The role of criticism and opposition in a democracy cannot be overemphasized. A strong opposition is necessary for democracy to work and develop. It is to the benefit of the state or the entire country, especially the ordinary and voiceless citizenry that the opposition plays its role effectively so that it can give them the choice whenever they go to the polls. The presence of intelligent, well-educated and experienced personalities or politicians in the opposition are the only way for the people to benefit from it.
The role of the opposition is not just to criticize or oppose the ruling government, but to hold the government to account and serve as a check to the ruling government. The opposition is meant to go about in a positive way in order to get the government to adopt positive proposals and ideas. Hence there are occasions where the opposition should agree with the government, especially if its policies receive wide support and endorsement from the majority of the masses. It’s only natural for the members of the opposition to agree when the people’s well-being is taken into account and considered as a matter of utmost priority by a sitting government.
Against the backdrop of the whistle blower policy recently introduced by the Kogi state government under the leadership of governor Yahaya Bello in which a cash reward of 500,000 naira was announced as reward for anyone who reveals the activities, hideout and where about of criminally minded elements in the state, also included in the policy is that residents of the state who reveals the identity and information that could lead to the arrest of anyone who criticizes or speak against the state government will get same amount of cash.
Although the state government has said the policy is for those who give false information that could ignite crisis and chaos, the spate of arrests being made barely a couple of days after the whistle blower policy was announced has revealed the real motive of the Yahaya Bello administration and the fact that the policy was actually a deliberate ploy that is meant to kill the voice of the opposition and silence the critics of the government.
The continued arrests and unlawful detention of members of the public who at one time or the other have spoken against some of the unpopular and anti people policies and programs of the state government is a clear testament of governor Yahaya Bello’s politics of intolerance and total lack of vivid understanding of what constitutional democracy entails or is all about. The cluelessness and pettiness of a government which tags itself as ‘new direction’ is laughable and to say the least embarrassing. That of all the problems currently militating against the state a governor would choose to concentrate and commit ample time and financial resources to fighting the opposition and critics of his government shows that kogi state is really in the wrong hands.
Giving the immense roles the opposition is meant to play in holding a ruling government duly accountable to the people, it is wrong for anyone who truly understands, believes in and is a beneficiary of constitutional democracy to even think of killing the voice of opposition or silencing critics who are supposed to serve as the watchdog in a democratic rule. Governor Bello should be adequately advised and educated that the war he should be fighting at this point in time isn’t the one against the opposition and critics, it would be wiser if he redirects his intolerance, anger, frustration, time, zest and energy into fighting the alarming rate of insecurity in the state, paying the backlog of arrears of salaries and pension allowance of the already cleared state’s workforce and brainstorming on how best to create more job opportunities for the teaming unemployed in our dear state, these is what wise and great leaders are known for.