Posted by Ike Ezugwu | 16 September 2016 | 2,408 times
Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s excellent performance makes viable opposition very difficult in Enugu State. It seems there is only one political party in the state: the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Also questionable is the ability of All Progressives Congress (APC), the supposed leading-opposition party in Enugu State, to effectively challenge Ugwuanyi and the PDP at the ‘Guber polls’ come 2019. Ugwuanyi keeps shutting the space with his performance as the days go by. It is important to note that if “taking over power from an incumbent is dependent upon the interaction between the opposition’s political skills and the political circumstances that they face,” APC’s situation in the state is bad.
First, no other party than the ruling PDP seems to exist in Enugu State now. Perhaps, the other political parties are probably waiting for election time to get closer, so they can assemble like-minded critics of the PDP government into their political fold for the election campaigns? This is as wrong as it is tactically deficient. However, the situation is understandable when we consider that neither APC nor any other political party has any seat in both the executive and legislative arms of government at state and local government levels. The structures for viable opposition are simply not available. Again, the present economic quagmire in the country makes it very difficult for APC, as the attendant hardship and hunger are easily attributed to the failure of the APC-led Federal Government to pull the right economic policy strings. The perceived performance of APC at the centre seems an albatross on the state-chapter.
APC’s foremost uphill task in terms of unseating Ugwuanyi and the PDP is the governor’s performance so far. He is believed to have done so well by the people. How will the opposition convince Ndi Enugu that ‘change’ is needed in the state come 2019? It is on record that Enugu State is one of the few states in Nigeria where governance and statecraft are still running at optimum levels. The state government is developing infrastructures, paying salaries and substantially meeting the needs of the people, in spite of the present economic recession. How would the opposition disprove this? Yet, they have to convince the people that visible works of the governor don’t exist or should not count. How?
Yes, the performance of the incumbent government so far remains a major challenge of the APC in Enugu State. The opposition needs a trigger in form of “an economic crisis, policy failure, party divisions or scandal – to exploit. It seemingly came, but it didn’t. The poor exploitation of the Fulani herdsmen’s massacres in Enugu for cheap political leap failed. It couldn’t yield the intended panic, disloyalty, frustration and confusion. The fact that the national media, as well as the ‘new media’ could rightly situate the “responsibility to maintain peace and order and protect every Nigerian” on the President of Nigeria, the ruling APC and the federal security agencies – Police, Army, DSS, etc, did not do the efforts of their ‘E-attack dogs’ any good. Inciting the bruised public to reprisal attacks or imputing cowardice to the wisdom and tact exhibited by the governor by a section of the E-attack-dogs failed to yield the required confusion. The people mourned their dead and remained behind the state leadership during the trying periods.
Where is the opposition in Enugu State politics?
Who is the Leader of the opposition in the state? Where has the party made an input or impact since the last elections? Has the party demonstrated credibility in any form tangible - through performances in the Federal Executive, NASS, or even through people-advocacy and socio-political intervention in interviews, rallies or speeches? Has APC issued any statement on the state-of-the-state at critical moments like the Nimbo, Akegbe Ugwu massacres? Where is the party’s leadership? Identifying who is to blame seems more straightforward in the eyes of the apologists of APC in the state (not the party itself). The resort to anchoring the opposition’s views and critique on “social media posts, twits and commentaries” highlight a party in disarray than one with a good sense of being and knowledge of what constitutes viable opposition.
The ranks of the opposition elements in Enugu State lack character and credibility in their attacks. Oftentimes, their argument is flimsy rather than concrete. What is “perfectly sensible” to these negative-critics often elude majority of the people. They hardly strike any emotional chord with the people. Take for instance, ‘insulting’ the governor or labelling victims of terrorist attacks on the state as cowards on social media smacks of ignorance, lack of humanity, taste and class. At moments like these, it remains a huge mistake to think that logic and rationality will win out and persuade people to turn against the government. One may inadvertently trigger confirmation bias, a situation in which people become further entrenched in their own ideas. Effective communication appeals to people’s emotions, tapping into universal human values and desires. It is best to appeal to both hearts and minds when you want to build and sustain commitment.
The opposition party has to reposition itself and contribute to governance meaningfully – through constructive criticism and provision of alternative policy ideas, where they feel things are not going well. Viable and people-oriented opposition remains critical in governance. The party has to visibly reposition and commit to good governance rather than assembling e-rats and equipping social media attack-dogs to find faults, even where none exists. The party has to understand that genuine challenges of governance cannot be taken as faults, and should not dwell so much on fault-finding. A sensible opposition knows this and in many cases tries offering solutions to the challenge at hand. They pay attention.
•Ike Ezugwu writes from Lagos. Photo shows Governor Ugwuanyi.
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