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Nigeria: What Colour Of Opposition?

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In 1959, before Nigeria’s Independence from Britain, three political parties dominated the political terrain, preparatory to the proper handover date.

They were: the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC) under the leadership of late Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, the Northern Peoples Congress (NPC) led by late Ahmadu Bello and the Action Group controlled by late Chief Obafemi Awolowo.

As their leadership structures clearly indicated these parties were ethnically inclined to the East, North and West, respectively, just as 17 other parties that emerged within the first republic (1960 – 1966). They include: Borno Youth Movement (BYM), Igale Union (IU), Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU), Zamfara Commoners Party (ZCP) and Lagos State United Front (LSUF), among others.

As ethnic/regional parties they could not muster the necessary majority support base to clinch an outright victory during the election except for a temporary fusion between the NPC and the NCNC that lasted for a short while.

Nevertheless, the dominance by both aforementioned parties naturally pitched others against them with Awolowo as leader of the opposition even as their angst and nadir were ethnically oriented.

The story was not different during the second republic (1979 – 1983) when seven political parties stood out to contest the various political positions in the country.

It was a relatively open and democratic environment of the second republic that witnessed the emergence of new political parties such as the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), Nigerian Peoples Party (NPP), Great Nigeria Peoples Party (GNPP) and Peoples Redemption  Party (PRP). They were merely incarnates of the NPC, AG, NCNC and  NEPU.

While the NPN controlled the North, the UPN dominated in the West, including old Bendel and Kwara States, and the NPP held sway in the East. Without doubt, it was an indication that despite the emergence of new political parties, they were still characterised by the interplay of primordial political loyalties and forces. Again, it was natural that while the NPN controlled the federal government other political parties, devolved into opposition though from very weak frontiers. So weak were they that the ruling party even, if myopic, dictated what true governance was. Invariably, that became a veritable platform for the party to continue in power for as long as it could, despite agitations of corruption permeating the fabrics of the society. Yet, besides dominating in their respective native regions the much the opposition political parties could do was to look on until the 1983 coup d’etat  that shoved Alhaji Shehu Shagari aside for General Muhammadu Buhari to take over the mantle of leadership. It was closely followed by another coup in August 1985 that brought General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida to power.

With Babangida’s  “a little to the left and a little to the right” Social Democratic Party (SDP) and National Republican Convention (NRC), his long tenure could not organise a successful election even as he made the entire world believe that his imposed parties were intended to discard with the primordial ethnic sentiments associated with our political parties and the opposition. But despite these lapses Nigerians tolerated IBB Jaunta’s  antithesis to natural evolution of political parties to look forward to a vibrant election which nonetheless became a fluke and turned out to be known in Nigeria’s political history as ‘abortive third  republic’. Even so, opposition inevitably mounted against the novel tactics that would line everybody behind two self-imposed parties. Unfortunately they could not voice out their anger or muster enough courage to confront the military. However, the full strength of the opposition manifested after the long military rigmarole between IBB who was prevailed upon to step aside and General Sani Abachi who displaced the Interim National Government (ING) of Chief Ernest Shonekan. Of the seven political parties that contended or seemed to oppose the Abacha administration’s make-belief new political dispensation, the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) was a gadfly and notable opposition that rattled the Abacha Junta to a standstill. Others were: Committee for National Consensus (CNC) Democratic Party of Nigeria (DPN), Justice Party (JP), National Centre Party of Nigeria (NCPN), Grassroots Democratic Movement (GDM) and United Nigeria Congress Party (UNCP).

Unfortunately, what became of these parties under Sani Abacha is now the dark history of Nigeria’s political past.

On May 29, 1999 General Abdulsalami Abubakar midwifed the election that heralded the fourth republic which made the former military leader Olusegun Obasanjo the new president. Suffice it to say that out of the 29 registered political parties, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) stood and still stands out, dominates the political clime and rules the country till date with little or no impressive opposition save at the regional levels where the Alliance for Democracy (AD), Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) and the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) enjoy ethnic support base.

That is to say the history of Nigeria’s Political dispensation is replete with weak opposition that over the years could not engender any positive change. Coupled with rampant corruption, nepotism, insincerity, and ethnic bias, the political class had been overwhelmed by elements bereft of viable political ideology to anchor the nations’ political future and offer a desired constructive opposition.

