Hypocrisy of Nigeria’s Opposition
Nigeria’s main opposition parties, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), were recently in the news, advising the ruling PDP to borrow a leaf from the outcome of the U.S. election. Their language sounded as if undemocratic tendencies are limited to the PDP. Before they point accusing fingers at the ruling party, one would have expected the two opposition parties to be honest enough to acknowledge the fact that they are not saints of democracy either.
The process of producing candidates should be as democratic as the elections themselves. Imposition of candidates by the two opposition parties is not consistent with democratic principles. Part of the problems the ACN had in Ondo State, which eventually cost it the governorship election, was the imposition of Rotimi Akeredolu as the party’s candidate instead of allowing the people have a say in the choice through primaries. Are these shenanigans different from the PDP’s style of “consensus arrangement” in which people are forced to withdraw in favour of a president’s or governor’s candidate against the results of primaries? There could not have been consensus when a man was asked to withdraw from a race against his will.
As far as most Nigerians are concerned, political parties in Nigeria are birds of the same feather when it comes to internal democracy. The CPC was once a formidable and united family that made the PDP nervous few weeks to the 2011 general elections. Unfortunately, such unity is shaken by the current crisis of confidence within the CPC. Disunity weakens opposition parties and the CPC’s biggest miscalculation was to take the will of the people for granted.
In fact, the beginning of CPC’s crisis was the introduction of the unjust and undemocratic policy of the imposition and substitution of candidates by the party’s national leaders who use their influence to get General Buhari endorse injustice against duly elected candidates at the primaries.
It is inconceivable if the Democratic Party or Republican Party in the U.S. could have imposed candidates on the people or refused to respect the outcomes of primaries because the aspirants favoured by the party leaders had lost the votes. Do you for example, need to be told the enormous popularity of Mohammed Abacha in Kano State? Nobody had expected him to lose the governorship primaries in Kano State.
When it became obvious Mohammed Abacha defeated the party’s favoured candidate, the CPC leaders refused to respect the results, leaving people to wonder why they organized the primaries in the first place if they were not ready to accept the results whichever way they went.
They defied good conscience and sound judgement and gave the ticket to an aspirant that lost the primaries. As a consequence, the undemocratic action produced spontaneous resentment against the party leadership. With resentment and division created by the imposition of candidates, the CPC lost Kano, Katsina and Bauchi States during the 2011 governorship elections. These states were within CPC’s grab few weeks to the election, but the voters revolted against the leadership of the party. General Buhari was, however, voted for in the presidential election to prove the point that their anger was against the clique in the party leadership who have no regard for popular will. Rigging had nothing to do with the loss of Kano, Katsina and Bauchi states; instead the miscalculation of the party leadership led to the debacle.
It is, therefore, surprising why CPC and ACN should be advising others to learn a lesson from the recent American elections. In America, politicians respect the outcome of elections; in America, party leaders don’t tamper with the results of primaries to impose candidates who are not elected by the people.
The collective “mistake” of the voters is better than the “wisdom” of a few party leaders who think they are superior to the will of the people. As George Washington said, “no man is good enough to govern another without their consent.” Imposition of candidates is inconsistent with democratic culture. How can imposition parties in Nigeria that have no regard for internal democracy preach to us about the wisdom of learning lessons from the recent American presidential and Congressional elections?
In America, contestants that lost elections waste no time to concede defeat. In our own case, however, even where candidates were overwhelmingly defeated, they won’t concede defeat; they must look for excuses why they lost. Any true democrat in the CPC would not have hesitated to concede defeat after losing the primaries. What we witnessed, instead, was a situation where defeated contestants were imposed on the people, despite the fact that the injustice was at the expense of others.
Can true democrats accept to benefit from injustice against others? In reality, that was what we witnessed in the CPC. None of the defeated contestants at the primaries conceded to an honest defeat. Why must they agree to be imposed on the people when they didn’t win the primaries in the first place? How can opposition parties with these tendencies tell others to borrow a leaf from the U.S. when their own record of respecting voter sovereignty is in doubt?
The self-righteous posturing of opposition parties in Nigeria is laughable. How can party leaders be more powerful than the voters? In the case of CPC, General Buhari is yet to wake up to the realities of the dangers posed to the party by the undemocratic tendencies of a clique around him. This clique doesn’t even respect the party constitution and have always wielded the so-called party prerogative to impose injustice.
— Bakori, an advocate of internal democracy wrote in from 91, Yahaya Road, Kaduna