‘Change’ in PDP Comes With Expiry Date, By Garba Shehu
It is not at all controversial to say that Nigeria’s ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, is imperiled today. By the weekend, party leaders and the Presidency were congratulating one another following the forced resignation of party chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur. Will this change in the leadership cause any difference to its perils?
Many who are still inside the party say it’s broken from inside and irretrievably doomed. “Dis party don scatter finish” were the words coming out of the mouth of a “loyal” PDP governor on a barber’s set as he watched television reports of his party’s never-ending crisis. Many say this leadership change is coming too late to save the party.
Tukur’s exit was itself a thing of joy to his native Adamawa State. There were jubilations on the streets of Yola. Throughout his term, he did not give a single thought of uplifting his own Adamawa community. But the real reason for joy at his exit was the fact of the general belief that he caused the state of emergency imposed by the Federal Government on the state to spite Governor Murtala Nyako whom he fought from the beginning to the end of his term. Although in truth Adamawa has a number of security challenges, especially in its areas of control next to Southern Borno, the continuing quasi-military rule over them is an over-kill. With Tukur out of power, his kinspeople assume that emergency rule will be removed.
Even at the centre, it is doubtful if anyone is expecting a serious change to occur. The problem of the party isn’t a Tukur problem. The party’s problem is mainly its own ideology, which is the subversion of democracy. PDP is all about the authority of the high command and consensus as a way of arriving at choices and decisions. If they change the chairman a hundred times over, the party will continue to dwindle so long as they are beholden to this undemocratic ideology; and are led by President Jonathan’s conspiracy rhetoric.
Although Nigerians have always been divided on the basis of region, religion and tribe, the President is the main reason behind the growing differences between Christians and Muslims; between the North and South; between minorities and the majorities and between his “Ijawnation” and the Nigerian nation, all arising from his divide and conquer strategy.
Such parochial strategies, apart from being distasteful, have also lost voter appeal leading to the loss of faith in the party. The policy of the appeasement of minorities and the marginalization of the majorities, which is yet another problem, is PDP’s version of democracy.
To do well, the PDP needs a leader that would focus on championing the cause of the country’s poor; its workers, women, its youth and students among other segments of the society. It needs a President who comes across as a political leader with acumen, not a tribal leader with political acumen.
By taking the laws into their hands, asking the police to do as they want, arresting who they want, the PDP has been sowing the seeds of instability in the country. In Rivers and Kano, they have been sowing the virus of impunity and anarchy.
It is clear to even those in authority that the current system has become, not only corrupt but un-responsive; it has become old and out-dated. To borrow the expression of a blogger, the system is unable to solve the day-to-day problems of the common people and grows silent when it is most urgently needed.
“If Nigeria is a computer and the PDP is its default program, the least that can be said is that the program needs an urgent upgrade.” Some, like the spokesman of the opposition, Lai Mohammed would even say dump that program, it is corrupted to the core and upgrading will not solve any problem. Just dump it if the computer is to be saved.
Fortunately for the country, there is a growing list of budding opposition parties pushing to provide an alternative.
As for the former Chairman, the bitter and intricate bouts to oust him notwithstanding, Tukur will likely continue to be an important presence at the higher levels of Nigerian politics, for a long time to come.
That said, there is no denying that Tukur’s departure is coming with an expiry date, too little, too late to change anything. It is certainly most unlikely to change the dismal forecast for the party’s future.