In fact many believe that Nigeria at best can boast of compromised opposition parties who for material benefit have long abandoned their traditional role as peoples watchdog, ensuring checks and balances on the ruling government and resorted to scouting for pecks of office.

That also explains why in Nigeria individuals that constitute the opposition view it as an opportunity to warm themselves into the heart of the ruling party for recognition. Indeed Nigeria’s opposition parties seem to have no plans, no programmes, no value added and lack credibility to challenge unpopular government policies.

Presently they constitute over 40 mushroom political contraptions with the sole aim of receiving grants from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Like seasonal preys, they hibernate after major elections only to reappear and heat the polity during elections.

It goes without saying, therefore, that bankruptcy in ideology and vision reduced party politics in Nigeria to bread and butter game. Monetisation of the political process has become the bedrock of loyalty and support, a situation that erodes the objective of the democratic process anchored on supremacy of popular will.

Even when members of the political class in realiSation of their lame-duck approach to opposition initiated the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP), Nigerians welcomed the move as the most robust in the nation’s history of political opposition devoid of ethnic, elitist and parochial sentiments. But that was not to be.  Allegations mounted that some CNPP leaders compromised their positions for material benefits in form of physical cash or juicy appointments from the ruling parties in their states.

Unlike the first and second republics when ethnicity dictated the actions of the AG and UPN opposition, the present democracy, though better in ethnic orientation has suffered severe degradation owing to inability of the political clas to adhere to the rules of the game. Apart from the ACN with some remarkable efforts, genuine opposition seems to be missing in action in Nigeria.

Apparently, the tragedy of the opposition in Nigeria presently is that there is no difference in party ideology and structure between the PDP and the so-called opposition. By all intent and purposes they are the same and therefore considered as really not having much to offer.

The opposition parties should cease to bemoan their fate and blaming their dismal electoral outing and concentrate on being resourceful and proactive in strategic politicking.

It is instructive to note that inordinate ambition remains the greatest threat to the success of the opposition parties in Nigeria, for instance, the alliance between the AG and UPGA in the first republic was designed to realise the presidential ambition of late Chief Awolowo who was leader of the opposition under the parliamentary system of the first republic. The same was true of the PPA configured to actualise Chief Awolowo’s unrealised presidential ambition in the second republic. And, as if following the trend the political summit spearheaded by the ANPP in 2007 was to realise the presidential ambition of Muhammadu Buhari, a major opposition leader, but it clashed with the presidential ambition of Vice President Atiku Abubakar who left PDP to contest under the newly formed Action Congress. Of course, their clash of interest doomed their ambition and neutralised the strength of the opposition.

Also imperative is the fact that Nigerian political class should endeavour to grow beyond shoddy orientation and pedestral values, and acknowledge that political parties bear the peoples identity whether in opposition or not. Until they come to that realisation our political system would always churn out leadership based on faulty premises and opposition dictated by materialism rather than personal conviction.

 

Valentine Ugboma

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IPPIS: FG, ASUU Meet, Today, As Fresh Strike Looms

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Delegations from the Federal Government and Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) are expected to meet, today, in a bid to avert a fresh strike.
The chairmen of ASUU branches had expressed readiness to commence a fresh strike over the non-implementation of their agreement with FG on IPPIS.
One of them, Chairman, ASUU, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi, Dr Ibrahim Inuwa, said the protracted strike, which was to press home the union members’ demands for the continued survival of the public university system in Nigeria, was suspended in December after the two parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the various issues and providing timelines for the implementation of each of the eight items in the agreement.
Inuwa said over seven months after the MoU was signed only two out of the eight issues had been addressed.
He listed some of the outstanding issues to include payment of the earned academic allowance, funding for revitalisation of public universities, salary shortfall, proliferation of state universities and setting up of visitation panels.
Others are renegotiation, replacement of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) with the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) and withheld salaries and non-remittance of check-off dues.
A statement by the Deputy Director, Press and Public Relations at the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Mr. Charles Akpan, said the Minister of Labour, Senator Chris Ngige, will be hosting the leadership of the ASUU to a meeting at the ministry’s Conference Room, Federal Secretariat in Abuja.
“The Minister for Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, will be hosting a meeting with ASUU. The meeting is scheduled for Monday, August 2, 2021 at Minister’s Conference Room,” the letter read.
The National President, ASUU, Prof Emmanuel Osodeke, had said that the union was invited by the Ministry of Labour to discuss issues surrounding the Memorandum of Action, which was signed with the Federal Government in December, 2020.
However, Osodeke, explained the last time the union met with the government was around March/April.
He said, “The Ministry of Education, which is our ministry, has not called us to any meeting since we signed the Memorandum of Action. But the Ministry of Labour, which is just an intervention ministry, around March/April called us to a meeting in which we discussed and they promised to implement all those things.”

