While Nigerians were hoping that the truce that produced current Peoples Democratic Party, PDP leaders may lead to a rebirth which will produce a virile opposition to the ruling party, signs have emerged this week that things may have fallen apart already. First was Professor Taoheed Adedoja a chairmanship aspirant who claims unlawful exclusion and as a result has gone to court to challenge the outcome of the elective convention; next is a group which styles itself ‘Fresh PDP’’. This group has an axe to grind with the entire process. Consequently has called for a new convention while usurping the authority of the newly elected National Working Committee, NWC.
Now spats are flying from all corners. Nyesom Wike, Governor of Rivers state has accused a recent decampee to the party of being the brain behind these serial ruckus now that the party is slaving to find its rhythm. Yet the story is deeper. The convention which is the first serious political activity since it lost power in 2015 is sliding towards a major disaster. Caucuses within the party are spoiling for war. As a matter of fact, in the last couple of days several of the party’s big wigs have defected to the ruling party even members of the National Assembly. The Nigerian people will be forgiven if they assume that the party will get it right, do away with internal wrangling and focus on the pressing issue of packaging itself as a viable opposition party.
Further more, there have been worries on the part of godfathers of the party regarding the influence of money in the process that produced, especially, the party chairman. This is just as other party stalwarts believe that there is no cause for alarm. The so called unity list has become like a sword of Damocles dangling to destroy what is left of the former largest party in Africa. This optimism is based on the unwritten understanding that the party must have learn’t its lessons and will therefore do the right thing to, not only to save the party, but also to re-position it for the task ahead. No lesson appears to have been learn’t.
News of the joining of the party by some heavy weights is beginning to heighten these worries. In most political arrangements, it is strongly believed that whoever controls the party machinery dictates the swing of party decisions that determine who emerge as candidates for the various offices. That is why potential candidates throw in everything in their political arsenal so as to be able to get hold of the party and its key officers. On the surface, there is nothing inherently wrong with it.
This awful act has the tendency to lead to the imposition of candidates with the accompanying disastrous electoral effect. That is what the elders of the party are afraid of when they warned that the party offices ought not to be for the highest bidder. They intended that to mean that only the best materials should be elected through a participatory and transparent process to guide the affairs of the party. Another ugly side to the Party is the presence in its fold of many inordinately ambitious politicians who, in their presumed self-worth, create the impression that the office they seek is theirs for the asking. This was the scenario that almost killed PDP until the Supreme Court came to its rescue.
The two factions, then, were not building a party that will serve the nation as a platform for effective governance. Otherwise the acrimony would have been unnecessary. Instead, the leaders of the factions were consolidating the party machinery for future use and in the process ignored all calls for moderation. The comment and recent declaration of the party’s former caretaker chairman regarding his presidential ambition attest to the fact that his role in the effort to re-build the party was not altogether altruistic.
It implies that no lessons were learn’t from the events of the past that generated apprehensions that contributed to their failure even as a party in government. PDP still has a class of elders who are in a position to influence things to ensure that the appropriate measures are adopted to streamline order in the party. But will the new power brokers in the party listen to any elder’s voice? Doesn’t look so. However, sitting on the side lines and relapsing to despondency or helplessness is also not the best option. Somebody must be out there who can help PDP. Nigeria needs a real opposition party.