The recent parley between President Muhammadu Buhari and the leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is auspicious and symbolic. It is a welcome development because it is a classical example of how multi-party democracy should work in any polity, especially one with a population as diverse as ours. On this singular score, the president behaved like an elder statesman and a bi-partisan leader. Bringing the leadership of the ruling APC and the opposition PDP together for the first time in the life of this administration demonstrated the much-needed conviviality and friendliness in multi-party democracy and governance.
Besides, the meeting is also good for the image and overall socio-economic development of the country. But, beyond this public show of love and solidarity between the ruling and the opposition parties is the urgent need for the president to bring about this same sense of cooperation within the ruling party. We say this because, without cooperation within the APC leadership, there will be no peace in the country. The ongoing wrangling between the executive and the legislature does not augur well for the smooth running of government. The divisive tendencies within the APC itself are unnecessary for a ruling party.
We strongly support President Buhari’s admonition to party leaders that opposition does not mean fighting and killing one another. Indeed, being in opposition does not make one an enemy of the ruling party or the government in power. Those in opposition should be seen as partners in progress and not mortal enemies of the government. Both the ruling party and the opposition party must work for the interest of all Nigerians. While the ruling party enunciates and executes its programmes, the opposition should offer constructive criticisms, where necessary. The opposition is in place to check the excesses of the ruling party. In fact, without opposition, there will be no democracy. Lack of vibrant opposition creates room for despotism in leadership.
We, therefore, laud President Buhari for thinking it wise to convene such a meeting at this auspicious moment. It came at a time that there are tensions and divisions in the land. Let this presidential gesture be the beginning of many good things to come in our party politics. Politics should be played without bitterness and rancour.
But, beyond its symbolism, the bi-partisan meeting is a rare display of good leadership by the Buhari administration. The tension and bitterness in the country would have been much less if we had had more of this camaraderie among our politicians. We advise that the benefit of this parley should not be lost on our politicians. It should be continued and sustained for the benefit of Nigerian democracy and all Nigerians on a regular basis. It is worth repeating that President Buhari should use this opportunity to put the APC house in order. The cat and mouse relationship between the executive and the legislature is not complimentary. The president should exhibit this kind of friendly and brotherly spirit in the execution of his mandate and programmes.
He should regard the entire country as his constituency and remember every part of the country in his projects allocation and execution, as well as appointments into political offices. No part of the country should be neglected or marginalised based on the pattern of voting in the 2015 presidential election. Since the election is over and winners and losers have emerged, we should put everything behind us and forge ahead.
We, however, suggest that subsequent meetings of this kind should embrace some leaders of other opposition parties in recognition of the need for inclusiveness in politics. Nigerian politicians should desist from seeing party politics as an end in itself. Rather, they should see it as an avenue to serve the people and improve their socio-economic conditions. All political parties should have the interest of all Nigerians at heart in all their activities. The interest of Nigerians must come before any other consideration.