Senate President, David Mark and some state governors, yesterday led members of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to perfect strategies on how to form a formidable opposition to the All Progressives Congress, APC-led Federal Government.
The event was held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State where PDP members-elect of the National Assembly were inducted.
At the conference chaired by Mark, with the theme: “The Role of the Opposition in Facilitating Development and Good Governance,” the PDP prepared the lawmakers-elect and the party leaders on what it expected from them under the 8th National Assembly.
Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who delivered the key note address, asserted that “the PDP has overcome its defeat in the last elections, and that being in the opposition is not a death sentence, but for soul-searching.”
He warmed that the party should not be one that does not see anything good in the ruling party, neither should it incite the people against the government.
He said: “Indeed, being in opposition is not a life sentence for any party. It is an opportunity for soul-searching, self-construction, and providing healthy, robust, vigilant, and responsible opposition, which is critical to democratic growth and good governance.
“As the American statesman, Benjamin Disraeli, once put it, no government can long be secure without a formidable opposition, and this, the PDP members in the 8th National Assembly are poised to do.
“I recommend that we in the opposition should set up shadow committees relative to Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs, to sustain a methodical monitoring of the APC performance and report to the whole world on real time basis.”
Ekweremadu urged the APC government to make the exchange rate N1 to $1, bring back the abducted Chibok girls, fight corruption, provide two million jobs yearly, and provide uninterrupted power supply as it promised during the electioneering.
While calling on members of the PDP to stick together and speak with one voice, he urged the party’s governors to focus on citizens’ welfare and pay workers’ salaries promptly.
Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson in his speech, observed that for the PDP to bounce back to reckoning, its members must build synergy, regretting that the APC was more interested in power grab and not a party with quality social agenda.
He said: “We (governors) have started talking to members to remain in the party and work with other stakeholders to restore the party’s glory. Whether we survive or not depends on how long we collaborate… Forget the propaganda that a governor wants to move to another party. We are all committed to remaining in the party for it to bounce back.”
His Delta State counterpart, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, said the strength of their party lied on the hands of PDP lawmakers based on the quality of their debates.
“It therefore means, we must do research, work hard, and spend time and resources to relate warmly with the media. It is only when you stand upright in the House and do the needful that is only when we can give the PDP a voice.”
Former Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, charged PDP members in the House of Representatives to help the party find its voice in the House by showing real commitment to legislative issues.
“That is where you find rascality like in other parts of the world. The House must stand up and be committed. There will be no change. They have nothing to offer. That is why the House of Representatives should come up with a legislative agenda,” he said.
The resource persons at the conference included Hon. Edward K. Doe Adjaho, Speaker of the Parliament of the Republic of Ghana, Mr. John Tomeszewski, Country Director for the International Republican Institute’s Kenya and East Africa Regional Programmes based in Kenya, Nairobi; Prof. Samuel Egwu, immediate past United Nations Development Programme, UNDP team leader on governance and peace-building.

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