By JIDE AJANI
“Before people decide what they think of your message, they decide onwhat they think of you” – Harvard Business Review (July-August, 201
So, what do Nigerians think of People’s Democratic Party, PDP, and its message to day? Ask its leader, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan! He can speak for the party. Or, better still, ask the owners of the party!
Almost all of them would echo and ape Mr. President. Leaders and owners of the party would say the useful things; yet they go ahead to do the useless things – that is the way of the organised chaos under the umbrella called PDP.
First, how did the party get to a point where the President is heading for the hilltop whereas some other leaders in the same party are speeding down the valley? What thinking goes on in a party where there is no love lost between some state governors and their President?
But there is something inescapable and binding still: wealth and power. The roots of the dog-eat-dog syndrome that manifests in every aspect of PDP’s modus operandi can be located in the quest for and retention of wealth and power.
From elbowing one another out of electoral contests, breaking limbs and bruising heads, to inflicting maximum embarrassment, and allegations and threats of assassination and assassinations, leaders of PDP, nevertheless, still find common ground.
And that is why every contestation for power is derisively termed a family affair. Members of that family run on the steroids of distrust for one another and treachery against same. The latest in this never-ending saga is the open confrontation between some state governors and President Jonathan. Threats of decamping from the PDP are again in the air.
It is all too familiar. In 2002, 2006, 2010 (almost always on the eve of any general election), there were similar threats – some were seen through and many of the so-called decampments have since been reversed. However, democracy in PDP lost its soul sometime after Monday, February 13, 1999, immediately after Matthew Okikiolakan Aremu Olusegun Obasanjo emerged as the party’s presidential candidate in Jos, Plateau State. In choosing his running mate, a decision, which had favoured a consensual agreement was unilaterally ignored by Obasanjo in Abuja.
Leaders of the PDP, who had scheduled a meeting where the choice of running mate would be made, were stunned when Obasanjo presented them with a fiat accompli. That was the first error by the then presidential candidate.
But the PDP itself had committed the first blunder by not sticking to its own electoral guideline, one aspect of which was that for any individual to qualify to seek the presidential ticket of the party, he must have delivered his ward, local government area and state – Obasanjo neither delivered his polling booth, his ward, local government nor his OgunState base, yet, the leaders of the party, with scornful disdain to their own guideline, permitted him to seek the ticket.
That was an error of gargantuan proportions. Obasanjo’s next onslaught was against state chairmen of his party. Rather than flow with the structures on ground, structures which saw to his emergence and the emergence of the governors’ elect, Obasanjo, just out of prison some seven months earlier, mis-directed the loyalty base from party structures on ground, to newly elected but yet to be sworn-in state governors. State party secretariats were relocated to the residences of the governors’ elect.
From February 1999, Obasanjo shifted the paradigm from party politics to personal loyalty to individuals. PDP has not recovered since then. And it is not about to recover.It was on that template that every other public office holder in PDP sought, demanded and grabbed loyalty for himself and not the party – the cancer obtains in other parties.
Today, whatever goes on in the PDP is a product of the seed Obasanjo sowed. The former president may not be the major problem of the party, but the negative aura he radiated then and still radiates, in alliance with other dark forces of democracy, continue to pollute the air in the polity.
Unfortunately for Nigeria’s warped democracy, we now have a President and state governors who believe in and subscribe to the influence of less than a dozen individuals to hand them power in 2015, thereby relegating the delivery of the general good to the largest sum of Nigerians, which is the raison d’etre of participatory democracy, to the background.
Whatever is going on now in the PDP, between state governors and Mr. President, is nothing more than braggadocio in shadow-boxing.