Engendering a constructive opposition By Benedict Okhumale

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Opposition is not the exclusive preserve of political parties or civil society groups or lawyers or individual advocates or groups. Opposition is a responsibility of all citizens.

Opposition is a valuable tool to bring about progress. Opposition is not supposed to be negative or antagonistic. Opposition becomes counterproductive when it’s done with a negative intention to bring down. Constructive opposition I guess is what those who introduced the concept to the political system and governance intended. Constructive opposition helps shape policies, programmes and projects of governments. Constructive opposition should be ideas based and objective. In a democratic system, the government in office has a defined tenure before an electoral process. The opposition parties are supposed to oppose policies, projects and programmes of the incumbent government by proposing alternative ideas where they disagree with the government in office. This way the opposition parties sell their ideologies and capacity to govern to the electorate. During elections it becomes easier for the electoral to make a choice. Opposition that is overly critical without proffering practicable alternative ideas is a distraction to the polity.

Even in our homes and other social associations constructive opposition is absolutely necessary. As individuals we need to be receptive to constructive criticism to enable us grow in our personal lives and endeavours.

However, if the motive of criticism is to pull down of gain advantage it becomes toxic. The receiver of the criticism in this case becomes weary or aggressive. When criticism is constructive and progressive it makes the receiver cooperative and reflective.

To be constructive the party opposing needs to be able to look at the issues from the point of view of the proposer. The way you see a problem from the inside is different from the way it looks outside. Sometimes the proposer of an idea may be doing it on the basis of the circumstance at the particular point in time.

The government in office should also be willing to provide access to critical information and share the basis upon which the proposer was made. Lack of transparency presupposes intention to deliberately conceal wrong doing or corruption. Opposition should have access to public document without much ado. The leader can’t afford to be arrogant. Leadership is a position of trust. A leader must therefore be transparent to engender a constructive opposition. If a government is transparent and the opposition parties remain disruptive, the electorate will be the judge.



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