“Being in the opposition not a life sentence” -Ekweremadu …Tasks APC on Campaign Promises

The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu has tasked the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, National Assembly Members-elect on credible opposition that being in opposition is not a life sentence.

This came even as he asked the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, not to dither on campaign promises.

Delivering a keynote address at a retreat organised by the Forum of PDP National Assembly Members-elect for its members in Port Harcourt on Monday, Senator Ekweremadu said “being in opposition is an opportunity for soul-searching, self-reconstruction, and providing healthy, robust, vigilant, and responsible opposition, which is critical to democratic growth and good governance”.

He however warned the lawmaker-elect to eschew a brand of opposition that sees nothing good in any government action or policy, but to “oppose responsibly and patriotically, play by the rules, and stick to verifiable facts”.

He also urged them not to engage in “market square propaganda and destructive criticism that turn truth upside-down or tends to incite the citizenry against the government in power”.

Senator Ekweremadu said the inherent danger in such brand of opposition was that “apart from overheating the polity and detracting from good governance, even if such propaganda and false promises get you to power, it will not keep you there”.

The Deputy President of the Senate stressed the need for shadow committees relative to Ministries, Departments, and Agencies, MDAs, to sustain a methodical monitoring of the APC performance and reporting to the public on real time basis.

He added: “The PDP lawmakers in the 8th National Assembly should not only hold the APC accountable in terms of their list of promises, but also in accordance with the timeline they gave in the course of the campaigns. They should be able to bring exchange rates down to one Naira to one US Dollar, bring back the Chibok Girls, eradicate terrorism and insurgency, stamp out corruption, create two million jobs every year, provide uninterrupted electricity supply, and fulfill other campaign promises or prepare to hand over power to the PDP in 2019. Their recent dithering and excuses on their campaign promises are not acceptable.

“We believe they must have studied the Nigerian situation thoroughly before mounting the podiums with promises. We should also provide policy alternatives, dissect every executive bills on its merit, and provide informed and energetic oversight of the executive to ensure that Nigerians are not cheated by the ruling party. We should ensure that successive national budgets address national needs and that they do so equitably.

“We should only support the confirmation of appointments that meet competency test and comply with the principles of federal character and equal opportunity”.

The Deputy President of the Senate also urged the PDP National Assembly members-elect who were still nursing the defection idea to perish the thought, describing it as “the shortest route to political Golgotha and oblivion”.

He admonished: “Today, the APC cabals cannot agree on the zoning or sharing formula for their electoral windfall. They have no seat for others because they do not even have enough seats for themselves. They have said so loud and clear. Therefore, those who are running to the APC house should be ready to stand up endlessly. Let us stay and rebuild our party and revive its political fortunes”.

He charged the ruling party not to impose restraints of any type or suppress public opinion and public voice, saying it would amount to undemocratic and authoritarian tendencies.

“The APC government must always bear in mind that both the party and the government are products of the atmosphere of democratic liberties promoted by the PDP government under former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan; that atmosphere must not be fouled by executive excesses, witch-hunt or intimidation”, he warned.

Senator Ekweremadu enjoined members of the press and Civil Society organizations and members of the public to live up to their vital roles of holding the government accountable.

He said the retreat themed “The Role of the Opposition in Facilitating Development and Good Governance” was important as the PDP had no cognate experience in opposition role because “when the tune of the music changes, the dance step also changes.

“The Forum of PDP National Assembly Members-elect thought we should come together to learn and properly rehearse the new dance steps before we enter the village square”, he stressed.

Meanwhile, the retreat, which drew resource persons from other emerging democracies around Africa such as Ghana and Kenya had witnessed a large turn out of PDP serving and former governors, and party leaders.

Uche Anichukwu
Special Adviser (Media) to Deputy President of the Senate