‘PDP Members Defecting To APC Are Short-Sighted’
Former Minister of Health and Founding member of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prof. ABC Nwosu speaks on the PDP’s defeat in the last elections, how the party can rebound, expectations from Buhari’s government and others.
WHAT would you desire to see from President Buhari’s administration? I want to see a Federal Government that works for all and not for some Nigerians; a Federal Government that belongs to everybody and to nobody.
I therefore want to see a President-in-Council directing the affairs of Nigeria with its spokesperson as the Minister of Information, and not the APC as a political party masquerading as the Federal Government with Party’s Publicity Secretary as spokesperson of Nigeria.
This Government is not that of APC by APC and for APC. I want to see policies and programmes of the change agenda unveiled. I want to see competent Secretary to the Government and Ministers especially a no-nonsense Attorney General appointed to drive the change agenda and the anti-corruption war. I want to see the Naira to rapidly begin to regain increased value.
Above all, I want to see a major plan to drastically reduce unemployment. I want to see immediate and visible improvements in the welfare and well-being of Nigerians.
Why have you been so silent for long since the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lost the presidential election? I did not want to speak after our (PDP) defeat in the 2015 elections, because I needed time to retreat into myself and think. I wanted to examine details of the loss of the Presidency and more than half of the PDP– governorship seats so that I can assist the party to rebound.
What are the reasons in your view why the PDP failed in the 2015 polls? The PDP failed in the polls mainly because those who inherited party leadership from the founding fathers progressively eroded and subverted the founding ideals of the party which had earned it general acceptance by Nigerians, and its popular mandate in 1999.
Because Nigerians forget easily, it is necessary to remind us that the PDP had been founded in 1998 as a people-oriented, nationalist political party primarily to enthrone and nurture democracy which was being restored again to the country (The Third Republic).
Its major opponents were the All Peoples Party (APP) and Alliance Democracy (AD) political parties. The ideals of the PDP were to promote good governance, balanced and true federalism, transparency in public service and sustainable development.
By 2015 those who inherited PDP leadership had progressively made the founding fathers and members functionally redundant. They had also eroded and subverted the founding ideals of the party to the point that by 2015 the Nigerian electorate had lost faith in the party.
It is in the interest of survival of democracy in Nigeria that PDP rebounds for three reasons. The first reason is that modern democracy especially our Nigerian democracy requires two political parties of comparable strengths so as to restrain the government in power from impunity and bad governance because the electorate would always have a choice.
The second reason is that the message and ideals that informed the founding of the PDP are important and relevant in the building of a modern Nigerian nation.
Some of the ideals were private-sector led economy, good governance and zero tolerance to corruption, balanced and true federalism, zoning and rotation of political offices (so as to give all Nigerians a sense of belonging in the Nigerian project).
The third reason is that the pattern of voting in the 2015 general elections to any discerning mind is very troubling and does not augur well for nation-building.
The PDP as a political party must strive again to build wide acceptance in all the geopolitical zones of the country. How would you say that one of the founding ideals of the PDP was zero tolerance to corruption, whereas its government was allegedly characterized with corruption? Why do you find it hard to believe that a political party founded by patriots and nationalists like Dr. Alex Ekwueme, Mallam Adamu Ciroma, Late Solomon Lar, Late Chief Awoniyi, Late Abubakar Rimi, Late Chuba Okadigbo and others will not promote zero tolerance to corruption? Was it not a PDP Federal Government early in its administration in 1999 that established the ICPC and later the EFCC? Are these not the anti-Corruption agencies of Nigeria today? I can testify that President Obasanjo (of the then PDP) had in his two pockets on May 29, 1999, the ICPC and NDDC draft bills.
He had done his study on how some developing countries had checkmated corruption in their polities and developed there from the draft ICPC bill and so hit the ground running in 1999. I know this because he handed these to me that same May 29 after my appointment had been announced.
But one of the reasons the PDP was defeated in the last elections was because it is a corruption-promoting party? I have spoken about the progressive erosion of the founding ideals of the party by those who inherited the management of the PDP. Tragically for the party, the founding fathers and members became ignored by the party leadership.
The party has now paid a heavy price for this error and has tumbled from its peak success when it controlled the Federal Government and 28 State governments to its present situation. It is my hope that necessary reforms will now be effected in the PDP that will restore faith of members and the electorate in the party. Otherwise the APC will grow into another behemoth and if Nigerians should then need an alternative, there shall be none.
It is therefore the duty of the founders, members and management of the PDP to rebuild the party and make sacrifices if necessary, in the interest of Nigerian democracy. Those PDP members who are now defecting to the APC are short-sighted.
So you are optimistic PDP can win popular mandate in the country again? Yes. Even in the developed democracies of Europe and United States their major political parties rebound from electoral defeats of incumbent Prime Ministers and Presidents.
The defeats are often followed by acrimonious inquisitions and rebranding, followed by a rebound. How they do it in Britain, America is what the PDP must now strive to do.
In other words, the PDP shall examine honestly the reasons for their failures, correct these, and re-strategise on how to win back the confidence of the Nigerian people.
How successfully the PDP reinvents itself and the time that it takes the party to achieve this will determine the length of time that it stays in limbo.
More importantly Nigeria needs the political message of national cohesion and nation-building to be canvassed by a strong nationwide political party to complement good governance. If this is not done, general elections will continue to be suspect in Nigeria.
Why should you say that elections are suspect when the last general elections were adjudged free, fair and credible? I have said in print what I needed to say about Prof. Jega and his INEC before the 2015 general elections.
All I can add now is that Prof. Jega is an academic and we expect him to publish his book as Prof. Humphrey Nwosu did with regard to June 12 1993 elections, and Prof. Maurice Iwu did on “breaking the jinx” in 2007.
The truth is that the 2015 Presidential election has brought back troubling tendencies which now need to be bridged. These tendencies are anti nation-building and are completely unacceptable to true nationalists.
For example it is of concern that a Presidential candidate shall fail to obtain 25% votes in two geopolitical zones of the country (13 states) while his opponent also suffers a similar fate in some other two geopolitical zones (10 States). This was not the case in June 12, 1993. It was not the case in 1998.
Such large- scale rejections by vast sections of the country must be bridged urgently if Nigerians truly desires to build a nation because States are the Federating units of Nigeria.
It appears you have issues with the conduct and outcome of 2015 general elections? The elections have come and gone, won and lost. I am saying that we need to bridge the divides which have been highlighted by the declared results of the elections.
The divides began to appear in the 2011 elections. And in case we have forgotten, Prof. Jega also conducted the 2011 elections which was won by President Jonathan.
The 2011 elections were also adjudged to be credible nationally and internationally but widespread post-election riots and violence erupted resulting in many deaths.
In the 2015 general elections, there were PVC and “Card Reader” controversies. In fact the Card-Reader failed to recognize President Jonathan. So the singular difference between the Jega-conducted 2011 and 2015 general elections was that President Jonathan conceded defeat. Simple.
It is therefore in the interest of Nigerian democracy to correct the undesirables and anomalies in the 2015 Election results before future elections where Presidential contestants may come from the same geography.