So many reasons and rationalisations have been adduced for the epochal failure of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, to re-enact its winning streak in the nation’s presidential and other elections held in March and April 2015. In a monumental and landmark stroke of ill fortune, the PDP could not put its acts together.
Some of the factors freely bandied about by the strident opposition and other groups included: a) the supposed “clueless ness” of the President about the resolution of the country’s nagging issues b) Monumental corruption and corruptive practices, c) A non-performing economy that has worsened the living standard of the people d) Insecurity as epitomised by the Boko Haram insurgency and the demystification of the Nigerian Armed Forces etc e) The introduction Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) and Card Readers to reduce or eliminate election rigging etc f) Much-hyped cult-hero image of General Buhari in many parts of Nigeria and g) A well-articulated geo-political conspiracy and gang-up to short-change the South South etc.
None of these gave fillip to the All Progressive Congress’s uncommon vigour and resilience to “change” the PDP federal administration than the self-afflicted internal fission and consequent atomization of a hitherto cohesive and monolithic PDP whole.
The death–dealing process did not just unravel overnight. The seeds were sown in 2006, when a well-intentioned re-registration of all PDP members, nationwide, was hijacked by cabals and powerful individuals across the 36 states and Federal Capital Territory and turned into an instrument of political cleansing. In the process, many redoubtable leaders and grounds men of different hues were cleverly de-registered and consigned to political wilderness. These people swelled the ranks of the then emergent Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN and now APC). They took a larger part of the soul of the PDP to their new abode, revealing the deep cleavages and the inherent Crab Syndrome that ruled the party’s top hierarchy and rent the ranks apart.
We will make a temporary detour that will help us to understand the relevance and utility value of the Peoples Democratic Party in the country’s power matrix vis-à-vis the planting, blossoming and sustenance of Nigeria’s democracy since 1999.
Over the years, after independence, Nigeria experienced the rule by a dysfunctional political class and military cabal that held the jugular of the nation for selfish purposes. The successive invasion of governance by the praetorian class with seemingly redemptive messages and mission and consequent policy somersaults, had blunted the average Nigerian interest in government.
So we can say, without any fear of contradiction, that before the advent of the PDP, Nigeria had no enduring democratic tradition.For now, the Peoples Democratic Party holds the longevity record for any elected civilian administration in Nigeria since Lord Lugard welded the Northern and Southern Nigeria Protectorates by executive fiat on January 1, 1914.
At inception, not many Nigerians gave the PDP administration any outside chance of success in laying a new, solid and enduring sustainable democratic governance culture for a country that has been pillaged and raped for decades. Especially one that was constantly under the purview and surveillance of a hitherto politicised Nigerian armed forces.
The events of the past few weeks have really brought it home to the rank and file of the party nation-wide, that victory at future elections will only be possible if internal democracy, due process and respect for dissenting views become truly operational and are entrenched within the party at all levels.
A new crop of leaders should emerge today from the ashes and shadows of the battle-weary layers of the party’s leadership organogram, especially the prime, decision-making bodies that need a positive shot in the arm for optimum performance.
The principal organs of the PDP such as the National Executive Committee (NEC), and the National Working Committee (NWC) should be re-invigorated with the infusion of fresh and committed party men and women imbued with new ideas to steer the party toward its winning ways and prominence.
The major duty of the new leadership modem in the PDP will be to set in motion the process of interfacing with those aggrieved former members of the party who now form the political bulwark of the APC power centre and the attack phalanx against their former party. A new rules of mutual engagement should be drawn up to woo them back to their natural political home. The new generation of leaders will be expected to provide, maintain and sustain a virile, focused and formidable opposition to the APC in the next four years.
Rather than start bellyaching and apportioning blames over the series of set-backs, the PDP should rewind and do a critical retrospection of its past actions and inactions and rejig and rework its ways. This will assist it to exorcise the odious wraith of crass insensitivity, internal despotism, hardsell candidates, institutionalised complacency and rise, like the Phoenix, from the ashes of defeat and despondency.