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SDP revivification and sundry possibilities

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Jerry Gana

Recent reports about the possibility of repositioning the Social Democratic Party (SDP), as the much talked about third force on the political sphere inspired many variables.

But, in the main, the incipient fascination for SDP by front row politicians reflect more on perceived shortcomings of the last year’s national convention of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) than as attempts to resurrect the national consensus that delivered the unprecedented 1993 electoral victory for the party’s (SDP’s) forbear.
  
One other essential feature of the attempted revivification of SDP is that it seems to provide a less moral incubus for members of the former nPDP that are not as bold as former vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, to rejoin PDP.

It might also be enticing to those who are sensitive to former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s bad mouthing of the two major political parties, PDP and the All Progressives Congress (APC).
 
Furthermore, SDP must have become attractive to disenchanted APC members that feel loathe about the perceived hijack of PDP platform by two new young Turks-Governors Ezenwo Nyesom Wike and Peter Ayodele Fayose.

Of course, among this latest category of political players could be Presidential aspirants, including Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, that do not want to cast anchor in PDP, knowing what hell of a fight awaits them with Atiku on that platform.
 
Then and most importantly, SDP seems to have become a safe harbor for the pro-micro zoning agitators, who felt insulted that PDP repeated past error by navigating the position of national chairmanship of the party (PDP) away from the Southwest.
  
The first time the possibility of using the SDP as a third lane in the nation’s polity was mooted, was at the buildup to the Ondo State governorship election. That was when loyalists of former Lagos State governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, implied probable mischief on the part of the Presidency cabal over the APC ticket in the election.
  
Moved by that intelligence, The Guardian confronted the national chairman of SDP, Chief Olu Falae, with the proposition. “I will not be programmed by anybody,” was Falae’s reply. But, between November 2016 and March 2018, a lot has happened on the political scene capable of altering perceptions and positions.

What if SDP has become the new special purpose vehicle for the 2019 mission on which elements from both PDP and APC want to affect the polity? Knowing that politics is the art of the possible, it could be too early to take any option off the table.

All the same, there is no discounting the fact that some players may use SDP as just a political shepherd dog to whip either APC or PDP into line.
  
Away from the realms of conjecture, it is possible for Tinubu and other members of APC that feel strongly about the one year extension granted the party’s NWC, to join the pro-micro zoning apologists, including Profs. Jerry Gana and Tunde Adeniran, on SDP.

Should such a development occur, it would mean that APC has been served a dose of its medicine as happened to PDP in 2014, while the pro-micro zoning defectors from the former ruling party must have called the bluff of Wike, Fayose and others.

Coalescing Principles
The leadership of SDP contrasts heavily with those of APC and PDP in terms of foundational principles that serve as basis of their accordance. Unlike the 2014 scenario, the caliber of persons joining SDP from PDP seem to be propelled more by principles than narrow consideration for political progression or position.

It would be recalled that the Pro-micro zoning forces that sought political shelter in SDP had, prior to the last PDP elective convention, held a press conference where it insisted that the position of national chairman ought and should be zoned to the Southwest instead of the omnibus zoning to the entire south.

So, former Information minister, Prof. Jerry Gana and the presumed Southwest consensus choice for the PDP chairmanship, Prof. Tunde Adeniran, as well as the former Niger Delta minister, Godsday Orubebe, could not be said to be political desperadoes.

The same could be said of stalwarts of Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) and Peoples Salvation Party (PSP). And perhaps, as a result of their pedigree and political clout, the principles informing their collaboration were well crafted in the Memorandum of Understanding they entered into with SDP leaders.

The driving principles and core values propelling the Movement for a New Political Order, were spelt out thus: “Whereas, the movement further resolved to be inspired and motivated by the ideals of social democracy, with great emphasis on: the triumph of social justice; the nobility of human dignity; the harmony of fairness and equality; the power of working together in solidarity;

“The excellence of good governance, driven by good leadership; the wisdom of reforms and transformation far beyond mere growth; the horror of poverty, demanding eradication; the dignity of prosperity; the imperative of democracy and the security of peace with justice.”

