In my previous interventions in this space, I noted that current developments in the political environment has shown that has that operators there are not driven by principles in Nigeria. They are driven by the desire to get power, perhaps they are spurred by rudderless parties, not united by ideologies but by the urge to get power and share the loot.
Politics in our clime has deteriorated over time to the point where players drift with parties in power. They have become what has been coined to be ‘Any Government in Power’(AGIP). They follow power, not principles which is in very short supply in their midst. In the second republic, it was easy to distinguish between Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) as led by Chief ObafemiAwolowo, National Party of Nigeria (NPN), which had Alhaji Shehu Shaggari as flag bearer, Nigerian Peoples Party (NPP) as led by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and even Great Nigeria Peoples Party (GNPP) as led by AlhajiWaziri Ibrahim.
Their stance on issues was skewed towards their ideological bent. Although there were elements of ethnic underpinnings in the way they won elections, those who followed political events of their short stay, in the late seventies and early eighties, would agree that those parties were not only rooted in ideologies, but had a good spread. In his long- winding and convoluted attempt to hand to civilians Former Military head of state, Ibrahim Babangida, decreed two parties and told one to be ‘a little to the left’ and the other one to be “a little to the right’. It was in a bid tow ideological lines and diminish ethnic influence.
The rest, as they say, is history but from the look of things, the present is worrisome. I had done a piece here entitled: ‘Defect, return and defect again’ when former Vice President Atiku Abubakar did a round of membership of Action Congress as it was then, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressive Congress (APC).
In the wake of that article Atiku said APC would be his last bus stop but I can wager a swagger that if the PDP survives its current crisis and waves its presidential ticket at him and the coast is rough in his new setting, Atiku would yet change camp. He is not alone in this voyage, just that his example readily comes to mind. Now, the ruling party is the bride all politicians desire, it has become the new political destination. The other day former presidential spokesman Dr. Doyin Okupe announced his exit from the former ruling party. He has not declared his next port of call, but your guess will be as good as mine.
The foregoing is a precursor to the fact that opposition is fast receding and that would be a sad commentary for our politics. But for Governor Ayo Fayose, there is no audible voice of opposition anymore in the land. It portends danger because the country would slip into civilian dictatorship and the government would not be on its toes. All Progressive Congress took opposition to greater heights with current minister of information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed on top of his game as opposition spokesman. They literally held former President Goodluck Jonathan by the jugular, finding fault in virtually every move he made.
They expected him to cancel scheduled trips because Boko Haram detonated bombs the day before. Current Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola, who was Governor of Lagos at the time and poster boy of the opposition for performance, told Nigerians that six months was enough time for a responsible government to provide electricity for the people.
He spoke from the outside and two years down the line on the saddle, he now knows that talk is cheap. He has taken four times more than his predicted period and now knows where the shoe pinches. Such comments put Jonathan on his toes. No one seems to be speaking now, but for Governor Fayose’s lone voice. He has recently revisited President Muhammadu Buhari’s health which seems to be disappearing from the front burner. it took Fayose’s seeming wild claim that the President was more hamstrung by health issues than the people were meant to know before government said the governor was stretching the matter beyond its current magnitude but failed to disclose the true situation. No one is immune to ill health challenges, more so a man in his seventies but the people deserves to know the health status of their leader.
Even as a Military head of state, Ibrahim Babangida did full disclosure when he traveled to France for health issues. The Presidency at the time told Nigerians at that the President had Radiculopathy, an ailment that affected his legs , which seem to have returned as the man clocks 75. Buhari is in that age range and it would be unrealistic and, indeed foolhardy, to expect him to be as brisk and strong as he was in 1983 as military head of state.
This is not about Buhari’s health but about the dearth of opposition voices. Citizen Journalism and the social media have come to the rescue, but that platform is fraught with rumour. There is no virile opposition in the land and that portends danger. The former ruling party seem to be diminishing by the day and those who lay claim to its leadership do not know the import of that position. I have never heard Senator Ali Modu Sherriff picking holes with any move by the regime, an indication that those who see him as an undertaker sent to bury the Peoples Democratic Party may be right.
The voice of opposition must rise and be heard again. It has been said that many of those who ought to take up such roles have soiled hands and have ran into the ruling party for protection. Even the best of governments must be put on its toes. I commend Fayose and ask that more people should join him in the opposition train. The voice of opposition must not be stifled. The absence of opposition detracts from the dividends of democracy.