Seven weeks after leading his troops to a colossal loss at the March 28 Presidential election, and an equally resounding defeat in the governorship and states Assembly elections on April 11, the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu, has given no indication that he may step down any time soon.
Also holding tight to their positions, in spite of the huge electoral beating, are members of Mu’azu’s National Working Committee (NWC).
At the weekend, a top member of the party, outgoing Governor Babangida Aliyu of Niger State, alleged that the Mu’azu leadership was planning to lead a splinter PDP should those calling on them to resign have their way.
That attitude is injurious to the political health of the party and the nation.
Just days ago, the leaders of three political parties in the United Kingdom, who were heavily trounced by the incumbent Conservatives-led administration, did not wait to be asked to give way for fresh ideas to lead their platforms: They resigned, voluntarily.
It is the path of honour to toe; it is the first step in giving their political parties an opportunity for a fresh start, which the PDP sorely needs.
Just as the results of the previous day’s election were being announced, and it was clear his party had lost, Labour leader Ed Miliband on Friday announced that he was stepping down. He told his party members that he was “truly sorry” for failing to lead them to victory, adding that it had“clearly been a very disappointing and difficult night for the Labour Party.”
Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat Leader who had formed a coalition government with the Conservatives in 2010, made a similar declaration, saying: “It is now painfully clear this has been a cruel and punishing night for the Liberal Democrats. The election has profound implications for the country and for the Liberal Democrats.”
The head of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), Nigel Farage, followed suit, within hours.
In Nigeria, PDP’s national executive members are busy blaming everybody except themselves for the electoral losses, and appear bent on sitting tight in office.
That attitude is a sad reminder of an immediate past that the electoral reforms initiated by the Goodluck Jonathan administration – which has apparently consumed him the way Mikhail Gorbachev was extinguished by his reform of the then Soviet Union with Glasnost and Perestroika – are set out to leave as the PDP’s major legacies.
The PDP has been in power at the federal level since the return of civil rule in 1999. One of its top members once publicly boasted that the party would rule for 60 years.
Previous elections organized under the leadership of the party were, literally, war. A former president once declared that an election being prosecuted during his administration was a “do-or-die-affair”. He did just that, to the embarrassment of even the beneficiary of the electoral process, the late Alhaji Umaru Shehu Yar’Adua and the then Vice President Jonathan.
The succeeding administration thereafter publicly committed itself to electoral reforms. However, Alhaji Yar’Adua could not execute the pledge, no thanks to the cold hands of death that cruelly snatched him from Nigerians.
Enter Jonathan, the Vice President who became acting President and then substantive President and began a revolutionary electoral process that started with the appointment of the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega, based solely on academic qualifications and pedigree.
In the series of elections conducted by the Jega leadership of INEC, the PDP won some, and lost some – an unprecedented development in the Nigerian political system where the incumbent’s party at the federal and states levels made it a policy to win all electoral seats, at all times.
Before Jonathan’s reforms, a combination of trickery, brutality and derring-do made impossible electoral results a reality, to the chagrin of opposition parties and the international community.
All that changed under Jonathan, as the PDP was always quick to congratulate opposition parties whenever it lost. The Doomsday Prophecy that Nigeria would disintegrate in 2015 was also smashed into smithereens by just one telephone call, made by Jonathan to his main challenger at the last presidential election, Major General Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The tension that was building up in the country was defused. Today, Nigeria is at peace and ready to continue its march into progress under a new national leadership. Jonathan is leaving office on May 29 with much acclaim, having done his best for his fatherland.
Mu’azu and his NWC members must take a cue from this honorable path and allow their party to make a fresh start. The PDP must continue to demonstrate to the world and the incoming national leadership that Nigeria has fully joined the league of democratic nations and will not condone sit-tight rulers.
Like Jonathan, they have done their best for the PDP, but the result was proof that their best was not good enough. They can still be of immense services to their party in other capacities, from the background.