The significance of opposition in nation-running is a tale as old as democracy. It ensures the accountability of government and preserves its institutions. This is why President Muhammadu Buhari’s call for a vibrant and responsible opposition is important.
The president made his remarks at a meeting with the leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) on Friday, August 25. He said: “Multi-party democracy is a very tried and tested form of government; opposition does not mean hostility, enmity or antagonism. Democracy needs opposition, one which is vibrant but responsible.”
Since President Buhari’s victory in the 2015 elections, the government has remained virtually unopposed. The PDP has endured in-fighting and a power struggle that ended with Ahmad Makarfi being declared party leader by the Supreme Court. And the other parties are too small to pose any threat.
Uncurbed, the absence of strong opposition may further weaken Nigeria’s institutions and endanger human agency. A healthy opposition represents the people as much as the government does. It ensures the circulation of diversified opinions and criticisms in the political discourse. It also keeps the government in check.
For a democracy as young as Nigeria’s, a multi-party system and solid opposition preempts a return to authoritarian rule. It also staves off the reoccurrence of one-party dominance. A type of dominance that breeds corruption and allows ineptitude to go unchecked. Thus setting Nigeria apart from the trend of African countries with suppressed oppositions and consequently volatile democracies.
Although the nation’s major two parties are hardly divided along ideological lines, good opposition promotes checks and balances. It allows for a type of competitive governance that raises the bar of leadership. Should the Buhari programme fail, a reliable opposition means that the electorate can look to another party for direction.
It, therefore, encourages and increases voting power. Thus, promoting and strengthening democracy. On the legislative side of things, strong opposition ought to prevent the sparsity of ideas and singularity of opinions. Bills are hence, earnestly debated before being passed into acts.
PDP’s caretaker chairman, Ahmad Makarfi, who attended the meeting assured of his party’s cooperation to ensure Nigeria’s navigation into a better tomorrow. His remark, along with the president’s are a seeming departure from the mud-slinging both parties have engaged in, in the last two years. A strong opposition is essentially the people’s auditor of government. Nigeria’s democracy is too young and too volatile to not have one.