Lessons For The Opposition In The Coming Elections – by Debo Adejugbe

Published:20 Feb, 2013

Nigeria’s political evolution can be likened to a rocking chair. So much movement and effort with no tangible result. We have huffed and puffed around the same set of problems for eternity and after everything is juxtaposed, we always realize that we’ve not moved an inch. Same place. Same problems. Same set of expired people jostling to solve them. Same set of docile populace receptive only to glorious rhetoric and executive hooliganism.

Dr. Bill Newman, in his book “The Ten Laws of Leadership”, tells us about an old indian fable centred around a mouse that is constantly distressed by its fear of rats. A magician who saw the problem helped turn it into a cat, to help assuage these fears. After the transformation, it became afraid of the dog. The magician once more turned it into a tiger hoping that should solve the problem. It didn’t. In its form as a tiger, the hunter became the prevalent fear. Tired of the process and the new fears elicited, the magician said “Be a mouse again. You only have the heart of a mouse and I cannot help you.”

Why the story? Some things would never change. Like expecting the PDP to become a party built on the tenets of collaborative democracy tailored towards public good. Like hoping those elected under the umbrella will not loot as if tomorrow is a mirage. Like hoping our set of inept and conscientiously flawed representatives would wake up to their duties. I’m not manufacturing all these, you only have to take a look around and feel the pulse of our political life. Nothing good will ever come from PDP and the earlier we agree on this, the faster we move our “rocking chair”.

The treasury and PDP is a yam and goat relationship! You can never trust a goat to guard your yam while away on assignment.

One major reason why the PDP and its cohorts have sailed unchallenged in the past few years is the lack of credible opposition. The lack of a united front to deliver Nigerians from the behemoth that PDP has turned into. We have tasted several oppositions and the stories are similar: A difference in name with all the attributes of the PDP. Parties whose sole aims of “capturing power” is to feed some people fat while the crumbs trickling down the table is shared among the people. Like Thomas Jefferson said, democracy is the government by the majority who parcitipate. These few ones are the “majority that participates”.

In other situations, we have politicians cross-carpeting to the PDP before or after winning major elections due to the belief that PDP holds all the aces. The October 2012 gubernatorial elections in Ondo state presented a unique case scenario that could help the opposition in its fight for 2015, if they genuinely care about the people and not their oversized egos.

Shortly before the election, it was a case of where would Mimiko run to. The ACN and PDP did all they could to enchant the beautiful bride of the Labour Party. You can’t blame them. Ayo Fayose had returned to PDP in Ekiti from the same Labour platform and realistic permutations told us it was a matter of time before Mimiko followed suit. It didn’t happen and it has opened up new frontiers that the opposition can explore.

To appreciate Mimiko’s victory as Labour party governor, we have to go back to 2006/07 when the plans for the emergence of a universally accepted candidate for the gubernatorial elections in Ondo State was being hatched. Agagu was the governor and as the dictates of the brand of politics we practice suggested, he was going to win due to the incumbency factor. Mimiko and other like minds were traversing the state meeting with politicians, civil right organizations, traditional rulers and the people at the grassroot to form a formidable coalition that could rescue the state from the throes of hopelessness presented by Agagu and his PDP. He consulted widely and listened to the people before they decided on a platform.

To be honest, Labour wasn’t an attractive choice to most watchers but this group wanted an unpolluted platform that can leverage on the work they’ve done and in the end guarrantee the dividends of democracy for Ondo indigenes. It was a bold step. Very different from the normal Nigerian practise of moving to a ready-made platform that would hype the ambition. In Mimiko’s case, he wanted to sell his vision, antecedents and promise to work for the people rather than depending on the popularity or rigging might of a party.

