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PDP: The Way Forward (1)

The tragedy that has befallen the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, is proof of one great fact of life – that there is always the other side of success. That side is failure. Success may last a long time but it does not eclipse the fact that failure is as much a reality as success. Yesterday, PDP was on the glittering side of life called success. Today it is in the narrow, dark and lonely alley of failure. Both sides of life must co-exist for this long proven lesson of life to be fully taught and learnt.

But luckily, this failure is not a death sentence. It is not one for which a penalty will be invoked other than the party having to vacate the number one political spot for now. It is only a kind of rebuke for the party for delivering far less dividends of democracy than expected in the years that it was in the saddle. This development is an opportunity for the party to take a break, do some internal self-reorganisation and return to reclaim what it lost in the 2015 elections. But from the way most members of the party are reacting to the defeat of the party at the polls, it is obvious that a lot of the confidence in the party has been eroded. Most party members do not seem to believe that PDP can survive the trauma of its defeat. In desperation, they are making the wrong prescriptions and applying the wrong medication, both of which can only complicate the present critical state of health of the party.

The plan by governor elected on the platform of the party to form a new political association out of PDP is a product of a wrong diagnosis of the party’s ailment. It is another tragedy knocking at the doors of the party. Why a brand new party any way, a step which will certainly lead to deeper and more debilitating cracks? In what way will that help the party? Rather it will lead to the loss of more of its key members to the opposing party. Some people have said the new party will be used to edge out members who worked against the party in the 2015 elections. If that, really, is the motive, then the people working on this theory of a brand new party need to be educated themselves on the factors that actually led to the party’s woeful defeat. They do not seem to know.

The story of disloyalty in PDP is similar to that of the prostitute in the Bible against whom nobody was bold enough to cast the first stone after Christ threw the challenge to her accusers. Is there any organ of the PDP structure that is really free of blame for playing a role in the unfortunate events that led to the party’s defeat? There is none that I know of. They all did, knowingly or unknowingly. The Board of Trustees, for example, was a badly split group. It failed on several occasions to take decisions necessary to prevent a split of the party. The departure of four of its governors at the same time could have been avoided if the BoT had acted wisely.

The National Working Committee had its own grudges against the Presidency and the Presidential Campaign Committee headed by Senator Ahmadu Ali for not allowing campaign funds to go round. It was aloof on the re-election bid of President Goodluck Jonathan. The Ali Committee, on the other hand, alienated all the other organs of PDP from its activities and sat tightly on campaign funds. In Nigerian politics where everybody’s mission is to make money, outright alienation of major party organs from accessing campaign funds can be a legitimate source of disloyalty. The PDP Governors Forum was, most of the time, a veritable ground for negative and even divisive agitation. All of these, taken together, made the defeat of the party an unavoidable tragedy. And this means that there was really nobody of note in the party that was not a contributor to that tragedy.

But party leaders can (and should) salvage the party from the new and the greater tragedy knocking. They should rather rebuild and strengthen PDP than think of a new party. Nothing will be a greater proof of party leaders’ inability to manage defeat than the plan by the governors elected under the party to form a new political association from the PDP. I’m told that their target really is Adamu Mu’azu, national chairman of the party whom many of them have accused of disloyalty, whom they asked to resign but has refused to do so. I don’t grudge the governors on that issue of resignation. Mu’Azu deserves to go. His tenure brought the first major defeat of the party in 16 years and he needs not be prodded to do the needful, which is to quit and even tender unreserved apology for his woeful performance. He should have done so soon after the governorship and state house of assembly elections on April 11.

Yet I do not believe that the governors need to walk the long road of forming a new party just to get Mu’azu out. That will be a greater calamity to the ailing PDP than waiting to sack their chairman at the party’s convention later in the year. What the governors and other key members of the party need do now is to support the Senator Ike Ekweremadu committee, now gathering facts on the events that led to the defeat of the party, to do a good job. The party’s leaders need reliable information on the best way out of the present morass. The committee should help determine who played what role in the elections and how these roles helped or impaired the performances of the party. It is the only way to avoid further crisis that the forceful removal of disloyal party leaders and member, including Mu’azu, could lead to. That way also, this party that is already very well known beyond the borders of this country could be salvaged from the jaws of death.

The defeat is only but a temporary setback. It should be seen and taken as such by party leaders so that the greater goal of reviving the party will not be truncated.

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