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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Short Essay 14. Nigerian Opposition and the River Niger Principle

Short Essay 14
By Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde

Nigerian Opposition and the River Niger Principle

The common sense we often take for granted is not common in politics. Nigerian politicians invest so much energy in politics but with very little result to show. In the end, even as a ruling party, the PDP only succeeds in keeping itself on power through rigging, while the opposition parties return home empty handed after every election, complaining, because they are unable to overcome their egos and unite against the behemoth at the center.

I wrote my last essay under the assumption that the opposition parties are true realists as their rhetoric portrayed since their defeat in 2007; that they will merge, they will align, or simply do whatever it requires to unite and remove the ruling PDP from power. They held many talks without producing any result. So they let the chance of merger, or what they called "megaparty", to slip away. Then they entered the stage of alliance. Here too, they are dragging their feet, unable to script down a document that would be to their common satisfaction. They are behaving like the Children of Israel at the gate of the City.

It is getting late, again. Only three days are left before INEC closes the gate of submissions. The only one that would remain is that of some of the candidates lining up behind one, with little chance of bargaining, and hence little possibility of occurrence. Like in 2007, we may approach the polls with a divided opposition assuring the PDP of another four year tenure. They would have wasted their time and smashed our hopes.

The arithmetic is simple, for we outsiders, anyway. It informs the most fundamental principle in Nigerian politics: the River Niger principle, if the reader would allow my innovation. No politician or party has ever become the President of this country without crossing the Niger. We are not blessed with a Mwalimu, like Tanzania, that would rally us behind the ideology of a motherland; we do not have a pact that shares powers in predetermined ways like Lebanon; etc. But we have the Niger. It dares every candidate to cross it and pick the mantle of leadership. "Cross me, shake the hands of your brothers on the other side and your ambition is fulfilled", the river has told every presidential candidate in the past and present.

Many candidates attempted but failed, either because they did not know how to sail or because they lacked the engine power to make the distance. Some did not even attempt it as they were satisfied with the little crabs they could pick on their side of the river. Only four succeeded: NPC during the First republic, NPN during the Second, SDP during the Third, and PDP during the Fourth. The opposition parties could not. They allowed the ruling parties to steal the boats.

As the country yearns for change from its present state of decadence, the Niger is once more daring the opposition parties. Unless the CPC and the ACN cross the river, our hope for change next April is diminished. Goodluck can as well start to bake his victory cake and hold pre-election victory party right now. I assure him that he woud not need to rig, such that my brother Jega can have less stressful days ahead.

Last weekend the two sides could not agree on the MoU. On Monday, one side snubbed the other by not turning up at all. Yesterday too, no agreement was reached at. If they fail to reach any by the end of the week, they will both put themselves in that debilitating situation where the high probability of failure will weaken their resolve and drain their support.

The opposition parties should not think that they have much time left. Even after they sign the agreement, they would realize that they need to cover a lot of ground against the ruling PDP which has enormous resources at its disposal, sufficient to buy voters and rig elections. Greater than resources to surmount is the religious divide that the party has entrenched already and which no victory would come to the opposition without it being bridged. And bridging it would require a lot of sagacity, time and effort. The comfort of Abuja hotels is not for the opposition now.

If the talks between the parties fail, let the candidates start talking directly, perchance as individuals they might not be encumbered with the divergent interests of their parties. If theynarempatriotic enough, some of them will withdraw for someone. It is interesting to learn that Buhari is already exploring this option by inviting Ribadu to discuss the issue a week ago, an invitation which the latter honoured without delay. The advantage here is that neutral intermediaries would be allowed a role to play. But this too has to be pursued quickly; otherwise, any delay would be to the disadvantage of the emerging candidate.

So let us pray that the opposition parties and their candidates would muster the courage to agree soon and cash on the promise of the Niger. Otherwise, let them give up hope of making a big catch next April but content themselves with the crabs and snails that they would pick on their own side of its bank.

If they do not hearken to the call of the river, the PDP would, as it has been doing before.

25 January, 2011


Anonymous said...

We are hoping and praying, but it is very unlikely that the merger will take place. Because Nigerians are egocentric beings and so in love with power, such that, to most of us, a step-down is synanymous with failure. Else they wouldn't be dragging thier feet on so crucial a decision.
Well, God dey!

Adeiza said...

Although he might not be a sound politician just like the incumbent but has the guts the incumbent will NEVER have. Buhari would have done Nigerians a BIG favour by stepping down for Ribadu who in my own opinion will have wider acceptance across the talakawas. We all are tired of PDP style of leadership. All Ribadu will need is a running mate of intergrity (no idea)who will pull crowd from SE and SW and PDP will meet their waterloo.

