The “Unity List” Versus The Question Of A ‘New’ PDP, By Aliyu Abdullahi
Today, Nigerians including myself witnessed first hand a different kind of democracy which pitched its tent or in this case its umbrella outside the global known democracy at the 2017 Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Convention, earlier in the day, I received a list called the “Unity List”, this is like the morning of the Saturday Election (the D-day of the PDP National Convention) when the voting was just commencing, although by 6 pm, the list has been on the social media everywhere, even Seun Okinbaloye that was covering the elections as Channels TV Political Correspondent took on the issue with the Convention Chairman, Governor Okowa of Delta State during the Channel’s News at 10 PM on the authenticity of the list, as usual of the PDP Leadership to lie its way out, the Governor said the list is not real, he said they (PDP) saw the list in the hands of Kano delegates who couldn’t read or write but they had since tore them, and told those Kano illiterate delegates to get an agent to help them vote, what a noble gesture, in addition to that, the convention chairman reiterated that the incident was rather an insignificant one and perhaps the handwork of the Ruling Party (APC) , I will come back to this shortly …
The convention has all the appearance of a democratic settings, albeit a few hiccups here and there at least to observers and outsiders, I was almost confident that I will loose a bet with a friend, that perhaps PDP will prove me wrong and conduct a free and fair election against their normal modus operandi of selection and imposition of candidates or money for votes. I kept observing the process until nature came calling, and I had to stepped out to get something to eat, I went straight to a popular bukka in Wuye District of the FCT called “Iya Oyo” to get a ‘to go pack of Amala with Abula and some orisirisi’. While there, i noticed an unusual long que of People all adorned with the PDP attire, I wanted to keep at my own but the journalist in me could not, so I stepped further to engage the obvious delegates from the South West, I wanted to know who will win the Chairman of the Party, majority of them said they don’t know but a bold one amongst them came forward and said to me, “my guy, this election was already done, the Chairman was going to be Prince Uche Secondus, I retorted that, but as Yoruba delegates, you must have voted for a South westerner, he said no, their instructions was to vote for Mr. Secondus and they just did that, I expressed my disappointment at them for not voting their choice if they had to listen to an instruction from someone, he responded that this is a delegate elections and it is all about who paid the highest, I responded back with, you could also do what the majority of APC delegates did in December 2014, collect the money and still vote your choice, he said no, they just had to vote for the agreed candidate, and I asked what about the Yoruba honor which the sole backer of Mr. Secondus seemed to have rubbished some days back, the delegate said forget that my friend, this is politics and there is no honor in it. I left them disagreeing that even in PDP, I was sure there were a few good Men. I came back home and continued monitoring the election process.
All throughout, I kept thinking that PDP may likely sway a lot of people (potential voters in 2019) if they conducted a transparent, free and fair election and what that portents to the ruling party who arguably conducted the most free and fair election in the history of Party Elections in December 2014, and the opportunity to connect with Nigerians on a whole new level, an honest way to make a statement of change from their old ways, manipulations and corruption. Well as these thoughts were going on in my mind, one of the candidates for the office of the National Chairman, Professor Tunde Adeniran pulled out of the elections and issued out press statement that he is pulling out due to the leaked “Unity List” that was been in circulation and as the newest form of election rigging, the professor did not hide his disappointment with the entire process
By 03.34 AM of Sunday the 10th of December, 2017, the Chairman Electoral Committee, Former Governor Gabriel Suswami marched to the podium to read out the results of the election, this was after counting and sorting out of all votes has been concluded. I patiently waited to hear the names of the newly elected officers while comparing them with the leaked “unity list” . I was sure that even if some of the names on the unity list made it through, some will definitely miss out, I mean there was no way the list will match it 100% at least, not when the social media has leaked it out, for sure the PDP were not that unintelligent to follow the list in total, my friend Seun Lawal was sure they will tweak the list even for the sake of throwing off people, I must confess that I was somewhat conflicted between hoping they may do the right thing (democratic election) in order to give the ruling party a vibrant and strong opposition and the thought that can PDP ever change from what we use to know them from 1999, can or could they change?
Finally, the long awaited hour came, after dispensing with protocols, former Governor Suswami read out the names of the newly 21 elected officers, from the New Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus to the deputy Youth Leader, Umar Babangida Maina, they matched the leaked “Unity List” 100%, a list I got about 11 AM on the election day. I was disturbed that things did not change, PDP is still PDP or as Atiku Abubakar will normally call them “Feedifee” in his accent.
I was also curious as to what will be the implications of this result for the big players eyeing the Party’s ticket in 2019, the likes of Atiku Abubakar who recently left the ruling party APC for the single reason of realising his ambition. He left APC when he realised how the incumbent President, Muhammadu Buhari was waxing stronger both physically in health and governance wise, he must have reasoned that now the Nigeria’s Economy was out of recession, an economic policy called the Economic Growth and Recovery Plan (ERGP) for 3 years is underway and already yielding result while the President who battled for his life by fighting an undisclosed sickness was not only back but fully rejuvenated and full of vibrant energy, one never seen before while he was on the seat since winning the 2015 General Elections, that there was no way he (Atiku Abubakar) could ever secure that ticket under the APC Platform, so as usual and as Governor Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai of Kaduna State puts it, a serial contestant and defector will do the only thing he knows how to do best, defect to home (PDP) where Money dictates the order of the game especially now that the Party has not smell Public Funds in the last two and half years out of their motto (Power), the Waziri of Adamawa must have reasoned that the Party needed money, this was a relationship that can be mutually beneficial, since he needed a ticket and the PDP needed Money which the Waziri has in abundance by his own admission.
Now, there are these rumours that an Uche Secondus or Governor Nyesom Wike controlled PDP may not be predisposed to a moneybag Waziri due to an existing private agreement with a certain player from the North-West region of Nigeria, will Atiku Abubakar have defected for no gain or could he persuade the newly Executives of the PDP to jettison their earlier agreement with the North West candidate? This is left to be seen, but some things, one can easily predict about the PDP, nothing has changed, the party may shake off its skin like a cobra snake but that does not weaken the potency of its poison. The PDP has remain the same, fixing an election before the voting as seen from the “Unity List”, then one may rightly ask, what could the PDP offer Nigerians if not the same past sixteen years of unprecedented corruption and manipulation of the system.
Aliyu Abdullahi is a lawyer and writes from Abuja, can be reached on twitter: @AliyuAbdullahA