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By Peter Ameh
The roles played by opposition political parties in a democratic government cannot be overemphasized.
Just as we have across the globe, opposition parties have a primary responsibility of holding the government accountable for its actions and inactions and also enjoy the right under the Constitution of questioning the decisions made by the government which affect her citizens negatively.
The opposition Parties in any given society represent an alternative government, and is solely responsible for challenging the policies and programs of the government with a view to producing alternative policies and programs where necessary.
Democracy being the government of the people, for the people and by the people, is clearly indicative of the fact that good governance can only be effectively entrenched in any society, when the people understand and support the role of the leader of the opposition at all times.
In Nation building, opposition parties play a crucial role in determining the outcome of citizen’s representation in government and can effectively and democratically change a government in power when they unite for a common purpose.
This they can achieved by building strong and sustainable political numbers like what we witnessed recently with the 2023 general elections with Mr. Peter Obi, which indeed increased and showed the voting power of the people in the last circle of election.
As earlier mentioned, the most crucial role of opposition parties in any system of government is to hold the government accountable to the people and to challenge and question any decision made by the government which will directly or indirectly affect the lives of the people.
The positive effect of this form of engagement is that it compels the concerned government to quickly and effectively address the concerns raised by the opposition in favour of the citizens. It is to the benefit of the people whenever there is any form of strong and effective opposition leadership within the country’s political system.
Another critical role of the opposition is in the field of law making through careful consideration and vigorous debates on Bills sponsored to be passed into law by the opposition parties, there is an enrichment of the legislative process; as such Bills receive more scrutiny than they would ordinarily have under normal circumstances.
It is indeed not out of place for opposition parties to align themselves with policies and programs of the government in place, when such policies and programs enjoy overwhelming acceptance by the people.
The duty of oversight by opposition parties, on the activities of an incumbent government, remains vital to entrenching good governance and has the anticipated tendency to enhance a well ordered society.
The effect of these oversight duties can be seen in the way and manner the government in power responds to burning issues resulting from ineffective representation and inability to fulfill the people’s mandate.
Opposition parties in any given society, have the key role to ensure that burning National issues are always brought to bare and made to receive the needed attention. This remains one of the ways opposition parties remain relevant to the public and to the people they represent.
As we currently see in Nigeria, opposition parties play a crucial role in the Nigerian electoral process by ensuring that all parties in the Country’s elections are given an equal opportunity to participate in and win elective political offices for their members.
With a population of over 200 million people, the growing number of opposition parties in Nigeria has to a great extent, deepened the Country’s democracy and afforded millions of Nigerians the opportunity to be part of the electoral process but what is however lacking is the absence of a truly democratic electoral system that will ensure transparency and fairness in the conduct of our elections in the country.
The preservation of the sanctity of multi-Party democratic system in Nigeria was as a result of the struggle by the opposition, to allow Nigerians of all tribes and religions have access to a representative and inclusive government.
The critical role of proposing and promoting alternative views towards the policies and programs of government is one geared towards entrenching good governance and consequently, Nation building. This important role by opposition parties affords the citizens the opportunity to deliberate and debate on issues that affect them.
Being in opposition, the role of presenting an alternative government remains an integral part of the intention by the opposition, to offer a more credible, viable and responsive government to the people, which role is better performed, when opposition parties join forces together.
The opposition parties can present this alternative government by clearly defining their position on views expressed by government which they consider not to be in the overall interest of the people. Get the people behind you because that remains the greatest source of strength of the opposition.
The role of opposition parties in maintaining a defined identity remains extremely important in entrenching good governance and promoting Nation building.
We need to encourage, promote and strengthen opposition institutions in order to achieve a better governance model for our people.
That is the easiest way to make the people in authority Knows that true power belongs to the people.