A familiar refrain in the ruling People’s Democratic Party, PDP, whenever its intrigues boil over, is that since disagreements and small quarrels are absolutely normal in a family setting that the party is, it could just be a passing phase. However, when such altercation threatens the highest seat in the country and the highest seat in the party, it becomes a cause for alarm. Alas in this latest crisis of the party, Nigerians are not perturbed. Instead, they are amused and probably enjoying the circus show.
To be fair to the party, they did experience and surmount bigger turmoil in the past, part of which was the bitter feud between ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo and VP Abubakar Atiku, leading to the exit of the latter from the party in 2006/2007. It does appear that each time a major transition is in the offing as in 2007 and 2011, issues of loyalty, alliances, betrayals, treachery crop up. It then means that the PDP recurring crisis revolves around one major issue—power and who controls it at the various strata of the country.
The chronicle of events in the last three weeks alone does not give much comfort to the party chairman and the president. At the last count are spats between Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers state and Godsday Orubebe. The minister had accused the governor of not giving the president his dues, whatever that means and not doing enough to develop his state. Trust Amaechi. He fired back and accused the minister of failure to complete any project in the Niger-Delta. Obviously, there is fire behind the smoke in the brawl between the duo. Ever since speculations became rife of a possible joint presidential ticket between Governor Sule Lamido and Governor Amaechi, the presidency has not been at ease. First, to get at Lamido, his son was
arrested by the EFCC of being in possession of an undeclared sum of $40,000 dollars. The action of the governor’s son was not justified, but the hands of the presidency was discernible in the EFCC knee-jerked response in view of the fact that the amount in question is insignificant and second, because, the anti-corruption agency’s approach is selective. And this is based on their
admission that it is habitual for the governor’s son not to declare the exact amount he is travelling out with. It then means that they had abdicated their responsibility all along, only to wake up at someone else’s prompting. Now, it is Amaechi’s turn to answer for his sins of nursing an ambition, if any.
The Bamanga/Oyinlola/ Adamawa crisis is also better contextualized in the endless battle of supremacy between the presidency and the governors and it is also a litmus test for the 2015 game plan. The governors had their way in Adamawa by their unalloyed support for one of their own Governor MurtalaNyako’s executive in Adamawa state, but BamangaTukur/presidency also ‘sacrificed’ Oyinlola to prove the point, that the party is still in charge, albeit in Abuja. But is the PDP executive truly in charge? To prove his powers, the chairman lashed out to governors last Thursday when he said: “For us the party is supreme, it’s not the National Working Committee (NWC) or the president or the governors. It is the institution of the party itself that is supreme because all of us come in and go”.
Unfortunately and assuming the party is truly supreme, in practical terms, the party’s structure cedes so much powers to the governors, plus those (powers) they appropriate and they always call the shots when it matters most: recall their overwhelming support for Jonathan in 2011, not discountenancing the personal survival of many of them seeking for second term them. It remains to be seen in (2015) how the governors will wield their powers in view of the fact that many of them would have exhausted their two terms. But seeing that the hand writing on the wall may not be favourable to it, the BamangaTukur-led executive and the presidency may go for broke and become more vicious in the days ahead.
Many have attributed the frequent squabbles in the party to the absence of a binding ideology and the fact that the party is populated by strange bed fellows. That may be part of it but it is not exclusive. Besides identity crisis and zero ideological slant, the PDP is peopled by selfish individuals who want and grab power for the sake of it and by all means; right or wrong.
Starting from the Obasanjo presidency and now Jonathan, the PDP has been serving itself and its members only. Tukur wants his own executive in Adamawa as a shield for his son’s governorship ambition in 2015. Jonathan imposedTukur to secure his ticket in 2015. So, who is working for Nigeria? If the presidency dictates things at the national level of the party, why should it stop the state governors from doing same at the state level? Is what is good for the goose no longer sauce for the gander? I wonder! If Jonathan could have the liberty to impose Tukur, why should Nyako not do same with the party executive back home? PDP has never been about purposeful leadership. Obasanjo imposed Ahmadu Ali, Barnabas Gemade and Anenih at different times, and Jonathan followed suit with Nwodo, Bello and now Tukur. Party politics is not about nation-building, it’s just about sharing booties. For them, Nigeria is a conquered state; it is as if they went to war with the Nigerian people, defeated us, and now have to extract as much from us as victory in war allows.
The solution to the impending implosion in the PDP is not in reconciliation, or their much touted dialogue like one family, that they claim they are. The answer is in the formation of a new political party. If there are true democrats and real politicians in the party, the time to assert themselves is now, especially with the precedent set by Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo state. When the PDP stopped him from emerging as the party’s candidate in Ondo state, the man took an unknown Labour Party to his home state, became its candidate, and won election and reelection under that platform. If the Tukur-led executive and Jonathan and his cabinet insist on appropriating a party that was formed without their imprimatur, what stops the other majority from opting out? Nigerians will applaud and support them. In any case the average Nigerian does not wish the PDP well, because the party has impoverished him.What does he have to lose if the party disintegrates?