By Ehis Osajie
WHEN Prince Vincent Ogbulafor, the chairman of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP spoke two years ago about his party ruling this nation for the next sixty years, many had dismissed him as a clown basking in the euphoria of his partyâ€™sÂ landslide victory in the 2007 general elections or as being mischievously unkind to the defeated parties but recent developments have shown that Ogbulafor might have spoken with the benefit of hindsight.
The apparent decimation of the opposition political parties ten years into the present political dispensation presents a picture of an imminent one party state in the country. What started as a mere desire to expand its coast and establish a comfortable majority edge over other parties by the PDP has completely emasculated all opposition parties. For their political survival, many elected opposition legislators and even stateÂ governors are outdoing one anotherÂ to get into the ruling party without thoughtsÂ for the dangers their defections has for the apparentlyÂ imperfect democracy.
Today, the main opposition parties, namely All Nigeria Peoples Party , Action Congress, All Progressive Grand Alliance, Progressive Peoples Alliance, and of recent,Â Labour Party are completely in disarray, fueling speculations that the much-feared one party state may have come at last.
The All Nigeria Peoples Party was a very strong party in the early years of its formation. It was so popularÂ then as All Peoples Party that in the 1999 general elections thatÂ its presidential candidate who contested on a joint ticket of APP/AD had a majority of popular votes. Though it could not garnered the constitutional requirement of two-third of the votes cast in each of at least two-third of all the states of the federation to clinch the presidency, it however, established itself as the dominant party in North- West and North-East geo-political zones with governors elected on its platform in control of about nine states.
Only ten years after, the once formidable party that was expected to provide alternative platform for Nigerians has grown comatose, to the extent that, its presence is now felt only in the border states of Kano, Borno and Yobe. While majority of it elected representatives have defected to the ruling party, its leadership is polarized between its 2007 presidential candidate, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari and its pro- establishment national Working Committee NWC. There are even fears that the last three governors standing may join the PDP train to give President Yarâ€™Adua a complete hold on the North.
The ‘failing health’ ofÂ Action Congress is the greatest sign of the imminence of a one party hegemony in the nation. In its early years the party was the home and pride of progressives and some disenchanted members of PDP. Even though it is only in control of two states the party has enough national clout and was for some time the only voice of the opposition against all the real and imagined misrule of the central government but the rumoured attempts of its 2007 presidential candidate to return to the ruling party appears to have weakened it.
Apart from its share of the defection galore, the partyâ€™s front driver, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has literally gone on sabbatical and and its engine room, former governorÂ Bola Tinubu, appears to be weighing his options. There are speculations that the partyâ€™s two governors are being wooed by the Peopleâ€™s Democratic Party. Governor AdamsÂ Oshiomhole of Edo State and Governor Babatude Fashola of Lagos State have since denied any link with the ruling party.
The All Progressive Grand Alliance APGA is today torn between its founding chairman, Chief Chris Okorie and Chiefs Odumegwu Ojukwu- Ume led factions, spurringÂ fears the party may have been marked down by external forces not comfortable with its regional posture . With control over only one state won after a prolonged legal battle and a minimal presence in other parts of the federation, the party may not really have come into national reckoning, The Igbo republican spirit and their merchantile proclivity have combined to deny the party a strong hold on the South East region itselfÂ in spite of the charisma of its BOT chairman, Chief Ojukwu. Fears that the party may not survive its present crisis has led the only governor elected on its platform to be allegedly seeking for a second term ticket on another party.
Peoples Progressive Alliance PPA, is alsoÂ passing through some nightmares. While one of the two governors elected on its platform has defected to PDP, its national leadership is at daggers drawn. With a host of them resigning or being suspended, the PPA, which was formed by former governor Orji Kalu as a defensive platform for his threatened interest, may not be able to weather the present storm safely. There were allegations thatÂ Chief Kalu is waiting for an opportunity to use the party as a bargaining tool for his re-entry into PDP.
The Labour Party , the only political platform with a distinct ideological bent may have joined the rank of infested parties with the declaration by the Ondo State chapter of PDP that Governor Olusegun Mimiko was plotting his way to the Peoples Democratic Party. Though the leadership of the party has denied the allegation there are fears that since politicians speak from the two sides of their mouth Mimiko may really counting his days in the Labour Party.
While many are blaming the tendency towards a one party state on the intrigues of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party and the insincerity of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, some analysts have attributed the vulnerability of the parties to many other factors ranging from lack of ideology, inordinate ambition, poverty, presence of strange bedfellows, inefficient social and democratic institutions to absence of patriotism.