by Babatope Falade
Opposition politics in the history of Nigeria has always found its base in the South-west of the country. This is most likely owed to the ethnic determination of people like Obafemi Awolowo, who used the ethnic joker to help reinforce a political identity as well as keep the votes of the Yoruba for efficient political engineering and opposition politics. The late Awo formed the AG and the UPN at different political epochs.
The politics of opposition is taking a better shape in Nigeria with the recent procedures directed towards the culmination of a merger – APC. The actors in the merger are ACN, ANPP, CPC and a faction of APGA. The essence of a merger is to enable better competition against any ruling party or behemoth – in Nigeria’s case – the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
The recent rhetoric in the build-up to 2015 involves trading of tirades and blame games. The most popular being that PDP orchestrated the barrier to registration of APC at INEC.. I am less worried about whether PDP can stand up to the challenge. I am more worried about the merging sides and what I diagnosed to be the root causes of their resolve to merge.
APGA has opted for a merger, but it’s the Okorocha side of the APGA machinery. The real machinery is controlled by Peter Obi who is an empathetic to Goodluck Jonathan. Okorocha at best would pull the Imo chapter to the table. He surely can’t muster the onions Ojukwu had in his lifetime. Ojukwu’s political mien has passed on to Peter Obi. Okorocha opted for this merger to fortify his political fortunes.
The Igbo’s have a political loyalty problem; they are republican in political nature and commercial in deeds. Okorocha lacks the war chest and his goodwill is dwindling or at best is not as potent as before. Agbaso and his friends would strike when the time comes and the Owelle needs to build his walls.
The CPC is a strong party in the North. The talakawas adore Buhari. As far as the man is alive, the talakawas would stand up for him. The CPC however was unable to pull the sort of strings we expected during the last elections. They won some seats in the national assembly, but their performance wasn’t as expected. The dynamics of a merger against the presidential elections in 2011 with ACN was dependent on the performance of CPC and ACN at National Assembly. The ACN performed better of course, the performance of CPC was still dependent on the sabotage and ethnic politics of the PDP governors in the north. PDP saboteurs arrogated some political scores to help CPC come out tops in opposition performance in the north.
The CPC needs this merger badly to make Buhari president and to remain relevant; otherwise PDP’s staged come back would despoil their established fortunes.
The ACN no doubt is the best opposition party. They have the best propaganda machinery as well as flak mechanisms. They have taken over the south-west, except Ondo state, where Mimiko held strong in the last elections. However, it is important to note that the political fortune of ACN in the west is a function of Lagos. Lagos is the referent power. If things seem good there, others identify. If not, they rethink, and that is why they lost in Ondo.
Another bitter truth is, PDP is very strong in the south-west, except Lagos. With Fashola’s bike bans and other laws that Nigerians are not mature to live with, the south-west citizen’s consensus is an apprehensive one which when stoked would give a result similar to Ondo for ACN.
This merger is important for ACN to retain their domination in the South-West and push their political boundaries. The APC would bear the corporate identity of the ACN; this confirms the strength of the ACN as the strongest opposition party in Nigeria.
The recent seed being sown by Dr Frederick Fasheun by registering UPN may be a set back for ACN in the south-west. The Yoruba elders would support the UPN as well as people who feel embittered by Tinubu and Fashola’s machinations. This would loosen the tight grip and give more space for expression for Afenifere and the likes that have been technically guillotined by Asiwaju.
The PDP has embarked on a consolidation and pacification exercise. The state machineries of sabotage suspect governors like Rotimi Amaechi are being unbundled ahead of 2015. If the opposition actors are not careful, PDP would repeat the 2003 sweep.
Opposition is good in politics, but the opposition parties need to show more seriousness and details instead of churning propaganda alone. I expected that they would have taken fast steps in registering the APC name before it was hijacked. PDP is showing more calculation, more Machiavellian exploits and clear headed political decisiveness. ACN and others should show more vigour and give PDP a fight for their war chest, ideas and their geographical mileage. Time would tell if they can do this.