Nigeria recently marked 10 years of democratic rule without military coups. The ruling People’s Democratic Party, the PDP, claims credit for the achievement in a country that has often seen governments overthrown.
The PDP prides itself on being the biggest party in Africa. It exerts strong influence, controlling the central government, both the Senate and the House of Representatives, and most state and local governments.
But many in the opposition, civil society and pro-democracy groups say the PDP has not performed and has not brought the population what it calls the dividends of democracy. Most people still live on less than one dollar a day, despite the country’s vast oil wealth.
The party has delivered
“The party has done remarkably well and will not be distracted by criticism from the opposition,” says Peter Nwaboshi, Chairman of the PDP. He says his party is on track and has delivered. The problem according to Nwaboshi is, Nigerians are impatient and they resist change drastically.
There was loss of life and extensive property damage when violence broke out between supporters of the PDP, and the opposition, after the re-run of the governorship election in April, [in the South Western state of Ekiti].
Despite that, the PDP official says the party has succeeded in keeping the country united and is on track to rebuilding the country's crumbling infrastructure. He cites as an example power supply. “The president promised 6,000 megawatts this year we have 5,000 already,” he says. Another promise the government made and has honored is the concept of the rule of law.
“The government of Nigerian President Umaru Yar' Adua did not complain when it lost states due to judgements handed down by the courts. It abided by the courts' decisions. Heads did not roll. Those who criticize the government for its performance are misinformed," Mwaboshi explains.
We won fair and square
Nwaboshi accuses some members of the judiciary of supporting the opposition in challenging the results of elections won by PDP members. "The results are final. The only entity that can change the outcome is the electoral tribunal," Nwaboshi asserts.
Naboshi says the PDP enjoys its acceptance in all rural areas, despite the bad press generated by what he calls the false accusations of the opposition. In the region of Delta North, for instance, "the PDP never had it so good," says Nwaboshi. “If there was an election held today we would win hands down," boasts Nwaboshi.
Naboshi says the PDP continues to enjoy wide support among the population. He says in future elections his party may very well win the few states currently controlled by the opposition.