How greed ruined opposition in Nigeria

How greed ruined opposition in Nigeria

The February 25th, 2023 general election was a low hanging fruit for the main opposition party in Nigeria, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). The PDP presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the Labour Party (LP) candidate, Mr Peter Obi and the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) candidate, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, were expected to reap from the angsts directed at President-elect Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Many misguided youths and a cross section of the country went against Tinubu and pitched their tent with his opponents, especially Obi and Atiku.

To place this in a proper perspective, a little historical background of how Nigeria got to this point will be necessary. That President Muhammadu Buhari and Tinubu are political strange bedfellows is not hidden. In 2014, both belonged to different political parties with parallel ideologies. They saw a window that the Dr Goodluck Jonathan government was up for grab because of the worrisome security situation and a crippling economy. Buhari, then of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), joined Tinubu, then of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), in an alliance to form the APC with the support from some other political parties. They teamed up and won. From day one, Buhari showed the path he wanted without any reward system for the party structure; Tinubu was clearly ignored in the scheme of things. Many would argue that Tinubu suggested Minister of Interior Rauf Aregbesola, Minister of Information Lai Mohammed, Minister of State for Health Olorunnimbe Mamora, Minister of Sports Sunday Dare, Minister of Works Babatunde Fashola and ex-Minister of Communications Adebayo Shittu and a few others to the president. However, the run up to the February 25 presidential election shows that Tinubu was almost on his own save for the support of a few of them.

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Tinubu had his eyes on a goal and this was the reason he threw his weight again behind Buhari in 2019. A united PDP presented Atiku and Obi to confront Buhari who already had its goodwill decimated by disappointed Nigerians. The power of incumbency and perhaps Atiku’s weak candidature made Buhari win the second term, a more credible candidate from the North could have defeated Buhari in 2019. PDP had another four years on a platter to plan and put forward a cohesive front to defeat a government and party that most Nigerians have chosen to hate. But no, PDP did not use its advantage.

While it’s good not to take away the credit of Buhari in the area of massive infrastructural development in the country, his government failed woefully on security and economy. The Nigerian youths were justifiably angry.

A solid opposition with little effort had the opportunity to put an end to the APC government but the PDP bungled this lifetime opportunity because of the wholesome greed by Atiku, Obi and Kwankwanso. They failed themselves and they failed all Nigerians that looked up to them for a change. History will harshly judge them for their selfishness. If they had stayed as one and in the PDP, success would have been guaranteed.

Everything, including the unexpected COVID-19 pandemic, worked against Buhari and APC government. Many youths leveraged on the effects of the global pandemic with their October 2020 crippling ENDSARS protests that got the attention of the world.

Buhari’s later days policies, especially the ill-planned and poorly implemented Naira swapping policy that brought Nigeria to her knee, would have made the February election a piece of cake for the PDP.

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Those who are angry that Tinubu won the election are grossly misguided. Known as the last man standing since 2003 as the only governor in the Southwest who survived Olusegun Obasanjo’s hurricane sweep of the region in that year’s elections, Tinubu clearly showed that determination is the major ingredient for success.

While the opposition party was in disarray, fragmented into three and with 5 governors on AWOL, Tinubu was able to secure a rock solid support of all the APC governors and some of the disgruntled PDP governors to emerge the nation’s President-elect on March 1.

That Atiku thought Nigeria would elect him a president after 8 years of Buhari, another northerner should not even be a brainer. That Obi thought only Christians and his tribesmen would elect him a president of Nigeria is questionable. That Kwankwaso thought only Kano State would make him Nigeria’s president is ludicrous.

Atiku was busy fighting Wike while all he needed was to make personal sacrifice of backing a credible southern candidate to beat APC that had almost turned utterly useless courtesy of Buhari, the president and the leader of APC.

Tinubu should be singled out for his bravery, determination and doggedness. He campaigned like he was in opposition against his party. He openly criticised the government of his own party telling anyone that cared to listen that Tinubu is different from the government in power. He offered to continue with some policies that are good but also promised some radical changes. This is the man that Nigerian youths and everyone should praise and accept.

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The over 6 million votes that Obi got were snatched from Atiku, yet the duo is still in court fighting for a mandate that they lost long ago when they dismantled the PDP to fan the embers of their selfish personal interests.

We need no soothsayer to conclude that the PDP is dead and should be rested eternally. A new opposition must emerge and learn good lessons from what Atiku and his friends like Obi and Kwankwaso did to give away the opportunity that beckoned at them in 2023. This new opposition is desirous to put the ruling party on its toes so that it will not take the people for granted.


Sunday Odeleke, a public commentator, writes from Richmond, Texas. He tweets from @OdelekeSA.

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