Our Oyo State Correspondent Rotimi Agboluaje takes a look at the future of a vibrant opposition party in the state.
In every democracy,the role of opposition parties cannot be overemphasized. But,as it stands now,the impact of opposition parties is not being felt in Oyo State.
A political party, a group of people who believes in the same philosophy or ideology with the ultimate aim of winning elections with a view to controlling the machinery of government, is a critical pillar of democracy. A democratic country can be a one-party, two-party or multi-party state.
Nonetheless, in a practical term, a one-party state cannot be regarded as a democratic country judging from the fact that freedom of choice is one of the tenets of democracy and multiplicity of parties is key.
This, analysts opined, might lead to dictatorship.
Lending credence to this assertion is a political scientist from University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Professor Bayo Okunade.
Okunade, who is a former Head of Department (HOD) of Political Science of the premier university said: “If there is no checks on government there may be tyranny. The government must be made accountable to see how it will conform with the Constitution”.
Ibadan, the capital city of the state and the state generally, is regarded as the epicenter of Yoruba politics; with an articulate governing party and vibrant opposition parties which pick holes in government policies and programmes. In fact, politically there is no dull moment.
Going down memory lane, in this Fourth Republic, Alliance for Democracy(AD),People’s Democratic Party (PDP),defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and Accord had at various times played opposition roles.
During the first tenure of Governor Abiola Ajimobi (2011 to 2015), PDP, Accord, Labour Party, and lately Social Democratic Party (SDP) played opposition role with vibrancy and intellectualism.
But now, the reverse is case, hence, the lull is loud.
Bedeviled by different categories of challenges, there are many factors responsible for seeming nonexistence of opposition parties in the state.
Hit by defection as a result of the fallout of 2015 governorship primaries, the PDP’s fortune has drastically nose-dived. Leading the pack then was former Adebayo Alao-Akala, Engr. Seyi Makinde and many high rollers. Other PDP bigwigs who joined the APC after 2015 elections include a former deputy governor, Ambassador Taofiq Arapaja, Prof. Soji Adejumo and a host of others.
In Labour Party, no much has been heard about it following the defection of Alao-Akala to APC. Though it produced Minority Leader in the State House of Assembly,the party has not been vocal in criticizing government policies .
SDP, led by youthful Seyi Makinde,is vocal but lacks the grassroots base and spread.
Surprisingly, APC is even playing the opposition role to itself. The opposition within is being championed by the Minister of Communication, Bayo Shittu.
Accord, led by Senator Rashidi Ladoja, which was the most formidable opposition party before the general elections,is not doing well also. Leadership tussle in the party which was popularly referred to as the party-in-waiting has decimated its soul.
Though its National leader, Senator Ladoja, had said the party would lead the coalition to mop up all opposition parties into a big third force political platform.
The former governor said he and others were working hard to bring about this
Nevertheless, with the happenings in the state’s political firmament, many opinion leaders and observers doubt that the politician is taking any concrete step to match words with rhetoric.
Maintaining that the party and other opposition parties have hit the bed sleeping rather than hitting the ground running.
Still commenting, Prof. Okunade said the contending parties are virtually not existing .
He noted that unlike the current opposition parties, APC (Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN) played its role effectively as the opposition party, saying it was on its feet waiting to capture power.
The don, who said Oyo is almost one-party state, emphasized that other parties must work to reposition themselves.
The political science teacher however said the most formidable opposition would be from the civil society organizations,the press and the public.
Notwithstanding, a chieftain of Social Democratic Party (SDP) and former Speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly,Hon. Kehinde Ayoola, said there is hope for a vibrant opposition party in the state.
Ayoola pointed out that noise-making does not mean vibrant opposition, saying SDP is on ground in the state.
According to Ayoola:”We have the structures at the state,local and ward levels. We have our executives in the state and they are carrying out activities in so far we are not in an electioneering period you may not see so much.
“SDP has been making its voice known on issues germane to the development of the state. Other parties are doing the same. Similarly ,opposition parties that have members in government are doing the same. Opposition does not mean you have to oppose for the sake of opposition. You have to oppose based on principle,on the fact that you have superior arguments,more facts than those in government so that you influence things and suggest ways out.
“We are reaching out to other parties to form a synergy which whould help to form a government that truly responsive and responsible to the people of the state. We’re talking to people across board. Even APC members”.
On the whole,the gale of defection of opposition parties’ members to APC on a daily basis would be detrimental to good governance in the state. Many are of the view that opposition members should come together to form a formidable opposition which can give the governing party a run for its money.