Date Published: 05/18/10
Is PDP Greater Than Nigeria? By Idumange John
Those who have eagerly followed politics since the Second Republic will agree that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is the most autocratic, corrupt and ideologically hollow party that has ever run the affairs of men in Nigeria. Not only does the party lack internal democracy, PDP is a party with the worst record of mal-governance, internal instability and indiscipline. One of the yardsticks to measure the credibility of a Party is the turnover of Party leadership. From Chief Solomon Lar, Barnabas Gemade, Audu Ogbe to Ogbulafor, PDP has not demonstrated the capacity to govern itself.
Under the Obasanjo administration, Audu Ogbe was forced out of office in a gestapo kind of operation. Now Prince Ogbulafor has been arraigned for corruption charges. It is unfortunate that Ogbulafor may either be in prison or be un-appointable hence he may not be in a position to implement the 60 years agenda of PDP. The inclinations of a leader reflects the wellbeing of the organization. It would have taken so many Nigerians by surprise if Ogbulafor had left office with an unblemished record - when the PDP administration entrenches corruption as its article of faith and choruses pre-bendalism as its national anthem.
Politicians have eulogized the PDP administration under Late Yar’Adua for achievements in the rule of Law and the Amnesty Programme. These praises are heaped upon the administration when some people who contested the April 2007 elections are still in court. Should Nigerians count the rule of law as an achievements when there is selective justice in the anti-graft agencies or should the Niger Delta people be happy about the Amnesty Programme that has promised the youths everything and has done nothing for them? It is true that the PDP administration has set the machinery in motion to implement the Amnesty Programme but it is too early to give accolade to anyone because the process is still unfolding.
Lest we forget, the PDP leadership has inflicted severe hardship on Nigerian masses. The queues at the petrol stations, the sundry cases of politically motivated assassinations, the incessant strikes of University teachers prompted by poor working conditions, the double-digit inflation harassing the masses and the poorly equipped and the unemployable graduates churned out of our Universities are all dividends of the PDP administration. There is an impressive array of reports on the parlous State of the Nigerian economy: the privatization of national assets, corruption in the power sector, and the much-talked about bribery scandals that rocked the presidency especially the PTDF, NPA, and Pentascope saga are the trademarks of mal-governance.
The harsh economic realities that stare us in the face are all part of PDP’s insatiable appetite for imposing poverty on the masses. Since May 1999, Nigeria has not implemented any policy that has succeeded. For the PDP, everything is politics and nothing is development-driven. The Transparency International reported in 2009 that Nigeria now ranks 130 th out of 180 countries in terms of Corruption, Perception Index (CPI), which is an indication that PDP has also foisted corruption on the nation. Wonderful achievement!
One of such mediocre policies bandied about by the PDP is zoning. To further buttress this argument, a group known as the Integrity Group made a Publication that there was a gentleman’s agreement sometime in the Obasanjo administration about zoning the Presidency to the North after the South might have served eight years tenure. While I am not disputing the relevance of the said meeting, it might have been done out of political expediency because no where in the world can good governance be achieved through the practice of zoning political offices. Therefore the argument by the Peoples Democratic Party that the presidency has been zoned to a section of the country is an attempt to entrench mediocrity on the polity. Whereas, zoning is not part of the constitution, the Nigerian constitution provides for equal opportunities for all as well as the Federal Character Principle, which the leaders have violated with impunity.
I would rather subscribe to the view that the PDP administration has failed Nigerians and the earlier we start afresh the better for Nigerians. Already, the international community has set a benchmark for our development. The most acceptable benchmark being the goals and targets set out in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). By now, the achievements of any administration In the developing countries, when people recount the achievements of government, it is done in terms of provision of physical and social infrastructure such as good roads, quality education, effective healthcare services, uninterrupted power supply and other basic amenities that make life worth living.
The decamping of the likes of Atiku Abubakar, Governors Isa Yuguda, Ikedi Ohakim and their followers to the PDP is not a mark of success. On the contrary, it is a show of desperation that they cannot provide leadership outside a Party structure that promotes laissez faire. All or most of those who swell the rank of decampees are politicians obsessed with two traits, swinging allegiance like a chameleon changes its colour and doublespeak, which is wrongly interpreted as political sagacity. These are the unprincipled politicians that pervade Nigeria’s landscape.