The present coalition talks among the opposition parties which has culminated in All Progressive Congress (APC) is a very good way to start the preparation for 2015?s journey of dislodging the PDP from the center. That said, the questions are: “what plans do the opposition have after the merger is done and dusted?” “Do they have a solid and progressive plan on what to do with the power they intend to capture?”.  As it is wont to happen in our clime, we usually come short when it’s time to pick a generally accepted candidate in the primaries. It’s one reason why I never really warmed up to the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) when it comes to democratic ethos. They lose focus right from the primary elections where their “leader” annoints a candidate as flagbearer.

The implication of this is that there will be so many intra-party infractions to settle that you lose sight of the important things and when prominent members defect, the harder it becomes to have a united house. Take for example the system that produced Rotimi Akeredolu and basically all the other flagbearers ACN have presented since they were formed, up to Abubakar Atiku and Nuhu Ribadu’s emergence as presidential candidates. It is a flawed process that belittles the concept of participatory democracy. If this coalition is meant to massage someone’s ego or project the candidature of an individual, then failure is the destination point.

The facilitators should understand that it’s not about the governors attending meetings and tacitly supporting the cause. The grassroot is the most important. Remember the noise ACN made during the ondo elections and the fear it drove into ordinary folks about it “capturing” Ondo by all means? It amounted to nothing. You don’t neglect your primary assignment of bringing in the grassroots, even after alienating so many people by the manner of emergence of your candidate, and expect to win an election fairly. The opposition (APC in this case) should look at the mistakes that have been made by constituting parties and genuinely correct them.

Mimiko and Labour remains a reference. There was no National or Regional powers’ support, No limitless war chest to summon, No godfather to run to – some prominent LP members including their chairman and Federal Representative defected ahead of the election – for help or the appearance of a fellow governor from Labour party’s stable to lean on. He was his own godfather as witnessed in his prioritizing grassroot politics. Labour won, ACN came third and the rest, as they say, is history. There are so many lessons to be learnt and the newly formed APC will do well to sit down and analyze; afterall, Labour party defeated most members of this amalgamation in Ondo election and the most important thing is to learn a thing or two from that defeat and correct few things on the journey to taking on the PDP in 2015 general elections.

Here are some lessons the opposition parties could put to good use ahead of the 2014 and 2015 elections:

I. The focus should be the PEOPLE and not PDP! A progressive party should be built with the people in mind. You can’t make PDP the focus of your alliance and forget about what the people stand to benefit from it. When you focus on the people and their problems, it’ll be easier to be on the same plane with them and I can assure you that it translates to votes. Mimiko and Labour focused primarily on the people despite the several heaps of mud thrown at him. He had an election to win, a people to satisfy and cater for, these things should matter more than fixation on a particular political party.

II. Imbibe internal democracy. This should be non-debatable. How else will the people recognize your respect for democratic norms if your party can’t uphold internal democracy in its conduct? Make no mistake about it, these things always have a way haunting back in general elections. When aggrieved members leave because they were disenfranchised by undemocratic means, many more will follow and their blocs will send you a message in the major election. It’s a pity that PDP demonstrates better internal democracy than some of our “democratic parties”.

III. Sell the people a programme and not propaganda. In that election, while the ACN was busy throwing tantrums and casting aspersion on the person of governor Mimiko; PDP was campaigning and selling itself to the people and Labour was consolidating. Olusola Oke, the PDP candidate gave the people more to think about with issues raised and their contents, though it was a bit too late to rewire them. The ACN presented regional integration that wasn’t working too well for some other SouthWestern states. The result made sure some lessons were learned in this regard. The people want you to make a commitment on what you’ll do to better their situations and not highlight what the other parties are doing wrong, they know these things better than you.

IV. We get the romance, what’s the plan? Having a candidate with impeccable academic record, perfect diction or excellent oratory skill is romantic, but it doesn’t guarantee that food will magically appear on our tables though. How do you plan to turn around the people’s woes? How do you intend to combat corruption? What plans do you have for our flawed electoral system? How watertight is your manifesto? How committed are you to the manifesto and your promises? Drafting an excellent manifesto is just an assignment and a mere white elephant project, anyone can do that in this age of information. Without the commitment of implementing the manifesto, you will have succeeded in crafting a piece of jargon with no use.

