PDP: Same Long, Wrong Pathway To Future
THE recent court judgment that decapitated the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is a sad reminder that the party as presently constituted may find it very hard to heal itself. Uche Secondus, whom the court sacked from the curious position of national chairman, was a product of villainy and conspiracy. The preceding occupant of the position, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu was singled out by the other members of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) as the architect of PDP’s dismal outing in the 2015. Having sacrificed Mu’azu on the altar of parochial and mercenary intrigues, the conspirators settled down as if the malware in the party structure had been exorcised. Similar conspiracy had aborted the Bamanga Tukur chairmanship few months to the general election. The ten members of NWC that initiated the moves to decapitate the party blamed Tukur for being high-handed and responsible for the party’s loss of five commanders of electoral foot soldiers in five states. Not even the pleading and recriminations by Tukur that his accusers were the very pestilential vermin corroding the tissues of PDP like cancerous growth, could convince a pliable president and leader of the party Jonathan, to stay the hands of the executioners. Though Tukur was politically executed, the party continued to bleed. But without completing the mourning period, or carrying out necessary contrition and purgation of conscience, the party went for the Walin Bauchi. As the new national chairman took over at the Wadata Plaza headquarters of the party, he was regaled and eulogized by the club of sycophants as the Game Changer! If political stupidity has been ingrained in PDP from 1999, barefaced chicanery nurtured it towards self-delusion and destruction. Right from the G.34 leader, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, who was rejected by his party members at the Jos Township Stadium, through the pioneer national chairman, the late Solomon Duqshep Lar, virtually all party men that served PDP as national chairman never went on a valedictory good note.
It is yet to be known whether the psychological trauma some of them went through or the inward pain that remain etched in their hearts continue to haunt the party. But the loss of the 2015 presidential election, the first trouncing the party received in its sixteen years of unbroken leadership, seems to suggest that PDP is reaping from its decadent political style and the devious ways it embraced from 1999. Consequently, the general perception of PDP as a political party well heeled in impunity and lack of organisational prowess built on balanced reflection of its own rules continues to haunt it. And when history is allowed to repeat itself, it smacks of tragedy.
From its adoption of the garrison style under former President Olusegun Obasanjo, to its loss of the 2015 general election, PDP has continued to show brazen disregard to its formative norms, vision and organogram. It is on record that what became of the party and the federal government it formed in 1999 had less to do with the original ideas of its founding members.
Of the original members in the group of 34 (G.34) that metamorphosed into PDP, Obasanjo, who became the leader of government, having won the primary election and the subsequent presidential election, had nothing to do with its formation or philosophy of function. Organically, what was known as PDP was primed to die at the Jos Township Stadium venue of the party’s national convention, which produced Obasanjo as the presidential flag bearer. It was evident that the departing military was sowing in the political, nay electoral system of the country, the seeds of corruption for which it would later harvest for further intervention in the democratic governance of the country. Delegates were not only induced to vote for a particular candidate, the so-called ballot papers were serialized in such a manner as to remove the hymen shielding the beauty and virtue of secret balloting.
From that incestuous assault on the fledgling party, it was not surprising that PDP would grow into a giant oak tree of election manipulation, imposition and denigration of tenets of democracy.
After the 2003 election, more than 63 percent of election disputes and petitions involved PDP stalwarts lamenting the breach of the party’s nomination process and imposition of candidates on cash and carry basis. A sizeable chunk of the party’s current leadership, includes some of these deal makers that transformed party management into money making enterprise. Some have been recycled through various organs of the party, not out of their expertise in political engineering or proficiency in ideological promotion of the party, but proficiency in trading away the long-term interest of the party for their narrow pecuniary advantage. That these characters survived up to the present dispensation is a tribute to the wrong ideals native to the party. It is also evidence to the lack of internal democracy, which has successfully supplanted the beauty of competition and equal opportunity for the display of unequal talents. All these combined to provide the enabling culture for mediocrity and sycophancy to prosper within PDP.
The sacking of Secondus from office as acting national chairman was not the first time the party was being reversed and reprimanded for flouting its own rules. The case of Ifeanyi Ararume vs Charles Ugwu and PDP, as well as, the celebrated case of Rotimi Amaechi versus INEC, Celestine Omehia and PDP, which has become standard reference for law students on electoral disputes, stand out as evidence that PDP is long given to the wrong ways of doing things.
One state where PDP has perfected its wrong footedness in intra-party management is Anambra. In that state, from where incidentally, the current national publicity secretary, Olisa Metuh hails, virtually all state congresses and governorship primaries end up in litigations and billions of naira changing hands. Party decisions, which ordinarily should begin and end in Awka are usually settled in Abuja and in the fashion of stock exchange! But the most celebrated case of maladministration of party processes was when INEC graciously informed the party that the election of some of its functionaries at the NWC did not meet the minimum requirements set by the party’s constitution, the Electoral Act and by extension, the nation’s constitution.
