Posted by Raheem Oluwafunminiyi | 28 September 2015 | 3,658 times
Few years ago, a popular Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) stalwart boastfully claimed that the party was going to rule Nigeria for 60 years. At the time, it seemed to many as a very genuine and plausible statement, given the fact that the party was not only strong at the centre, it controlled the political machinery of more than half of the states of the federation and held the nation on the jugular. The PDP was not only the most powerful party in all of West Africa, but also the largest in the continent. So powerful was the PDP that even the disorganised opposition parties were swallowed time and time again in every election. From 1999 until its recent defeat at the polls, both at national and state levels, the PDP held sway, bestriding our political landscape like a colossus. To show how influential the party was, each time the PDP sneezed, all other parties had no choice but to catch cold. Nobody would have known, believed or even had the slightest premonition that rather than 60 years, the PDP would in a little less than 16 years after, fall like a pack of cards. A party which once appeared to be the most powerful and largest, boasting it would exist till eternity, is today a shadow of itself. Like the defunct League of Nations, the PDP looks worse than a toothless bull-dog that cannot only bark, but have no jaws and teeth to bite. The question, therefore, is: What went wrong?
Political scientists, historians and those that matter have provided overwhelming reasons why the PDP lost out. While some remain convincing, others appear spurious. Just as this writer does not deny the avalanche of reasons deduced for the fall of the once powerful political party, I make bold to say that the PDP’s fall from grace to grass went beyond those reasons. The PDP did not lose because of the personal intellectual ingenuity of a particular individual from the All Progressives Congress (APC) or because of some so-called regional alliance or a calculated merger of former feuding opposition parties. Neither did it lose because it fronted an unsellable candidate or did not have any tangible thing to show to the electorate during the campaigns. These, among others, were far from it. The PDP lost mainly because it took Nigerians for granted and, therefore, got its fair share of vengeance by the same set of Nigerians during the polls. How do I mean? It would be recalled that from the middle of last year, there was a strong ambition by various interest groups and among individuals in the main opposition parties to wrestle power from the PDP at the centre. And the only way to achieve this ambition was basically to form a formidable opposition. This formidable opposition, or if you like, strange bed-fellows put aside their group and individual interests and channelled all resources - both human, intellectual and material - in ensuring that a mega party and viable opposition was formed. Even harsh critics, especially the PDP who thought success of a mega party was only a pipe-dream, which would never see the light of the day, eventually ate their words when it appeared that not only the so-called party of strange bed-fellows was able to birth the biggest opposition party since 1999, but held a primary that showed they meant business in the forthcoming election. While the newly formed APC came up with a taintless candidate, using the change mantra as its campaign slogan and in the process winning even more popularity to its side, the PDP went by the idea of a coronation. President Goodluck Jonathan, who many Nigerians had given up on following a below-par average performance in the last four years was picked by the party, without holding a competitive primary. This action amidst other political missteps, perhaps, would turn out to be the political albatross of the party. The PDP took it for granted that for every day it failed to pursue policies that would change the social and upward mobility of the average Nigerian, it was edging closer to defeat. They failed to realise that with that singular statement that the party was going to rule for 60 years, it had already signed its death warrant. And from the haphazard campaigns and political rhetoric it pursued throughout the last election, it didn’t take a soothsayer to know that its time was up.
The PDP ought to have seen the handwriting on the wall, and should have taken necessary steps to correct the various anomalies it brought upon itself. The party had assumed that political life in Nigeria was continually going to be a bed of roses and didn’t understand the changing dynamics of things. The PDP was busy building a duplex even when the foundation had become rickety. Tongue-in-cheek, the party assumed the role of the proverbial Nero, yet rather than learn useful lessons from Nero’s mistakes, watched as Rome burned and in the process consumed by the raging fire. The entire PDP structure did not only burn to the ground but its machinery collapsed. Even its staunchest members, having discovered how embarrassingly humiliated and politically crestfallen the party had soon become, trooped en masse, with little or no shame, remorse or integrity, to join the APC, a party they had once derided.
Today, the PDP has become a shadow of its former self. The party was badly beaten that it is still finding it very difficult to come to terms with its present status of an opposition. A once powerful party today has become the opposition most Nigerians do not even take serious. The PDP appears more like a prodigal son, yet their prodigalism is far beyond redemption. In its battle to stay relevant, the party has failed to really adjust to their new position. How else can one explain the endless unsavoury statements it has been churning out, most of which do not go in tandem with the current reality of change in the polity? The party does not realise that it still has the mettle to challenge the current ruling party. The PDP is so lost that it fails to understand that at a time like this, there is still hope at the end of the tunnel.
The PDP can come back to national fame, limelight and acclaim only if they can see where they got it wrong. They need to do the first things first before anyone can take them serious to run this country once again. How can the party achieve this? First, they need to apologise to Nigerians and show remorse. They must shed all forms of ego and arrogance and ask Nigerians to forgive them for all their sins. Because, as humans we must err, it is imperative for the PDP to show to Nigerians that they have not only erred but need in return the divine forgiveness of all. As this writer had noted, the PDP with its many anti-people actions took Nigerians for granted and so must now come out clean. The days of ego-trip are over, the days of unnecessary boasting has ended. Second, the PDP must show to Nigerians that it is now a changed party and ready to pursue internal democracy, an action plan still missing within the APC. It must not allow money bags to control it any longer, while giving everyone a level playing field to operate and grow within the party. The party has to restructure from bottom to top, and play politics in ways that will endear many to it. Third, the party should come out of its shell and also follow the same path the APC took by way of a merger with other floating political parties. It shouldn’t see itself as too big to bring other parties in. If this will swell its ranks, the better! An agglomeration of strange bed- fellows will not do any harm. In fact, it will add more bite – the APC had taught us so. Lastly, the PDP should stop raising unnecessary banters in its criticisms of the current ruling party. The APC government under President Muhammadu Buhari has shown it is on the right track. More than half of those who voted the party to power are today feeling not only the effect but also the air of change in the country. Countering one government action or policy every time will only aggravate the distrust pro-Buharists and many Nigerians on the other divide have for the PDP.
A word, they say, is enough for the wise. Let the PDP take heed before it is thrown eventually into the dustbin of history.
•Mr Oluwafunminiyi can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org
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