The exit of Goodluck Jonathan as President has marked the end of an era for both the former President and the Peoples Democratic Party. EMMA OKEREH and OFFONG OKODIO in Abuja report
As president Goodluck Jonathan bows out and hands over the reign of power to the man that defeated him in the 2015 presidential election, not a few Nigerian believed that the 16 years reign of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has come to an end.
Hallmark checks revealed that Nigerians would have been happier if what plays out in the United States of America where the Democrats and the Republicans takes turn at power sharing can equally be replicated in Nigeria. On the contrary, they are scared stiff that the attitude of Nigerian politicians do not always give room for a robust opposition, hence , the general and nauseating feeling that the PDP may not reinvent itself.
When the Nigerian military took a decision to disengage from politics in 1999, they did not want to just let go their hold on power without having a strong political platform to entrust the ship of the nation into its shore. They therefore picked interest in the newly formed PDP and had their own soldier-democrat, a retired General and one-time military head of state, Chief OlusegunObasanjo foisted on the party.
Chief Obasanjo’s antecedent as having been the only military leader to willingly relinquish power to a civilian government in 1979, after long years of military interregnum was overwhelmingly accepted by both the military and civilian politicians, an action that raised his pedigree to high heavens. That acceptance also boosted the membership strength of PDP to become the largest political party in the African continent.
Moreover, Nigerians’ quest for democracy after the long period of military rule and its attendant human and material wastes compelled the generality of Nigerians to go into wild romance with the political party that won the favour of the ruling military juntas. That was how the PDP was born with excited well-wishers to swell-up its ranks and so got the largest chunk of supporters to become the largest party in the most populous black nation in the world. It wielded that popularity for the past sixteen years until its massive defeat in the 2015 general elections.
That defeat marked the beginning of its fall in the political history of the fourth republic.
Nevertheless, what actually led to its fall may not be the fact that it lost control of the central government and greater number of states and seats in both the National and states Assembly but some factors inherent in the political life of the country. Within the 16 years of its rule, the Nigerian people witnessed some human and developmental issues which the PDP government at all strata of governance treated with levity.
The party’s leadership ecstatic stupor of euphoria blinded them from seeing or paying attention to those human and developmental issues.
Today, PDP is in crisis, as it knows not who to trust amongst its array of leaders. Whether the party will come out of the crisis is yet unpredictable, going by the mass exodus of its front-liners to the emerging ruling party, APC.
A foray into the PDP’s 16 years rule reveals some human and developmental issues which created some sense of frustrations, alienations and anger among even its members as well as the generality of Nigerians. Over the period PDP had held sway as the ruling party, the party’s leadership gradually lost the control of its members, particularly the states governors and some elected representatives at both the national and states level.
Before the crisis that led to defection of leaders and members to the opposition party, PDP controlled the centre and had 23 governors as against the 13 opposition governors. Today, PDP is struggling to maintain 12 governors as against the APC’s 24 governors. The party has lost the control of the Senate and House of Representatives and has now taking minority role in the two chambers of the legislature.
It all started in the first phase of the fourth republic, the then President elected on the platform of PDP took over as the leader of the party and caused the state governors to emerge the leaders of the party in their respective states. This was a deviation from the traditional role of the national party chairman and states party chairmen, who had served as leaders of their parties at their different levels. And as it is in the character of political power, power corrupt and absolute power corrupt absolutely, which explains the levels of corruption among the leaders of PDP which eventually led to the fall of the party.
The states governors, with the absolute power they enjoyed both as elected governors and leaders of the party in their states held their territories captive and emerged the territorial gods that must be served and worshipped with some forms of sacrifices. Some of them squeezed life out of their perceived opponents. The governors decided to come together under the auspices of Nigerian Governors Forum to primarily checkmate the excesses of the emerging principality in the mould of President Obasanjo. The Nigerian Governors’ Forum then became an assemblage of the Nigerian territorial gods whose roles in the nation’s democracy shaped the democratic character of the country.
They played critical roles in the sharing of the nation’s oil wealth and in dispossessing Nigeria and Nigerians some trillions of naira, hence the frustrations, disillusionments and anger of the masses to vote the party out of power.
The assemblage of the nation’s political territorial gods called states governors exerted enormous influence in determining the direction Nigeria’s democracy was heading, until personal and group interests started creeping into the forum. Throughout the Obasanjo’s eight years tenure, Yar’dua’s two years in office and Jonathan’s six years tenure as presidents elected on the platform of PDP, the Nigerian Governors’ Forum became a body of Nigeria’s territorial powers whose interests imploded and divided their ranks, with the PDP facing disintegration. The implosion also resulted in the formation of the PDP Governors’ Forum, a parallel forum that hit a dead nail on the Nigerian Governors’ Forum.
The implosion resulted in the defection of five PDP governors and some legislators to join forces with the opposition governors and legislators which culminated in the formation of the opposition party, the APC that later swept PDP out of power.
Today, PDP could be said to be a shadow of its old self, following the mass defection of its members to the new APC that has swept it off its feet. The frustrations, disillusionments and anger of its members and supporters followed the intrigues, greed and ambitions of its governors to impose their successors and instal their stooge in both the National Assembly and state Houses of Assembly. They did this with absolute sense of impunity and arrogance.
Most of the former governors succeeded in lobbying the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in their respective states pander to their whims and caprices. The best the aggrieved masses could do to curtail their excesses was to vent their anger on the leader and flag bearer of the party in the 2015 presidential election which also trickled down to the National Assembly, governorship and states Assembly elections that leave PDP to lick its wounds today.
The crisis of confidence rocking the PDP has seen its National Chairman, AlhajiAdamuMua’zu resigned due to pressure on him to do so.
Other members of the National Working Committee are yet to follow suit as pressure are being mounted on them to do so. The Chairman of party’s BoT has also put in his resignation to give way for a more focused leadership of the BoT that would help bring the party back on track.
As more defections hit the party with Nigerians politicians known as fair weather politicians, this will make it even more difficult for the PDP to rise to the challenge of opposition political party it has been consigned to, not to talk about dethroning APC in the near future.