By ibrahim UMAR
The unfolding scenario within the polity vis-à-vis some political parties no doubt, gave every patriotic Nigerian a great deal of cause for concern and urge for an urgent redress. The ease cross carpeting from one party to the other, for whatever, by some political actors, is of concern, underlying the non-ideological identity of our party and elements of political survivalists, so also the increasing inter and intra party schism.
The significance of these developments is not lost in its effects on the nations as it gradually inches towards the 2019 election year.
As the consciousness of preparation for the 2019 election year continues to bloom in our sub consciousness, stake holders must be proactive to mitigate all traces of political risk, helping to stabilise the polity in the process. No doubt the tempos of political activities have been revved up, accompanied with nocturnal meetings and consultation that is designed to fit the agenda -setting permutation of victory. It must however be done taking into consideration, the need to promote national cohesion.
The place of political platform for the actualisation of this agenda cannot be underrated. This, thus informed the concerns for the sad state of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the present dispensation. It prided itself as the largest and most vibrant political party in Africa and it stayed in power for 16 years of the nation’s history, under successive, democratically elected presidents and people’s representatives at all levels, yet was sadly encumbered by series of challenges. Many political parties have been registered to continuously increase the space of participation and choices for both the potential aspirants and electorates. Many more will be registered in the coming days. This realisation however, does not negate the need to reposition PDP back to its vibrancy, solving its encumbrances in the process and giving it the much vigour and integrity required to come back to power in 2019.
Much as I will not want to dwell with the much reported Makarfi-Sheriff confrontations, as the entertainment of PDP appeal comes up before the Supreme Court soon, however, I would want to lend my opinion to related issues that will help us deepen our democratic ethics and governance, hinging on series of development that had so far unfolded in PDP.
PDP was the ruling party in Nigeria until the last election in 2015, when it was defeated by the All Progressives Congress. Defeated, in disarray and gradually recovering from trading blames on why the party defeat was inevitable, some disgruntled members left the party in anger, while others remained behind to reposition the party. It was this event that thrust new elements into the party, and the golden opportunity afforded them the grip on some strategic positions in the party. It was this grip that is responsible for the unfortunate and worrisome wrangling in the PDP-to the joy of the opposition, who is naturally desirous of perpetuation of such crisis.
Nigerians are worried about the ineffectiveness of PDP to live up to its worth and billing as a viable opposition to the ruling APC. Nigerians are worried that it is only in PDP that an ‘outsider’ claimed more rights and privileges than the old or founding members and this should bother all patriotic Nigerians. It is only in PDP you see an interloper trying to negotiate the destiny of the party with the opposition against the interest of the party. It was a public knowledge that when PDP lost the keenly contested Edo State election, Modu Sheriff went out to congratulate the APC governor in the state. Again, when PDP lost the Ondo State election, Modu Sheriff was out there congratulating the governor. This gestures will help you tell where his allegiance belongs to without leaving you out to guess.
Every effort to reposition PDP is proving futile, yet all hope is not lost. Legal injunctions continue to entrap its decision to move forward despite all sincere efforts to remove them. The clear message is that the PDP is fast lagging behind in an unwritten schedule to measure up and surpass APC in winning the confidence of Nigerians. The bull in the china shop has refused to move out gently, strong force is not a wise option to extricate it out-herein lies a dose of diplomacy. It is either through political solution or legal option. All PDP stakeholders must be involved and concerned about the arbitrariness, legal manipulation of our great party, as well as tendency to undermine its vibrancy. We must strive to help people make appropriate choices that will reposition the party.
The Ahmed Makarfi-led caretaker committee is desirous of finding ways out of the present logjam in the party, and truly so, realising his track records and antecedents as a peace maker and agent of positive development in Kaduna State. His novel approach to solving the incessant ethno religious conflicts in Kaduna, through the introduction of several military strike force barracks across the state and the creation of more chiefdoms made Kaduna State a model of global reference in conflict resolution.
Can the same thing be said of Senator Modu Sheriff? The present governor of Borno State, Alhaji Kashim Shetima, in an interview with a national newspaper, claimed that Senator Modu Sheriff, the former Borno State governor is responsible for the incident of boko haram that has so far led to the death of over 20,000 peoples. The same was also reported in the Daily Trust newspapers. Makarfi, as a governor, led Kaduna State into prosperity, earning the respects of Nigerians and the rest of the world, while Modu Sheriff, reportedly left Borno State in adversity, earning the state derision and condemnation across the world.
Makarfi, remains sincerely committed to the well-being of the PDP, having consistently stayed with the party through thick and thin in the past 16 years or more. This commitment perhaps more than anything else motivates every of his actions in tandem with the aspirations of the genuine party members. The level of manipulation we saw against PDP’s attempts to consolidate on its renewed repositioning by the Makarfi-led caretaker committee, is appalling and clearly indicates sinister motives against the committee.
We certainly did not question the wisdom and judgments’ of the appellate court, which declares Sheriff’s legitimacy as the chairman of PDP, for now, the conclusive end of the whole saga will rest on the wisdom of the oracles at the Supreme Court. However, the dissenting judgment of Justice Abaduwa of Court Appeal, Port Harcourt, was so comprehensive to tackle or canvasses the legal argument which sought to be tested before the Supreme Court of Nigeria. So far, all evidence on ground clearly indicates a grand design to consign PDP to early political oblivion by some self-assigned undertakers, thus paving way for the flourishing of the ruling party. How else does one explain the obvious manipulation of the judiciary to the embarrassments of respected members of bars and benches, this is highly unfortunate and regrettable.
For instance, at the Court of Appeal, the presiding judge of the Court of Appeal, Justice Bulkachwa constituted special appeal panel led by Justice Sankey, petition from Modu Sheriff Group led to its disbandment. The same also applies to Justice Saulawa. Sheriff wrote a petition that the review panel has to be reconstituted, this trend should be of concern to all lovers of democracy. From the way things are, it seems it is only when we have angels as judges that Sheriff will stop his petition, at least so it appears from all indication.
We need to rise up against manipulations of PDP, engaging legal and ethical platforms.
– DR. UMAR, a private legal practitioner, wrote in from Kaduna.