The Need for Viable Opposition in Nigeria by Mahdi Garba


It is obvious that both the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the major opposition political party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that robbed Nigerians for 16 consecutive years have failed. Since Nigeria’s transition to democracy in 1999, there was massive corruption, nepotism, abuse of office, absence of food security, epileptic power supply among others too numerous to mention.
Until the 2015 General elections that ended the 16 years of the then ruling PDP, average Nigerians have experienced different forms of hardships, ranging from poor education system to insecurity, especially in the Northeastern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa. At the height of the Boko Haram insurgency, commercial and educational activities were crippled which tremendously affected the social well-being of the people. Mosques, Churches, Markets and Schools were all victims of atrocities of the Boko Haram. While citizens point fingers at the Goodluck Jonathan government, accusing it of lacking the political will to cut the terrorist’s group to size. Some, from the Northern enclave even directly accused the Goodluck Jonathan administration of funding the group. This was when bomb started rocking major northern cities like Kaduna, Jos, Bauchi, Gombe, Abuja and Kano, an indication that Boko Haram is advancing its tentacles from the Northeast to the Northwest and even the North Central.
On the night of 14-15 April, 2014, about 273 students of Government Girls Secondary School Chibok in Borno State were kidnapped by Boko Haram insurgents. This did not stop the then President Jonathan from flying to Kano to canvass for votes. While parents of the abducted girls were mourning, the President was dancing in Kano.
In July 2014, the attack by Nigerian Army on members of El-Zakzaky’s- led Islamic Movement while embarking on a Pro-Palestinian procession which left 34 people dead, including 3 sons of Sheikh Zakzaky. This was another point that helped opposition APC then to campaign against Jonathan in the north. Although President Goodluck called El-Zakzaky on phone 40 days after to tell him ‘sorry’, members of the APC used that as a fact to buttress their point that Goodluck led administration is anti-north. The Chibok and Zaria events have shaped the outcome of the 2015 General Elections.
Most notably amongst them were present Kaduna State Governor, Nasiru El-Rufai, Information and Culture Minister Alhaji Lai Mohammed, former Lawmaker Faruk Adamu Aliyu, the list goes on.
As the APC is celebrating 3 years in power, the lesson Nigerians learnt is the difference between them and the PDP is akin to the difference between six and half dozen. The recent Corruption Perception Index (CPI) released by Transparency International late February has scored Nigeria 27/100 which was better off in 2016 as 28/100 with a rank of 148 among the 180 countries assessed. An indication that nothing has improved despite the so called Anti-corruption war by the present administration.
The current administration is towing the verge of its predecessor in all the facets of governance. Even the fight against corruption has been proven to be a media hype, because no public office holder has been prosecuted since the inception of the war.
Consequently, come 2019 Nigerians might repeat the mistake of voting the APC or the PDP, not because they believe in the ideologies (if they have any), and not because they were impressed with their previous performance but because they are desolate of any alternative. A total number of 68 political are contesting in the 2019 General elections, but the need for a viable and credible opposition in Nigeria is still the dream of many electorate. A dream that can never become true if godfatherism and domination of some political parties by another.
The phrase of ‘major political parties’ and ‘minor political parties’ should be deleted from our lexicon. By doing that, all political parties will be equal. The inequality among the political parties is a factor that left us where we are today. To most people in the streets, we have only two political parties, the ruling APC and the opposition PDP.
If the ‘status quo’ of major and minor is broken, a viable opposition may be given birth. There are many competent politicians in these ‘minor’ political parties but are being hold ransom by lack of funding or the godfather to bring them to limelight.
Mahdi writes from Jos and can be reached at


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