By EMMANUEL AZIKEN
Sunday’s press statement by the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN demanding the resignation of Alhaji Bamanga Tukur from his position as the national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP was characteristic of the caustic press releases from the party targeted at the PDP.
The demand from the ACN came on the heels of the arraignment of Mahmud Tukur, son of the national chairman of the ruling PDP for alleged offences related to the fuel subsidy scam. It was not the first time that the ACN would rebuke the PDP at its embarrassing points.
The sometimes truculent missives of the ACN media machinery at the federal level have undoubtedly helped to give the country the semblance of opposition that is presently lacking in many states.
The ACN’s press statements are indeed not always hostile: shorn of their political biases, they would indeed be helpful only if the PDP incorporates opposition views into its politicking.
In some cases, as when the country had a face-off with South Africa, the ACN actually came out in commendation of the administration’s posture.
But beneath the veneer of its seeming holier-than-thou attitude is the recurring question of the essential differences between the two parties.
Not too long ago when the new set of PDP national officers emerged at the forcefully arranged convention in Abuja, the ACN in a fitting riposte rebuked the PDP for its abuse of the principle of democracy in the selection of its national officers.
Many of those who witnessed the PDP convention, and also witnessed the ACN convention in Benin almost two years ago, would have been shocked at the vehemence with which the leading opposition party harried the PDP over its obvious democratic deficiencies in the election of its national executive.
As some who were in Benin observed, the national officers who were returned by the ACN were just announced from a prearranged list of those chosen before the event. One of the ACN presiding officials at the Samuel Ogbemudia stadium betrayed that suggestion when he said perhaps unconsciously “as we agreed before now”.
The ACN surprisingly, has not shown any remorse on its inclination towards selection as its national chairman, the respected Chief Bisi Akande once told newsmen in Oshogbo, that the party does not make any pretence about democracy in the selection of its candidates for elections.
It was apparently in that vein that the party hierarchy selected its gubernatorial candidate in Ondo State even before the formality of a primary last weekend.
Similarly in the conduct of local government elections, the ACN as it demonstrated just recently in Ogun State, has not shown itself any better than the PDP in the liberalisation of the democratic space.
It was as such not surprising that when the party picked on the national chairman of the PDP for rebuke, the response from the recharged media team of the PDP was swift, scathing and sarcastic.
In the response signed by Chief Olisa Metuh, National Publicity Secretary, the PDP demanded a response from the ACN on why the opposition party has so far not demanded the resignation of the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly who is himself presently enmeshed in a trial over his management of funds of the state legislature.
The retooled publicity machine of the PDP at the national and South-West levels have proved to be almost a match for the articulate and vibrant media machine of the ACN.
If anything, the ACN media machine has proved to be a helpful antidote to the raucous rascality that has bedeviled the ruling PDP.
But then, the ACN can only perfect a warm rapport with the populace only if it is able to purge itself of those same issues that are evident in the ruling party.
In doing this, the party must ensure that the fundamentals of governance are manifestly different in the states under its control. The party would also have to address the matter of internal democracy in the enthronement of its officers and candidates. By doing this the country’s leading opposition party would be properly positioned to challenge the PDP!