The challenges in Nigeria’s political space are enormous. From the over-monetised system to imposition of candidates and indiscipline, the political system has remained a major source of concern for many.
And despite numerous calls by major stakeholders for the need to reform the system, it would seem like nothing is changing. If anything, the situation seems to be getting worse. But one of the major concerns, so far, with the political system is the lack of robust political engagement at the level of constructive exchange of ideas on how to move the nation forward.
While the ruling and opposition parties are guilty of this, the focus of this editorial will be on the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) considering the change of guard that has just happened within its ranks.
On October 30-31, the party after weeks of internal squabbles, held a national convention which led to the emergence of a new leadership to steer the ship of the party. The outgoing leadership of the party led by Prince Uche Secondus was removed after he fell out of grace with his estranged political benefactor and governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike.
Wike was able to mobilise his colleagues to sack Secondus from office on the grounds that the party, under his watch, was not playing its role as an effective opposition. After much horse-trading among party stakeholders, former Senate President, Senator Iyorcha Ayu, emerged national chairman at the national convention. For watchers of events in the party, the outcome of the convention reflected that the governors have completely and exclusively firmed up their grip on the reins of the party.
Ayu has since started making projections on how he intends to run the party when he takes over. As a founding father of the party, he was quite reflective on how he thinks the party should be managed.
Good as this may sound in the light of the original ideological framework of the party, it’s is yet to be seen whether or not the party, being the flagship opposition party, is prepared to tow this line. Expectations from PDP, as the main opposition party, has been high. Even though the governing APC is yet to distinguish itself with regards to how the party should operate, the hopes are that PDP will prove not just to be an alternate platform, but a fairly older party ready to provide not just qualitative opposition but engender intra-party discipline. How this will be realised, is yet to be seen.
Before now, the main opposition party has been criticised for not providing real alternative to what the present administration is offering or has failed to offer. This notion has given rise to comparisons between APC and PDP as two sides of a coin in the light of their fundamental approach to management, operation, ideology and philosophy.
It was seemingly pre-occupied solely with an ambition to return to power at the centre with less concern on how it helps to proffer tangible ideas on governance and broadening of the democratic space. This perception gets credence in the ease with which political turncoats switch sides on a whim and blend almost seamlessly into any of the parties.
Even at the level of criticism or holding the governing party to account on governance issues, the opposition party barely barks, sometimes overshadows, without providing a clear alternative on how the issue which they criticise the ruling party for should be addressed.
Perhaps, the baggage of its past, as the ruling party, continues to weigh down on it, hence its seeming inability to project a different path.
Be that as it may, the task before the Ayu leadership is enormous. Even though it is yet to assume office (December 9 is when the current party leadership will serve out it’s tenure), the Ayu leadership will have to show to Nigerians that it is ready to shape the party into a viable alternative not just to return to power but to advance the quality of governance in the country.
But this would start with how it manages its internal affairs, especially with how the party is funded, creating a process of accountability and discipline, ensuring credible reward systems and cessation to dictatorship and imposition of candidates.
But much more, the party needs to evolve a deep intellectual and ideological base that would drive its generation of alternative ideas on how the Nigerian state should be governed. That party will only be taken seriously when it shows that it is truly committed to actions that show it has changed. Otherwise, the projections so far by the party will considered mere rhetoric. And that will not be good enough as 2022 kicks in.