By Joesf Omorotionmwan
OUR first prayer point today is that the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, shall not die. It shall live to provide the services of a minority party. It is only people who do not understand the full import of a minority party that will not say “Amen” to this prayer point. Among other things, it is the function of the minority party to provide the constructive criticism that keeps the majority party constantly on its toes.
The choice here of the phrase “constructive criticism” is deliberate. It distinguishes itself from the Kukuruku-type enterprise where the Branch Manager would pleasantly usurp the functions of the PRO for the purpose of heaving abuses on perceived competitors. Such Branch Manager soon burns himself off and he fades away because television viewers tune off at the mention of his name. Even on radio, his name is repugnant. Essentially, such is his company’s killer, albeit unwittingly.
Evidently, the PDP was already fixated on Saint Vincent’s catechism that the Party was poised to rule Nigeria for 60 unbroken years in the first instance. In PDP’s reckoning, the period 1999-2059 could as well have been rolled into a single tenure; except that the law of the land also requires that at four-yearly intervals, people must apply the brakes and submit themselves for some reappraisal.
In the delusion of grandeur, for the PDP, there was absolutely no need for any Plan ‘B’ in the four-yearly hurly-burly called elections. But in 2015, the Vincent catechism fell flat and PDP was obviously caught napping. It then dawned on the party that failing to plan is planning to fail.
Understandably, a party that was not used to failure, and that had not planned for any, could not comprehend the wind of change. Before the party knew what was happening, failure was stirring it in the face. Rather than recoil briefly and immediately begin the process of re-strategising, the PDP took its failure to the market place. Since then, it has been blames galore, suspicions galore as well as accusations and counter-accusations.
Since the morning after the announcement of the election results, there has been the seemingly unending scramble of many of the PDP members to rush into the All Progressives Congress, APC.
President Goodluck Jonathan has labelled the defectors as desperate and hungry fortune hunters. He has predicted unpalatable consequences for them: they will either meet their waterloo in the hands of the APC or they will end up returning to the PDP on empty stomachs.
The President of the Senate, David Mark, was perhaps being economical with words when he proclaimed the PDP as being in coma. He fell short of saying that the coma was irreversible. Hear him: “The PDP is already hemorrhaging and only a quick halt of the bleeding and application of the necessary therapy would prevent the final burial of the party”.
Within the PDP, there are squabbles between the Wadata House and the Aso Rock. All those who would have provided the necessary therapy to the PDP are already solidly entrenched in the politics of here we stand and their wrangling is getting deeper by the day while the protagonists on either side are busy revealing the dark secrets that had been buried in the inner graveyards of the party.
It took an ailment known as post-election trauma for Aso Rock to heave all the blames from PDP’s abysmal performance at the polls at the door steps of Wadata House. Meanwhile, Aso Rock is asking for the heads of members of the National Working Committee, NWC. The major proponent of this view that the NWC should honourably throw in the towel is Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State. He says it is morally wrong for the NWC to remain in office after leading the party to its first national electoral disaster.
On its part, the Wadata House group insists that Jonathan should have known the consequences of surrounding himself with a band of praise singers who were busy packaging tissues of misinformation, disinformation and sometimes outright deliberate falsehood to him as bankable electoral nuggets.
The praise singers took the PDP from the zenith of invincibility to the nadir of political liquidation. Hear Olisa Metuh, the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP: “The NWC was left out of the President’s campaign. If we had been involved, the President would have won the election”. The NWC wonders what anyone really expected from a campaign in which Ayo Fayose, Femi Fani-Kayode and Dame Patience Jonathan took centre stage with all their acidic and sometimes satanic hate campaigns.
Our counsel is that the PDP must not die. It is only in the existence of a viable opposition that APC can find full expression. If indeed every time a party loses at the poll it goes into extinction, what is today the APC would have been dead more than five times over, even before its birth.
In our desire for things Western, it is instructive that the Democratic and Republican Parties of America came into being in 1792 and 1854 respectively. In Britain, the two major parties – the Conservative Party, which was the heir and continuation of the old Tory Party and the Labour Party were founded in 1834 and 1893 respectively.
All these years, the parties have won and lost elections but they have remained intact under any condition. In fact, parties succeed and fail at elections, not for their names and symbols or the colour of their flags, but on their policy thrusts vis-à-vis their acceptability to the electorate.
This explains why PDP must make genuine efforts to re-engineer itself for future contests. From a distance, the Post-Election Assessment Committee, made up of Ike Ekweremadu, Godswill Akpabio, Theodore Orji, Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo, Emeka Ihedioha, Nyeson Wike, Ibrahim Shekarau, Abba Moro, Makanjuola Ogundipe, Pegba Otemolu and Funmi Ayoola, looks attractive but it has one major defect – it is pro-establishment. PDP must come to terms with the fact that its current NWC does not expire until March 2016. For now, any genuine repositioning effort cannot totally exclude its members.