Nigerians are known to disagree on issues, however, there seems an agreement on the democratic imperative as a non-negotiable value to be pursued and sustained by participants.
This informed the wisdom to bring the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, into a national coalition of our ethnic, cultural and religious groupings by the founding fathers to advance the frontiers of democracy. It was the objective of the founding fathers to nurture and build a political party that will be national, democratic in content and capable of acting as a bulwark against further military misadventure in politics.
PDP thus became the first political party in Nigeria that all sections of the polity embraced. However, this rainbow, which became the pride of the nation at its inception, was soon hijacked by a retreating military by foisting a former military leader, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, as its presidential candidate and later the civilian president in 1999.
At least one of the most significant of such literature was presented by one of its most brilliant minds, the inimitable Chief Ojo Maduekwe of blessed memory during his stint as National Secretary of the party. In the paper by Maduekwe during the policy retreat for PDP candidates in 2007 elections, titled: “The New PDP: context, content and commitment”, he had warned thus: “A party without internal democracy cannot dream. A party that cannot dream cannot inspire a government that can deal with the needs of Nigeria. We cannot deepen democracy unless we have a shared commitment to its values as the best form of government that suits the diversities and complexities of Nigeria. We cannot promote the rule of law unless we internalise the critical need to respect our laws and processes as a party.”
The factors enumerated above were part of the reason the party recorded a dismissal performance in the 2015 elections. But all hope is not lost. In advanced democracies, it is normal and its what recommends the liberal multi-democratic tradition. What is more, the replacement of one party by another from time to time helps the people to make informed decisions, to compare and contrast.
The National Convention of the party in Rivers State affords the PDP an opportunity to reinvent itself by ensuring that men and women of principle with no political baggage are elected to pilot the affairs of the party. Party members should not only insist on strict obedience to internal rules but on credible elections. Imposition of candidates must be resisted. Moneybags, as the respectable BOT chairman said, should not be given the chance to highjack the party. It is a national imperative for the PDP to return to the path of the noble principles upon which it was founded. This is important if the nation is to be saved the problem of degenerating into one party dictatorship.
The good news is that the men and women who can get the job done can easily be located within the party. One of the key positions in any party structure is the office of National Organising Secretary which has been zoned by PDP to the South East. I am delighted that a person of the calibre of Senator Emma Nwaka has shown interest in the office to the extent of picking up a nomination form. This chap with a rich political pedigree should be given a fair chance.
He is a thorough bred democrat who became a Third Republic Senator at 33. He was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1983. He became the first elected State Legal Adviser of the defunct National Republican Convention, NRC, in old Imo State. He also served Abia State in the State Executive Committee at various times as Commissioner for Agriculture & Rural Development and later as the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs. He was the immediate past state Party Chairman of PDP and his tenure is still regarded as the most peaceful era the PDP experienced in Abia State.
His experience in public sector management equally includes the Chairmanship of Federal Medical Center Makurdi. He has also served as a non-executive director in the defunct African Continental Bank, ACB. All this without any scandal or a whiff of controversy; yet he has always been adjudged efficient and effective in a seamless and unobtrusive manner. Senator Nwaka is a PDP man to the core, never jumped ship. It was under his tenure as the PDP State Chairman in Abia State that the party in 2011 elections won all the electable seats. The same feat was largely repeated in 2015 elections under his watch.
In fact, he has the enviable record as the chairman that produced two governors, back to back. A democrat to the core and steady in character, he willingly elected not to contest for the same office in the last congress that he presided over which produced his successor.
Hopefully, if the South-East maintains the political office allocation formula which mandated Abia State to produce the National Organising Secretary of the party, then Senator Nwaka stands a fair enough chance as the political equation in the state also favours his candidature.
Abia South already has the Governor and the State Secretary of the party, while Abia Central has the State Chairman and the Speaker of the House. It is considered expedient in the interest of equity and justice that any major political office zoned to the state should go to Abia North where Senator Nwaka hails from. This is even in keeping with Abia Charter of Equity.
Mr Emmanuel Ugochukwu, a public policy consultant, wrote from Abuja.