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Opinion / Editorial

“Deliver PDP From Itself” – Azuka Onwuka

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Any time members of the Peoples Democratic Party gather or pray individually, their major prayer point should be: “Father, lead us not into extinction but deliver us from ourselves.” This is premised on the fact that Nigerians are very religious and prayerful. Since the PDP is made up of Nigerians, the PDP is religious and prayerful.

Some seven years ago, the PDP never imagined that it could be out of power as early as 2015. In spite of its non-transparent electoral victories in 2003 and 2007, one of the past chairmen of the party had boasted that it would rule Nigeria for 60 years. Imagine if that had happened, how boring and monotonous such a one-party reign would have been.

But fate and man played a fast one on the PDP, which used to call itself the largest party in Africa. When he tried in 2006 to get a third term, like most African heads of state without success, the then President Olusegun Obasanjo decided to foist his choice of President and Vice President on the nation. So he chose Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, the taciturn and reclusive brother of his former deputy and friend, Shehu Yar’Adua and Dr Goodluck Jonathan, a quiet and diffident man who had just moved up from being a deputy governor to becoming the governor of Bayelsa State, following the impeachment of his principal, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha. In an election that was described as one of the worst in the history of Nigeria, Yar’Adua emerged the President in 2007 with Jonathan as the Vice President. Two and half years into his tenure, Yar’Adua became terminally ill and Jonathan took over.

Until 2011, the victories of the PDP were questionable. In the 2011 election when Jonathan won the presidency, the election looked substantially transparent and believable, going by the reports of local and international observers. The national and state results reflected, to a large extent, the wishes of the people. Political

Goliaths, who used to bulldoze every other person out of the way, were trounced at the elections in many states. This gave the opposition the confidence that with a stronger push, they could oust Jonathan, who had repeatedly said that he would hand over if defeated.

From what one garnered from private discussions with some PDP top guns, as well as what can be deduced from the public comments of many PDP chieftains, if the PDP knew how the 2015 election would go, it would have removed Jonathan in 2011 and replaced him with a candidate that would not allow power to leave the hands of the PDP in 2015, whatever the consequences.

The presence of a dovish Jonathan made it easy for the electoral body to be allowed to do its work and announce the result. When it was obvious that the PDP would lose the election, Jonathan called Buhari and conceded defeat to him. That action brought down the tension in the land and pushed up the ratings of Nigeria as a country that had experienced its first transition from a ruling party to the opposition.

For many PDP members and supporters, Jonathan’s act was cowardly and treacherous. “How could he have been made the Presidential candidate of a party he did not join to build only for him to throw away the Presidency without a fight?” they asked. A strong President, they argued, would not have allowed the opposition to defeat him. That loss and concession of defeat destabilised the PDP. It had never been in the opposition before and never imagined it.

Consequently, the blame game started within the PDP. True to the character of Nigerian politicians, many of them abandoned the PDP and jumped into the All Progressives Congress. With the onslaught of the Department of State Service and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on many politicians, most of whom are members of the PDP, it seems a sensible and pragmatic thing to join the APC or keep quiet.

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The strongest voices in the PDP against the APC administration have been Mr Ayo Fayose, Governor of Ekiti State; Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, former director, media and publicity, for the Jonathan Campaign Organisation; Chief Olisa Metuh, publicity secretary of the PDP; and Senator Ben Murray-Bruce.

Interestingly, through their many gaffes and lack of clear direction on the economy, Buhari and the APC have given the PDP enough arrows with which to inflict mortal wounds on them. But there seems to be nobody to exploit those opportunities.

Luckily for the PDP, the Supreme Court upheld its victories in states like Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Abia, and Taraba. It also fought hard to win the election in Bayelsa State, the home state of Jonathan, to prove that his kinsmen had not quickly abandoned him within seven months of his leaving office.

Surprisingly, the bulwark of the PDP seems to come from non-politicians who have used the social media to maintain a robust opposition against Buhari and his actions. They have persistently been a constant source of irritation to the APC and Buhari that the Presidential spokesman, Mr Femi Adesina, helped to christen them “wailing wailers”. They proudly accepted that tag but quickly named the APC and its supporters the “lying liars” to emphasise the penchant for the APC to make promises that it does not keep or do the same thing for which it criticised Jonathan some months ago or make allegations that cannot be buttressed with facts.

But the leadership of the PDP – if indeed, there has been any leadership – has been floundering one year after losing an election. With the resignation of its former chairman, Alhaji Adamu Muazu in May 2015, the party carried on like a rudderless ship. Last week, the party’s National Caucus, comprising the governors, members of the National Working committee and the leadership of the National Assembly, came up with another questionable decision of making Senator Ali Modu Sheriff its acting chairman.

Sheriff has nothing officially clinging to him, but given that he has an image issue on Boko Haram, as well as being an in-law to the President, one wonders the wisdom in giving him such a sensitive position at a time like this when PDP needs to burnish itself to appear as a better alternative to the APC. The PDP should have been wiser to have got a person that would inspire confidence and attract even those who are dissatisfied with the governance that the APC is offering.

Immediately Jonathan lost the election in April, the PDP should have elected a new leadership that would come in as a robust opposition that would make Buhari and APC a no-no for 2019. That leadership should have been one that never had to adjust to being in the opposition.

Why the democracy of countries, such as the United Kingdom, United States and France, is exciting is because no political party is ever certain of always winning. A popular party and candidate today can become unpopular in a matter of months. It makes parties and candidates never complacent. It enhances the growth of the country as each party strives to make a difference once given the opportunity to serve.

The PDP must wake up, put the loss of the 2015 election behind it and think of how to make itself more appealing than the APC.

Also, Buhari should always put the nation before party or self. He must have that spirit of ensuring transparent and credible elections over winning the election. And whoever wins becomes the President. Whatever the hawks around him say, he should strive towards making our elections more transparent than it was before he came in. That is what makes democracy exciting.

Source: PUNCH

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