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Date Published: 04/29/10

WHO IS AFRAID OF REFORMS By Niran Abitogun.

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The People Democratic Party (PDP), the acclaimed largest party in Africa turned a battle ground recently between two forces on how to reform the party. One group is pushing for the reform of the party, while the second group is hell bent on maintaining the status quo.

The leadership group led by the chairman of the party Vincent Ogbulafor is trading political tackles with the other group championed by the former senate president Ken Nnamani. The internal contradiction heightened with the suspension of the reformists for anti party activities few days ago. The 14 suspended members subsequently headed for court to seek redress. The court rulings proved them right on the long run as they were legally allowed to remain in the party to exercise the rights. There were speculations that the reform agenda has the backing of the former president who is also the chairman of the party’s BOT chief Olusegun Obasanjo and the acting president Dr Goodluck Jonathan, no matter the situation nerves were frail as the nation continue to witness the dance of shame.

Political party is a group of people who seek in control of government through winning the election and holding a public office” some of the functions of a political party include, to nominate candidate to government, to stimulate, to approve for government and serve as a watch dog over the conduct of public business. If we are to use the above functions as a benchmark to appraise the performances of the ruling PDP in the last two decades, one may see the justification in the reform agenda being pushed by some elements within the party. For any political party to maintain or preach objectivity in the governance of the nation there must be known and visible internal democracy at work as well as basic policy and ideology to drive the engine of government to pursue vibrant economic growth and development. These attributes are lacking in the PDP instead the party has fostered on Nigeria political crisis of unimaginable magnitude over a long period.

The price of instability as the country continued to orbit within a defined axis imposed on it by the ruling party with little or no respect for the entire population. Poverty is the order of the day with unbridles corruption by those in power. For instance, the party which has consistently been disobeying court injunctions as in the case of senator Joy Emordi whose election was nullified yet the party has gone back to the same court asking it to overrule itself. Another display of rascality was in the forced candidature of Prof. Chukwuma Soludo as the party’s flag bearer in the last election in Anambra state. The apparatus of the state was deployed to achieve this inordinate ambition of few within the party leadership. The despotism of Ogbulafor and his cronies were evident of political naivety. The internal mechanism of the party which could have been used to sustain the political stability in the country turned to a mere tool of suppression in the hands of the leaders. Definitely the action of the party leadership in the wake of president Y’ Adua illness showed how insensitive the party is to the political development of the nation rather their pockets are more important to them.  Not until the infamous doctrine of necessity was invoked by the national assembly the nation has been drifting towards chaos and constitutional crisis. The party and its leader in such a situation need to come under scrutiny either from within or outside.

Over the years we have seen the membership turnover of the party which points to one direction of lawlessness and greed. At one time the likes of Jim Nwobodo et al have faced suspension for the usual offence, anti party, to get rid of perceived enemies, while Atiku Abubakar former vice president for eight years left the party in annoyance when it dawned on him that he cannot realise his ambition to contest for the position of president in 2007 general elections. The party’s congress thereafter threw up Y’Adua whose election he himself faulted owing to massive rigging and other mal practices.

Little wonder therefore, Ogbulafor declared that his party PDP would rule Nigeria for a period of 60 years having lost the sight of any political reforms that may come up. The submission of justice Uwais reports on electoral reforms became a source of worry to him and his accolades as they started running from pillar to post to upturn vital aspects of the reforms would make the rigging of elections difficult for them.  The proponent of reforms in the party are complaining about the lack lustre behaviours of the chairman; secondly they complain that electoral nominees were decided within the caucuses and in the luxury of their air conditioned rooms; they want to free the party from the jugular the so called governors forum which has become an albatross to the party and the nation in the recent time. The reformist noted that forum was not known to the party constitutionally.

Leadership is about integrity and direction; according to a British Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery, leadership is the capacity and will to rally men and women to a common purpose and the character which inspires confidence while Fred Smith went further that leadership is influence” noting that that a person may have a position of leadership but if he is not affecting the thoughts and actions of others he is not a leader.  Though, the PDP leadership thoughts for Nigeria politically are a total aberration, because they have failed the nation as evident in their purposeless administration. For the party to further command the respect of the people it needs total reform. The question of corruption in the country under the big party and the wonton destruction of the nation’s political legacies have continued to worry well meaning Nigerians. Take for instance nearly all the political bigwigs of the party are enmeshed in one form of corruption charges or the other. Fresh is the James Ibori still hiding from the EFCC for monumental corrupt practices while he held sway as the governor of Delta state? His native kinsmen and women are shielding him from the arm of law notwithstanding his party has not find it honourable to ask him out of his hiding. As a woman member of the party put it, Nigeria is no longer safe because of the problems in PDP. A party that has institutionalized corruption, division and factions in Nigeria politics should not be afraid of reform.

Political party in Nigeria was the creation of the colonial administration formed and handed down to the petty bourgeoisie for proper political administration and integration of the economy. Following the independence, the ranks and files of the petty bourgeoisie was infiltrated by the capitalists who wanted political power to control the economy. Hence, the beginning of class contradictions within the political formations in the country is what we are witnessing in the hierarchy of PDP these days. The struggle for power and dominance snowball into the power play of internal wrangling and bickering. The class contradiction has torn many parties apart in the past. The NPP and GNPP had this problem in the second republic. The AD left PDP because of misunderstanding on ideology and policy. There many more examples that can be cited, however, when a situation of this arise policy and ideology are the weapons for stability. This is when good leadership come into focus to blend various shades of opinions of party members in order to achieve the desired goals for governance. Policy and ideology are lacking in PDP, the country is drifting from one shore to another without direction, while the business of government suffers from the ineptitudes of few people. Their attempt at reform is to fan relevance for the next general elections; the views of the radical elements are to force the reactionary leaders into submission and take over the damage and liabilities left by the current leadership of the party. PDP under the current leaders still want to continue business as usual, to rig elections notwithstanding the warning handed down nation into the service of the entire population by Mike Akhigbe that he will fight election riggers; they want to foist bad and unelectable candidates on Nigerians; they want to dictate the corruption trends; to further suppress the voices of the people and to run the country aground. The nation is at risk of political hawks masquerading as democrats.

Reform should not be limited to the PDP all other parties must be their houses on order once and for all. Internal democracy is vital to the development of political institution in Nigeria where this is absent despotism and nepotism will take the front burner in the scheme of things. The last traces of AD recently decamped to the Labour party in Ondo State House of Assembly as the party died because of lack of internal democracy.

Democracy comes with confidence where people are allowed to choose who lead and govern them. On the other hand, an undemocratic steps breeds despotism whereby the pseudo and quasi politicians take the centre stage and the party’s watch dog function on government business is compromised living the electorate to wallow in the pool of deceits and uncertainty because the nominated leaders are not accountable to them but the power that throw them up into that positions.

A dictum says “no matter what you teach a child he insists on behaving like his parents” the present administration is a child of PDP it will surely behave like its parent, so the need to reform some of its policies and habits so that the child they gave to us can behave decently and be ready to transform the nation for the benefit of the entire population

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