The PDP and the “Janja Weed” Influence, By Hannatu Musawa
The irony of the All Progressives Congress, APC, adopting the broom as its national logo to sweep away the canker-corruption worms and indirection in Nigeria that the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has steered us into for the last 15 years can hardly be lost on anyone. Especially when the PDP is using the ‘umblela’ as its logo, a device people use to shelter themselves from the bad weather, storms, hurricanes and tsunamis that the PDP has unashamedly subjected Nigerians to.
In its usual, unfiltered, kneejerk panic response, the PDP has portrayed the APC as a party with an Islamist orientation. During the unveiling of the APC manifesto, it described it as a product of ‘Janjaweed’ ideology. Yet, the party’s manifesto tagged ‘Roadmap to a New Nigeria’ states that the party’s philosophy is the “welfare of the common man, and the assurance of a great future for the youth, and a decent and quality life for all”. The party also maintains that the cardinal principle of its manifesto is the commitment to a nation where every citizen has the opportunity to work and earn a decent wage, and where the disadvantaged elderly, the disabled, and the unemployed are assisted by the state. It also says it is committed to a nation where the curse of corruption is no longer tolerated in its political, social and civic affair, et cetera.
It was understandable why the PDP had to be rattled by the summit, but to describe the congregation as a ‘Janjaweed’ is ridiculous. From my understanding of the Janjaweed ideology, it was born by a militia that became notorious for massacre, rape, and forced displacement from 2003–2004 in the Darfur and Chad areas between the Arab tribes.
For a decade, the Janjaweed were an amalgam of Chadian and Darfurian Arab militiamen, tolerated by the Sudan government who were pursuing local agendas of controlling land. In 1999–2000, faced with threats of insurgencies in western and northern Darfur, Khartoum’s security armed the Janjaweed forces after which a bloody insurgency escalated. A number of tit-for-tat antics from both sides continued; the military capability of the Janjaweed was upgraded and used as the main military force. After several incidents where the leading Janjaweed commanders were suspected as genocidal criminals by the US State Department in 2004, the UN Security Council called for the Janjaweed to be disarmed, and the Sudan government undertook to do this when it signed the Darfur Peace Agreement in 2006.
I just cannot see the link between a genuine unveiling of a manifesto that is supposed to enhance and enrich our political terrain to a ‘Janjaweed’ ideology that symbolizes war and bloodshed, especially given the fact that the APC manifesto mentions nothing about war drums, extremism, regionalism but everything about unity, development and mapping out a better future for Nigeria.
Likening the manifesto of an all-encompassing political party like the APC, whose members include Nigerian nationals of different faiths and religion, tribes and ethnic groups to that of a militia group’s ideology shows how low the PDP has sunk in its smear campaign against the APC. Deducing PDP’s motives, it’s obvious they are trying to associate the APC with Islamism, eliciting ‘islamophobic prejudices’ in an attempt at depicting that the party belongs or originates from a particular faith.
Mixing religion and politics is a recipe for disaster as exemplified in the recent events in the Central African Republic. In fact, if any party is culpable, it is undeniably the PDP: its principal has in recent times been seen politicking via the pulpit of different Christian places of worship. In January this year, the archbishop of Jos, Ignatius Kaigama, advised President Jonathan to stop making policy statements in churches.
While it is understandable that the ruling party is jittery over the great big gondola that the APC and other opposition tribes such as PDM is establishing right in the centre of the Nigerian living quarters, there really is no need for the lowdown, cutthroat analysis of an action which can essentially only be a good injection for the Nigerian political atmosphere as a whole. There is no doubt that we have to get to a place where Nigerian politics is genuinely driven by policy, manifesto and ideology, instead of our political parties being platforms where aspirants essentially just contest from.
Without a doubt, the APC has created a tsunami of sorts which has every possibility of taking power from the ruling party in a free, fair and credible manner come 2015. From the start, the APC has not made it a secret that it wants to be seen as a party of progressives. However, while the PDP accepts that the APC is a party of progressives, it goes further by maligning it as an Islamic party, even likening it to the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt.
Using political spin to gain political points in the face of a real situation, where innocent people, children, women and men are losing their lives in the most horrific manner is just too disgusting. Even if the PDP was feeling like an endangered party after the unveiling of the APC manifesto, its use of such propaganda was too crude, unnecessary and under the belt. The party needs to find a better way to react under stress.
Indeed the APC’s package comes with the wind of change Nigerians are yearning for. It proffers an alternative to the over 14-year rule of the PDP government which has further impoverished the majority of the citizenry. As well, the present administration has gone a step further in entrenching corruption and corrupt practices and silencing whistleblowers in the process. It is incapable of ensuring the safety of lives and property of the citizenry.
No attempts of mud-slinging and smear campaigns would dissuade or discourage the teeming citizenry in listening to the APC as the only party capable of delivering the country from its current woes, evident in its over a year existence as a political party in Nigeria; it currently occupies about 58 seats in the 109-seat Senate, 172 seats out of the 360-seat House of Representatives, and 16 governors out of the 36 states in the country. These commendable figures are expected to increase tremendously after next year’s elections, as the APC is poised to upstage and unseat the ruling party; apparently this is why the PDP is already fidgety and making indecorous statements.
The PDP has led the Nigerian government since 1999, and while they have made some strides in a few sectors, whether we like it or not, it has not done Nigerians much justice. Instead of looking at the strategy the APC is using in order to finally correct some of the anomalies plaguing the nation, the ruling party is resorting to bigoted mudslinging and suggestive slander that label the APC as some sort of armed extremist, rebel movement. So, in this respect, while the PDP is trying to defame the APC as being under the Janjaweed ideology, PDP looks more like the party that is reasoning under the influence of the janja’WEED’… and by that I’m not talking of the legal ‘weed’ — if you know what I mean! (Hint, Hint, Wink, Wink*)
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