PDP and the Rest of Us By Dele Momodu
Fellow Nigerians, let’s begin to congratulate ourselves on the crisis currently rocking the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) of Nigeria. It is the troublesome association that harbours the most unruly politicians on the surface of the earth but which prides itself as the largest political party in Africa without any empirical data or proof other than the fact that it is the party in Government in the most populous African country. The PDP is clearly an incredibly boastful party that has not been able to deliver on any of its many promises in the past 14 years despite the stupendous resources at its disposal which it has merely awarded to itself and its followers. The party never fails to praise itself like the lizard that falls from the top of an iroko tree and nods its head that “I have done well”. PDP says it has done Nigerians a huge favour and deserves to be in power for a further 50 years in the saddle. Who are we to argue in the company of the world’s biggest squander-maniacs?
But great indeed are the works of God. When a mere mortal tries to apotheosise himself, God turns the presumptuous giant into a pigmy. That is exactly the story of PDP as it finally ate humble pie this week. Once upon a time, PDP was above the Law. It was in fact the Law. It disregarded the laws of the land with impunity. Even when the Supreme Court ordered the then President Olusegun Obasanjo to release the Lagos statutory allocation that was illegally hijacked or confiscated, the directive fell on totally deaf ears. President Obasanjo chose to hide behind semantics and rigmarole that some lawyers serving him were experts at dishing out. But that was then.
One man came out of the same incorrigible party and unfettered the Judiciary. The man was no other than President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. He preached and breathed the Rule of Law and truly lived it. He was a radical departure from the era of those who preached certain things in the day but did something completely alien and preposterous at night. Taking a useful cue, more Nigerians took the battle for liberty to the courts and many actually got justice. That was how some of the opposition Governors managed to repossess their stolen mandates from those who had robbed them in broad daylight. Amidst the higgledy-piggledy, many Nigerians still believed one man, the President, was totally insulated from it all and that he still wields the power of life and death. You can’t blame such sceptics. It was normal for someone whose child had been killed by a witch to see everywoman as one.
A few years ago, no one in his right senses dared challenge the awesome powers of a Nigerian President. This was what gave the PDP its avuncular disposition and swag that it was beyond reproach and therefore unassailable. But whatever has a beginning usually has an end. Folklore tells us that even slaves kicked in disobedience when their humiliation came to a head. The wall of apartheid crashed in South Africa before our very eyes. The Berlin Wall came crashing down and East and West Germany were reunited as one Germany whilst the overbearing all-conquering Soviet Union suddenly disintegrated into splinters. In this century, a first generation African American (a Kenyan to all intents and purposes or dual citizen at the very best) became the most powerful President in the world. So who said PDP was beyond the reach of God?
The cries of Nigerians were heard apparently by God when PDP suffered a volcanic eruption from within. Nothing is worse than the rebellion of a child against his own parents, that moment when he looks at his dad and mum with that straight poker-face and says: “To hell with you both.” Even when the parents threaten to punish the recalcitrant lad, he still retorts confidently: “Come and beat me, if you can!” The parents need to urgently review their moral fibre and authority. Such is the state the PDP has inadvertently found itself by taken on too many of its powerful children whose obstinacy and determination it grossly underrated. The PDP apparatchik shot itself in the foot by forgetting that even the best strikers often miss penalties. And the greatest clubs don’t win all the time. Ask Barcelona FC and Real Madrid FC.
What started as an innocuous contest of 36 Governors has suddenly snowballed into a major imbroglio for the PDP and its Leader at the top, President Goodluck Jonathan. No matter how hard the President tries to extricate himself from the messy fallout, he won’t succeed because he failed to intervene positively by his decision to take sides with the losers rather than the winners. He would have saved himself the present agony of sinking deeper and deeper in sin by not robbing Peter to pay Paul, a totally unnecessary distraction from the herculean duty of State affairs. No right thinking person can fathom what he has gained by stubbornly keeping the company of pretenders to the throne of Nigeria’s Governors Forum, a mere social club that has now been elevated to the level of ultimate importance in the battle for enthronement of democracy. Unfortunately, the President still allows himself to be 419ed by latter-day supporters who are only seeking protection from EFCC. Whether the ruling government accepts the reality or not our country is dangerously haemorrhaging to death on all fronts.
The little attention that governance got from PDP all along has now been completely eroded. To say we are on auto-pilot is an understatement. The simple truth is that the ship of state is rudderless and drifting perilously with those at the helm of affairs drunk and in stupor from the potent liquor that is power. The innocent performers in Government, mainly technocrats, are watching in utter amazement as their good works are being rubbished by those who see the attainment of authority as a god to be worshipped. The crisis rocking the PDP is a clear threat to our hard-fought democracy. Unfortunately, the main beneficiaries of our struggle against military tyranny were the same group of people who killed true unity on June 12, 1993. The unrepentant assailants were deceptive enough to confuse and hoodwink Nigerians then, and they are at it again now.