As it turned out, the attempt to remedy that leadership selection shortcomings set the party up for its eventual first ever defeat. In a similar fashion to what happened to the party at the Jos convention, it became obvious that the ruling party had neglected experience and excellence to its disadvantage. Shunning dissent and denigrating wise counsel, a substantial slice of the party’s high net worth leadership including the former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and governors of five states, turned their backs on PDP in obvious repudiation of its modus operandi, especially as they relate to leadership selection. Unfortunately, the voices of those whose major interest lay in how much money or influence they could peddle from the new opportunity created by the departing governors, drowned those of reason, calling the party for a rethink. Given the painful defeat PDP suffered in the hands of the roughly welded All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2015 general election, there is much reason to believe that the defection of some its members, especially the great breakaway from the remedial mini-convention at Eagle Square, provided the ammunition for its eventual demystification. As things stand, it is possible that Nigerians prefer to give the benefit of the doubt to the APC, with its surfeit of rascally political orientation than PDP’s excessive tendency towards impudence, impunity and vanity!
Cosmetic Attempt At Ratiocination
AFTER the failure of the party to retain its hold on the political leadership of the country and dubious removal of its Game Changer, it spoke of need to make amends. The sacking of the acting national chairman seems to fuel the belief that the party’s avowals are not only shallow, but above all insincere. The method of using the same men that contributed to the atrophy of the party to reinvent and reengineer simulates wrong methodology. PDP seems to be doing the same thing the same way and expecting a different result. In a style quite apposite to Pilate, the party called for memoranda from Nigerians on ways to return PDP to its winning ways. The same dealers even held a summit to advertise how serious they are to reforming the party. Perhaps, noticing the villainy and unconscionable mischief intended in the programme and invitation to attend, the founding fathers of the party, shunned the summit. They must have thought that a serious reform-minded political party could bury the Ekwueme and Ike Nwachukwu committees’ reports and seek to put life into an Ekweremadu report.
At least, if the truism in the saying that physician cannot heal himself or the legal maxim that one cannot be a judge in one’s case, are anything to go by, what the PDP dealers should have done if they were genuine leaders, was to commission a consortium of experts to identify its failing points and recommend ways of resuscitation. Or in the interim, all the members of the NWC should have demonstrated penitence by resigning from their positions after achieving the historic defeat they garnered from in the 2015 general election. Nigerians may also have started taking the party serious and seeing the leaders as credible men of valour and high moral quotient if they on their own went ahead to embargo themselves from seeking elective office on the party’s platform for a period not less than eight years.
But avoiding that narrow path, the chieftains used the reunification seminar to pontificate on hope and self-adulation. For instance, the embattled acting national chairman, Secondus, while delivering his “Message of Hope” at the conference, told the audience that “in spite of its disappointing loss in the 2015 general elections, PDP should draw energy for a rebound from ‘our proud heritage’”. Only the Secondus knew what proud heritage he was alluding to because Nigerians remember the rigging of 2003 and 2007 elections even as they rue the party’s missed opportunity at transparent nomination process in 1999, instead of dancing to the dictates of military dictators and falling for the whiff of cash in Ghana-Must-Go bags at the Jos convention.
When Secondus stated that “it was that agenda and hope that “gave us resounding victories in the 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011 elections…” Nigerians must have noted the lie and sworn that PDP cannot change from its recourse to lies. Again, when the acting national chairman added in his remarks that “it was in the drive to chart the way forward that NEC empanelled a Post-Election Review Committee, which returned a far-reaching report on how to reposition the party”, his audience would have noted the shirking of responsibility hidden in the setting of that body.
The Federal High Court ruling the acting national chairman from that non-existent position may be a providential way of reminding PDP that it should open its eyes to the provision of constitute and statue books and lean towards a responsible performance of ingrained postulations. That way internal democracy, which it has been dodging, would emerge to chase away godfathering and moneybag politics that usually bring about terror instead of intellectual rigour. Above all instead of proceeding on timewasting appeal against the judicial pronouncement, PDP leaders should use the opportunity to learn that the way up is down. As the scripture says, before honour is humility and fear of God! If they have wisdom they should seek understanding to rediscover the party. The present NWC, especially Secondus, should eat the humble pie, confess its shortcomings and mendacity, surrender the party to internal mechanism for redemption.
The party should desist from zoning party offices to individuals like Obasanjo sought to do through the members’ revalidation project he initiated to weed out some members. What PDP seems to be doing with the biometric membership registration it claims to have begun in Edo amounts to administering medicine after death. For, had the party allowed the former national chairman, Dr. Okwy Nwodo, the latitude to implement his novel idea of online membership registration, who knows, the party would have belonged to the people, thereby averting the calamitous outing of March 28, 2015. But having chosen to tarry on the same wrong road of impunity and disdain for contrary opinion and disregard to laid-down procedures, the party may find that its search for a second chance may be long and hard.
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