In a democracy, opposition parties are indispensable resource for checks and balances to enhance transparency, accountability and responsibility in governance. A viable opposition offers alternatives to government policies and constructive criticisms. The opposition and the government may not agree on everything, but ideas can be clarified and improved, with a view to finding a better way forward. Put succinctly, democracy is incomplete without opposition.
Sadly, what we have in Nigeria leaves much to be desired. In this part of the globe, instead of the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to offer views that will enrich government’s strategies/policies, offer alternative or constructive criticisms, the party prefers to throw tantrums, make unguarded and instigating comments, and play politics with security matters, which is capable of throwing the country into chaos.
PDP’s incessant gospel of doom got to a head, Wednesday, when Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, called for the resignation of President Muhammadu Buhari. His ‘Abariberian’, narrow conception of being a minority leader is to continue to foster climate of doom by claiming that the country is going to go bankrupt, and constantly disparaging federal government policies, especially on the floor of the Red Chamber.
Senator Abaribe seldom realises that the opposition must give constructive comments, not destructive ones. Abaribe’s pedestal mind failed to understand that by heating up the polity, He is scaring away investors and the Nigerian people are the ones who lost out. Politics is about competing to develop the country, but in Nigeria the opposition as personified by Senator Abaribe is only interested in casting aspersions, as well as sowing fear and hatred in the minds of Nigerians.
Abaribe, his party and other microscopic armchair critics have continued to belittle and disparage the humongous efforts President Buhari’s government is dissipating to clear PDP’s 16-year mess but Nigerians certainly know who is lying and who is deceiving who.
The ‘Abariberian’ serial lies and misleading contributions on the floor of the senate and interactions with the media has continued to hurt Nigeria and Nigerians because we cannot grow without some level of harmony and synergy, especially in times of emergency such as we have now.
It is important to remind the ‘Abariberian’ school of criticism that the opposition may not like the government, but national interests must supersede political interests. In other climes, leaders declare national emergency in times of national concerns with its attendant curtailment of freedoms and inconveniences. In President Buhari’s case, he decided to tackle the issue without declaring state of emergency. Is that too much to do for the Nigerian citizens he loves so dearly?
Senator Abaribe should know that you cannot cut your nose to spite your face, and Nigerians must collectively welcome all efforts that bring benefit to the country, regardless of political beliefs or persuasion. This is the hallmark of a mature and developed polity, but which can only happen with a constructive opposition.
Another very critical lesson to drum into Abaribe’s seemingly blurred sense of reasoning is that he is a Senator because there is a country. If the irresponsible opposition he is playing snowballs or plunges Nigeria into chaos, can he still be a Senator or play partisan politics in an atmosphere of instability? For once, Abaribe’s likes should put the country’s interest before the narrow interest they are pursuing.
It is also compelling to note that the comment President Buhari made about national security has mischievously been slanted by traditional and social media to favour their preferred narrative.
What the president simply said was clear: “I was taken aback by what is happening in the North West and other parts of the country. During our campaigns, we knew about the Boko Haram. What is coming now is surprising. It is not ethnicity or religion, rather it is one evil plan against the country.
“We have to be harder on them. One of the responsibilities of government is to provide security. If we don’t secure the country, we will not be able to manage the economy properly.”
What is confusing in this statement? But because we play dangerous politics in this part of the world, the reportage of the statement was perverted to mean that President Buhari said he was unaware of the security challenges in some parts of the country. Far from it, except to the mischievous mind. The President Buhari I know, an astute soldier, a disciplinarian is fully aware and fully in charge of all that is going on in the country.
Truth be told; was there banditry in 2015? Sure, there was the Boko Haram menace, particularly in the North-east, which the president and his campaign team promised to tackle. Was he able to cripple Boko Haram or not? The answer is clear to any sane mind.
I am will not be tempted to believe that professional critics don’t know that the security challenges Nigeria is facing are unique, as it has cultural factors behind the clashes that sadly rocked many of our communities, be they the Fulani-Tiv or Fulani-Berom conflict, the Tiv versus Jukun and so on. Whether detractors agree or not, these conflicts have fairly been brought under control.
By 2019, banditry had surfaced in the North-west. It was surprising, as the area is almost homogeneous, made up of Hausa-Fulanis. The combatants are largely Muslims. This is what the president said he was surprised about. So, what is the hullabaloo about?
We must continue to puncture the fallacies being peddled by the enemies of Nigeria. The security challenges facing Nigeria is not about ethnicity or religion, it is plainly an evil plan against the nation.
In their desperation to cause mischief, they downplayed earlier and latter parts of the statement and misinterpreted the middle part to mean that President Buhari was unaware or surprised by the security situation in the country.
With this type of legislative rascality and recklessness, Abaribe has lost the moral right to remain a Senator. This is a Senator who stood as surety for a fugitive, Nnamdi Kanu, that is still at large, and he is here discussing security issues after giving support to a dissident and an enemy of the Nigerian state.
Let this message get to the detractors loud and clear: President Muhammadu Buhari will not resign because of politicians like Abaribe who would always choose to stand the truth on its head.
– Ibrahim is Director, Communication and Strategic Planning, of the Presidential Support Committee