‘This can never happen in Nigeria’, these were the words of a Nigerian Member of Parliament to then Minority Leader Alban Bagbin over the violence-free handing over of power from former President Jerry John Rawlings to his successor John Agyekum Kufuor.
Bagbin narrates that the said Nigerian lawmaker was shocked that a government in power could peacefully hand over power to an opposition party.
This experience, Alban Bagbin said took place at the 2006 Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference held in Nigeria where he and then Speaker Ebenezer Sekyi-Hughes and Majority leader Felix Owusu Agyapong were Ghana’s reps.
Recounting the encounter with Nigerian MP during a meeting with Ethiopia’s Political Parties Joint Council (EPPJC), Bagbin said “are you from Rawlings’ party and I said yes. So you people sat there and allowed the opposition party to take power from you? And I said we were not even sitting; we were standing and they took it from us. It can never happen in Nigeria but it eventually happened,” he stated.
Bagbin indicated that the Nigerian lawmaker was also surprised by the sense of unity exhibited by Ghana’s representative at the conference.
“I was moving with the then Speaker and the Majority Leader. We were always together – sitting, talking and eating together – and one of the Nigerian MPs stopped me and said, “they say you are the opposing leader in Ghana and I said yes. Are you sure you are the opposing leader? And I said yes, I am the opposing leader,” he narrated adding “And he asked how can you be sleeping on the same bed with them and you said you are an opposing leader? And I said do you want to see me fighting them? That is not opposition. “The Nigerian MP told me it can never happen in Nigeria.
Alban Bagbin emphasized that the fact that a party is in opposition does not mean it should fight the government over any and every issue.
“Opposition is not about fighting the one in power because as for change nothing can stop it. It is one of the things that nothing can stop. It will happen when it will happen,” Mr. Bagbin said.