By Ugoji Egbujo
An opposition party is supposed to be a party of ideas and hope. The PDP latches on inanities and feasts on silliness. It organises no seminars, it provokes no intellectual debates.
Many are disappointed with the ruling party. The opposition has been presented a ridiculous opportunity. But a bleary-eyed, voluble Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has allowed beer-parlour habits to distract it from diligent, purposeful oppositional politics. The PDP has remained perpetually excited, intoxicated. The party sees itself as an inevitable choice of a frustrated electorate. It is naive.
The PDP welcomes every scandal with revelry. It manufactures scandals when genuine ones dry up. It weaponises misfortunes. It demonises shortcomings. It interprets every failure of governance at the centre hyperbolically. It is unfettered by tact or politics of correctness. It promotes bigotry in the name of empathy. It relies on anarchism to provide vigilantism. The PDP has carried on as if it has another country to replace a burnt Nigeria with.
The economy is recovering slowly. Foreign direct investments are coming back. The PDP points to the persisting astronomical prices of goods and predicts a coming apocalypse. It does not offer an alternative economic blueprint. The people simply have to look at its crocodile tears and believe in its competence.
Unashamedly, it rose in ecstasy to welcome the adjustments that Bill Gates advised to the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan. If you listened to their applause, you would think Bill Gates possibly endorsed and delivered their manifesto. A sober opposition party would have celebrated Bill Gates’ admonition with circumspection.
First, Mr Gates came to wake the opposition from its obvious slumber. Second, Gates also materially indicted the opposition too. The reference to the poor funding for health and education implicated both the federal and state governments. There is no PDP state that can boast of being ‘Bill Gates-compliant’.
So why was the PDP cheering so drunkenly?
The PDP welcomes data that spell doom and dismisses data that warm the heart. That eagerness to brand data provided by the National Bureau of Statistics as counterfeit doesn’t help institution building. The Corruption Perception Index is given an exaggerated importance but rice production data are treated with suspicion.
The party welcomed the NBS when it announced the slip into recession. But treated it with contempt when it announced an exit from recession. But returned to cheer its data gathering efficiency when it said job losses have been enormous. A responsible opposition must protect our institutions. It would need them to rebuild the country.
The PDP pretends that its manifesto lies in a certain sterling performance of the past. That very unfortunate pedigree that Nigerians rose in unison to reject in 2015. The APC government has left mouths agape. So much was expected from it. But a PDP that clings to a disreputable past, and makes excuses for corruption, in the name of promotion of the rule of law, cannot inspire anyone.
The PDP’s shiftlessness will ordain an apathy that would benefit a ruling party that is asking for time to find its rhythm.
Gruesome violence has now become epidemic. The federal government has been, at best, sloppy at dealing with this. But the PDP has not offered a coherent plan to save the country from the menace. The wretchedness of the opposition leaves public discourses on national issues filled with noise and tantrums, rather than contending positions and competing reasons.
The PDP stands aloof or stands in the middle sometimes, and fans the embers of disunity. It has reached many demagogic diagnoses of the herdsmen mass murders. It’s preferred methodology is the exploitation of prejudices. It has not announced any comprehensive rational strategy to contain the violent herdsmen. The herdsmen’s crises will not vanish into thin air if the PDP wins. It can only be solved by a holistic administration of criminal justice and a political engagement recipe honed by consultations.
An opposition party is supposed to be a party of ideas and hope. The PDP latches on inanities and feasts on silliness. It organises no seminars, it provokes no intellectual debates. A responsible opposition party can neither afford to become an aimless busybody nor can it adopt indolence, ‘siddon look’, as a strategy.
When PDP leaders are not taking oaths to confirm the death of a living president, they are peddling blatant lies as state secrets. The party has become a public fountain of conspiracy theories. It has done away with all compunction. Its championship of rumour-mongering will leave a lasting damage on the polity.
A responsible opposition party could have called for a comprehensive investigation of the Dapchi incident without betraying itself as, perhaps, sadistic. One moment the PDP was screaming ‘Bring Back Our Girls’. And accusing the president of being destitute of empathy. The very next, it was sneering at the recovered Dapchi girls, and confessing that it had always known Dapchi was a federal government’s script, a farce. The PDP didn’t believe Chibok when it happened, despite the fact that it controlled all national security and intelligence agencies.
The PDP has to cure itself of cynicism.
The nation is watching. The ruling party may be bumbling from national embarrassments to national disasters but the PDP doesn’t seem to have any sobriety for national governance. The party exploits principles but lives on opportunism. It will angle for votes by inflaming ethnic tensions. It will drive a wedge into any crack in the national architecture. It will pander to the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in the South-East but it would not make the promise of a referendum an object of its manifesto.
If you look round the country, you will find the PDP perched on every available moral fence. The PDP that failed to restructure the country for 16 years now cries ceaselessly about national foundational defects. Yet it lags behind the APC in formal public engagement on restructuring.
The PDP wants to rout corruption. But it is not decided on what to do with a multitude of prosecutions which it has labelled as acts of victimisation. It is not conscious of the moral confusion it seeds to the public by its vacillations. It has bastardised all anti-corruption efforts in selfish service of party solidarity.
The PDP cannot distinguish chaff from substance. It discredits whistleblower activities. It treats seizures of proceeds of corruption with contempt. It doubts the achievements of the FIRS. It tarnishes institutions to spite the ruling government. That can’t be a responsible opposition.
A responsible opposition doesn’t need a huge omnivorous appetite for gossips and fables. The opposition is not a preoccupation in superstition and conspiracy theorising. It is not underpinned by paranoid delusions. It may spend a few hours wondering who invited Naomi Campbell but it cannot dedicate itself to the scavenging of every compost heap for petty scandals.
It should spend years hashing out and evangelising alternative economic pathways to enduring democratised prosperity. A responsible opposition would defend human rights without endorsing or promoting hate speech and bigotry. A responsible opposition could be opportunistic but cannot be governed by abject shortsightedness.
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This article first appeared on September Post
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