Following the defeat of President Goodluck Jonathan in the presidential election, the Peoples Democratic Party has been unable to get over the woeful loss, with party leaders in blame game. There are concerns that the party might break into pieces leaving the country without strong opposition. EZUGWU OBINNA reports
Since the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lost the recently concluded presidential election; it has very much been like a big masquerade which suddenly started decaying from its head much to the chagrin and disappointment of its followers and admirers alike.
From 1999 when the party took power following the return of civilian rule, it had remained dominant in the country such that its members have got so accustomed to being in power that they could no longer survive without it. A number of PDP members have, following the party’s defeat by the All Progressives Congress (APC) been like a fish out of water which desperately struggles to get back to sea for life. In this light, it is understandable why a reasonable number of them have defected to the APC just days after losing power at the centre.
In this light, it is becoming clear that while the party held sway, a lot of people joined it, not because of its ideology but simply to share the spoils of governance.
While there had emerged concerns over the party’s ability to function as an effective opposition to the APC which was vehemently dispelled by its stakeholders, the current in-house fighting among different individuals and groups within the party has reassured observers that there is indeed a cause for worry.
There is little doubt that the current state of affairs in the party is worrisome both to non-partisan and party people alike. And this concern has prompted calls by some opinion leaders for Nigerians not to rely on political parties to hold the APC government accountable but to build strong institutions to do so.
For AdetokumboMumuni who is the executive director of SERAP, Nigerian politicians cannot be relied on to play opposition going by what is happening now with the PDP. “Nigerians should not trust politicians to play opposition, look at the way PDP members are already defecting to the APC; it shows that they are all after money.
“What will be good for Nigerian politics is for civil societies and private individuals to rise up to the government. The news media and Non GovernmentalOrganisations (NGOs) should be the opposition because politicians are always after money,” Mumuni said.
Obviously, the level of pessimism over the ability of the PDP to hold its own in the face of defeat has risen with recent developments. Even the President of the Senate, David Mark who has been optimistic about the future of the party has come out in the wake of the current blames and counter blames by top party members to warn that the party was heading for self destruction if the right steps were not taken to rebuild it.
“Unless we halt the bleeding and find the necessary therapy, we may be heading for the final burial of the party. The party is already in a comatose status and we should do all we can to resuscitate it rather than this unnecessary rancor and bulk passing.
“The emerging factions are absolutely unnecessary; the combatants must sheathe their swords and embrace dialogue. My appeal is that we should not do anything that would further damage the already fragmented house,” Mark cautioned recently.
Apart from dealing with the agony of defeat, the party is now facing a more life threatening crisis than even the spate of defections that hit it recently, with the current rift among some key figures such as Ekiti state governor, AyodeleFayose and the national chairman of the party, AlhajiAdamuMu’azu.
Speculation were rife that the leadership of the party headed by Mu’azu, more specifically those from the North, sold out to the APC, a development that was not well received by many, especially those from the region as some of them interpreted it as a ploy by the South-South and South East to get rid of Mu’azu and hijack the party considering that both zones now represent its stronghold. The National Working Committee (NWC) also came under attack for allegedly not doing enough during the election.
A development that quickly generated reaction from the spokesperson of the party, OlisaMetuh who in an attempt to shield the NWC from blame, suggested that it was those who ran hate campaigns against Buhari that made the APC presidential candidate more popular and invariably led to his victory at the presidential polls.
“In 2003, President Obasanjo ran against OdumegwuOjukwu while the late President Ya’Adua also ran against him in 2007. If the PDP had run its campaign based on hate speech against the IkembaNnewi, he would have won by a landslide in the whole of South East,” Metuh said.
The party’s National Chairman in his own defence pointed accusing fingers at those he called praise singers and insisted that he couldn’t have been able to sell Jonathans candidature to northerners because of PDP’s low perception in the region, which he said was as a result of the lies told by politicians against the party.
“The perception of Jonathan and our party in the North was at an all time low because of the lies the people were told by politicians. Those who blame us for not delivering maximum votes to the president in the North seem to have forgotten that it is the people who vote.
“Those who insinuate that I did not do my best for our great party and Mr. President during the elections are being economical with the truth. In the face of abuse, insult and open ridicule by our friends and brothers, we supported our leader, President Jonathan, I gave my best and my all to the campaign of Mr. President and the party. We went to every state in Nigeria to campaign,” Muazu explained.
His explanation, however, did not impress Fayose as the Ekitistate governor insisted that he sold PDP to APC governors, promising that he would provide evidence to back up his claims. “In saner climes, when a war commander leads his troops to an embarrassing defeat, such commander does not need anyone to tell him that he needs to leave the war for another commander to take over.”
“How do we explain the PDP losing scandalously in Bauchi state despite the presence of the national chairman, Federal Capital Territory Minister and the state governor? I am even more particular about the National Chairman because he sold the party to the opposition before the elections and if they go any further, I will expose all his underhand deals,” the governor declared.He went ahead to reaffirm his earlier position that the NWC of the party, especially Mu’zu resigns.
Considering that there is a need for a strong opposition for the strengthening of Nigeria’s democracy however, one can only hope that the PDP survives. This is the view espoused by the Ebonyistate governor, Chief Martin Elechi who spoke in a chat with Hallmark through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. EniOnyekachi.
“I think the PDP will eventually revive itself and constitute enough opposition to the APC. It is the wish of every right thinking Nigerian and in the interest of Nigerian democracy that the party survives.
“If the PDP dies, it means that the country would likely become a one party state which will not be good for our democracy. The challenge the party is having now is because a lot of people in the party are just those who came together for the purpose of enriching themselves. The PDP had been an all comers affair, while the party was in power, a lot of people who had no ideology joined just to share the national cake. Now that the cake is no longer there; they are leaving,” he said.
However, he was optimistic that when those who came originally to share money leaves, those who will remain would be those who are there for good reasons and they would build the party. “When the people that came to share the spoils leave as they are doing now, those with ideology will remain and rebuild the party. The party has enough spread to survive, he adds.