By Niran Adedokun
The Peoples Democratic Party currently cuts the image of the most abominable slice of the Nigerian politician. Incurably selfish, egoistic and deficient in graciousness, top members of the PDP had in the past couple of weeks shown us that nothing about the common man interests them as much as the gratification of their individual personal indulgences.
Since the failed attempt at electing national officers in Port Harcourt a little less than one month ago, members of the PDP have been at their best ill-behaviour, grabbing at each other’s throats and washing dirty fabric in public to the chagrin of helpless Nigerians who need selfless political parties and politicians to chart the course of state in government and in opposition. The PDP, like most other contraptions which call themselves political parties, have turned the expectations of the people to naught in the pursuit of self-serving motivations totally at variance with the pledge made by its founding fathers, just less than two decades ago.
With the dexterity with which they practise their shenanigans, the unwary would be deceived into imagining that politics in Nigeria had always been devoid of soundness of mind as we see in new day politics; but that is very far from the truth.
For instance, when Northern People’s Congress was formed in June 1949, its leader, Sir Ahmadu Bello, was at the age of 39, an accomplished leader of men, managing a complex political machine with diverse ethnic, religious and philosophical orientations. He made a success of all he did and had his people at the centre of his heart.
In the western part of the country, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, only five years out of the university, was prepared to lead one of the most intellectually-driven political associations in the history of the country. The Action Group, which Awolowo led, had the complement of personalities whose sophistication, passion and ideas remain a subject of historical cum political interests. They loved their people in ways that still manifest today.
Not to talk about Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, the ebullient Nigerian who bore the sobriquet, Zik of Africa in appreciation of the infectiousness of his ideas and politics. This traversed beyond the shores of Nigeria such that Zikism, a system of political thought attributed to him and championed by some of his followers, remains, arguably the most ingenious political movement in Africa, putting Nigeria on the map of global reckoning on the emerging African continent.
Today, nothing tells of the devaluation of the political thought process and the abysmal level of public consciousness like the incessant power grabbing machinations of leaders of the PDP. This power play eloquently testifies to the intellectual handicap of modern day power mongers and the great disservice that political parties in the country have become to the aspirations of the people.
A former American President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, must have had Nigerian political parties in mind when he said in a March 1956 speech that: “If a political party does not have its foundation in the determination to advance a cause that is right and that is moral, then, it is not a political party; it is merely a conspiracy to seize power.” This is the tragedy of political leadership in today’s Nigeria- the attainment of political power by all means, without a guiding philosophy on how to use power to the advantage of the people.
This is the name that the PDP has had to bear for the 16 years that it led Nigeria until it was voted out in the 2015 general elections. Although the party and its supporters argue that it did more to Nigeria than rape and plunder as those who opposed it while it was in government make Nigerians and the world believe, events after the PDP’s exit from government have proved that impunity and corruption had a lease in the last few years of the PDP administration.
The hatred that Nigerians had for the PDP in power has grown in leaps and bounds following revelations after revelations that the current government has unleashed on Nigerians about the malfeasance perpetrated by the PDP while it had the mandate of Nigerians.
In addition to the naming and shaming, the government of the day has also struck at some of the individuals with the competence to strike a blow at the administration when and if it drops the ball. This is why after the arraignment of a former spokesperson, Chief Olisa Metuh, and the arrest of vocal former aviation minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, the silence in the camp of Nigeria’s biggest political party has been loud.
Wouldn’t you then have expected such a party, now under scrutiny, to reorganise and quickly reinvent itself to win back the trust of Nigerians through conscientious opposition vigilance on behalf of the people?
But that is not for the PDP, what is manifestly paramount on the minds of most gladiators is returning to power in 2019 as factional chairman, Ali Modu Sheriff, has reiterated on a number of occasions.
Sheriff’s arranged chairmanship met with the resistance of various party organs from the outset and rather than seek reconciliation and unity in the party, he preoccupied himself with an election that is three years away thereby losing the opportunity to salvage what is left the party. Party politics to the former Borno State Governor seems to be just a means to acquire power, hence the current struggle for the core of the party.
The question one is then persuaded to ask these PDP gladiators is: “How much of the scuffle between the Sheriff faction, the governors and the Board of Trustees is about the interest of the common man?”
Isn’t this confusion, which seems to have defied all internal conflict resolution mechanism of the party with its hierarchy adorning partisan garb, about the ego and gratification of the people involved and their hangers on?
Were the PDP really interested in the people, it would bury every item suggestive of personal gratification in the cart it has shopped with over the past 16 years, unite and come together to reinvigorate the party, give the country an opposition as strong as the APC coalition that drove it out of office in 2015.
But inordinate ambition is opposed to reasoning and when people find themselves in those selfish posts, they care about nothing else but themselves. This is where the PDP is at the moment and nothing in the current scheme of things indicates that this selfishness will not deal a serious, if not a terminal, blow on the PDP. The party is about to be visited by the greatest tragedy of all – the inability to learn from past mistakes.
However, Nigeria will be the ultimate loser. If the APC perchance fails to deliver on its promise to change Nigeria, where do we find an organised party with fervour and fortitude to speak against its penchant to overreach and save Nigerians?
This gets more worrisome given the fact that the APC itself is struggling from an internal crisis that most of its members will not own up to even if the cleavages have become obvious in the first few weeks of the administration. The APC, which promised democracy, cannot even be fair to its own members. And in their own case as is with PDP, this is essentially not on behalf of the people but some entrenched interests.
The PDP therefore needs to urgently put itself in order, to redefine the destiny of our democratic voyage. Rather than moan the loss of power, evidential in needless carpet crossing and shameless power struggles that we currently see, this period of sabbatical from power should help the party redirect its energies to correct the errors in its history.
A party, conscious of its privileged position to fertilise the seeds of democracy, would make sacrifices just for the sake of the people. Let the PDP find statesmen in the mold of Bola Tinubu and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar in the formative days of the APC and work towards a worthwhile legacy for the nation’s democratic journey. Sadly, what we see now, is the pathetic shell of self-possessed power grabbers and it bears no good for the nation!
Niran Adedokun is a Public Affairs Analyst.