Is Muazu the expected PDP Messiah? By Uche Igwe



Uche IgweThe appointment of Alhaji Adamu Muazu as the new Chairman of the Peoples’ Democratic party have been commended by many as a beginning of good tidings for the acclaimed largest party in Africa. He is said to be a consensual nominee of the governors and other powerful members of the party who pressured the former Chairman, Bamaga Tukur to resign. True to the speculations, the former Governor of Bauchi state has already promised to reconcile and reform the party. He has announced that he will ensure that the party conducts free and fair primaries and will not interfere with the structures and running of the party at the state level. True? Mr. Muazu has begun to match his words with action by visiting former President Obasanjo in Abeokuta to hold consultations. He has also appealed to the five governors who recently defected to All Progressives Congress (APC), to return back to PDP and allow him to address their grievances. But how far can the new Chairman go with his promises? Many optimists insist that the series of cacophony and acrimony within the Nigeria’s ruling party will soon be over. They have their right to hold onto their points of view. However I disagree with them. Rather let me say without any ambiguity that even though Adamu Muazu has come on board with some goodwill and charisma, he cannot and will not be able to do much. I will give you three reasons.
The first is that it is a little bit too late in the day. President Jonathan and other leaders of the party allowed the crisis to linger and fester for too long. And I know why I mentioned the name of the President. There are those who will want to crucify me for mentioning the name of the President here. Rather they will prefer to demonize the former PDP Chairman, Bamanga Tukur and blame him for all the problems that have bedevilled PDP in the past few months. Sure, they are partly correct. Tukur was part of the problem. He was very high handed in his style and those who know him well say he is also a selfish politician, who wanted to unduly leverage from his position. However, most of the actions he took might have been cleared by the President or those who are working for him. Tukur did not and could not have acted alone. So whatever has become of PDP of late is a clear reflection of the kind of politics that President Jonathan is playing. He is clearly a man who is reluctant to play a politics of inclusion and compromise. You can check his political antecedents in Bayelsa State. The backing that Tukur gave to the emergence of the PDP Governor’s Forum, the factionalization of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), and the arbitrary suspension of governors from the party could not have happened without the blessing of the President. The latter day insistence of Tukur to remain in office clearly showed that he was sure he was ‘innocent’ and only acted as directed. The last minute efforts of the President’s men to save Tukur’s job, political horse-trading that culminated in his removal and the eulogies poured on him on the day of his resignation further validates this point of view. It further showed that the President allowed Muazu’s candidature to sail through reluctantly. Now that the party has been clearly balkanised and some people have joined other political parties, it will be extremely difficult to get them to come back. More so they are aware that it will take just a little time before the President’s overbearing political influence will come on Muazu, just like Tukur.
The second point is about the promise of Muazu to conduct free and fair primary elections sounded like a fairy tale and runs contrary to the style of the party. Who will allow that? For those who know the internal working of PDP, if the party goes ahead to conduct a free and fair primary today, many of the current gladiators including the President and many of the governors will lose out. By making such a promise, it is either that the new PDP Chairman wants to display political naivety or treachery or he may be planning a rebellion. Everyone is aware that if President Jonathan decides to contest, he may not favour ‘free and fair’ primary elections. That will be too risky. Rather, he may likely press for a consensus option. There are many of the governors who are openly and vehemently opposed to his candidature, yet they have remained in the party. If the party decides to go into primaries, that will be their best opportunity to get back at President Jonathan with a majority of delegates under their control. Some governors serving their last term are all warming up to possibly go to the Senate, while many Senators may want to return back. Look at Enugu and Akwa Ibom. That could be part of the reasons that inspired their support for the new Chairman. So how can Muazu think of a level playing field. Is he new to the tactics of PDP? Anyway, it may not take long before the Chairman will be caught in the web of political intrigues if he really wants to deliver on his promise of transparency.
My third and final point is that Mr. Adamu Muazu has come on board with a credibility baggage. He is currently being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), for mismanaging about 19.8 billion naira during his tenure as Governor of Bauchi State between 1999-2007. His choice as Chairman attracted condemnation from a wide spectrum of the media and civil society. So making someone with such a doubtful reputation, a face of the reforms in a political party that is in dire need of rebranding may turn out to be counterproductive. Another dimension is that such a pending case can easily be turned to a bargaining chip to get the new Chairman to do the bidding of his ‘bosses’. In a typical Nigerian political setting, any day Muazu begins to disobey those who appointed him, they will simply deploy the EFCC to restart the case against him. That way they can easily force him out. Being in such a predicament will serve a constant check on the excesses of the new Chairman.
Finally, even with all the constraints that he may face in accomplishing his promises, Alhaji Ahmed Muazu has bounced back, according to one of his fans. True. He will at least repair his political profile which suffered enormous setback after he was defeated at the Senatorial elections by the current Minister of FCT, Senator Bala Mohamed. As a nominee of the governors he will likely have some cash at his disposal too. The only weapon of the PDP in the next elections will be how much cash and patronage that they are willing to deploy. Muazu will partly superintend over that exercise and will likely be better off financially for it. The PDP leadership are already shopping for court judgements that can be used to bargain and intimidate their membership from defection. They have allegedly invaded the Senate to ensure that the disgraceful defections planned in the coming days may be aborted. They have even gotten a few members of the House of Representatives to begin to run back and forth to alter the current majority of the APC. Money and patronage at work. Beyond these every other expectation for reforms under the current leadership in the PDP will remain a pipe dream. I congratulate Alhaji Ahmed Muazu, like his predecessor, Bamanga Tukur, it is his own time to ‘chop’. He is no messiah. Forget it.

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