive criticisms it encounters from various ends, either from the media or opposition parties. This stems from the fact that opposition from political parties puts governments on their toes and will make them strive to meet the electorates’ demands. This informed the reason why the political scholar, Evegeny Morozov, made the above stated assertion.
Unfortunately, the present Nigerian political structure lacks formidable opposition parties to constructively criticize the federal government and their cut-throat policies. The Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), which stands as the major contender to the ruling party, the All Peoples’ Congress (APC) has been battling with severe internal crisis, which has marred the party from constituting a major threat to the ruling party.
PDP, which was at the helm of affairs for 16years experienced lots of downturns. For instance, scores of its members defected to APC, as well as a controversy over the issue of national chairmanship, amongst others. A major party stakeholder, former President Olusegun Obasanjo publicly tore his membership card in the build up to 2015 general election. All these distractions have tended to hit the party hard.
On August 17, the PDP national convention will be holding at Port Harcourt, River state, where leaders of the party will be elected. However, controversies have been trailing the party’s forthcoming election as the decision of the Board of Trustees (BOT) to zone the national chairman to the South-west has sounded unfair to some party members.
With the zoning decision that was made on August 5, the former national deputy chairman, Bode George, the former gubernatorial candidate of PDP, Mr. Jimi Agbaje and a former minister of education, Prof. Tunde Adeniran are now the major contenders for the position of national chairman. In the same vein, the famous media don, Raymond Dokpesi from Edo State has dropped out of the race after picking up a mandatory N1million Expression of Interest form.
However, the stakeholders and governor from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) are currently divided over whom to support. A report from New Telegraph indicates that the South-West zone will throw its weight behind Bode George while PDP governors are all out to support Jimi Agbaje, who as at the time of writing was yet to pick up his form.
A governor said: “Agbaje is the choice of major stakeholders. We, I mean the governors, have agreed on him and we will ensure he wins the chairmanship seat”.
These supporters of Agabje, who are led by Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State claimed that the party needs a new face of leadership in order to prepare ahead of the 2019 general election.
On the other hand, the supporters of Bode George believe they need someone with experience and indeed one with a strong personality.
“We need someone who can pick up his phone and marshal orders and direct affairs with clarity. We don’t need a houseboy as the chairman. We are going to endorse Bode George tomorrow (Monday) and face the convention in Port Harcourt.”
The tragedy of the divided PDP house has shown that the party is not strong enough to constitute a strong opposition to the current APC led administration. Considering the personal records and vision of the major contenders for the PDP national chairmanship seat, one would be force to assert that “it’s all business as usual”.
Bode George, who is currently enjoying the support of the South-west zone was reported to have once said he has no interest in the party’s national chairman. “I have no plan, no ambition, slight or straightforward looking for it”.
However, he has picked up the Expression of Interest form which makes him a viable candidate for the position. This level of indecision from PDP stakeholders indicates their confused state of mind and how they have nothing special for the party and Nigerians. Having a divided house in electing the national chairman signals to Nigerians that PDP is not the opposition we seek.
The present situation of the Nigerian state requires effective and constructive criticisms from opposition parties, which will aid adequate performance of the present administration. Issues like economic recession, the Pilgrims Travelling Allowance (PTA) policy, school feeding scheme, budget padding, amongst others require criticisms and this is where the PDP should come in. Unfortunately, PDP does not fit in, giving the confused nature of the political party.
It is believed that PDP can only have a good platform if certain measures are put in place and that will consequently result in a strong opposition party that will strengthen Nigeria’s democratic system.