Many of Nigeria’s opposition parties have been inactive since the 2015 general elections due to leadership, financial, accommodation and sundry challenges even as INEC processes the applications from 86 associations seeking registration as political parties.
In this second part of the series, Festus Owete reviews the status of more opposition parties. Read the first part here.
African Peoples Alliance, APA: This party has virtually gone to sleep. Perhaps, besides participating in the Bayelsa and Kogi governorship elections, the only thing the APA can be remembered for since the end of the 2015 general elections is the reaction of its presidential candidate, Adebayo Ayeni, to the election of Donald Trump as U.S. President. It will be recalled that Mr. Ayeni, a former deputy governor of Ondo State, said in 2015 that God told him he would succeed former President Goodluck Jonathan. “I came into the race because God directed me to contest. God told me categorically that I will succeed President Goodluck Jonathan and I believe what God says, hence my resolve to contest the forthcoming election.”
Allied Congress Party of Nigeria, ACPN: Although, no one was available at the Global Plaza, Jabi, Abuja, national secretariat of the ACPN the party has been struggling to stay afloat since the end of the 2015 polls. The party fielded candidates in three of the four governorship elections held since 2015 – Bayelsa, Kogi, and Ondo states. Its National Chairman, Ganiyu Galadima, who spoke in a telephone interview with this newspaper, lamented the stoppage of government grants to political parties which he said has been slowing down its activities. He, however, said the party operates with the limited resources available to it.
Better Nigeria Progressive Party, BNPP: This is one of the three parties whose de-registration by INEC was voided by the court in December 2015. However, since then, the party is yet to re-stamp its feet on Nigeria’s political scene. It only managed to participate in the Ondo gubernatorial poll.
Citizens Popular Party, CPP: The CPP has been trying to find its feet since the exit of its former National Chairman, Maxi Okwu. When PREMIUM Times visited the Lozumba Compex, Area 10, Garki, Abuja national secretariat, it was discovered that the party had since relocated to Orozo, in the outskirt of Abuja. However, this challenge of the office space did not deter the party from participating in the electoral activities in the country. The CPP presented candidates in all the four governorship elections held so far since 2015.
Democratic Peoples Congress, DPC: Although registered few months after the general elections, the DPC is one of the parties that has impressively played the opposition role to the Buhari administration. The party has not failed to offer its views on national issues. Through its National Chairman, Olusegun Peters, the party once warned against granting Mr. Buhari emergency powers to tackle the economic issues, saying it would lead to tyranny. It also demanded the resignation of the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, over the free fall in the value of the naira. The DPC, however, commended some appointments by the APC administration, including those of ministers and Mahmood Yakubu as INEC Chairman. The party also presented candidates for the Ondo and Kogi governorship elections.
Independent Democrats, ID: It was one of the two parties registered in 2013, the other being Peoples Democratic Movement. It participated in all the four governorship polls held so far, namely in Bayelsa, Kogi, Edo and Ondo. It is already preparing for the November 18 governorship election in Anambra State. As part of the preparations, ID recently held a congress in the state during which it elected new officials. It said it is determined to take power from the ruling APGA. For this opposition party, the Buhari administration has not performed poorly, especially in the south-east geo-political zone. Its chairman, Edozie Madu, said “I score the Buhari government 95 percent in this area,” he said.
KOWA Party, KP: The National Secretary, Mark Adebayo, later confirmed to this newspaper in a telephone interview that the party was shopping for a new office space. Even so, that has not deterred the party from engaging in some activities. It presented candidates in Bayelsa, Kogi, and Edo governorship elections. It is also one of the few parties that has not wavered in playing the opposition role. KOWA party comments and states its position on national issues. As a way of repositioning the eight-year-old party ahead of the 2019 general elections, in September last year, four young Nigerians whose ages range between 28 and 35, were named directors of the party. They now man the directorates of Growth and Strategy, Technology, Policy, Research and Development, and the New Media. The following month, it appointed a US-trained Computer Analyst, Nelson Michael, as its Chief Technology Officer.
