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Warring factions

By Donu Kobagra
SINCE  we mere mortals can never be perfect like God, no human organisation can ever be perfect like Heaven. And I’ve never come across a  single club that constantly and fully satisfies all of its members’ needs and aspirations.

Even within relatively uncomplicated set-ups like golf clubs, student unions or social networking groups for housewives, there will almost always be malcontents who grumble about the conduct of their leaders or fellow members.

It, therefore, follows that political parties in any country that is – or claims to be – democratic will inevitably be riddled with simmering internal tensions as various factions and splinter groups vie with each other for ideological dominance and control of structures, funds and the offices of state.

In the essentially left-wing ruling Labour Party in Britain, for example, there are regular tussles between diehard purists who adhere strictly to socialist ethics and moderates who prefer a more flexible and pragmatic approach.

Our local politicians are also no strangers to hostile shenanigans and heated power struggles; and we are currently witnessing a particularly rancorous conflict between disgruntled members of the PDP Reform Forum and PDP members who are supporting Ogbulafor, the controversial PDP Chairman.

Secret meetings have been held behind closed doors in private homes. Openly rebellious gatherings have taken place in public venues like hotels. Verbal fisticuffs have been exchanged. Insults have been traded via press outlets.

The National Working Committee establishmentarians who are running the show from the party’s headquarters, with considerable backing from state governors, have used suspension as a means of reining in their opponents. The “underdogs” have resorted to legal action. The PDP Secretariat has been invaded by policemen. The National Executive Committee meeting was nearly scuppered.

This unfolding drama is providing the nation with plenty of entertainment and food for thought. But we mustn’t forget that there is a fundamental difference between this political battle and the political battles that occur in more civilized countries, the main difference being that though Nigerian politicians often make sanctimonious statements, they are rarely motivated by principles.

And they can’t fool anyone who possesses half a brain.

Most of us smile wryly or scoff contemptuously when leading lights of the PDP sling insults at each other and accuse each other of creating a “culture of impunity” or of moral bankruptcy or of theft and other misdemeanours.

Most onlookers don’t care who wins this war that is being waged because it is so sadly obvious that most of the protagonists are fighting for themselves, not for Nigeria or for any noble ideal. We know that most of them are just trying to maintain or get their hands on juicy positions and easy access to big bucks.

In fact, many Nigerians are hoping that this wahala leads to the destruction of the PDP, a party that keeps “winning” elections but has spectacularly failed to win the hearts and minds of the population or to provide us with development.

Sure, there are some good folks in every situation. And it is never fair to tar everyone with the same brush. So let me say now that I respect some members of both factions and think that they would cleanse the PDP if they could. But let’s face it: As far as the average warring PDP member is concerned, this quarrel is nothing more than a fight about relevance and booty-sharing.

As my esteemed media colleague, Simon Kolawole of ThisDay newspaper pointed out in his column last Sunday: “The PDP crisis…is not about food on the table for ordinary Nigerians. It is not about roads and water and electricity and schools and hospitals. It is just about intrigues and self-interest. We have seen this before. Those who benefitted extensively from the ‘impunity’ in the PDP become reformers when things don’t go their way.”.

Why not?

IT has been said that one of the reasons why some PDP members are determined to get rid of
Ogbulafor is that he favours the zoning agreement that will, if the pro-zoning faction within the PDP has its way, prevent Dr Goodluck Jonathan from running for the Presidency in 2011 and instal a Northerner in the top job.

Meanwhile, Jonathan himself is not encouraging his fans to regard him as a potential candidate. Last week when a mystery supporter posted “Jonathan for 2011” campaign posters in key locations around Abuja, Jonathan quickly distanced himself from them via his spokesman, Ima Niboro, who said that:  “The attention of the Acting President has been drawn to these posters…

He regards this development as a distraction from the crucial requirements of the nation at this time…We ask those behind them to desist forthwith…”.

OK, so Jonathan is modest, cautious and keen to focus on loftier priorities – solving the energy crisis and conducting free and fair elections. And it’s obvious that he is not power-hungry or dying to stay in the top job long-term. But my response to his reluctance to push himself forward is to ask WHY NOT?

If Dr Jonathan performs well, why shouldn’t he carry on for another five years?


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