From May 29 2015, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) will officially become the opposition party – for the first time since 1999. It would have lost the presidency, lost its control of the majority of the states (down to 13 from 21) and also lost control of the National Assembly. [Sweet. About time too].
All the ranking members of the Peoples Democratic Party are to blame for what they consider as a loss but which many consider a win for Nigerians in the aftermath of the general elections. Unfortunately, instead of starting with the men and women in the mirror, they seem to think that pointing fingers and trading blame will do the trick. The PDP hierarchy is used to scapegoating and want the convenience of old habits to take the sting off the loss but unless there is real introspection and acceptance of what all the stakeholders did wrong they will be unable to come up with the right solutions.
Here is how they are all to blame and what they need to accept.
The first is that Nigerians wanted a change or a break from the usual way of doing things– and there was little that the entire PDP machinery could have done to stop the tide. All the signatures, all the ads and all the money misdirected into a few pockets did nothing to hide the fact that PDP had grown hard, complacent, increasingly out of touch with members of the party and Nigerians in general and even disdainful of the wishes of the people. Those calling the shots thought it would be business as usual and they could use the same playbook they had used for 16 years to get their way. If the National Working Committee was cognizant of these issues, they would not have allowed the primaries to run the way they did.
The PDP governors are also to blame. There are two categories of governors. There are the ones who did their best to ensure PDP won in their states. But the people hate and fear them because they ruled with heavy fists, amassed (and spent) so much collective wealth, took one of only 3 senate seats and imposed their own successors. Then there are the ones who knew that there was no way PDP could win in the presidency in their states and so they barely campaigned for President Jonathan and only succeeded in a few cases to impose their candidates or return for a second term. Some even tried to impose their relations as successors despite open resistance; so bountiful was their disdain for the people. As Ndoma-Egba put it: “The party (at the national level) suborns its constitution, guidelines and even court orders to please the whims and fancies of governors who appropriate the will of members and impose theirs in its stead.”
The National Working Committee, chaired by former governor Adamu Muazu – a.k.a. ‘Game Changer’ also played a role in the defeat of the PDP. During the primaries, they were like emperors, strutting around, dictating and commanding, leaving unhappy part members in their wake and ensuring their poor public perception ranking remained unchanged. The decision to limit the delegates to just state executive committee members, ranking party members, elected officers and adhoc delegates made up of 3 members from each ward, made many party members unhappy – especially the ward chairmen. They managed to make some money from chaperoning the ad hoc delegates in their wards but they did not get the typical once in four years benefit of being delegates.
As if that was not enough, key members of the NWC were allegedly induced to look the other way as the governors and other party heavy weights imposed their candidates on everyone else. In the FCT for example Senator Wowo was persuaded to step down for Senator Aduda even though the latter was not the favourite candidate within the FCT party structures. Peter Yohanna, the Chairman of the Bwari Area Council who set strong sights on getting into the House to represent AMAC/Bwari constituency was also encouraged to sit out the primaries. It is safe to bet that the same thing happened across the country. Finally, while the NWC complains that they were side lined by the Presidential Campaign Organisation – and this had nothing to do with the tone of the campaign, they neglect to share why they were side lined in the first place. There was a gap to be filled and they allowed the likes of TAN and other copycat structures to fill the void.
Finally, the opportunists are also to blame and they have been largely quiet apart from a recant here and a crying spell there. Femi Fani Kayode, TAN and co have taken their proceeds and are enjoying a relatively quiet life while party royalty publicly tear themselves apart.
Those calling for the resignation of Adamu Muazu are doing so in the cannibalizing tradition of PDP – which has had 11 chairmen (substantive and acting) over the last 16 years. The validity of the message is not reduced by the questionable character of the messengers and should be considered seriously. However, the resignation of Muazu and the NWC would only be the beginning as members who really care about the legitimacy of the political process and protecting democracy must try to take control of the party in order to invest in it and nurture it. Nigeria cannot afford a 2 party state where one party is severely crippled with the baggage of all the actors involved in the last general elections. Time for the weakest links to say goodbye.
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