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What is it With PDP?

Finally, the National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP has been pressured to lift the laughable ban on its members rooting for reform in the party. Not that anyone was surprised by the return of common sense to the leadership of the party. It was a matter of time before the NWC ate the humble pie.

After illegally suspending the initial protagonists of the reform movement how can the NWC hold its position when almost every member who is not an NWC member or a Governor or an appointee of a Governor has joined the reform movement, whether for principled or strategic reason? If all the ‘reformers’ are to be suspended who else remains in PDP? So, it was bound to happen that the ineffective suspension has to be lifted.

But the crisis in PDP is not over. This crisis is beyond what the ‘reformers’ in PDP conceived. It goes beyond the demonization of the Governors. It is beyond who takes over the gravy train and more than what happens in 2011. But tragically, some leaders of this potentially great movement are fixated about these ‘non-issues’. I say tragically because if Nigeria fails to rectify the PDP, it has lost a significant proportion of the opportunity to fix Nigeria. Unequivocally, as PDP goes so goes Nigeria.

The PDP is a true representation of Nigeria. The crisis in PDP is a refraction of the crisis of the Nigerian state. The Nigerian crisis is rooted in the question whether governance can be anything beyond murderous struggle to capture the resources of the state. In the history of Nigeria this struggle has taken different manifestations: struggle between ethnic and religious groups or struggle between personalities and cults of personality. This struggle has been rarely about the ideological orientation of the Nigerian state or about its strategic interests. It has been about who shares the allocation and who gets what.

It suggests itself unambiguously that the only way to break this orgy of insanity is to transform governance and not to arbitrate between contending identity groups, personalities and cults of personalities. At every auspicious time, Nigeria has recoiled from transformation.

The challenge before the self-appointed PDP reformers is whether they can redeem this time by ending this cycle of opportunity and failure; the cycle of transformation and reiteration. Sadly, my reading is that the PDP reformers are not up to the moment. So, my prediction is that soon the dust will settle and in the words of George Orwell, the revolutionaries will look like men and then like pigs then like men, just indistinguishable.

So, what is the matter with PDP? I think we better start with ‘what is the matter with Nigeria’. The problem with Nigeria has been classically defined by the writer and teacher, Chinua Achebe, as the failure of leadership. So, reading Achebe one gets the impression that Nigeria rolls on the floor because she has not got her own Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela, Abraham Lincoln, etc.

Once leaders who have the force of good examples show up on the stage, the dwarf will be leaping walls. I beg to disagree with the literary giant. Yes, the problem is leadership. But this leadership is more a matter of structure and culture than psychology and personality. Yes, it matters the antecedents, pedigrees and moral cum psychological constitutions of the leaders. But what matters most is that the leader-redeemer understands the structure and the culture of leadership failure in Nigeria and is committed to supersede their constraints.

This structure and culture of failed leadership in Nigeria is almost similar elsewhere in post-colonial Africa. It is simply the characteristic failure of public governance to focus on the public good. Stated directly, it the unmasked equivalence of public leadership to promotion of private interests. This moral economy derived from the illegitimacy of the founding of African states and the post-colonial politics of difference that accentuated the struggle for survival.

Survival means surviving at the expense of the other be it the ethnic other or the religious other. Today, this crisis of illegitimacy has combined with the threat of state failure to reinforce the urgency of self-aggrandizement. Because the state will soon collapse, we should strip it and secure our future here or abroad when the apocalypse begins. In this sense, corruption is not a virus attacking public governance. It is the reason of statecraft.

After the theoretical rigmarole the problem with Nigeria is the existence of directive principle and urgency to plunder the state. All political configurations and contraptions are strategies to gain access to public finance for self and for group. Nothing more really.

The genius of the PDP is that it has developed the best social capital to excel in this political economy. It is the most Pan Nigerian political party. As the leaders of the party rightly boast the traffic into the party is a bottleneck. Everyone wants to be part of the Big Tent Show.

Dr. Sam Amadi, Abuja, Nigeria

Those who were terribly disgraced and who poured venom against the party are happily welcomed back. PDP is extremely magnanimous. PDP is all inclusive, it is a non-discriminatory political institution. In spite of the blackmail that it is a retrogressive and conservative party, it is the PDP and not another party that mainstreamed gender consideration in its structure by waiving nomination fees for women; it is the PDP that conceived zoning as its inept affirmative action for politically marginalized part of Nigeria.

And so on. The PDP has broken the backbone of ethnicity and aristocracy in Nigeria. It has created a party where every tribesman or woman; every ex-convict, every gay man or woman, every illiterate or Motor-park tout, can come to the Big Tent and win its ticket to every exalted office. The only requirement is that he or she understands that the game is all about looting the state and has the recklessness to play and win. Anyone with big ego and little scruples will triumph in this essentially Nigerian movement.

That’s what PDP is. But that’s what it should not be. President Obasanjo made a pretense at reforming the PDP. He set up a reform committee which some of us naively believed was up to anything. To Obasanjo, reforming the PDP meant deepening the authoritarian structure of the party under his sole superintendence.

It was not about democracy; it was not about ending the looting of public treasury which the party encourages. Now that new reformers are knocking at the doors of Wadata House has the agenda changed? Shall we see a new PDP?


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