V. Learn to move on and regroup when the people speak. While there is a perpetual distrust of the electoral process in Nigeria, not all contested elections could have had a different outcome from the ones announced. The major gladiators all know this, but due to ego or lack of insight, they challenge every result. It helps no one and not them in the least, as the people see them as bad losers. Take a leaf from Hon. Dimeji Bankole and Dr. Bode Olajumoke, both of PDP, who conceded elections just hours after results were announced by INEC. They have become excellent examples to follow. That doesn’t mean that when you’re genuinely aggrieved, you shouldn’t seek redress in court; learn to respect the process and the verdict even if it doesn’t favour you.

The people are politically more conscious than before. Touting godfatherism, voter apathy, electoral violence, threats of apprehension, vote buying, rigging, breakdown of law and order, impersonation, ballot box snatching, intimidation and the likes won’t stop them from exercising their constitutional right. The earlier our politicians note this, the better they’ll know what is needed to be done.

We can never exhaust these lessons, but we might eventually keep oscillating around the same points if we decide to expand more. If the new ‘Mega Party’ and other opposition can make the people their focus, the journey of dislodging PDP from the center becomes half-solved.

Will they take these lessons? Only time will tell.

 

Debo Adejugbe is a trained Telecommunications/Electronics Engineer and a certified IT professional living in Lagos.

Follow him on twitter: @deboadejugbe

Related Posts

Recent Posts

Afenifere To Senate: Leave BOI alone

The attention of Afenifere has been drawn "A Bill for an Act to establish the National Development Bank, 2015’, and sponsored by Senator Ibrahim Gobir which seeks to repeal the BoI, the Bank for Commerce and Industry Act and the National Economic Reconstruction Fund Act. The bill further seeks to bring the total assets of the organisations under one body to be called the National Development Bank.This bill has passed the second reading in the Senate since October 12 and...

‘We Didn’t Appoint Consultants To Collect Money From You’ – LASG to Table Water Producers

Following the controversies generated over the collection of water related revenues in the State, the Lagos State Government (LASG) has clarified its position saying that at no time did it authorize any consultant to collect such revenues on its behalf. This development was as a result of the petition published by the Concerned Members of Association of Water Producers of Lagos State on Monday, December 5, 2016. In the petition, the body accused the Lagos State Water Regulatory Commission and the...

Buhari’s school feeding programme takes off in Anambra

In another rollout of one of the Social Investment Programmes of the Buhari administration, the National Homegrown School Feeding scheme has entered implementation stage with the feeding of primary school pupils in Anambra State Thursday. Last month, the N-Power scheme kicked off with the selection of the first batch of 200,000 unemployed graduates, many of whom are now being deployed in the 36 states/FCT in the first batch of the planned half a million graduates to be engaged in the...

Nigeria Air Force personnel ?kill man ‘over prostitute’

A 60-year-old man was on Tuesday killed at a brothel in Maiduguri, Borno State, after a quarrel with some personnel of the Nigeria Air Force. The fight occurred at a popular brothel located in Simari area of Maiduguri. Witnesses said the victim, Ibrahim Bulama, was shot dead by soldiers after they clashed over a woman at the brothel. Air Force authorities confirmed the killing, but did not clearly admit its personnel were involved in a struggle for a prostitute. The Commander of the...

Christmas: Lagos to sell bag of rice for N13,000 from December 15

The Lagos State Government on Thursday said it was ready to roll out Lake Rice on December 15 to Lagosians at N13,000 per 50 kg towards the Yuletide celebrations. The sale will come as succour for millions of Lagosians who like their counterparts in most parts of the country have had to pay over N20,000 for a bag of rice, mostly imported. Sanni Okanlawan, Special Adviser on Food Security to Governor Akinwumi Ambode, made the disclosure in Lagos during the Lagos...