It is on record that most of the high performing Governors in Nigeria are not from PDP. Governor I kedi Ohakim was performing well until he defected to PDP, and since then the Ohakim led administration has been trailed by stories of corruption and official highhandedness. Governor Isa Yuguda was rated highly until he joined PDP. Lagos State under Governor Fashola, Edo State under Adams Oshiomole and Ondo State under Mimiko are doing much better than most PDP States. In fact, Edo State was stagnant until the Action Congress wrested power from the PDP godfathers. Generally speaking the PDP led government in Nigeria is a disaster, as the leadership has very little to show for the sacrifice made to return Nigeria to civil rule.
But what is the mystique in PDP? In April 2007, PDP conducted elections that fell below the minimum standards recognized by the world. The only credible passport a PDP member needed to win an election is membership of the Party and a sworn affidavit to injure the psyche of every Nigerian. This hysteria has created an aura of strength and invincibility in a fast putrefying political system. From the Local Government level to the National Assembly, the pattern is the same, and the situation may not change for the better in the foreseeable future. The generally acceptable verdict is that PDP has failed Nigeria.
Most of the Bills that can move Nigeria forward are not even debated. The freedom of information Bill is very critical for the entrenchment of transparency but the National Assembly has not showed interest in passing the Bill. Some Federal Constituencies in Nigeria do not feel that they have representatives at the National Assembly. The State Assemblies have not fared any better. It is against this background that the slogan “PDP share the money” makes sense.
Under the PDP administration, politics has also made a wild incursion into the judiciary, where most judges make vacuous pronouncements and leave the public to either imagine or get their brains worked-up on how to demystify such nebulous constitutional interpretations. The case of Senator Joy Emodi is very fresh in our minds. The high wire politics in the judiciary has contributed to the slippery nature of democracy and a reason why there is so much confusion in the system. PDP lacks of internal democracy and have no clear cut moral guidelines for discipline hence it has become a dog-eat-dog Party, where everybody is inclined to swing the pendulum of power to his advantage. Most often, the Party adopts a militant approach towards the achievement of state policies. PDP is gradually becoming a liability, even though the Nigeria is in a hurry to develop.
On the issue of whether PDP is greater than Nigeria, the PDP is just a political Party made up of people with ambivalent and seemingly incompatible interests. Some of the members are just eager to hold power for its sake while others see political office as a passport for primitive accumulation. That is why the party has no clear cut, progressive ideology or any serious programme to develop the nation. Political Parties wither while the interest of the State and the Country is supreme and permanent.
It is therefore a misnomer to equate PDP with the Nigerian State, even though the behaviour of the PDP leaders seems to demonstrate that PDP is above the Nigerian nation. Most of the actions of the Party leaders are not meant to protect the interest of Nigerians. In order to discontinue laissez fairyism, people are calling for more focus and less politics from the President Jonathan administration. Pleasantly, President Jonathan is a technocrat who should play less of politics and pursue more of development, for that is the only way to endear himself to the masses and to win their votes whenever he deems fit to contest on any platform. It may be said that the zoning principle peddled by the a section of PDP will not serve the interest of the nation. The PDP does not earn the respect of Nigerians because of bad governance at all levels. There is no part of the world where a political party has deliberately imposed hardship on the masses.
Recently, the British Labour Party, under the leadership of Gordon Brown was forced out of office because of massive war spending in Iraq and Afghanistan, the morass of increasing unemployment and the administration’s inability to control inflation. In my opinion, the PDP should be ashamed for delivering poverty, instability and anomie as democracy dividends. If there were other political parties with sound ideologies, PDP would have long been voted out. Nigerians can only tolerate the PDP because there is need to give the new President time to initiate and implement his policies in the next four years beginning from 2011.
For the past 13 years, the PDP has been politicking with the banking sector and the petroleum industry. Whereas horrendous violence has been done to the banking system under the guise of reform, the petroleum sector has been over-deregulated yet the economic gurus are crying for deregulation as if they want the masses to donate blood in exchange for petrol. If everything is deregulated, then people will being to question the very essence of government.
In such circumstances, what President Jonathan should do now is to make certain key appointments across party lines to revamp the ailing PDP and deliver good governance. The truth is that most Nigerians have lost hope in PDP, and it would take enormous courage and determination to reposition the nation on the orbit of accelerated development on the unviable platform that is not underpinned by strong ideology. The second name for PDP is impunity and that is why PDP is gradually diminishing the potentials of the nation. It’s time for President Jonathan to redress the political carnage and economic havoc wrecked by the PDP administration. Until fundamental changes are made, the “business as usual scenario” can hardly change for the better. Nigerians deserve a better deal.
Idumange John, is a Member of the Institute of Strategic Management, Nigeria