Neither Checks nor Balances

Nigeria needs a credible and strong opposition parties at the National Assembly and all state Houses of Assembly. I wish the Nigerian opposition parties could take a look at how the opposition Parties in the UK (especially the Conservative party) tackles the Labour party. The British Prime minister faces a lot of challenges and questions during the weekly Prime Minister Questions session at the House of Commons. Same applies to other advanced democracies. In Africa, Ghana has shown that opposition party can be very active. Am so sure that the National Democratic Congress of Ghana was able to win the ruling party because of their activeness. Same can happen in Nigeria.

In Senegal, the opposition defeated the president’s party in the local elections in the capital Dakar and other key cities. The son of the president of Senegal (Karim Wade) lost election as a result of this defeat. In Kenya and Zimbabwe, the opposition has made a serious in road into the government. Active opposition parties are an essential part of every democracy. In Nigeria, it appears the opposition parties do not have any bite on the ruling party. The minority leadership at both houses (Senate and House of Representatives) are supposed to be the arrow head of opposition. However it appears the opposition parties are not in existence. Even though the opposition party members are only small in number, their impact should be felt in the National Assembly and the nation at large.

Thanks to the Nigerian judiciary for some of their checks on the executive arm, including all their efforts at saving the nations democracy. They have done us proud, especially with the installation of the rightful candidates that won various elections. Nigerians would wish that the legislature could borrow a leaf from the judiciary and provide enough checks and balances on the executive. More of these checks should be provided by the opposition parties. The essence of every opposition is to form a shadow government. That is a government in waiting. They opposition parties in Nigeria should be able to speak the minds of the masses since the PDP (Peoples Destruction Party) has compromised itself.

The Nigerian press (print and electronic) has done marvellously well too, for without them a lot would have gone wrong. We are grateful to them for exposing all corrupt politicians. Nigerians are also happy for their own checks and balances on other arms of government. More is needed from them. The government at all levels need to be checked. This will help avoid excesses on the executive, the legislature or the judiciary. The extent of the decay in our polity requires that many Nigerians should get involved with the checks and balances. The condition in Nigeria is critical. Therefore I suggest all and sundry to start the process of checks on our government. Nigerians can do this in some many ways.

I suggest a coming together or a coalition of all the opposition parties, all related NGO’s, Civil Organizations, Trade Unions, Students Union, political activist(s), patriotic Nigerians, and Regional groups etc. with their combined skills and strengths, they can help in putting back Nigeria in the right track. I was glad when I saw the former governor of Lagos State, Lateef Jakande forming a coalition of about 30 opposition parties. I suggest all the groups mentioned above to unite and rally behind this coalition. There is an urgent need to work together at this critical stage in Nigeria politics. Please let all the groups mentioned above set aside their ideological differences and unify to provide a strong support base and lifeline to the minority parties/minority leadership at the National Assembly, including the states Houses of Assembly.

More Nigerians should start to speak out or send petitions to the authorities. Writing letters/petition can change policies. The pen is mightier than sword. Amnesty International members’ worldwide uses letter writing to lobby for improvements in human right conditions. More Nigerians need to start doing this. Send a petition to whoever is representing your constituency at the House of Representative or your Senator. If for some reasons some people cannot speak or write, I suggest they should identify themselves with NGO’s, groups, civil organisations etc which will project their views to the authorities. Non participation is the worst. It’s better for us to try and fail than not making any efforts.

All capable hands need to be on deck in reshaping Nigeria. The task of doing this will be too enormous for a little few to do. No changes can take place except Nigerians work for it. We should not expect a miracle without making efforts. With our combined efforts, the present leadership will have no choice but to yield to popular demand which are, electoral reforms, passing of freedom of information bill, removing immunity clauses, regular power supply, etc. May God bless Nigeria.

Chinedu Vincent Akuta
An activist and leader of “Support Option A4 Group” Leicester-UK

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