Labour Party, LP: This party has not kept anyone in doubt that it is alive. Apart from participating in all the four governorship elections, its national secretariat located at Number 29 Oke Agbe Street, Garki 11, Abuja is always bubbling with activities. Joseph Ndirang, the Chairman of the FCT branch of LP. He said the party recently organized capacity building workshops for its officials and members at the ward level and those of the state and national levels would commence soon. Mr. Ndirang, who lamented the financial state of the country’s opposition parties, said ahead of the 2019 general elections, the party had kicked off massive membership recruitment across the country. It was one of the first parties to criticize President Muhammadu Buhari for the delay in naming his cabinet. It also challenged the federal government on the increasing prices of food stuff and non-cohesion in the act of governance. The 15-year-old party recently emerged from a crisis which almost tore it to shred. A group of party members addressed a press conference in Abuja during which they announced the sack of its National Chairman, Abdulkadir Abdulsalam, the deputy national chairman, South, Callistus Okafor, and acting National Secretary, Julius Abure. The crisis led to the exit of its only senator, Ovie Omo-Agege (Delta Central), who defected to the APC.
Mega Peoples Progressive Party, MPPP: This party emerged from the 2015 general elections to begin a crisis that almost tore it apart. Its National Chairman, Oludare Falade, was purportedly dismissed from the party by some members of the national executive committee for alleged financial impropriety. Mr. Falade, however, denied the allegation, describing it as “a ruse, illegal and gross violation of the party’s constitution.” The crisis in the party has obviously affected its opposition role. It participated in the Bayelsa and Edo governorship polls.
New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP: The 15-year-old NNPP fielded candidates in all the four governorship elections held since 2015. It may not play the opposition role because it pledged support for Mr. Buhari shortly after the presidential election.
Peoples Democratic Movement, PDM: This party was registered in August 2013. Despite the excitement that trailed the registration, the party initially linked to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, cannot be said to have made any impact in the political arena. It did not present a candidate during the 2015 presidential election, but instead adopted the APC candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, who subsequently won the election. Since the end of the general election, it has only participated in one of the four governorship elections – Bayelsa where its candidate, Moses Siasia came a distant third with 1,572 votes. In Edo, the party adopted the PDP candidate, Osagie Ize-Iyamu. Attempt by this newspaper to locate its office was unsuccessful. Its National Chairman, Bashir Ibrahim, did not respond to a call and text message sent to him.
Peoples Party of Nigeria, PPN: Perhaps the major activity the PPN engaged in during the period under review is the conduct of an election in May 2016 to pick new executive members to pilot its affairs. The exercise produced Razak Eyiowuawi as national chairman and Abubakar Bello as national secretary. Mr. Eyiowuawi, who was the national secretary, defeated Kelvin Allagoa, the party’s presidential candidate in the 2015 poll but who subsequently stepped down for Mr. Jonathan of the PDP. Interestingly, PPN’s major strength is in Ogun State where it was funded by former Governor Gbenga Daniel. The party also fielded candidates in the Kogi, Edo and Ondo governorship elections.
People for Democratic Change, PDC: This party can be remembered for only two things since the 2015 general elections. First is the petition filed by its candidate in the Enugu East Senatorial District and former governor of the state, Chimaroke Nnamani, against the winner of the election, Gil Nnaji. The party won the case at the tribunal but lost at the Court of Appeal. Second is its participation in the governorship elections conducted in four states. Not many activities are credited to this party believed to be strong only in Enugu State.
Progressive Peoples Alliance, PPA: The PPA has been active since the last general elections. It participated in all the four governorship elections but failed to fly in all. Regardless, since its founder and former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu, dumped it for the ruling APC last November, the opposition party appears to be in disarray. Mr. Kalu explained that he left the PPA because of the entire Igbo cause. “The truth is that although I’m an Igbo man, but I love to be where other Nigerians are seated,” he said. “PPA was like a South East political party while APC is where all Nigerians are seated.”
