By Morenike Taire

That there has been more than a fair amount of drama around the recently concluded convention of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, ought not to be a surprise to anyone. As things had heated up in the weeks leading up to the Abuja gathering , a crescendo was reached when former vice president and  presidential hopeful Atiku Abubakar joined the political party just  days before the convention.

The drama continues. There were dramatic walk–outs from the Eagle Square venue last week; private press conferences by disgruntled losers and other stakeholders in the poll for the National chairmanship followed. Posturing is common place. There are threats of court actions. There have been talks of rigging, godfatherism and all the other things with which politics have come to be associated.

The profile of the elected and sworn in brand new party national chairman, Senator Uche  Secondus  has come under an incredible amount of scrutiny and those who are disenchanted with him are dying to find details they can latch on to.

Other parties equally looked forward to the December convention, not least of all the ruling APC, which was anxious to test the real strength of the opposition . In a nutshell the outcome of the December convention would show to what extent the opposition has regrouped and found its third leg. But the gathering proved to be more of a land mark than had been envisaged , attracting public attention to a degree not characteristic of a party meeting two years shy of  election year.

It was at the December convention, for instance, that former president Goodluck Jonathan found his political voice at long last. Two decades in top political positions and he had remained, in the end, almost mousy in disposition , depending greatly on the loquacious  Patience to bully his way through the 2015 elections campaign before he was roundly trounced.

He had then resorted to his comfort zone, quickly accepting defeat and reneging on any plans his handlers may have had to challenge the election outcome that tumbled president Mohammadu Buhari finally into power .

Last weekend the former Executive governor and president praised his party to high heavens, actually referring to it as a ‘reference point’ and a ‘model’. Jonathan rightly observed that the PDP is the most consistent party Nigeria has had in the 4th republic , especially when compared with the ruling APC, a veritable potpourri of so many different socio-political interests that it is definitely distinctively different from AD, its source.

He boasted, “PDP is the only party that from the beginning, we have not changed our name or our identity in any form (sic), we do not change based on election cycle. PDP is the only stable party in Nigeria.’’

But even the APC appears positively tame compared to the ethnocentric entity the PDP appears to have morphed into. While stakeholders such as Bayelsa Governor Seriake Dickson have actively dismissed claims that there was a vast conspiracy against the Yoruba in the choosing of the party chairman, Board of Trustees member and former military governor Olabode George insisted on the contrary. In the end, the south –west’s suspicion was materialized.

Even for the political class there is such a thing as healthy competition and unhealthy activities can mark the beginning of the end for any entity.

The beauty of the PDP, for want of a better expression, had been the party’s uncanny ability to keep its eye on the cookie. In the past the party had been denigrated as being a group of unlikely fellows strongly united with one common goal in mind: power. This public perception had worked, being largely responsible for the party’s success.

The descent into ethnic politics has the power to destroy the PDP in a way nothing else does.

For various reasons the 2019 election terrain will prove a most fascinating one. This week INEC released the names of newly registered political parties after revealing earlier that another 120 has sought registration ahead of the 2019 polls. If this is indicative of anything it is that Nigerians- especially of a certain generation – have developed a growing unrest with regard to the way they are governed.

The ranks of the opposition is swelling with every new party that is registered and what the new opposition lacks in experience, they strive to make up with their energy, hunger and freshness. No matter how useless the ruling party is, an opposition divided among itself cannot stand.

After this December convention, awareness of the People’s Democratic Party has risen to sudden and unprecedented levels.  It is not because the PDP has been impressive as the credible opposition but more than likely because people are tired of the endless antics and deteriorating hopelessness of the ruling party. No election promise has been fulfilled – not one!

The PDP in this particular context offers not hope but a foray into the familiar. They are at least predictable, the hapless electorate are thinking in their subconscious. And interesting. Or at least they used to be.

Indeed, old habits die hard.

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