For once, the electorate told the leaders of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, that a few of their candidates won the election on their own steam and not because they contested on the party’s platform. That was really the first time PDP would not be surefooted going into an election. Jide Ajani presents the factors responsible for this.
In an interview with Sunday Vanguard, the Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, described the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, thus: “That thing they call PDP is not a political party.
It’s been a business concern, an agglomeration, an election machine. And, once elections are over, they turn against themselves, against one another within the same party and they become the strongest opposition to themselves because, for them, it is about power, that is what unites them and it is not power to do good or for the benefit of the people but power just for its sake. We really need to crack PDP in order to have a Nigeria of our dreams.” Ruthlessly blunt you would say.
As if Nigerians in some states were listening, PDP was to lose Imo, Ogun, Oyo and Zamfara states at the polls – Imo to All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA; Ogun and Oyo to the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN; and Nasarawa to Congress for Progressive Change, CPC; and Zamfara to the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP.
For the first time, the self-acclaimed biggest political party in Africa could not, in its usually boastful manner, predict how many states it would ”capture”. And, whereas a few leaders in the party made useful noises to that effect, the realistic picture which played out in their minds was one of lack of confidence.
One of the factors responsible for this was the very fractured and fractious series of primaries at all levels in the party. This led to a plethora of ramblings and litigation and defections.
Second, there was the new electoral sheriff in town —Professor Attahiru Jega, National Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC. He promised to be strict and he was.
More importantly concerning Jega, however, was the suggestion in some quarters that Jega may be out to do PDP in. This was really never proved but there were talks in political circles of how the CPC leadership boasted of certain steps to be taken by Jega which naturally would ensure the party’s victory.
Although PDP remains the ruling party, ACN, APGA and CPC have succeeded in punching holes in the party’s umbrella.
Over the years, from the days of Solomon Lar as founding national chairman of PDP, to Barnabas Gemade, Audu Ogbeh, Ahmadu Ali, Vincent Ogbulafor, Okwesilieze Nwodo to Haliru Bello, who is acting chairman, the leadership of PDP had always boasted of clearing elective offices at the polls. This time, however, no one could say for certainty.
But, because Goodluck Jonathan came with his own personality, he was able to make an impression. More than that, Jonathan was able to work the work, doing his own networking and crisscrossing the nation’s state capitals. In the end, only Jonathan and a handful of state governors who had delivered on service were able to win convincingly.
In all, the party has been able to withstand the onslaught but it has also learnt some lessons as many of those being sworn in today across the country are of the PDP stock.
To be fair, PDP is not the only political party in the country that rigs or employs the use of underhanded strategies to win at the polls. The consolation is that the new spirit of one man one vote is expected to become a permanent feature of the Nigerian political system.
That way, Nigeria can then move in the direction of nations that have instituted a worthwhile culture of democracy. For PDP, it survived this time but the coming years would prove difficult except Nigerians begin to see better delivery of good governance from leaders in the party.