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Above all, the current infighting and bedlam in the PDP over Sheriff’s emergence as the party’s National Chairman reveals that the PDP has not learnt any lesson from the forced perpetuation of Bamanga Tukur’s leadership; the exodus of its members; and eventually the 2015 general elections defeat. And should it be mismanaged and allowed to go the same way Tukur’s went, coupled with the possibility that the Dasukigate probe and other pending prosecutions – for instance, the Halliburton and NNPC probe – would send some of the party’s bigwigs behind bars, then, the party might be beyond redemption.

Perhaps this is the beginning of a story to be told in the near future, about how a one-time largest political party in Africa – the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – collapsed. With the emergence of former Borno State governor, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff as the substantive National Chairman of the PDP, the story has just begun.

Unfortunately, while the badly damaged public image of the PDP is yet to be redeemed, the party is bringing forward Ali Modu Sheriff – a man once alleged the Boko Haram sponsor, who as well has a pending case with the EFCC – as its Chair. But why? We know the PDP is rich in members of high national-nuisance-value. Yet, why would the PDP prefer to project itself with such politician instead of a decent man of high social capital and electoral value amongst it members?

Ordinarily, shouldn’t the PDP be conscious of the fact that the public perception of its members – especially those who play active roles in the party’s affairs – rubs off on the party? And in this case, it is crass and absurd for the PDP to have a man whose public image is greatly damaged like Sheriff lead its team. And from the look of things, the PDP seems to have dug its grave and perhaps Sheriff is coming on board as an undertaker to finally lower its corpse into the grave. Mind you, don’t call me a “bastard” like Doyin Okupe if this prediction fails.

Certainly, the woes of the PDP greatly profits the ruling party, APC, but the reverse is the case for the Nigerian electorate who stand to benefit from a democracy that has more than one viable political party. So, irrespective of our justifiable resentment of the PDP, concerned Nigerians who belong to no party or to every party, would rather not watch the PDP make this grave mistake that has direct consequences for our democracy, without raising alarm.

The reason is that: one, a viable opposition is needed to check the excesses of the ruling party in a properly functional democracy. Two, to form a new political party with a national identity, acceptance and grass-root spread across the 774 local government areas, local council development areas, 36 states and six geo-political zones in Nigeria, is not an easy task; and above all, if the Nigerian electorate must remain kings, there must be a viable opposition party that we could queue behind to send a non-performing ruling party packing – just like we did in the 2015 general elections.

Affirmatively, the opposition needed in this case must not necessarily be the PDP, but presently the PDP has what it takes to assume the responsibilities of an opposition better than any other party in Nigeria.

Presently, the PDP controls 12 states – all the oil producing states inclusive; it has 49 Senators; 125 House of Representatives members; and many other potential defectors who are currently marking time in the APC just for 2019 to come. Although, the party might be missing its Dasuki “ATM”, yet the PDP has more than two fish and five loaves to stand as a vibrant opposition.

In fact, things are not as bad for the PDP like it was for other opposition parties when the PDP wielded power at the centre for 16 years. At a time in Nigeria, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, General Muhammadu Buhari and a handful of others, including state governors were the opposition figures in Nigerian politics before the merger that birthed the APC in 2013. Even at the merger, the APC was not a serious threat to the PDP, until the PDP lost it bigwigs – the G5 governors and the new PDP caucus – to the APC due to bitter infighting and leadership tussles.

The closest attempt to repositioning and rebranding the PDP as a true opposition party was its decision to encourage more youth participation in the party’s decision-making and governing apparatus. However, handling over the party’s leadership to Sheriff, at this crucial time, when the party needs to be thoroughly pruned and rebranded, tells how unsophisticated the PDP’s decision-making organ is.

Even then, that the PDP lost in the 2015 presidential election is not the greatest of its misfortunes, like the manner it’s governing council has poorly managed the loss. But, what should we expect from a political party that could not manage its fortunes and Nigeria’s for 16 years? What should we expect from a political party that nurtured most of the notorious looters in our country?

Of course, the reckless use of power and filthy lucre sharing kept the PDP family united during their 16 year reign. And now that they have lost power at the centre, coupled with the fact that there are no monies to share, things are drastically falling apart for the PDP family.

The closest attempt to repositioning and rebranding the PDP as a true opposition party was its decision to encourage more youth participation in the party’s decision-making and governing apparatus. However, handling over the party’s leadership to Sheriff, at this crucial time, when the party needs to be thoroughly pruned and rebranded, tells how unsophisticated the PDP’s decision-making organ is.

Understandably, the PDP needs a new Sheriff: a figure whose clout could permeate and galvanise support for it from the North and beyond. However, Ali Modu Sheriff is the wrong – I mean totally wrong – candidate for the job. It is on record that the PDP withdrew his name from the 2015 Borno Senatorial contest due to the controversies over his links with the dreaded Boko Haram sect. Ironically, today a man who was disallowed from contesting a senatorial election on the PDP’s platform is now its National Chairman.

Anyway, Nuhu Ribadu who “tactically maneuvered” away from the party’s leadership responsibility as widely reported also tells that the PDP is a lowly brand. However, asides Ribadu’s failure to take the responsibility just to resuscitate his political fortunes, there are other decent people with good public image who could have been chosen from the same zone to finish Adamu Muazu’s tenure.

Moreover, if Muazu’s clout could not sway the choice of the Northern electorate during the immediate past election, how would Sheriff’s damaged public image sell the party better to the politically savvy Northerners? In fact, Sheriff’s leadership would further damage the image of the party before the electorate across the country.

And those who felt Sheriff’s deep pocket could make a way for the party in the North would need to recall what happened in the last general elections. As usual, the PDP churned out money; the electorate collected it; and yet, voted against the party.

Above all, the current infighting and bedlam in the PDP over Sheriff’s emergence as the party’s National Chairman reveals that the PDP has not learnt any lesson from the forced perpetuation of Bamanga Tukur’s leadership; the exodus of its members; and eventually the 2015 general elections defeat. And should it be mismanaged and allowed to go the same way Tukur’s went, coupled with the possibility that the Dasukigate probe and other pending prosecutions – for instance, the Halliburton and NNPC probe – would send some of the party’s bigwigs behind bars, then, the party might be beyond redemption. Perhaps, that would bring about another political merger and the eventual birth of PDGA or PDGLP: The Peoples Democratic Grand Alliance or Peoples Democratic Grand Labour Party.

A stitch in time…

Ahmed Oluwasanjo writes from Abuja and can be reached on ahmedoluwasanjo@gmail.com