By Gbenga Oke
ABUJA—FORMER military president, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, (rtd.) yesterday warned against the monetisation of the contest for the national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP saying that the party was formed with the idea that it would offer equal opportunities to all.
Babangida who identified himself as one of the founding fathers of the party warned that a good name could not be bought with gold or silver expressing concern that the party was yet to recover from the issues that led to its loss of power in 2015 said that men of stamina and character were needed to lead the party to its original ideas.
He said: “When we were conceptualizing the idea of the PDP at formation, we had in mind a party that offers platform for all Nigerians in their pursuit of legitimate political aspirations. The choice of her motto; POWER TO THE PEOPLE was in sync with our clear objective of recognizing the people as the repository of power.
In any democratic engagement, the people decide the outcome of elections through popular and inclusive participation. The monetization of our electoral process is disturbingly eroding that power which should ordinarily reside in the people.
“In the last few days, I get frightened by the monetary consideration that is likely to dictate who emerges as the National Chairman of our great party rather than what the people truly want. The discussion is more on the side of heavy monetization of the process and ultimate “procurement” of the position of the Chairman by the highest bidder.
This approach, in my humble view, defeats the whole essence of participation, free choice and voting which are the essential attributes of any democracy without inducement and outright manipulation. I wish to plead that we tread on the path of caution and common sense, conscious of our recent history of avoidable political crisis.
“At 76, and given the benefit of hindsight, my role both in context and content; is now more of advisory one to enhance any altruistic democratic process to elect credible leadership at various levels of representation.
Rather than de-monetize the electoral process to provide ample room for more citizens’ participation, the idea of monetizing the process and trying to “procure” party positions defeats merit, offends good conscience and blurs fair play.
At this critical stage of our political secretions, we need men of stature, discipline, character and commendable conduct to breathe fresh air into our party and not persons whose political relevance is the product of naira and kobo bargain across the counter.
We need a National Chairman that would not bend to the vagaries of individual selfish interest but one who is strong enough to apply the rule of law without fear or favour. We must begin the process of interrogating processes that lead to outcomes and not just the outcomes. We must interrogate our leadership recruitment process and encourage our delegates to exercise the power of their thumbs in making their preferred choice among the candidates.
“Good name cannot be bought with gold or silver. Good name is the sum total of the individual’s conduct in his trajectory and his overall assessment through life’s enduring journey. On the strength of this, I wish to make a passionate appeal to our members, party leaders and the members of the Convention Committee to be fair and just to all.”