PDP’s Monarchy and Challenges Within, By Garba Shehu
There is the joke about the parts of the body debating each other as to which of them is the most important.
The eyes said without me, you can’t see or know where you are going. The ear said, if I don’t hear, there is no way by which the body can react to danger. Brain said I am the processor of all information; without me doing my work, the coordination of the body will be in disarray. The hands said, wait-a-minute, if I don’t move things, including food into the mouth, how would energy be supplied to the other parts? The legs played up their role in motioning the body. The heart, liver, kidneys, the blood stream, all body parts celebrated their role but the one that won the debate was the arse-hole. Yet, it was the one that every body part derided. To show how important it was, the arse-hole shut down the discharge of body waste. It began as a simple joke until it got to the point that every other part couldn’t stand it. All was in a turmoil. In unison, all the contending parts said “okay, arse-hole, you have won, you are the most important”. No sooner had the waste been discharged than did relief come to the entire body. Normalcy resumed.
Seen in this context, it is not at all surprising that even in the developed countries, there are times when the least remunerated set of workers comes to the top of that which is most needed in the order of the normal running of the society. When refuse collectors go on strike, the whole place rots and stinks and all are pushed to the limits. Nothing seems okay until the garbage is cleared.
The decision of the top command of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP to issue automatic tickets to 75% of their sitting Senators highlights the growing civil war within the ruling party as we inch towards the 2015 general elections.
The automatic nomination has come as a setback to the implacable might of the state governors. It is also a clear indication, that the PDP which handed the President, Dr. Jonathan Goodluck, an automatic ticket to run in the coming election is now in no mood to oblige any “outsider” into the governing class.
The PDP Senators had earlier led the upper chamber into the first-ever legislative boycott. They forced the Senate to continually suspend its normal business, not to protest the rising tide of terror, or impose pressure on the President and the Generals to step up their war against the Boko Haram or be swept as the opposition All Progressives Congress has demanded. They did not hide the fact that the protest was based on enlightened self-interest.
With the so-called resolution, the Senate is set to resume discussions on outstanding business of government from today, Wednesday.
The Vanguard newspaper reported a Senator, present at the meeting at which the President and the National leadership of the party addressed the legislators as saying that “after listening to our grievances, President Jonathan showed understanding of our plight and assured that the Senators would be allowed automatic tickets in 2015 general elections.”
Added he: “This is a welcome development; a situation whereby about seventy-five percent of serving Senators are given automatic tickets to return after elections will strengthen our democracy.”
But let us see the other side of the battle. Automatic ticket raises both political moral issues for both the party and the President. If it is right for the President to seize the party’s ticket for the presidential contest, because he has the power to do so, there is obviously nothing that should make it wrong for the Senators to flex their muscle by sitting on government business in order to press the case for their’s. That’s how the arse-hole proved to all body parts that it is ranks the highest.
The Senate’s gains didn’t therefore come as a surprise even as the horse-trading for the automatic tickets puts the upper chamber under the scanner yet again.
The constitution envisages a Senate, which is a House of Elders representing the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory on an equal footing, carrying out more nuanced debates reflecting national interest and ensuring stability and the well-being of the federation.
While there are many Distinguished Senators who are indeed distinguishing themselves by the sheer commitment to duty they are putting in, it is hard to say if by this alone, there is anything going on to change the increasing perception of the upper chamber as a safe haven or protective cocoon. The Senate has become a cherished destination of governors and anyone who wants to avoid investigation and trial, a key reason why nomination has become much sought after.
That Dr. Jonathan and the Senators have floated a common front against the governors does not also in any way tell you that the crisis is all over.
As reported by the Sunday Punch, the Governors, who got the short end of the stick have since rejected the so-called agreement. The Governor of Niger State, himself a Senatorial aspirant boasted in a statement that “no agreement reached anywhere with anybody can in anyway threaten governors’ ambition for the Senate.”
Aliyu stated that the clash of interest between the governors and Senators in the PDP would only be resolved by the electorate.
In Cross-Rivers State, the party leadership has recommended the Senate leader, Ndoma-Egba to the National Headquarters for suspension since they lacked the powers to sanction him. Fourteen of his staunch followers have since however been handed theirs. State party chairman, Nkufor John Okon said these men had ridiculed the party and gone against party rules. “Some” he added, “have gone to court against the party. Some have been induced to compromise the system.”
The race to enter the Senate for some of the governors is a do-or-die contest and all must understand what it means. To be free from possible prosecution or persecution if you will call it one, they just have to win. And a cursory look at history will show that no President has ever won against the PDP Governors. President Obasanjo, who won a few bouts against some, used his international connections to cage them abroad.
A man called Norman Cousins said something interesting of the former American President Richard Nixon: Nixon’s Motto, he said was: if two wrongs don’t make a right, try three! There goes the PDP!!