Cut Down At Prime: Sad Story Of PDP Rejection At The Polls
THE major takeaway from the 2015 general election is that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has been rejected by a greater number of adult Nigerians. The sacking of PDP began when the leader of the party and incumbent President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, was swept out of Aso Villa, the seat of the Federal Government.
That political quake was actually the culmination of the various escapades of the political amalgam known as the All Progressives Congress (APC). As a political party, APC did much to whip up and spread hate sentiments against President Jonathan and by extension, the PDP.
Keying into the struggle by some ethnic champions from the north, APC raised the campaign for political power to return to that part of Nigeria. Using a curious mix of media and political negative profiling, President Jonathan was gradually sold to Nigerians as a usurper and desperate politician, just as the PDP was credited with all the socio-political and economic problems plaguing the country.
But with some arrogant swagger, the President’s handlers seemed to have shrugged off the deleterious campaigns as the tantrums of an opposition eager to take over the reins of political power.
With time and without knowing it, the fund of popular goodwill available to President Jonathan and his PDP began to deplete. While President Jonathan was made to bear the burden of the various ills afflicting PDP from the Olusegun Obasanjo days, some eminent members of the party quit in protest to register their dissatisfaction with the way things were being done in the party.
The attempted fractionalization of PDP could not be sustained, by the time five state governors on the PDP registered their membership with the newly recognized APC, it was evident that things were falling apart in the erstwhile largest political party in black Africa! Not that alone, various missteps by both the PDP and the government it formed at the centre, convinced Nigerians that their policies, people and politics were failing them.
And so from internal wrangling within the party to the allegations of massive corruption against ministers and officials of the federal government, the estimation of PDP sunk to the deepest level.
At the height of all these, more than 200 female students from Chibok Secondary School in Bornu State were abducted by the insurgents of the dreaded Boko Haram terrorists.
The abduction of the school girls accentuated the high level of insecurity in the country, what with the incessant detonation of makeshift bombs or improvised explosive devices in places of civil social concourse. The Nigeria military was made to look less than its might even in the shadow of allegations of sabotage and collusion.
And as the mutual suspicion between the President and his traducers, especially those of the opposition platform resonated in the abduction of the school girls, the President was cast in the light of a weak Commander in Chief, subdued at home by an overbearing wife and harassed abroad by a rag tag band of criminals masquerading as crusaders for a true Islamic caliphate.
It was therefore not expected that as the 2015 general election drew nearer, the label of cluelessness hung on the Commander in Chief stuck.
To compound the pitiable circumstances of PDP and its factotum, oil, the mainstay of the Nigerian economy went kaput. Price of that domestic product which is the nation’s major foreign exchange earner plummeted at the international market. The government resorted to clever second-guessing in a bid to fix a realistic dollar benchmark for the annual budget.
And while the economy showed signs of atrophy, internal ambush against the Federal Government remained potent at the lower chamber of the National Assembly.
This was because, while it presented as the party with the majority members in the Green Chamber, in practicality PDP had fewer apostles than apostates. However, an attempt to right that leadership wrong footing in the House of Representatives ended on a sour note, leaving a further dent on the sagging image of the ruling party.
As lawmakers acted like lawbreakers, scaling barricades to preserve the status quo, it was evident that the image of the country was sinking with the PDP. Barely two months after, the come, came to become.
Electioneering campaigns flagged off with Nigerians seeing for the first time the beauty of a two-party state. None of the parties had the certainty of victory. But as time wore on, it was clear that the once all-conquering PDP was reeling for breath.
The challenger, APC concentrated its attack on three major targets namely, fight against insecurity, corruption and joblessness among Nigerian youth. On the hand, PDP groped for an appealing pitch.
Not even the Jonathan administration’s successes could be driven home in the language of the people. The failure showed as perceived charlatans took up the challenge of marketing Mr. President, his party and his achievements.
The erstwhile political action committees that sprung up like mushroom went into oblivion as new consultants that seemed to believe in the efficacy of handouts to win elections, took over.
As tragic outing loomed in the horizon, the election was postponed on account of the insurgency and insecurity in some parts of the country. If the shift in election dates was programmed to be a saving grace, it amounted to a postponement of the evil day for PDP.
Though flashes of brilliance and new agenda setting came from the South West, which brought on the discussion table the issue of implementation of the National Conference report, party chieftains failed to devise a strategy to rescue President Jonathan from the waterloo that awaited PDP and its candidates most of whom were imposed through dubious processes.
The leader of the party even became powerless to control some of the haymakers at the National Working Committee level of the party. To convince the president that all hope was not lost, these party functionaries sought a replay of the old tricks that alienated PDP from Nigerians, namely rigging.
It was this false belief in the use of ‘Power’ to overrun the place that left the party vacuous in planning and strategic thinking. The algebra at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), summarized in the creation of additional polling units and amazing distribution system for the Permanent Voters’ Cards, (PVC) escaped the PDP.
In what appeared like shutting the stables after the horses had bolted, the party came up with the feeble argument of aborting the use of the PVCs and its Siamese twin, Card Readers for the election.
But the more the party wanted to show cause why the card readers and PVCs were intended to disenfranchise many eligible voters, the more Nigerians saw the argument as plot by the party to return to its usual rigging ways.
Reason failed PDP. The odds seemed to be stacked against the ruling party as each step it took ended up a wrong one. By allowing the major criterion for decision-making in the election to be narrowed just between President Goodluck Jonathan and General Muhammadu Buhari, PDP fell to the antics of the APC.
Consequently, as the presidential election held, it was clear in the sky that APC had succeeded in painting Nigeria in its blue colour! And as President Jonathan fell like the giant in Gulliver’s Travel, the midgets in APC did not waste time to advertise the fact. And the domino effect followed.
The whole of northern Nigeria went the way of APC. As Plateau voted along that line, Gombe rewarded its Governor for his track record of performance in office, leaving a patch of red as consolation to PDP.
Gombe gave hope to PDP that it could still bounce back if it purges itself of impunity, political wickedness and high handedness. These vices were employed in South East and South-South where voters preferred President Jonathan but shrunk from some PDP candidates.
Under the cover of the love many voters had for President Jonathan most PDP stalwarts and candidates perpetrated much electoral malfeasance to create the illusion of bandwagon effect.
The 2015 election, despite its myriad of institutional shortcomings from both the INEC and security agencies presents some great object lessons. Voters have come of age and become wiser, but much work needs to be done in the area of security and planning of elections.
For instance, the innovation of the card reader and PVCs should have been excellent if voters are allowed to vote as soon as accredited. This way it would not have been impossible for political thugs to cart away sensitive materials as soon as accreditation was completed.
It calls for stringent punishment for perpetrators of electoral offences, especially for law enforcement or security agents who aid and abet.
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