Senate reschedules Magu’s confirmation to December 15

The Senate on Thursday rescheduled the screening and confirmation of the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, to December15. The Deputy Leader of the Senate, Bala N’allah, made this known while addressing journalists on Thursday in Abuja. He said the postponement of the exercise from December 8 to 15 became necessary to allow for a full house to convene. According to him, lawmakers who travelled out of Abuja for official assignments requested the postponement pending their...

Unpaid Nigeria’s Super Falcons withhold Nations Cup trophy in protest.

The Nigeria national women’s football team, the Super Falcons, are still holding on to the Africa Women’s Nations Cup won last weekend in Cameroon in protest against the government’s failure to pay them. Though the Minister of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung, on Thursday reassured the African champions that they will receive all their entitlements, the team has not relinquished the trophy. The minister, who was in the company of the NFF’s General Secretary, Mohammed Sanusi, met with the players and...

NCC releases short code to opt out of unsolicited messages from Telcos.

The Nigerian Communication Commission, NCC, on Thursday advised consumers to take advantage of the 2442 short code to choose the type of messages they want to receive from telecoms operators. The Executive Vice-Chairman of NCC, Umar Danbatta, gave the advice at the 79th Telecom Consumers Parliament help in Abuja. He said that the parliament, with its theme: Implementation of the `Do not Disturb’ (DND): the journey so far,’ was aimed at sensitising the public to the policy. Mr. Danbatta said that the...

How Nigeria’s economic challenges affect West Africa – ECOWAS

The depreciation of the naira and other economic challenges affecting member states have slowed down ECOWAS economic integration and the adoption of a single currency, the News Agency of Nigeria(NAN) reports. This was one of the main issues discussed at the technical meeting of the ECOWAS Macroeconomic Policy Committee on Multilateral Surveillance in Abuja on Thursday. The out-going Chairperson of the committee, Ommy Sar Ndaiye, said that it was pertinent for member states to develop strategies to address the prevailing economic...

Kano generates N18 billion internal revenue in 2016.

The Kano State Government has realised N18 billion as internally generated revenue from January to date, an official said. The Chairman of Kano State Board of Internal Revenue, Sani Dembo, disclosed this on Thursday shortly after he defended the board’s 2017 budgetary allocation at the State Assembly. Mr. Dembo said that in 2015, the board generated N11 billion as tax revenue, while N12 billion was realised in 2016. He further said “within the 10 month of this year, we also generated non-tax...

Why I will not honour Reps’ invitation for now — Jibrin

Abdulmumin Jibrin said on Thursday that he will not honour the invitation to appear before the House of Representatives’ Ethics Committee until he receives a formal invitation to that effect from the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara. Mr. Jibrin said he had already defended all allegations of corruption against the speaker, and dismissed the fresh attempts by Ethics Committee to investigate him for corruption and official misconduct as a charade. Nicholas Ossai, chairman of the committee, told the House during plenary on Wednesday...

Lai: Newspaper editorials can no longer bring down a government.

Lai Mohammed, minister of information and culture, says gone are the days when newspapers were so powerful that their editorials could bring down a government. Speaking at a meeting with resident information officers (RIOs) in his ministry, Mohammed acknowledged the role of social media in the dissemination of information. He claimed that the federal government was under-reported because its information handlers were not using the right and current communication channels. “Government is doing so much, yet  people keep saying they do not...

Oyegun to Rivers electorate: If they slap you, slap them back.

John Oyegun, chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), on Thursday encouraged members of his party to retaliate whatever action they get from loyalists of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) during Saturday’s senatorial rerun election. Speaking during a mega rally of the party in Port Harcourt, the Rivers state capital, Oyegun particularly said: “If they slap you, slap them back.” He expressed satisfaction with the turnout at the rally, and urged the people to head to the polling units in droves...