Anonymous said...

Few words, they say, are enough for the wise. Dr. Tilde could not have made the message clearer.

Ibrahim Jibiya said...

Alhamdulillah! for this resonate and insightful discourse.May Allah unite the hearts of our politicians especially the oppositions to hearken to your clarion call, pick the boat and sail us to safety.Thank you

Yakubu Gusau said...

I just pray the opposition would sacrifice their individual ego and pride for the betterment of this country. Posterity will forever reward them for rescuing us from the harsh grip of this Party of Demons of Persecution.

Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde said...

For days I could not sleep well. One is increasingly becoming frustrated about the behavior of politicians in this country. This is exactly what happened in 2007. Why are we even wasting our time attending to them, allowing them to raise our hopes only to smash them later?

If inter party talks do not succeed, one of the candidate should initiate direct personal talks, since after Friday, the candidates will have the final say about their tickets. If anyone concedes to the another, his party has no option but to follow or sabotage the deal since it cannot substitute him with any other.

If this too fails, I think it is better to turn the attention of one's pen away from politics to other less ego-susceptible matters of society.

Anonymous said...

If the opposition does not unite and produce a single candidate, I WILL not even register. I believe there are many like me. You suggested Ribadu. WE prefer BUHARI. Ribadu is young, let him wait 4 years please. Just give Buhari 4 years only and see Wonders. Some people are insinuating that Ribadu was planted to spoil Buahris' chances. Mallam Shekarau too will make damage if he did not forgive and reconcile with Buhari and give his party's support. Is he also planted?. It was Buhari that raised his hand in Kano in 2002/3.We also have to consider as an alternative. Those who don't want to see Buhari as President will never accept Ribadu as President. Buhari is a head, while Ribadu is the tail of the same coin. Those who don't want either of the two will surely go on exile should one of them emerge as President. So we the masses are in extremely very difficult, agonizing and frustratingly painful state of mind.I REPEAT, I will NOTE REGISTER and waste my time if I don't see ONE United opposition candidate and if they fail, we should surrender to poverty,kleptomania,instability, underdevelopment, nepotism, hatred (like Jos plateau) and all other negative isms under the PDP.

Dogara said...

2003, 2007 and the recent events are clear enough signs for those with discerning minds that the "opposition parties" are basically "boys quarters occupants" of the ruling PDP.

I advise the few really committed and intelligent among them (members of the "opposition parties") to commence strategising for 2015.

However, I sincerely hope I am wrong - to just keep hope alive.

Anonymous said...

The million dollar question is 'whether any of the opposition flagbearers have any hope or confidence in another?' I think each of them believes only in his potential and never considers the paramount which to me is unity at all cost, sacrificing whatever it matters in order to dislodge PDP from the mantle of leadership for collective national interest. Anything short of this at this crucial juncture, implies none of them is truly serious about National interest first, all others later and I dare forget them too and their rhetorics.
Thank you,

Balarabe Getso.

Adamu Dada said...

I am amazed at the respect you accord politics in Nigeria. No where on planet earth does the principle (or is it lack of it?)of "If you can't beat them, join them" holds sway than in Nigeria. Powerticians cannot form opposition, they can only move from one party to another seeking tickets. The whole talk about change in Nigeria's political circle has no bearing to ideology but revolves around short changing the electorates. First through rigging which one million Jegas cannot stop and ultimately looting the treasures. You can see the shameless movement from one party to the other. Imaging Lady Turai of PDP extract, formerly a housewife is now a politician in CPC. Atiku!!!?, governors, senators just name them. This informs why Garba Usman Funtua, a member of the House of Reps in a radio interview described the CPC as a runaways combination from Man.U, Chelsea and Arsenal and he is right. Garba himself abandoned ANPP for ACN after admitting that he collected FOC N500,000:00 of public funds from Shekarau.
Change will neither come from crossing the Niger nor from the Ribadus or the Buharis, it can only come from within ourselves at the end of the barricades, from a union of Muslims, Christians, southerners, easterners or northerners.

Engr. S. I. Tabari said...

Its a simple arithemetic as you have siad Dr. Tilde. To me, Ribadu should step down for Buhari and Buhari should pick a running mate from either the south-South or south east. I know the Yorubas (south- west) are ACN people. With this simple arithemetic, the PDP is already defeated. For Ribadu, let him be little patient, he is still young and agile. there is hope for him in the nearest future.

Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde said...

It is true as Thisday reported that the talks have collapsed, sad to report. However, all hope is not lost.

As someone suggested, Ribadu can step-down for Buhari win time is on his side. That can be done easily when we reach the next stage when they start bilateral talks on perrsonal basis after next Friday. Riabdu and Buhari are very close. The only thing is unlike how Buhari could assure northern votes, ribadu s tepping down unilaterally without his party's approval may pose some problems in southwest votes procurements. There has to be some concession to ACN and to Ribadu.

And Do not be surprised if buhari also steps down for ribadu. He has expressed confidence in him which he did not have in the people he interacted with me the pain of mentioning names please.

But right now, it is the parties that are involved. Ribadu is not even a participant in the talks yet. We still hope it can be settled at the party level.

I am still hopeful.

danguguwa said...

Nigerians desire change. We've been led by PDP for 12 years without much to show. Electricity that has eluded us is in abundance in countries/territories that are not as viable (economically) as Nigeria where 90 percent of the population cannot boast of 24 hours of uninterrupted power supply. We've had promises from the ruling party times without number. Let us pause for a moment and ask ourselves: what is it that a country under occupation (Palestine)can do effectively (generation of electricity despite the blockades)that the so called giant of Africa can not do? The opposition should get their acts together, field a candidate in the forthcoming election such that change could be effected.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Tilde,

I am afraid, the oposition can not get the presidency. They did not work for it and, thus, do not deserve it. The only hope for Nigerians is to vote out PDP at the grass roots. The oposition parties have a good chance, parhaphs with little effort, to win many Goveroship and National assembly seats. All those PDP Governors who batrayed their people at their last convention to elect Jonathan should be voted out. Nigerians are obviously fed-up with the PDP.

sadeeque Abba said...

The Niger therapy can not work in this dispensation, cos our opposition parties are not built on sound footing ala ideology, culture and servitude.

Buhari apart, the opposition are mostly PDP in another form. The political class can not compromise themselves, whatever, or however. My heart laments, if Buhari should lose this chance...!
The simplest anti-dote to all these class excessess is the tunisian magic. But in NIgeria is that possible. I hate resigning to faith or fatalism, but what can i do, Allah ya isa!

NOSA said...


Anonymous said...

We do not have to cross the Niger as we have a lot of peddling to do at rivers, Taraba,Benue and Platuea spring waters.
But Nigerian brand of politics is not a rocket science,to succeed you only need to dash enough money to keep and woo new voters irrespective of wherever they come from, SDP,NPN of blessed memory used money and not any ideological tablets.And that is what PDP is using plus the instrument of coercion and intimidation.How can you explain the action of South south and south east Governors that they will give GEJ a block votes? The free choice of their people is inconsequential.Under this gap how do you expect Bukhari to make in road their?Let us assumed that the Northern Governors do same to Bukhari what do you think will happen?..Then everyone will be at the comfort of Abuja and it becomes politics made easy!

Anonymous said...

My greatest worry, Dr Tilde, is that these corrupt politicians seem to be eating their cakes and having it at the same time. What I mean is, they steal all the money for four years and yet when it is time to vote them out, they still have people who are willing to vote for them. Of course there is the issue of election rigging but my belief is if it true that these people are truly stealing our money why can’t we unit- as is being done in other countries- to get them out. I am sure that this is not possible because in Nigeria a mere allegation that an opposition candidate is religious fanatic is enough to make him or her to be considered an unsuitable candidate by a section of the electorate only for the same thieves to hold on to power and continue stealing as usual. God help Nigeria!

Atsua said...

Dr. Tilde
What we need is to build an ideological base that will bring people together. It is the only way we can bridge the gap between the different ethnic nationalities in Nigeria.
We can start now for building of the critical mass of people around issues of agriculture.

Anonymous said...


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Anonymous said...

Dr. Tilde,

When did the "SDP" crossed the Niger? What is the botony of your claim? Why didn't you add ANPP in 2003 and 2007 so that the list may be complete?
You ran for election in 2007, tell us why yo do not want to contest this time around or is it that members of the opposition have discovered you to be a front for the PDP?
I think Shekarau and someone like Fashola will make a good tean for Nigeria or what do you think Dr?

Anonymous said...

Thanks alot Aliyu but I am afraid it is the same story of 2003 & 2007 and it is really very late although the Poliycinan have a say that "a day is a long time in politics".
Our only option is for us to be the opposition and vote them out by "A SAKA A TSARE A RAKA. May allah be our saviour, amin.


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