This is an interesting column that tends to analyze the challenges and the future of the leading opposition party in Nigeria, PDP.
A political party is an association of interest organizations competing for the power to govern in a national society. And the major strategy for that competition is elections. It is winning the election that gives the party the power to govern.
In the context of a free and fair election, commitment to the interest of the party is the condition for winning success for a party.
PDP’s failure to enforce respect for the party’s interest was the major reason it lost power in 2015. It allowed all manner of private interests – impurity, imposition, factionalism, god-fatherism, and money politics – to distract it from enforcing respect for the true interest of the party.
Since that major loss in 2015, the party has been struggling within itself to reestablish its internal stability and moral legitimacy. Then came the last (July 12, 2017) Supreme Court decision that gave the party a new lease of life and a fresh institutional stability.
But there have been some recent happenings, some sort of echoes from its inglorious past, that seem to suggest that the party has not quite completely learnt its lesson of winning itself from the creeping bad habits of its inglorious past.
The final litmus test of PDP’s regeneration and ability to survive into the future is the forthcoming elective convention, especially the race for the National Chairmanship position. This will be the final test of whether PDP has learnt enough lesions to ensure its survivability.
If commitment to the true interests of the party is not allowed to guide the conduct of this National Chairmanship race, then the concluding story will be an inglorious rendering of a nunc-dimittis. Unfortunately, there are indications that the old habits are creeping back to endanger the true interest of the party by sowing seeds of injustice, unfairness, factional selfishness, and cash-muscling syndromes.
If the present leadership of the party cannot muscle-in to protect the true interest of the party but rather surrenders to the many-sided private and factional interests, then the battle for survival is over for the party. Unfortunately we do not have a core of committed delegates who will vote according to their conscience to protect the interest of the party rather than be bought-over by the numerous cash-cows masquerading as major stake-holders.
Let me conclude this piece by identifying some of the factors that will derail the ability of the party to pursue its true interests. By the party’s established tradition, party positions are usually zoned to specific geopolitical zones. Accordingly, the chairmanship position should have been zoned to the South-West for the simple reason that the South-West has never produced the national chairman.
Equity, justice, and fairness demand that the post should go to the South West. But by some curious logic, rather than pursue this path of equity and justice, the position is said to have been zoned to the South contrary to the established tradition of zoning to a geopolitical zone. And rather than correcting this by micro zoning to the South-West some curious private interests are muscling for the position to be taken by the South–South.
How on earth can anybody who wants to promote the party’s interest and sense of justice be pushing for the South–South when it was the same South–South that produced the last leader of the party and also the last Acting National Chairman of the party?
Whereas the interest of the party directs that the chairman comes from the South West, those who are muscling for the position to come from the South – South obviously have other narrow and private interest to serve. Clearly, the forces that are pushing for the South-South are antiparty, narrowly selfish, and guilty of the impunity syndrome.
Worse still, if the current leadership of the party cannot protect the interest of the party but rather surrenders to this South-South pressure group, then this leadership has become both anti-party and guilty of the imposition syndrome. What good is a party leadership that cannot protect the interest of the party? A party leadership that cannot correct errors of judgment or of omission or commission is failing in its leadership responsibility.
Now that we know who the South-South candidates are, and they are not wonderful people, the present party leadership will be stabbing the party in the back if it continues to play helplessness in the face of these South-South musketeers.
As we have indicated earlier in this piece, it is the rightful turn of the South-West to produce the next national chairman. Therefore, any attempt to divert this position to favour the South-South is unjust, unfair, inequitable and anti-party.
Now that the South-West is rethinking the logic of its association with APC is not the time to treat it to the injustice and inequity side of PDP. Rather, this is the time to attract that zone with the fairness of PDP by planting the party’s national chairman in that zone. This is what the interest of the party requires. The alternative is a clear conspiracy against PDP.
A PDP leadership group that connives at this conspiracy or colludes with it will be sowing seeds of disintegration for the party. Added to the shocks of its recent past, this additional conspiracy will bring PDP to the end of the road.
Very often in the management of the interests of an organisation, the selfishness of factional groups and so-called stake-holders end up being the biggest threat to the life of the organization.
This is the danger confronting PDP as it prepares (or rather fumbles through) for the December 9 convention. If its current leadership cannot play it right and straight, if it cannot resist the South-South subterfuge and rise to protect the interest of the party, there may be no more game left to play for the party hereafter! !
• Prof. Onyeoziri is a political analyst and a public writer