THERE is no other way to put it; the PDP as it appears today is not useful to Nigeria and to students of politics anywhere in the world.
As a party, it is confused; as a movement, it seems soulless and with no principles or vision, as a group it appears shapeless and with no structure or ethos. Even its brightest and most articulate minds appear not to want to associate with the party. The best of the party have developed the habit of speaking as individuals or even like mere passers-by rather than as members or leaders of a party that was in power till just about a year ago.
The party PDP therefore needs to either perish and allow us to forget about it or radically reform itself so that it can serve the purpose a political party should oblige in Nigeria.
Just so we remind ourselves, the main purposes of a political party in any country are to provide convincing alternative ideas of governance, coordinate and prepare people for political offices, hold accountable the party or group in power, intercept and interpret the mood of the populace, identify and lead a chart to gain power from the ruling group or party.
Please read with me from right to left. As at the time of writing these notes, the best idea the PDP has had so far in identifying and leading a chart to gain back power from the ruling party, APC, is to zone the chairmanship to the north and zone the presidency to the north. In a bid to show a break from the past and unite its best minds for the future of the party and indeed the country, the leaders of the party choose Ali-Modu Sheriff as Acting Chairman. Those who supported him are clearly proud of his past and they are counting on his ability to midwife credible congresses across the country. Given the latest results of the PDP congresses in each state, they must be really proud of themselves.
To a people that considered the PDP as totally corrupt and voted as president a man whose main attraction seems to be his determination to fight corruption, all the PDP can offer is that the fight against corruption is selective and aimed against their own members. They have not been able to say “No, our members are innocent and we have proof”. All they can say is “we are all corrupt”.
The former Kaduna State Governor was recently arrested by the EFCC and detained in Kano. No one has come out to say “No, I know this former governor, he is a man of integrity”. Rather a PDP chieftain in Kano, Musa Iliyasu Kwankwaso, had the courage to say “If the Commission is serious about the fight against corruption, it should extend its operation to some APC members because they too shared campaign money during last general elections. This campaign fund is a tradition in Nigerian politics and all political parties did the same thing in 2015 election”.
Total nonsense! They say “you are a thief”, you say “yes, but I am not the only one”. PDP needs some honest people to stand up, apologise and ask any indicted person to defend him/her-self. The party needs to assert: The PDP is not a bunch of looters but a national party of ideas. If the present leaders cannot make such statements, then it is time for new ones who genuinely believe in the ideology of the PDP, whatever that ideology is, to kick out the present leaders for betraying the founding spirit and, takeover the party.
If the new, young, or untainted members of the party cannot have a say in the fortunes of the party then maybe it is time they leave it and move elsewhere. PDP is not the first party in Nigeria and it will not be the last.
Instead of always saying “where are the activists that protested against President Jonathan”, when they see a blatant error or inconsistency in the action of the ruling party, the PDP should start mobilising protests and if need be create activist with their own political credo.
The PDP as it stands today has lost a lot of its voters, leaders and even founders. Some were relegated into oblivion in the years of hubris; some have left the party to join the other side to bring it down. The PDP needs to justify its existence and the way to do this, is to let names and faces that cannot be “witch hunted” come forward to represent the party. Those who have led the party so far to electoral defeat and moral rejection by Nigerians need to move away or be pushed aside.
The party needs to be seen as an association of clear ideas put forward by passionate and articulate people who can offer clear and better solutions to what the government of the day is doing.
For the sake of the country, those who can be framed as corrupt should stay silent and let those who have nothing to fear ask the government of the day questions, proffer solutions in Parliament and in the press, in the name of the party. If the PDP cannot find people and ideas that will make it clearly better than the party in government then it has no reason to exist. The PDP should perish or reform itself for Nigeria like any other democracy needs a good opposition for the system to work. This PDP as it stands today is not capable of such.
Dr. ANthony Kila, a professor of Strategy and Development, wrote from Lagos.