By Kunle Oyatomi
Every passing day,Â events unfoldingÂ in the run-up to 2011 are lowering hope for a credible political process that is deemed democratic.
Especially the intra-party crisesâ€™ rocking the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) portend real danger and a further blight on Nigeriaâ€™s democratic credentials.
SeveralÂ state congresses of the party are enmeshed in crisesÂ whichÂ threaten to tear the party apart, but none at the moment surpasses the Anambra governorship candidate issue. At the heart of the crisis is the process through which Professor Charles Soludo emerged as the candidate recognised by the central body of the party.
Soludoâ€™s opponents are claiming that he is an imposition because the constitutional process stipulated by the party for a governorship candidate to emerge was breached by the national executive; as a result, those who lost out are raising hell and calling for the head of the national chairman of the party, Chief Vincent Ogbulafor.
Everyday, the crisis gets murkier with aggrieved members holding their grounds in rejection of the official candidate. And, in response, the national executive of the party has gone ahead to dissolve the Anambra State executive and the latter is refusing to stand dissolved, etc, etc, etc.
At stake in this crisis is the democratic credentials of the party itself. From Plateau to Ogun and, Enugu to Anambra, the PDP state chapters are in crisis either within themselves or with theÂ national executive whose alleged high-handedness and â€œundemocratic interferenceâ€ are creating more problems than the party can solve.
In the Anambra situation, it would appear that the national executive had preference for a particular candidate, and had to ensure that the person emerged against all odds. Some may say thatâ€™s PDP politics, but it gets a lot bigger than that in the context of Nigeria.
PDP, we should remember,Â prides itself as â€œAfricaâ€™s biggestÂ politicalÂ partyâ€, which should translate into the continentâ€™s democratic power house. But, going byÂ what we already know about the party, added to what is going on currently within the party, it would appear that the PDP is simply â€œmightyâ€ in sizeÂ but â€œsmallâ€ in democratic content. If the national executive of the party cannot provide internal leadership, how can we expect it to give leadership to the rest of Africa?
Something is definitely wrong with the content and procedure of our democratic process at a more fundamental level. The military culture isÂ tooÂ muchÂ evident in what we call our democracy. This anomaly of â€œmilitary fiatâ€ is becoming malignant in our fledgling democracy.
After nearly three decades of military rule, and a majority of military politicians swarming into the PDP, it is becoming increasinglyÂ difficult for that party in particular, and a number of others in general to be aculturized with true democratic norms.
Even the PDPÂ constitutionÂ that the national executive is relying on to interfere in state congresses and executives borrowed the thought of imposing a candidate on the state from the military command structure.
In a federation like ours, what really is the business of the central body dictating or imposing candidate on any state that is supposed to be an autonomous unit onÂ its own? It is this type of undemocratic military politics which is at theÂ heart of instability in the federation, andÂ is now manifesting with negative consequences in the PDP.
This military mentality transplanted into, and which is being forced to become a Nigerian democratic culture,Â is totally unacceptable to most people in the first instance, and the politicians who are directly affected by it. The retired military politicians are everywhere in the social andÂ economic lives of this country trying to influence every aspect of our lives negatively, against our democratic preference.
This is the crux of the crisis in the PDP. Anambra State could well be the flashpoint from where the whole shenanigansÂ will crumble, but what should give us concern is how the effect will impact on the entire political process.
Increasingly, it is becoming clear that the PDP lacks the wherewithal to provide democratic leadership for itself, howÂ much more for Nigeria or Africa. At least, it has not demonstrated any such capability in the last 12 years; for, under its watch, the democratic process in Africaâ€™s largest â€œdemocracyâ€ has suffered significant setbacks. And the future doesnâ€™t seem to promise anything better, at least going by what we know of the PDP over the years.
The Anambra situation should prompt theÂ democrats within that party thinking of how to reposition the party for greater democratic credentials. As it stands, the PDP cannot survive further storms within its fold. Dictatorial tendencies within the party leadership cannot survive true democracy in Nigeria. The military has quit politics for good.
Their politics should also be thrown out of our democratic culture. The two are parallel lines that shouldÂ never meet. The present â€œforced co-habitationâ€ of the two diametrically opposed tendencies is bound to implode.
There is no way of knowing at the moment which of the two will survive the implosion, but, unless the PDP reforms itself into a truly democratic institution capable of providing credible leadership, its very existence as Africaâ€™s largest political party is critically under threat. The democrats there must watch it, and act.