PDP: Time to face reality By Dele Agekameh

jonaIn the last elections, the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), the party that has ruled the country for 16 years since the advent of the Fourth Republic in 1999, was disgraced at the polls by the rival opposition party, the All Progressives Congress, APC. That scandalous defeat of a ruling party that had boasted to high heavens that it was capable of ruling the country for at least 60 unbroken years has now almost torn the party into shreds. The defeat, though much expected by political pundits, seems to have caught those at the helms of affairs in the party by surprise. Now, the party bigwigs are enthralled in a trajectory of sleepless nights.

The party is currently embroiled in a crisis of confidence which has reached a boiling point. At the centre of the crisis is the national chairman of the party, Adamu Mu’azu,  on the one hand, and other members of the National Working Committee, NWC, who have come under tremendous pressure to abdicate office on account of the poor showing of the party in the last elections. Many of the aggrieved party members including some state governors are united in the clamour for the party leaders to leave the scene. But the leaders have vowed not to cave in without a fight.

As usual, the media is awash with accusations and counter-accusations. While the accusations are predicated on why the leaders should throw in the towel after leading the party to a disastrous defeat in the elections, the leaders themselves are holding on to the constitution of the party which empowers them to be in office until the next national convention of the party which comes up in a year or two from now. But the warring members think this is mere balderdash. The consequence of this is that both sides are, at the moment, holding on to their gunpowder.

As the May 29 handover date approaches, senior members of the party comprising governors and associates of President Goodluck Jonathan have perfected a grand plan to ratchet up the pressure on Mu’azu. The governors and Jonathan’s closest aides have been in a long-drawn battle with the NWC with both sides trading blames over who was (more) responsible for the party’s poor outing at the just-concluded elections. Top on the list are allegations of betrayal and diversion of campaign funds which are being peddled by both sides. Not even the president’s directive that the warring members should stop trading words in the media because it could escalate the crisis the party is facing, has been able to douse the raging storm. The president’s charge has simply been largely ignored.

The fact remains that the governors and Jonathan’s trusted aides who are up in arms, seem to have vowed that they would not stay in the same party with either Mu’azu or members of the NWC as presently constituted. The issue seems to have been aggravated by the outcome of the recent elections in Britain. In the aftermath of the elections, those rooting for the removal or resignation of the PDP leaders have been justifying their stance against the backdrop of the resignations of leaders of the Labour Party, Liberal Democrats and others in the United Kingdom following the failings of the parties at the UK general election which was held towards the tail end of last week.

In what looks like a confirmation of the high-level resolution and determination of some of the PDP governors and party leaders to see to Mu’azu’s exit, Babangida Aliyu, the loquacious governor of Niger State, has joined Ayodele Fayose, his Ekiti State counterpart, in urging the NWC to emulate the British political leaders who resigned after leading their parties to defeat in last Thursday’s election.  Aliyu said any leader that leads his political party to defeat as it was in the case of PDP, is supposed to resign. As he puts it: “It is unfortunate that people had to be called to resign. The leaders are supposed to voluntarily resign their positions for the loss at the just concluded general election. It is unfair that they are threatening to form a factional PDP because they were asked to resign”. The governor noted that morality and principle were key attributes the PDP must imbibe to succeed for future elections, adding that what happened in the United Kingdom election last Thursday was a reflection of morality and principle, which must be brought to the Nigerian polity.

In the last eight years of Aliyu’s stewardship as the governor of Niger State, he has consistently portrayed himself as a man who fires from all cylinders. Sometimes, he gets himself entangled in unnecessary and avoidable controversies. In this recent outburst, what Governor Aliyu fails to understand is that morality and principle have never been found in the DNA of the average politician in Nigeria. In other words, it is alien in this clime. Aliyu himself alluded to this many months back at the heat of the electioneering campaigns when he openly declared that there are no saints in politics, although he was to recant this later in the face of a deluge of criticism that greeted that speech.

With the accusation of the embezzlement of campaign funds and the ease with which Nigerian politicians jump from one party to another like a woman changing wrappers, it is clear that there is nothing like morality or principle among them. Even the current crisis in which the PDP leadership is enmeshed is due to the fact that the leaders involved are either shameless or they lack principles and morality. Mu’azu and the others at the hierarchy of the party may hold on to their offices by hook or crook for the time being, but it is certain that come what may, they would soon be flushed out from their present comfort zones because they have failed to provide the needed leadership when it matters most. And there are no two ways about that.

However, one thing that is clear is that the APC, a rainbow coalition of opposition parties that had been on the sidelines of national politics for the past 16 years, has learnt a lot from its seemingly weak position of yester-years and therefore, converted these weaknesses to strength through well-thought out and good campaign. The party’s victory did not come overnight. It is the climax and reward for a painstaking campaign at a time the people were crying for a change in the leadership of the country.

Winning elections is certainly one of the things any political party will always wish for. But sometimes, it is not as simple as that. In every election, for the winners, it is a beautiful thing to behold; as for the losers, it inflicts a permanent nightmare of sort. That is, perhaps, the situation in which the PDP as the losing party at the last election, has suddenly found itself. Surprisingly, as it is, there appear to be too many contending interests in the party, all jostling to take control of the moribund party machinery. With the current fratricidal war in the PDP, it is doubtful if any lesson has been learnt at all from the party’s unimpressive outing in the last elections. Already, the party is seriously polarized along primordial lines. The major challenge now facing the party is to prevent itself from imminent extinction. Therefore, my unsolicited advice is for the party to quickly close ranks and settle down to its new role as an opposition party rather than crying over spilled milk.

For a party that has over the years been calling the shots and dictating the tune, playing opposition may be quite a difficult task. The truth is that the party leaders should realise that the merriment is simply over!

‘With the current fratricidal war in the PDP, it is doubtful if any lesson has been learnt at all from the party’s unimpressive outing in the last elections’

NATION