SUNDAY NARRATIVE:Kill Corruption, Not PDP
THE most loathed and odious political acronym in today’s Nigeria is the PDP. The name, when now roughly and sarcastically mentioned evokes imagery of Beelzebub and the cruelty and heartlessness that are associated with the evil one. It’s now as if nothing good ever happened with the name and will never happen. Even owners of the brand, who once used it to make good fortune, but were smart not to be on the firing line in the Dasukigate scam, are now shy to log on to the name of the party that made them. Others, among them fortune hunters and shameless gold diggers now deem PDP to be leprous. They are now begging to be admitted into the All Progressives Congress (APC).
For many, the new preoccupation is to quickly lay wreath on the grave where lies Africa’s once largest political party. They poke fun, throw jibes and lies; and shout ‘crucify it.’
Comrade Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State, now famous for noisemaking than hard work has turned bearer of moonlight tales. The other day, he went to town with cheap talk of how Goodluck Jonathan threatened to cage him after May 29 2015; because he supported candidate Buhari. How could Jonathan have singled him out of millions of persons who worked against him; not leaving out the five governors who openly dumped the PDP for the APC at the time it mattered most for Jonathan?
Oshiomhole has forgotten that Jonathan, as president, made it easier for him to win his second term election; after which, Aso Rock was his first port of call, where he public expressed gratitude. Jonathan’s ‘One Man One vote’ mantra provided the enabling environment for Oshiomhole’s first term popularity to secure him a second chance. Jonathan congratulated Oshiomhole, even when the candidate of his party, Charles Arhiavbere had gone to court to challenge the elections.
Oshiomhole should remember too, that it was PDP under late president Umar Yar’Adua that enabled the election tribunal to adjudicate in his favour without hindrance. The losers at the tribunal were Prof. Oserheimen Osunbor and the PDP. In the pre-Yar’Adua/Jonathan PDP, an Oshiomhole could not have survived the then bullish territorial aggression. Therefore, Oshiomhole’s political success is testimony to the fact that the PDP is not entirely bad news. Perhaps, democracy in 16 years has progressed from the era of ‘do or die’ to that of ‘live and let others live’. The charge here for Oshiohmole and his likes is not to bury PDP hurriedly. Allow it to pick its pieces, not because of itself, but for the sake of democracy.
The other day, Second Republic governor of old Anambra State, Jim Nwobodo, once a very flamboyant and experienced political tactician, joined the train of bad losers to abandon PDP in its trying moment. He said he had joined the APC in order to move his people into mainstream Nigeria. The man was a frontline PDP member, a presidential candidate and senator. At the time he wanted to be president in 1999, the Southeast had a good chance, not in his aspiration, but that of former vice president Alex Ekwueme.
Ekwueme was one of the rallying points around whom the PDP was anchored initially; and he presented the best of democratic and academic credentials. But he was not the favourite of the departing military oligarchy. Nwobodo joined the powers that be to frustrate what was a fair chance for Ndigbo to produce a president and be in the core of mainstream Nigeria. He presented himself as an aspirant when he knew he could not go far, instead of joining forces with Ekwueme to reinforce one team from the Southeast. As compensation for that spoiler’s role, he became Senator even after he had missed the statutory nomination timeline. He was leader and godfather of the PDP in Enugu State and helped to install Chimaroke Nnamani as governor.
If for 16 years, Enugu people have nothing to show for being PDP, and being in mainstream Nigeria, they should be smart enough to identify the cankerworms that ate their portion of the national cake. If those who were locked out of mainstream politics for 16 years were as vagrant and opportunistic, there wouldn’t have been hope for an APC. One really prays and hopes that ordinary Nigerians, those outside political party systems will be good students of political history, so that they are not perpetually misled by fortune hunting members of the political class.
The reason some do not join the Nunc dimittis chant to sink the final nail in the PDP is not because they endorse the obvious misrule that characterised its years as party in government. It is because they know how tortuous the journey has been to grow a vibrant party system, without which democracy cannot thrive. After the efforts of Nigeria’s first generation politicians in the First and Second Republics were wasted by the military and the politicians themselves, it became a tall order to grow political parties that are filled with men of passion and character.
Successive military regimes identified the absence of character in the political space and they exploited it to the detriment of civil rule. The military decided during the regime of Ibrahim Babangida to forcefully create state supervised parties. Through the antics of the political class (military and civilians) that attempt did not work and the proposed third republic was aborted. Under Sani Abacha, politicians were induced to form political parties on behalf of the regime. Those ‘five fingers of a leprous hand’ had commenced the ignoble journey to transmute Abacha from military to civilian president when providence intervened.
The coming on board of the PDP and two other parties in 1999 – Alliance for Democracy (AD) and All Peoples Party (APP) was like a last attempt to put Nigeria on a sound footing for democratic governance. The process of forming the three parties was as exciting as it was excruciating, as politicians traversed far and wide in what seemed an honest search.
Unfortunately, despite Nigeria’s unenviable political history, politicians appear to have learned nothing and are willing to surpass the military in thievery and brigandage. Without exception, members of today’s political class have perfected the art of stealing from the people. The nouveau-rich of today, members of the political class, were persons who could hardly feed well prior to 1999. They have bought choice homes in other people’s countries and now send their children to schools abroad. They also manage their health issues overseas because they have drained the budgets.
The PDP takes the front seat in this mad drive towards atrophy. For 16 years the party was in charge and could not present an enviable picture of what Nigeria should be after earning huge trillions from sale of crude oil. The PDP, after Nigerians had invested their trust in it for 16 years became an embarrassing joke and it was inevitable that the people were set to withdraw their trust. That was the import of the general elections of 2015.
Now that we are at this juncture, it is not in Nigeria’s interest that the PDP should die. Even in the best of democracies with the best of party systems, parties don’t rule forever. There is always a time for the people to get tired of the idiosyncrasies and arrogance of ruling parties. So, those rushing to kill and bury the PDP should hold on, so they don’t end up killing our democracy. Some smart members and friends of the APC with eyes on Nigeria’s hazy future are already uncomfortable that their party has become menacingly domineering.
Even members of the international community, who are concerned with democratic growth in Africa, are already worried for Nigeria. They are scared that an unchecked and vengeful APC could weaken the opposition to the point that a new and more arrogant political leviathan would emerge from the ashes of the former.
They have started collating data of fleeing PDP members in order to encourage them not to give up. One round-table had already taken place in Abuja. More of such will be sponsored by international agencies to encourage the PDP to get back on its wobbled feet and walk again, with lessons learned. I know of a High Commission that is in search of fleeing Lagos PDP members, just to encourage them because a one party system could be as deadly as any despotic military regime.
The fault is not PDP’s as a political brand, but that of selfish politicians who mismanaged the great prospects it presented in 1998/99. Let the plunderers who used PDP to rob Nigeria atone for their sins, but let PDP not die. Lest Democracy will die!