From the above, it appears that young people who are clamouring for a takeover would have much to learn from the promoters of the new movement, particularly the fact that most of the men have operated at higher levels of politics and policy.

That unique feature comes out against the background of the compelling argument in former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s call for a new movement to contrast APC and PDP. Seen in that light therefore, SDP presents the promise of a possible platform for grooming of future leaders on the basic tenets of democracy and ideals of good governance.

Also, the fact should be recognised that the search for Nigeria’s next President is not synonymous with the hunt for a senior prefect of a unity school. The long period of military rule and the fallen standard of education in the country make it imperative that the youth and the elders have to work together to understand the intricacies of managing Nigeria’s political future.

It is in this promise for a new setting that SDP captures the attention of Nigerians, especially given the state of affairs in the ruling and opposition parties. Interestingly, the MoU, which was signed jointly by the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Chief Olu Falae and Prof. Gana, the new men stressed their desire to work “together to ensure the emergence of a new and credible political order to deepen democracy, good governance and genuine development, with peace, security and social justice.”

They also resolved to build a “restructured, balanced equitable and truly functional Nigerian Federation, humane, free, self-reliant and democratic society; dynamic, productive, transformed and sustainable economy; just, fair, egalitarian and peaceful nation, a land of bright and full of opportunities for all Nigerians; and a national culture of raising good leaders through effective mentoring.”

Knowing that political parties or effective social forces are not formed by announcing big names, the underlying principles enunciated by the pro
ponents of SDP revivification are in tandem with the long term aspiration of most Nigerians, particularly the youth.

But just as the taste of the pudding is in the eating, much is left to conjecture, because until SDP holds the non-elective convention to ratify its avowals, as well as, organizes a successful presidential primary, the party cannot claim to be ready.

Gangling Offshoots
ALTHOUGH SDP appears to be a work in progress, the party has succeeded in making a bold statement in the continuing reexamination of Nigeria’s multi-party democracy.

There are indications that the 2019 setting might simulate a new beginning for the nation’s democracy, because other groups with similar ambitious propositions of deepening democracy are coming up to indict the status quo.

Such gangling offshoots include the New Nigeria Progressives Movement (NNPM), founded by Pastor Tunde Bakare, and Take Back Nigeria Association (TBNA) promoted by Mr. Ifeanyichukwu Okonkwo of Movers for the Voice of Democracy.

In what looks like waking the youth from the ashes of IPOB separatist agitation, Okonkwo explained that the town hall meeting planned by TBNA is to offer the young people opportunity to know Nigeria and formulate the country of their dreams.

He noted that expatiating on the fundamentals of Igbo political history and constitutional federalism is necessary to curb political indifference and non-participation.

“The Nigeria of our dreams without vested interests is possible if young people work to free Nigeria from despondency and mobilise for a better Nigeria agenda of hope, justice, merit, freedom, good governance, peoples welfare and equal opportunities for the purpose of rebuilding and consolidating the unity of our people,” he added.

On his part, former convener of Save Nigeria Group (SNG), Pastor Bakare, said he decided to form a new political movement that would “serve as a platform to champion a new political agenda for Nigeria.”

The platform, which he styled as New Nigeria Progressive Movement (NNPM), is meant to be in the forefront for “the restructuring of Nigeria along the path of true federalism.”

He said the only three points on NNPM agenda are restructuring, restructuring and restructuring, craftily coined as RUN (Restructuring For United Nigeria).

It must be against the background of such emotional and sentimental propositions that some practical politicians chose to identify with SDP, which has not only a name, but also history and clout.

However, it is only from August 18 when the processes of selecting Presidential candidates kick off, that Nigerians would know which postulations hold water and which movements have magnitude and direction.


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Olu FalaeSDP
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