Peoples Redemption Party, PRP: One of the oldest opposition parties, the PRP was recently re-registered as a political party. The party made news headline recently when it was disqualified by INEC from participating in the Ondo governorship election. The commission had banned the PRP from contesting the election because it was planning to appeal the judgement of a Federal High Court that set aside the de-registration of the party. It could not present candidates in the three previous polls because of the ban. Led by a former governor of the old Kaduna State, Balarabe Musa, the party has been consistent in its criticism against every federal administration, including the current APC-led federal government.
Social Democratic Party, SDP: Apart from participating in the four governorship elections held since 2015, two major events have happened in the camp of the SDP. The first was the allegation that its National Chairman, Olu Falae, collected N100 million on behalf of the party from the PDP to support former President Goodluck Jonathan who was the PDP candidate in the 2015 presidential election. The former SGF admitted receiving the money, but said “it was distributed to the state branches of the party for onward distribution to other levels of the party.” The second was the dumping of the party by a former governor of Ogun State, Olusegun Osoba, for the APC. Mr. Osoba was a member of the APC but left for the SDP due to differences between him and Governor Ibikunle Amosun. For a party “created to encompass the ideals of a centre left,” the SDP cannot be said to have been playing opposition role.
United Democratic Party, UDP: This party floated by the late Second Republic Transport Minister, Umaru Dikko, has managed to take part in the Kogi and Ondo governorship polls. The party also relocated from the Asokoro District, Abuja home of the late Mr. Dikko to Garki II District of the federal capital. The UDP National Chairman, Godson Okoye, who was the party’s presidential candidate in the 2015 election declined commenting on its activities since the end of the general elections.
Unity Party of Party, UPN: Registered in April 2014, the UPN is one opposition party that has kept the Buhari administration on its toes. At every opportunity, its 80-year-old National Chairman and founder of a Yoruba socio-cultural organization, Frederick Faseun, has described the administration as lacking focus. It is, however, not surprising. Mr. Faseun was an unrepentant supporter of Mr. Jonathan. He has repeatedly lamented the poor performance of the Buhari administration and urged it to fulfill its pledge to Nigerians. Nevertheless, he scored the administration high for its corruption war but cautioned that it should not be selective.
United Progressive Party, UPP: Although, it is one of the parties that has remained vibrant in the last 23 months after the general elections, its operating base does not suggest so. A staff of the party, who did not want his named mentioned because he was not authorized to speak, told this newspaper that its top officials were engaged somewhere. Nevertheless, the party has not relented in playing the opposition role. It has taken up the Buhari administration on issues relating to the economy, the 2017 budget and others. At some point, the party’s National Chairman, Chekwas Okorie, claimed that Mr. Buhari was getting things wrong because he was not prepared for governance. The UPP received a boost recently when leaders of pro-Biafra organisations across the world adopted it as Biafra’s national party. The party participated in the Kogi and Edo polls. It has stepped up preparation for the November poll in Anambra State. Earlier this month, the UPP reconstituted its Anambra State Working Committee. It presented candidates in the Bayelsa and Edo governorship elections.
Young Democratic Party, YDP: Registered in 2014, the YDP has yet to demonstrate its purpose of existence. It had claimed to be “born out of the conviction and struggle of a new class of passionate young patriotic Nigerians who believe in the possibility of new Nigeria and the establishment of the Nigeria of our dreams.” Instead, in the last few months the YDP has been trying to find its right leadership compass following the crisis that broke out in the party as well as the resignation of its National Chairman, Ezekiel Nya-Etok, early October. After the chairman’s resignation, about 34 members of the national executive council were suspended for alleged anti-party activities. The NEC chaired by Raphael Horsfall was then mandated to ensure there was peace, unity and stability amongest members of the party, reconcile aggrieved members, protect, preserve and respect the sanctity of the party’s constitution. Despite the crisis, the party participated in the Edo and Ondo governorship polls.