By Debo Adejugbe
Nigerians are actually tired of the highly corrupt ‘biggest party in Africa’ but lack a coherent plan on how to flush them out. They seem to have developed a thick-skin to our abuses, criticism and threat of being voted out.
The PDP and her drama has lived with us long enough for everyone to form an opinion about it; no one will begrudge us if we choose to ignore the ramblings and hot press that their latest moves are throwing up but it calls for a closer analysis to understand the noise generated by the soap opera. The genesis of the crisis reads something like this: During the national convention of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), former vice president Abubakar Atiku and some top leaders of the party staged a walkout on President Goodluck Jonathan. Since then, both the ‘Old PDP’ and the ‘New PDP’ led by factional chairmen, Bamanga Tukur and Abdullahi Kawu Baraje have been at each other’s throat. That sums it up.
To consistently keep up with the drama they have promised us, new facts and counter-facts are emerging from the two groups. It started with 26 Senators and 102 House of Representatives members declaring for the new PDP amidst claims that they have 14 governors locked down as their assault on old PDP began to yield fruits never imagined by outsiders. The news arm of the Presidency, NTA, also delivered their platform by not reporting the walkout as a way of massaging the president’s ego and contrary to expectations; Reuben Abati hasn’t released as much as a sneer on the developments. Something must have gone awkwardly awry at the presidency if Abati, a man who is given to petty tirades and idiotic insinuations, is tongue-tied. It means the factional PDP’s move has jolted the presidency and they are trying to regroup.
A catalog of the crises in the PDP as compiled by The Nation Newspaper reveals how the present situation has been brewing for a long time, with Abubakar Atiku central to majority of the dispute. This walkout, despite being about Jonathan, is not about Jonathan. PDP’s affairs might be an internal affair but there are implications for the whole country in general. The crises is one both camps can’t afford despite the fiery exchanges between them as the PDP has more to lose when splintered—with APC’s enthusiastic arrival on the political scene—and when the dust settles, I’m sure they will look for ways to mend fences as they have always done.
The fanfare and enthusiasm that greeted the convention’s higihaga and parapoism (apologies to Patrick Obahiagbon) on Social Media shows that Nigerians are actually tired of the highly corrupt ‘biggest party in Africa’ but lack a coherent plan on how to flush them out. They seem to have developed a thick-skin to our abuses, criticism and threat of being voted out. They know the average Nigerian thinks more about where the next meal would come from than taking up an interest in how the PDP run the state; hence the plan is to always come back with loads of cash to distribute during elections. It was a welcome development to finally see the giant implode after years of threatening to, but the enthusiasm is a bit premature.
Looking at the demands of the ‘NEW PDP’, one cannot but be alarmed at how a group that broke away on the guise of entrenching democratic ethos into the running of their party miss the boat so horribly. The moment they brought out their conditions, their intentions became obvious that it was just for self-preservation. Rather than outline reasonable demands in line with why they actually staged a walkout, they gave four conditions for peace, namely:
• the factional National Chairman, Bamanga Tukur should be sacked;
•President Jonathan should abandon his re-election bid in 2015;
•The Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) and Rivers State crises should be resolved; and
•”harassment” of governors by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) should stop.
How ridiculous can you be to demand, from your party, a stop to EFCC’s legitimate and lawful duty? My thought: if you have no skeletons in your cupboard, why get overly concerned about EFCC harassments? How is it your problem if someone decides to put himself forward for public office? Are there no other means to politically muscle Jonathan out of the race other than demanding that he drops his presidential ambitions? I see the walkout and the subsequent hot air blown around as a way of courting our attention; now that they have it, what are they going to do with it? It doesn’t take a genius to decipher.
While the ‘old PDP’ has committed highly unspeakable crimes and are notorious for their blatant disregard of logic in the simplest of situations, the ‘new PDP’ is not all that it’s cracked up to be either. Their smooth play up of the victim tag won’t work. The walkout is a fight for relevance within the PDP and once they sit over their cassava bread to settle it, they’ll release a statement where the President would be praised for his maturity and put down the misunderstanding as “a family matter”, pat themselves on the back for a job well done and put all their resources back to winning the “election for the party”. Afterwards, the silent loser waits for his turn.
Make no mistake about it, they have a common object of derision and we—Nigerians—are that object. They hate our wellbeing more than they hate themselves, and at such, they will definitely make up. And in case they don’t, it is still more of the same from whoever emerges victorious; old wine, new bottle situation. The major difference between the ‘old PDP’ and the ‘new PDP’ is in their names; their objectives and endgame remains the same: capturing power at all cost and looting the treasury until it is dry. Both are as snug as a bug in the rug with each other, their destinies are so interwoven that you can hardly differentiate the intentions of one from the other. It all boils down to the ambitions of two men—Atiku and Jonathan.
I get the euphoria that followed the walkout, but I just think we have failed to see the bigger picture here. They have been jolted that the APC alliance—done but not perfect yet—succeeded. They needed a new strategy. It is playing out in our very eyes. The opposition might relax on their assaults, believing the PDP is imploding but that would be catastrophic as PDP—old or new—won’t give up their control that easily. Irrespective of how you see it, PDP’s internal war is not about democracy but a fight for power and self-preservation by the parties involved. Here is an association without a recognizable ideological leaning, yet it is called a party.
Maybe I’m wrong! I want to be wrong. After all, no one wants them to implode as much as I do and if it does happen; it’ll make for a good Nollywood political thriller. Those with good ‘political calculators’ are punching at it furiously; we await the sum and final figure of all their permutations earnestly. But till then, we shouldn’t hunt rats while our house is on fire.
Debo Adejugbe is a trained Telecommunications/Electronics Engineer and a certified IT professional living in Lagos. Dad to amazing Hailey and an advocate against Sexual and Domestic Abuses. Debo has political sympathy for the Labour Party. He tweets from @deboadejugbe