For any democracy to flourish and the government in power made to fulfil
most of its promises to the electorates, there must exist a virile and
responsible opposition. This did not exist in the first two years of the
current All Progressives Congress (APC) administration at the center. The
reason being that PDP was in the limbo, struggling to live with the
challenges associated with its new status as an opposition party in a
country where it boasted it would rule for 50years.
The Poeples Democratic Party (PDP) which lost power in 2015 after 16years
was bedevilled by intra party conflicts that lasted for over 14months
before the Supreme Court judgement ratified the Makarfi Caretaker
Committee as the authentic leadership of the party. A victory that has
been described by political watchers to have provided another window for
PDP to provide the necessary opposition to keep the ruling APC in check.
Although analysts are of the opinion that the functions of a political
party in opposition is better appreciated in a parliamentary system of
government especially the West Minister model in United Kingdom, where we
have a shadow cabinet which is made up of senior members of the parliament
from the opposition party that are designated with ministerial portfolios
that they are expected to defend and proffer their party’s position during
parliamentary debates. This could also be well replicated in the current
presidential system of government practiced in Nigeria today where the
opposition can clearly provide the party’s position on any government
Secondly, the PDP minority caucus in the Senate and House of
Representatives are expected to be more active in presenting positions of
the party on topical issues of public interest during their debates in the
National Assembly. This is actually imperative to the extent that the
people appear to be more closer to the Parliament than the executive in
terms of constituency access.
However, the important things is for the public to be aware of PDP
position on critical national issues for example the citizenry will like
to know the position of PDP on current clamour for the restructuring of
the Federation ? What is the PDP position on how to revive the national
economy and dwindling exchange rate of the naira against the dollar ?
How can the PDP government solve the recurrent Boko Haram insurgency,
sessionists agitations by Indegenous Peoples of Barry (IPOB), the
incessant threat of militants in Niger Delta region, the rise of
commercial kidnapping in the South-west and the endemic scourge of the
Fulani herdsmen against farmers in various part of the country as well as
their position on the rehabilitation of Federal roads and other
Another issue the PDP has to address as we move towards 2019 general
elections is the reorganisation of the party. The forthcoming elective
national convention billed to take place in December 2017, will provide
the forum to resolve the contending issues of the party that was
responsible for its intra party crises after the 2015 general elections.
First in the list, is the resolution of all outstanding intra party
conflicts at the national and state organs, the Peace and Reconciliation
committee which have been set up must resolve all the disputes and put
members in one page.
Secondly, the party must be seen to embrace internal democracy in its
national convention and state congresses. Imposition of candidates both in
the election of its party leadership and its flag bearers for elective
position should be resisted. The funding of the political party should be
democratised, let all members contribute towards the funding of the
How does the party plan to deal with the activities of god fathers which
normally start with the provision of the entire revenue of the party ? If
the PDP is interested in winning the hearts of the people again, all these
should be discouraged. As a matter of urgency the first priority of the
new chairman of the party after the national convention will be to engaged
in a robust membership drive across the country. This should include
bringing back aggrieved members of party that decamped to other political
parties as well as wooing new members to join the party.
If the PDP is able to bring its members together and eschew those factors
that weakened it before the 2015 general election, it could spring up a
surprise in future elections.
Finally, we cannot overemphasised the need for Nigeria to have a virile
opposition to check the ruling party from sliding into a dictatorship or
tyranny of any sort and for the rule of law, freedom of speech to be
sustained even as we must differenciatiate government criticism from hate
speech which must be condemned in its entirety.
Since any government without opposition or any known threat of been
removed through the ballot box normally shirk its responsibilities, it is
therefore the responsibility of the PDP to dig deep within itself and
provide the needed opposition that will ensure Nigerians better governance
from the APC.
Osita C. Nweke
International Institute of Journalism, Jahi District Abuja.