By most accounts, the worst thing that can happen to a country’s democracy is to have a ruling party without viable opposition.
In Nigeria, for instance, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), once referred to as the “largest political party in Africa’’, was defeated by the All Progressives Congress at the federal level in the 2015 general elections and it consequently became an opposition party.
Political analysts insist that instead of transforming into a formidable opposition party, the PDP has since been facing myriad challenges.
They believe that having ruled Nigeria from 1999 to 2015, the PDP ought to have transmuted into a strong opposition to the APC and be in the vanguard of efforts to strengthen the Nigerian democracy.
They, however, note that concerned PDP leaders are now frantically battling to save the party from disintegration, while overhauling it to enable it to provide strong opposition views and alternatives to some of the ruling party’s policies and strategies.
One of the analysts, Mr Olu Adebowale, particularly bemoans the failure of PDP to play the role of an opposition party pragmatically, in line with the citizens’ expectations.
“One of the problems with the Nigerian politics has been the absence of strong and viable opposition parties.
“Presently, Nigeria has 30 registered political parties, this by implication means there are 29 opposition parties in the country.
“Can anyone truly say Nigeria is having a strong opposition party as at today?
“It is the expectation of every Nigerian that all the opposition parties would engage APC on matters that are of national interest but that is not what we are seeing today,’’ Adebowale says.
Sharing similar sentiments, Prof. Shuaibu Ibrahim, the President of the Nigerian Political Science Association (NPSA), says that it is obvious that PDP, just like every other opposition political party in the country, has yet to play the role of an opposition party.
“As it is now, the PDP is not seen to be playing that role. What we have now is a situation where Gov. Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti and few other individuals within the party are speaking for the party.
“This is not what the country wants at this point in time. An individual voice cannot stand like the collective voice of a party.
“PDP members must get their act together and resolve their differences in the interest of the country’s democracy,’’ he adds.
Ibrahim says that the failure of the opposition parties, particularly the PDP, to play their role as a viable opposition is not healthy for Nigeria’s democracy.
“This means that the country has no alternative to any decision of the ruling party, be it choice on economic and political issues. In the absence of viable alternatives, it means anything goes,’’ he says.
In recent times, PDP has been embroiled in a leadership crisis ever since the resignation of its former National Chairman, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu, in May 2015 after losing the 2015 presidential election.
The crisis recently rocking the party is due to the leadership choice between Sen. Ali-Modu Sheriff, who was purportedly removed as the party’s national chairman at its May 21 national convention, and the constituted national caretaker committee chaired by Sen. Ahmed Makarfi.
While some stakeholders, including the PDP Governors’ Forum, believe that Sheriff has been removed by the May 21 party convention, Sheriff insists that he remains the bona fide party chairman until 2018 unless he is removed by a law court.
Sheriff has, on different occasions, rejected the Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee which was constituted at the convention as an aberration, saying that there is no provision for such bodies in PDP’s Constitution.
While series of meetings have been held, within and outside PDP, to resolve the lingering crisis in the party, there are still some pending litigations on the crisis.
Arising from a recent PDP national caucus meeting in Abuja, Gov. Fayose of Ekiti told newsmen that PDP stakeholders were doing everything possible to resolve the party’s leadership crisis.
Fayose said that the leadership crisis PDP was a passing phase which would soon be over so as to enable PDP to provide a credible opposition to the ruling party.
“Nigeria as a country needs an opposition party to make the average Nigerian to get value for his or her vote, and any attempt to destroy the opposition is not going to be in the interest of our democracy.
“We want to make it clear that the international community as well as well-meaning Nigerians must take note that the PDP is prepared to offer credible opposition to the government in power,’’ he said.
Also speaking, a member of the House Representatives, Rep. Joseph Edionwele (PDP-Edo), said that all genuine stakeholders of the party should strive to ensure that all the contentious issues troubling the party were urgently and amicably resolved to usher in a lasting peace.
“I believe that all contentious issues will be tackled as soon as possible; I am sure the PDP will resolve the crisis and come out stronger,’’ he added.
All the same, the consensus of opinion is that PDP leaders, members and other stakeholders should make concerted efforts to put the party back on the track.
Analysts underscore the need for PDP leaders to jettison parochial, personal interests and work in concert towards the transformation of the party into a credible opposition party.