Hopefully, the spell cast on Nigerians by the PDP seems to be clearing up slowly going by events of the past few weeks. For the first time since PDP came to central power on May 29, 1999, it is fighting for its own survival. Party members are fighting themselves like victims of hypnotic sorcery. As one fire is being quenched another ignites with more ferocity. In this ding-dong war of attrition, PDP has opened up its flanks to mortal attack from the prowling opposition. If it could in the past, the PDP can no longer afford to take things for granted. There are just too many dissenting voices from inside. The situation is not helped by the horrendous manner supporters of the President have been spitting fire and brimstone at anyone who has the effrontery to speak up against the President’s second term ambition as if the presidency was someone’s private property.
By focusing more attention on politics than service to the people, the President has allowed the wrong persons to take over our affairs. The President should have concentrated more on his avowed Transformation Agenda by offering leadership and guidance to some of the bright folks in his government. But wrong signals are being sent when governance is being handed over to people who see no reason to try and persuade people with superior logicbut instead prefer the use of rude and uncouth language and aggression to intimidate well-meaning critics. This is not the way to govern a country as big and well-endowed as Nigeria in this modern time. Nigerians are too brilliant and sophisticated to be led like citizens of a banana republic.
It is true that Nigerians always appear docile and timid but no ruthless dictator has ever succeeded in enslaving us perpetually. Sooner than later something would give and the trousers would burst at the seams. I hope someone is reading this missive. I derive my confidence and authority from our ancient and contemporary history. And the world has since moved far beyond those days where leaders can act irresponsibly and still expect to retain power. If PDP continues steadily with its present reticence and rascality it is surely in for a rude shock.
What is important to some of us is not who is in power or where he comes from; it is what he has to offer. I will be very happy if President Jonathan can turn a new leaf and manage to turn Nigeria around for good. Most Nigerians are tired of politicians in general. Tomany Nigeriansallpoliticians are one and the same and the mistrust has become very pungent. Our people have written us off and sincerely we have not done much to deserve any better verdict from the people. In most countries, there would be no argument about sacking PDP but Nigerians are genuinely worried about replacing one set of political misfits with another. It is a big dilemma that has made elections very unattractive and the people apathetic.
The Nigerian opposition has too many rivers and bridges to cross if it must capture power from PDP. It must go beyond registering a new party under whatever name and gathering strange bed-fellows in the bid toincreasing the number of supporters. The manifesto and ideological bent of the new party must be properly postulated, efficiently structured and elegantly presented without any ambiguity. More attention should go into how to convincingly show the difference between opposition and the present oligarchs. I see so much creativity and innovation from ordinary Nigerians on a regular basis.
I encounter surprising passion, fervour and patriotism from our compatriots wherever I go. These are the Nigerians that a sincere reformist Government would nurture, encourage and partner with to take Nigeria to the place it should be in the comity of nations. I’m under no illusion that it is going to be easy to unseat PDP but it is very doable if we are sincere and committed to true change that will achieve our desired goal of a Nigeria we can all be proud of. Sticking to the old style of doing things will definitely end up in a monumental disaster for our beleaguered country.
It should be possible for opposition to make the necessary sacrifice for the sake of Nigeria. Personal ambition of a few must be subjugated to the overall good of the multitude. It is impossible to change Nigeria with the current level of selfishness, greed and crude accumulation of wealth which seems to pervade our polity. We all love the good time but we can downgrade our appetite a little before we turn most of our youths into rabid hyenas. It is a warning we cannot afford to ignore in our stereotypical fashion of saying “nothing will happen”. What I see all around is a land of very desperate people who may be forced to turn Nigeria to a nation far more dangerous than Somalia and Iraq.
I don’t think Nigerians are asking for too much from their governments. In fact, we are easily impressed by minor accomplishments. That is why our leaders commission every insignificant project and splash their names and faces on every little monument. I’m certain Nigerians are masters of appreciation and celebration and a good prudent government won’t have to waste time and resources on political masturbation and self-adulation.
This is the best time to try something new. We have many great Nigerians who can turn things around for good but the preponderance of bad guys in politics has made the task more arduous. By 2015, PDP would have spent 16 years of our collective lives in power without any appreciable progress. This is enough reason to seek a true change. But if that becomes impossible, God help Nigeria.
I will simply assume we were born to suffer.
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