By Hamza Mailafiya Ibrahim
The opinion, entitled “2015 Presidency: Atiku’s Narrowing Options” written by Remi Adelowo in The Nation newspaper of July 21, 2013 is a very interesting political analysis.
The picture of the politics and intrigues in the PDP is, however, bigger than it appears. In fact, the main concern should be whether the PDP can sustain its relevance and influence in 2015 if it continues on the path of destroying every component of democratic principles – freedom of choice inclusive.
Adelowo asked a very pertinent question, which in itself is an indictment of the ruling PDP. “But even if a primary is conducted, can Atiku defeat Jonathan with the party structures firmly in the latter’s (President Jonathan’s) hands?” he queried.
The question, however, should be the other way round: “can Atiku defeat Jonathan in a free and fair primary in which delegates are independent to elect any aspirant seeking the party’s presidential ticket in 2015?” We can only know the extent of Atiku’s popularity if the contest is open to democratic process or when the President is not allowed to hijack the party.
Any arrangement where intimidation and blackmail are used to take over the party structure should not be a proper gauge to determine the chances of Atiku or anyone else.
There is a wide disconnect between a man’s commitment to democratic values and what he does in practice. In fact, the moment an incumbent’s ambition becomes more important than anything else, he doesn’t mind going for broke. According to one wise man, “Ambition is pitiless. Any merit it cannot use, it finds despicable.”.
Winning fairly is the greatest psychological satisfaction for any competitor. He has the right to contest just like any other party member. But why does he need to hijack the PDP structures and put them in his pocket? Why is he allergic to free and fair contest? If a man is sure of his popularity, why does he need to put obstacles on the path of democratic competition? These are the issues that should dominate any analysis of the realities within the PDP rather than dismissing Atiku out of hand.
A one-horse race destroys the credibility of the PDP. In fact, why should anybody make any pretence about commitment to democracy? The PDP is deeply divided on account of his ambition to contest in 2015. Which leader takes pleasure in leading a divided family?
Our focus of analysis should be on a President that rose to power on victimhood and not so much because the PDP has no other good materials to contest against him.
Can the PDP talk of reforms and return to the path of democratic practices when the ambition of one man is standing in the way of this reformation? Currently, the Jerry Gana Convention Committee is having problems with the party Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, on account of the desire to bend every rule and bend every party leader to his will.
The suggestion that Atiku doesn’t have a dog’s chance is diversionary. We should bother about the trend in the PDP where everyone is reduced to a yes man against their conviction of what is just or fair.
The Nigerian Governors Forum, a once united body of elected leaders, is today torn apart on account of the ambition to foreclose free and fair competition. Any man desperate to this extent wouldn’t bother changing the PDP constitution to make himself an imperial president.
It is easier to dismiss Atiku than humbly acknowledge the charade going on in the party. The reconciliation and reformation process recommended by Dr. Ekwueme’s and Gen. Nwachukwu’s committees is being undermined by these manoeuvres. The biggest issue is the president himself and not Atiku. The former Vice President is not the architect of these problems.
How do you determine someone’s political strength or weaknesses when you refuse to give him the chance to prove his popularity through transparent primaries? Manipulating events in advance is a form of rigging in disguise.
Our President has made a commitment to promote democracy and, therefore, our analysts should hold him to this commitment rather than dodging the issue.
We should be upfront about this issue. There is no way the idea of power shift can make any sense where all the rules of fair play are broken. Both the North and the South-east should forget about power shift in 2015.
In this regard, his agenda is his ambition. He is not bothered about the polarization his ambition has caused. And that is not the hallmark of statesmanship. Any fair analysis should try to focus on the question why everyone has to be forced out of the way for Jonathan to run.
*Hamza Mailafiya Ibrahim wrote from no. 68, Katsina Road, Kaduna. firstname.lastname@example.org