The inexorable drift towards self-destruction that we are witnessing among leaders of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) is not something that anyone who wishes this country well will welcome. It may be pleasing to its enemies and those who rightly or wrongly blame PDP for bad governance in the past 14 years, but broadly speaking it is not a positive development for us as a nation.
This is because, whether we like it or not, the instability of the party that has been governing this country for over a decade and has at least two more years to go will basically affect the stability of the nation as a whole. Even though many of us yearn for an alternative government come 2015, none of us will want to have that transition under a chaotic situation.
The August 31, 2013 special convention of the party aimed at mending fences and righting the wrongs of the past unfortunately saw the splitting of the PDP into two, as seven governors led by former vice-president Atiku Abubakar, walked out of the venue to announce the formation of a rival group, which they named ‘New PDP.’ The crisis that resulted from this defied all attempts to reconcile the two factions.
What this portends is that “the strongest party in Africa” is not only about to lose that appellation but plunge the country into a protracted crisis with only two years to crucial general elections. Of course, there are people who have been threatening the nation with violence if President Goodluck Jonathan is not re-elected. These people may be thinking that the strategy worked well for them in 2011 and could once again guarantee their man a second term in office. But, in actuality, Nigerian communities are mostly influenced in the way they vote more by their respective leaders’ actions – fair or foul – than by any external threat.
So, if there was any threat that had helped those in power today to win the 2011 elections it was not the noise from the Creeks but President Jonathan’s own threat to first term governors from a particular section of the country, which he expressed in a parable. Likening the PDP or the government to a vehicle, he said (not in the same words) that with him as driver if the governors caused it to crash he would make sure that all of them crashed with it.
In other words, if the governors caused the downfall of the government by not helping him to win the election he (Jonathan) would make sure that they also lost their elections; which, in effect, is admitting that he could cause the loss of an election by meddling with the result. This, more than any other thing, was probably what coaxed the governors to help him to win in their states so that they could also win their own elections.
This arm-twisting tactic, coupled with their insistence that he is dishonouring an agreement he had with them to serve for only one term after serving for a year as sit in president, could be what the governors could no longer tolerate, especially with the president’s henchmen threatening to make the country ungovernable if he is not given a second term. Whereas two years ago Jonathan had his way, today the governors are no longer looking for another term and are therefore ready for any political duel in defense of their rights. But should this duel continue unabated to the detriment of the country?
Bamanga Tukur, the chairman of the mainstream PDP who they accused of dictatorial tendencies, seems to be the pawn inadvertently used to stir the aggrieved governors. The man has been irksome to them as he wasn’t their choice in the first place, and his alleged unwarranted actions in some states helped further to worsen his relationship with them.
As the crisis continued to escalate, it is curious to note that an attempt to pacify the governors by elders led by no less a person than Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, failed. However, it was bound to fail because even the naïve knows that the ‘political General’ has been hand in glove with the rebel governors. They did not only visit him before pulling out, he boycotted the convention and Olagunsoye Oyinlola, his ‘godson’ and former Osun state governor, became national secretary of the New PDP.
What is worse is that even President Jonathan’s meeting with them failed. A last-ditch attempt by him last Tuesday also appears not to have succeeded. Although they have a fallback plan in place, with the registration of PDM and VOP, a third major party now won’t be in our interest. I think to save the PDP from ruin the governors need to shift from their stance. After all, they all professed to be still in love with the party.
However, unlike in 2011 when they were so desperate to win their elections and forgot to strike a deal with the president, this time round the governors should get a firm assurance from him that their constituencies would no longer suffer neglect. Even though promises are hard to keep these days, no one wants to be remembered as someone in whom you could not repose your trust.
Mohammed wrote in from Hotoro Quarters, Tarauni LGA, Kano (firstname.lastname@example.org).