In a few days’ time, the long awaited National Convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will hold to elect its national officers who will be expected to lead it to the certain electoral war with the All Progressives Party (APC) in 2019. This convention will be its first serious political activity since it lost power in 2015. The Nigerian people will be forgiven if they assume that the party will get it right, do away with internal wrangling and focus on the pressing issue of packaging itself as a viable opposition party.
Already there have been worries on the part of godfathers of the party regarding the influence of money in the process that will produce, especially, the party chairman. This is just as other party stalwarts believe that there is no cause for alarm. This optimism is based on the unwritten understanding that the party must have learnt its lessons and will therefore do the right thing to, not only to save the party, but also to reposition it for the task ahead.
News of the joining of the party by some heavy weights is beginning to heighten these worries. In most political arrangements, it is strongly believed that whoever controls the party machinery dictates the swing of party decisions that determine who emerge as candidates for the various offices. That is why potential candidates throw in everything in their political arsenal so as to be able to get hold of the party and its key officers. On the surface, there is nothing inherently wrong with it.
Well managed, it could lead to cohesion needed as the era of politicking draws close. Misapplied, it is capable of generating enough bad blood that can haunt the party down to the polling booths. It usually has a very unpleasant side effect that leads to protest votes that make the difference between victory and failure at the polls. One of the missteps that set the party on the path to political cataclysm was its tendency to overdo things in utter disregard for set norms. It was called impunity, doing the improper thing and daring everyone. The problem is always there with politicians, especially those who have cultivated the wrong notion that they own the party and should therefore call the shots. The concern is that they often misdirect their shots in a manner that will have a debilitating effect on the party and its electoral fortunes.
This awful act has the tendency to lead to the imposition of candidates with the accompanying disastrous electoral effect. That is what the elders of the party are afraid of when they warned that the party offices ought not to be for the highest bidder. They intended that to mean that only the best materials should be elected to guide the affairs of the party. Another ugly side to the Party is the presence in its fold of many inordinately ambitious politicians who, in their presumed self-worth, create the impression that the office they seek is theirs for the asking. This was the scenario that almost killed PDP until the Supreme Court came to its rescue.
The two factions, then, were not building a party that will serve the nation as a platform for effective governance. Otherwise the acrimony would have been unnecessary. Instead, the leaders of the factions were consolidating the party machinery for future use and in the process ignored all calls for moderation. The comment and recent declaration of the interim chairman of the party regarding his presidential ambition attest to the fact that his role in the effort to re-build the party was not altogether altruistic.
It implies that no lessons were learnt from the events of the past that generated apprehensions that contributed to their failure even as a party in government. PDP has a class of elders who are in a position to influence things to ensure that the appropriate measures are adopted to streamline things. Sitting on the side lines and relapsing to despondency or helplessness is, in our view, counterproductive. The time for them to throw their hats in to the ring is now. Most of them have no electoral ambitions other than to ensure that the party plays its role in the polity aptly. That, in our opinion, is the reason why they must quit the pity party and do the needful to strengthen issues. The wise counsel of those elders and stakeholders is cogent at this time before the hawks and parasites mess things up again. The elders will only have themselves to blame if they fail to act. NOW.