The Supreme Court judgment which put to rest the issue of the authentic chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) must have buoyed the confidence of the party but it is not enough to return the highly fractured party to its former winning ways. In fact the way they are puffing and huffing about Makarfi’s victory and casting aspersion on Ali Modu Sheriff over his loss might just set the stage for another conflict with the capacity to tear the party further apart. Certainly pouring invectives on a man who at a point in history held the party together is like biting the finger that fed you, reminiscent the party’s famed “use and dump” streak when it held sway. Oh that phrase resonates again. As an All People’s Party (APP) stalwart in Borno state, who practically installed Mala Kachalla as governor in 1999, the PDP under Olusegun Obasanjo as president used Sheriff to undermine his own party, the APP, up till when the kingmaker (Sheriff) became the king in 2003, the same way Jonathan used him to undermine and eventually denounce the emerging APC then. Therefore if the PDP thinks it can again live up to its billing, use and dump Sheriff, the battle this time can consume all of them in the process, but I pray not. The nation needs a strong opposition to checkmate the excesses of the ruling party at anytime, because for our politicians winning election and being in charge of the affairs of the rest of us is licence for impunity and bad governance. So we need a strong, virile and vibrant opposition party.
I have also seen the PDP chieftains gloating over that omnibus issue of restructuring as the panacea for the challenges facing the nation. If the new PDP is hinging its success on restructuring, they should have a rethink. A party that was in power for 16 years and didn’t think restructuring was an issue, only to start calling for restructuring out of office is ridiculous. A good example of their double standard is two-folds. In 2014, President Goodluck Jonathan constituted the fix-all-agitations National Conference. Over seven billion Naira was expended on the project. Despite arriving at a near national consensus and collated a report, the Jonathan government did not have the courage to implement it; the National Assembly with majority PDP members did not make it a priority. How can the same people, now out of power make restructuring their singsong? This smacks of double standard and Nigerians can see through their deceit.
PDP is still living in the past as long as it continues to put its worst forward in Fayoses and Fani Kayodes, as standard bearers and as long as they continue to mock an invalid President Buhari on sick bed. The party should forget 2019, if it cannot come up with new faces with new narratives. These people with sharp tongues and closets of cobwebs, contributed to the fall of the party, so they should be barred from public space. Instead of focusing on 2019, shouldn’t the party be concerned about reconciliation among members and between them and the Nigerian people? 2019 will be a mirage without party cohesion, and if the party does not truly reinvent itself, and as long as grabbing power is their only motivation.
How about the defectors whose antics have decimated and deflated the party and its umbrella respectively? In almost two years of its self-inflicted crisis, PDP lost lots of members and even the sympathy of Nigerians because they cannot exist outside the corridors of power. How to bring these people back to the fold and recruitment drive should be the main pre-occupation of the party, and not chastise the ruling party. These food-is-ready politicians will need some cajoling and lots of cash to sway them back to the crisis-infested opposition party. PDP should also target youth turning 18 since the last election.
There is a ray of hope though. The performance of the ruling APC is abysmal; they have not been able to walk their talk and campaign promises have since been cancelled. Times have become very hard and the people’s purchasing powers have dwindled and despite Buhari’s best efforts in pumping money to governors in form of bailout, civil servants and pensioners across the states are still wallowing and dying in poverty due to unpaid salaries and pensions. Even the internecine and infighting within the APC alone is enough an impetus for a come-back PDP to capitalize on. In the coming days, President Buhari will be factored into the calculation. APC’s victory in the last election revolved around Buhari and Buhari alone, who was seen as a messiah and deified sort of. But now that things are not what they appeared to be, the PDP might as well seize the moment of either his absence from the political scene or decision not to run. Finally, the ruling party has not shown capacity, is not markedly distinct and impunity of the past has continued unabated.
Importantly, it is in the interest and survival of our democracy for the PDP to be reincarnated. Nigeria cannot afford a one-party state. We need a credible opposition that can hold the ruling party to account, and for now PDP is the only opposition despite having over 40 registered political parties. The rest go wherever the ruling party goes.
In a nutshell, a resurgent PDP should get organised instead of the ongoing owambe party, the cheers and the thanks giving etc as if they just won a lottery; the party should reconcile with Sheriff because if the Supreme Court stopped him from having his way, he can as well serve other spoilsport roles—factionalise the party down the line, serve as a mole for the ruling party or out-rightly decamp to his erstwhile party, the precursor to the APC, all of which are within his constitutional right. However it goes, it can only detract from PDP, and not add any value. Rebuilding a fractured party is no hen party; nor is it about excluding some and rejecting others.