Might the People’s Democratic Party, (PDP) have misconstrued opposition to mean holistic condemnation all the time rather than a case by case look at what the sitting government does? The Ahmed Makarfi faction of the party is saying that the swap of terrorists in exchange for 82 out of the over 200 kidnapped since 2014 is a wrong step. Describing it as a price too heavy to pay, the PDP faction argued that the terrorists had escaped justice and, therefore, called the exchange a setback for the counter-insurgency regime. According to its statement, the swap violates or assaults what it called generally accepted international principle of never negotiating with terrorists.
It is not clear why the PDP faction took this position at a time there is jubilation in Chibok, when the UNICEF, for instance, has welcomed the process and the negotiation itself had parties beyond the government in power in Nigeria. That is if the PDP faction did not consider the statements of commendation by many political leaders serious perhaps because such statements have become an end rather than a means in the hands of uncreative politicians.
As such, many would be wondering why the PDP faction would choose to be the loner in a sensitive and even emotionally charged issue as the fate of the Chibok girls. This is more so that it was a PDP government that mismanaged the kidnap, going to stage a dancing session in Kano at a time the then C-in-C should have been in a session with the Military High Command, receiving reports on the progress of a hot pursuit.
The statement is, therefore, seen in some quarters as raising the question of whether Nigeria might also be afflicted with lack of know-how in opposition politics. No regime is so bad or so good as not to be a hybrid of both. None anywhere in human history! Every government in human history is a combination of evil and goodness. In some, the good sides come out more powerfully than the evil side and such a government shines. In others, the evil sides overshadow the good sides and the regime remains more associated with evil for long, if not for life. In taking position, the challenge for opposition is to take a case by case look at each action or inaction, taking the popular mood into consideration. Context makes all the difference in meaning making.
That is why there are many people in sympathy with the PDP over its current fractionalisation because such sympathisers would say that PDP’s 16 year rule could not have been all evil. The Buhari regime has absolutised anti-corruption and reduced Nigeria to that staple. That is unacceptable and condemnable because Nigeria needs a more holistic discourse of social transformation. That is a point opposition should never tire in drumming about, provided the PDP has any such discourse that is an alternative. PDP is running a risk if, in the name of opposition, it fails to acknowledge that the Buhari regime has made progress in fighting raw corruption or in prosecuting the counter-insurgency operation. Many people respect and give due respect to original founders of the PDP but that is not a license for what Gbolabo Ogunsanwo, a former editor of the defunct Sunday Times would have called a case of ‘mandibular wakabout’
Prisoner swap is done all the time. It is comprehensively problematic but has an inherently pragmatic justification at the point of contemplation. That is why the PDP faction is so far the loner and might be alone at the end of the day.