Friday, 24 February 2017

Article: Paradox Of A Corrupt Opposition Party In Power

By SKC Ogbonnia

The All Peoples Congress (APC) gained the Nigerian presidency on an enchanting mantra of change, particularly change from the tide of an endemic corruption that characterized the 16-year reign of the People Democratic Party (PDP). Unfortunately, however, over one and half years after it lost power, virtually all structures of government have remained in the firm grip of the PDP, the now opposition party. Not surprisingly, the hope for the much-anticipated change is gradually becoming a pipe dream.

Let us look at the executive arm of government for a start. A vast majority of the agencies under the executive branch are controlled by the opposition. The parastatals, for instance, remain dominated by the appointees of former President Goodluck Jonathan. The foreign service is sadly similar. With the undue delay to appoint substantive diplomats; the embassies and consulates, which typically help to promote the president’s vision abroad, are still in the hands of the very PDP apologists that tainted the convex lens through which the world views Nigeria.

The paradox at the legislature has grown old but obviously worse. In short, the change agenda of the current government took a nose dive when the opposition swayed the election of the Senate President to a pliable member of Nigeria’s corrupt oligarchy. Still, that is practically nada when compared to the fact that the opposition has continued to hold fast the position of the Deputy Senate President.

To remain fair, it is not a taboo for a member of the opposition to occupy a leadership post in the legislature. But the current case in Nigeria is eerily different. The Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has been reduced to a titular figure due to his deserving battles with the anti-corruption agency. To that end, a dateless deputy, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, is once again the de facto head of the Nigerian legislature.

But the leopard, they say, hardly changes its spot. Rather than toe the line of change, Chief Ekweremadu is craftily replicating the unbridled roles he played in the last regime that combined to plunder Nigeria into an economic recession. Moreover, the maxim “charity begins at home” still holds true. Ekweremadu, remember, was a ranking member of the cabal that did nothing during the Jonathan years but render his Southeast zone of Nigeria the sorriest of the spectacles.
On top of these, the Deputy Senate President and his rogue master had the audacity to pad vital Senate Committee chairmanships with their poodles from the opposing party. Sure enough, but unfair to the masses, the fate of public policies, particularly implementation, is at the mercy of a party disgraced out of power.

The situation at the third arm does not exude hope. Infamous for frivolous delays of corrupt cases at the courts, it did not shock anyone, therefore, that the judiciary would quickly collude with the legislature to obstruct the vision of the executive arm.

The objective fact, if it is not already manifest, is that a virally corrupt opposition party is dictating the nature, character, and pace of the Nigerian national agenda. It goes to say, thenceforth, that the opposition confederates are also the ones relishing the spoils of the current government. That is not even all. The People Democratic Party of Nigeria, anchored by two notorious highbinders in Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti and Ex-Minister Femi Fani-Kayode, is brazenly deploying its stolen wealth to not only sustain the status quo but to also fan the embers of crisis in the land.

Blaming the opposition for Nigeria’s current woes, as above, will always attract a captive audience for obvious reasons, but President Buhari’s style has become a perplexing quotient. Fresh from the euphoria of a historic victory, many thought the president had a unique clue when he proclaimed to “belong to no one” and thence begged our indulgence to single-handedly change Nigeria by himself. Alas, we are all finding out the hard way.

What we have found out thus far is a meticulous approach to governance and, by consequence, a slow pace of the change. This pattern, coupled with a seemingly lack of transparency as well as skewed political appointments, had ignited a public outcry which, in essence, spurred the lees of the corrupt past regime to creep back in all spheres of political power. More painfully, any good intention notwithstanding, Buhari’s uneven attempt to prove that he belongs to no one might have painted a picture of a one-man show, thereby alienating the APC intelligentsia that would have ordinarily placed the opposition squarely where it belongs.

The solution, though, is self-evident. Instead of continuing to rest on the oars of the victory of 2015 with a small clique of leeches or waiting to fully recover from an unfortunate health setback, Buhari might as well consider that the battle for 2019 is almost here. A ready route is to broaden and embolden the change agents. Besides a much-needed cabinet overhaul, it is about time the president finally embraces his party structure across the country to help him fill, without any more delay, the thousands of positions still in the hands of a party opposed to change.

To regain the trust of the APC main thrust, however, is not expected to be easy. Even the purest of the paragons of virtue would feel used and abandoned. But there is every reason for the change family as well as the masses to remain steadfast. Any thought to officially surrender power back to the PDP or its makeover is a hellish proposition. True.

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