Dalung: Nobody even knew Falcons would win AWCON

Solomon Dalung, minister of sports, says the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) would have applied to the sports ministry for funds early enough if anyone knew the Super Falcons would win the African Women Cup of Nations (AWCON), which ended in Cameroon at the weekend. The Nigerian women defeated hosts Cameroon on Sunday to win the tournament for a record eighth out of 10, but they have yet to receive their allowances. They have consequently refused to vacate their hotel premises in Abuja,...

D’banj: Nigeria does not have piracy. I’ve never been pirated.

Dapo ‘D’banj’ Oyebanjo, Afro singer, says Nigeria is the only country in the world where piracy does not exist. The Kokomaster on Thursday said his creative efforts have never been pirated. The singer made this comment at the inaugural edition of Music Week Africa, which held at the Nigerian Stock Exchange, Lagos. Explaining the reasoning behind his assertion, D’banj noted that what goes on in Alaba international market can’t exactly be called piracy because original CDs are being sold side by side...

Rivers Rerun: “Don’t kill anybody but don’t be killed”- Rotimi Amaechi to APC Members

Ahead of Saturday December 10th legislative rerun election, Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, today called on members of the party to be vigilante during the election and that they should not kill and also not get killed. Speaking at the final campaign of the party in Port Harcourt, Rivers state, Amaechi said; "This is what we call the election of our lives. Before I used to tell you, ‘Please don’t fight’. Is that not what I used to tell you?...

Serving Kano Commissioner, Permanent Secretary arraigned for alleged fraud

The Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission, on Tuesday, arraigned the state Commissioner for Land, Faruk Bibi Faruk, in court for alleged criminal breach of trust and illegal acts. Also arraigned were the permanent secretary, Mahmud Bari, and a director in the ministry, Ahmad Ibrahim. The trio were arraigned on a three-count charge before Justice Nasiru Saminu of Kano High Court 22 bordering on land deal. According to the prosecuting lawyer, Rabi Waya, the officials allegedly connived sometime in April to...

Reps move to impose time limit on appointment of Ministers

The House of Representatives on Thursday passed for second reading a bill proposing that nomination for appointment of ministers should not be later than 30 days from when the president takes oath of office. The bill also seeks to provide that nomination of commissioners shall be made not later than 30 days from the date a governor is sworn in. Presenting the bill, Solomon Adaelu (PDP-Abia), said that the need to ensure improved efficiency in governance prompted the amendment bill which...

Boat accident in Lagos; father, mother, son missing.

The Police in Lagos on Thursday declared missing a father, mother and son after two boats collided in Badagry area of the state.   A statement by the police spokesperson in Lagos State, Dolapo Badmos, said the actual number of passengers aboard the ill-fated boats was yet to be ascertained.   “At about 8: 30 pm on Dec. 7, a canoe with passengers that took off from Pathfinder Jetty on Badagry Marina heading to Gberefu Beach collided with another fibre boat coming from...

Nigerian Senator ‘secures’ federal jobs for 300 graduates

A Zamfara Senator, Kabiru Marafa, says he has secured employment for more than 300 unemployed graduates in the past five years.   The chairman of the Senator’s Relief and Assistance Committee, Ahmad Mai’aya, disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Gusau.   Mr. Mai’aya said that from 2011 to date “we have over 300 graduates with degree, HND and Diploma/NCE who got employment with various Federal Government organizations through Senator Kabiru Marafa”.   “We are now making...

Woman arrested for allegedly trying to sell 3 babies

The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, (NAPTIP) in Ebonyi State has taken custody of a woman, Odinaka Ali, arrested by the police for alleged attempt to sell her three children in Enugu State. The Desk Officer of NAPTIP, Florence Onwa, stated this in Abakaliki while briefing journalists on the rescue of her children. The 25-year-old woman from Ezilo in Ishielu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State was said to be living with her husband in Enugu State...