The 2nd of February was a memorable one in the Nigerian political calendar as it marked the emergence of the All Progressive Congress also known as the APC. This marked the first time in the Nigerian political history that the opposition group made up of the APC, CPC, ANPP and a faction of APGA was able to merge to form a single political party rather than the previous political alliances of the previous republics and the attempted one between the APC and CPC during the 2011 General Elections.
Political opposition in western societies with more mature political arenas like the UK and USA have always been drawn along the ideological lines of the conservatives, moderates and progressives. This has allowed for healthy rivalry based on ideas which are geared towards driving the society forward. Thus one becomes a member of a political party based on the ideas promoted by such political parties.
In the United States for example the Progressive Democrats promote abortion, oppose teaching the Biblical creation story in schools and support the restriction of Gun Rights while the Conservative Republicans oppose abortion, support teaching the Biblical creation story in schools and oppose the restriction of Gun Rights. Thus political opposition is all about differences in ideology.
The opposite seems to be the case in third world countries like Nigeria which have relatively young political arenas where opposition is based on ethnic and religious differences. For example APGA is seen as a party of the Igbo ethnic group of the South East and is usually associated with Odimegwu Ojukwu the rebel leader of the former breakaway faction of Biafra or former South Eastern Nigeria, former ACN is usually associated with the Yoruba’s of the South West while CPC and ANPP are usually associated with the Hausa's and Fulani's of the North. This has being the strength of the ruling PDP which has a national coverage and is not associated with any ethnic or religious group and has ensured that it has won four general election since Nigeria's return to democratic rule in 1999
The merger of the political opposition and the major defections by 5 of the G7 Governors that defected from the PDP which includes several Governors of Northern extract and Governor Rotimi Ameachi of Rivers State and also Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State who defected from APGA has ensured that the APC has strengthened its national coverage and helped it to grab a slim majority in the Lower House of Representatives while still maintaining a minority in the Upper Senate Chambers. Despite its ability to get a national coverage it has failed in its ability to differentiate itself from the ruling party due to several factors which include:
· The manifestos it presented have being wildly criticized as a rip off of the manifestos of the ruling party which shows lack of initiative on the part of the founding fathers of the opposition party APC to develop a clear agenda for the party.
· The Party which has spent a better majority of its time criticizing the ruling party and portraying itself as a progressive party has disproved it by allowing non progressive elements defect from the ruling party it widely criticized in a bid to increase its numerical strength and increase its chances of winning the 2015 election. There are several reports claiming that it is promising certain political office holders continuity in their tenure as a reward for defection despite their current lackluster performance in office. This is certainly anti-progressive and must be condemned and corrected. Only those who are seen as progressive elements and agents of change according to the party’s motto should be accepted. Quality should be put over quantity.
· The performance of former and current political office holders who are members of the APC has being lackluster just as the ruling party. For example the members of the APC who are members of the legislative arm of government have not proved themselves to be different from the ruling party by bringing revolutionary bills into the house. Also both the opposition law makers and ruling party benefit from the rot in the legislature such as allowances and perks that rank as among the highest in the world as such funds should have being channeled towards capital projects which the nation is in dire need of. Also most Governors of northern extract in the APC have proved themselves to be either conservatives or extremist leading to their poor performances that has put the northern states in a dire state it is now and has helped fuel insurgencies such as the Boko Haram.
· The APC have also promoted the same failed elitist neo liberal economic policies promoted by the ruling party which are propagated by Western controlled international institutions like the IMF and World Bank that has rapidly increased the poverty rate and stagnated the economies of most African States which has lead to the perpetual underdevelopment and accumulation of huge debts by African States giving them the status of highly indebted economies. Even despite the high growth rate achieved by such policies, such growth only benefit a minority elite group that control both the ruling party PDP and the APC at the expense of the masses.
· Fifthly and most importantly how can those who have played in the political arena and held several political positions that enabled them benefit from the monumental corruption in previous and the current dispensation which have contributed to the current position Nigeria finds itself in such as the seventy percent of the population living below the UN poverty line and living on less than two dollars a day, more than half of the active youths being unemployed and many of them unemployable due to the poor and outdated educational system that produces half-baked graduates, the comatose state of the manufacturing and agricultural sectors leading to an increase in importation of items like toothpick which leaves a huge deficit in the balance of exchange talk about change when they benefit from the current state of things. According to the Bible it is like putting old wine in a new bag which must certainly burst. New wine must be put in a new bag and old wine in an old bag
From the following points above the APC has shown so far that it is not interested in true revolutionary change as it preaches but as the average Nigerian set of politicians the only change it is interested in is wining the Presidential Election come 2015 which will enable it have unhindered access to the massive revenue flowing from the huge oil reserves from the already deprived, neglected and polluted region of the Niger Delta to benefit the small clique of elites and money bags that control the party.
As events continually unfold leading up to the 2015 elections we can only hope for the emergence of two broad based parties to contest for the 2015 elections. It will be a do or die affair as it determines the political survival of a lot of stakeholders including the incumbent President who after this moment may have no chance at the number one position and the opposition party APC who know they will have to wait for another four years before taking a shot at the number one position and occupying the Aso Rock Presidential Villa. At the end of the day it should be all about the electorate who should have a say in who should lead the nation for four years by casting his ballot in a free and fair election which gives him a chance at credible leadership which the nation is in dire need of.
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