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30 Of 65 Private Jets In Nigeria Owe Duties, Customs Insists

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The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) says 30 out of 65 private airplanes verified owe duties to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The Public Relations Officer, Joseph Attah, made the disclosure to newsmen, yesterday.
He said some of the airplanes came into the country by Temporary Importation Agreement which allows them in without payment because it was secured by bond.
The spokesman noted that many later fail to turn up to pay on the expiration of the agreement.
The customs explained that the verification was not meant to embarrass anyone but to collect payments due to the government.
The service has given another two-week extension which commenced from Monday, July 26, to Friday, August 6.
Attah said with the increasing economic challenge, every revenue is important.
“With this, you can now tie proper ownership to every aircraft or private jet that flies in and out of the country.
“The owners of private jets are highly placed Nigerians who should be respected and approached in a manner that provides convenience. That is what these extensions stand for,” he added.

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FBI Indictment: PSC, IGP Suspend Kyari, Name Inquiry Panel

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The Police Service Commission (PSC) has suspended embattled Deputy Commissioner of Police and Head, Intelligence Response Team (IRT) of the Nigeria Police Force, Abba Kyari, from the exercise of the powers and functions of his office.
Kyari’s suspension was contained in a press statement by the commission’s Head, Press and Public Relations, Ikechukwu Ani, made available to newsmen, yesterday.
The commission said Abba Kyari’s suspension took effect from Saturday, July 31, 2021, and would subsist pending the outcome of the investigation in respect of his indictment by the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States.
The commission has also directed the Inspector General of Police to furnish it with information on further development on the matter for necessary further action.
The commission’s decision which was conveyed in a letter with reference, PSC/POL/D/153/vol/V/138 to the Inspector General of Police today, Sunday, August 1st, 2021, was signed by Hon. Justice Clara Bata Ogunbiyi, a retired Justice of the Supreme Court and Honourable Commissioner 1 in the commission for the commission’s Chairman, Alhaji Musiliu Smith, a retired Inspector General of Police who is currently on leave.
Earlier, the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, had recommended the immediate suspension of DCP Abba Kyari from the service of the Nigeria Police Force, pending the report of the four-man investigative panel constituted to probe him.
A statement by the spokesperson of the Force, CP Frank MBA, last Saturday, the IGP, in his letter to the Police Service Commission (PSC), dated July 31, 2021, noted that the recommendation is in line with the internal disciplinary processes of the force.
According to the IGP, the suspension would also create an enabling environment for the NPF Special Investigation Panel, to carry out its investigations into the allegations against Kyari without interference.
He explained that the suspension is without prejudice to the constitutional presumption of innocence in favour of the officer, the statement said.
The four-man Special Investigation Panel (SIP), is headed by the Deputy Inspector General of Police in-charge of the Force Criminal Investigations Department (FCID), DIG Joseph Egbunike.
“The SIP is to undertake a detailed review of all the allegations against DCP Abba Kyari by the US Government as contained in relevant documents that have been availed the NPF by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
“The SIP is also to obtain detailed representation of DCP Abba Kyari to all the allegations levelled against him, conduct further investigations as it deems fit, and submit recommendations to guide further actions by the Force leadership on the matter,” Mba said.
Meanwhile, the IGP has reaffirmed the commitment of the force to the rule of law, and assured the public of the sanctity of the probe as well as the absolute respect for the rights and privileges of the officer throughout the period of the investigations.

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