At the twilight of the present democratic dispensation, it was clear to the founding fathers of the Peoples Democratic Party that the major challenge confronting our nation was the establishment of an enduring democratic platform with a sustainable legitimacy. We were also convinced that such platforms should possess credible internal capacity to produce leaders who will be committed to the public purpose and whose leadership will be informed by a common good and sustained by the popular will of all citizens.
The PDP was conceived as a national party not only because of the desire to provide responsive leadership, but also because it is within such a national party that we can guarantee national harmony, promote human development and safeguard the freedom and dignity of all citizens. The constitution of the party was designed to promote collective leadership that is inclusive and upholds the principles of justice and fair-play without denigrating the legitimacy of dissent.
I have said it and I will continue to say it that the party is headed in the wrong direction as it moves from one crisis to the other. It appears that in the pursuit of our personal ambition, we have continued to trample with impunity on the rights not only of the members, but also on the freedom of Nigerian citizens who deserve a right to choose who should govern them and for how long.
Sometimes, progress involves stepping backwards. In the South West, this is such a moment for the Peoples Democratic Party.
The PDP became a very strong political party in the South West as a result of the efforts and commitment of leaders who commanded the respect of the generality of the people of the South West. By the year 2009, the party had 5 of the 6 Governors in the zone, 14 of the 18 Senators, 46 out of the 71 House of Representatives seat, 102 members of the State House of Assembly, and 115 Local Governments.Members of the PDP also occupied all commissionership and special adviserspositions, in addition to all statutory board membership.
However, the fortunes of the PDP in the South West took a startling reverse from 2011 such that today, the party has no Governor in the region, has only 1 Senator, 7 Members of the House of Representatives and only 18 Members in all the States House of Assembly. Of course, not a single Local Government administration is PDP-controlled in the entire region.
It is not only in the interest of PDP, but indeed that of the Nation that this trend be reversed.
As a founding member of the PDP, the prevailing situation of the party in the South West is very disturbing.
I am sure that our party didn’t come to this sorry state in the region because the party men failed to deliver good governance to the people. Landmarks of achievements by PDP governments dot the region.
It still remains a paradox to me how the presidential candidate of the party would win massively in all but one state of the South West, yet the party failed to produce a single state Governor in the region and could only produce 18 State Assembly members in the same election. My experience in politics tells me that this paradox can only be explained in one way that is the leadership of the party must have abandoned the party and negotiated the victory of the President at the expense of the Party.
Recent events have shown that the leadership of the party has demonstrated insufficient sincerity in resolving the numerous crises which are pitching the party members against themselves. Political maneuvering that relies on the politics of patronage and arbitrary application of sanctions will not sustain the popular will of the people through which the party can recover the lost ground.
A group of concerned professionals with PDP interest from the South West carried out a study in which a state-by-state analysis of the crises in the party was made. The body made far-reaching recommendations in their document which was submitted to the leadership of the Party. If the party leadership had paid attention to some of their recommendations, the outcome of the election in Ondo State could probably have been different.
It will be useful for the incoming South West Executive Committee to study this report and prepare a blueprint for the reversal of the dwindling fortunes of the party in the region.
The eloquent silence of respected leaders on the various crises is a disturbing sign which leaves majority of the members confused.
The national leadership of the party needs to respect the democratic wishes of party members in the zone and discourage the deliberate creation of factions, and upturning the results of duly conducted elections at the various congresses and the national convention.
In all we do, the adherence to the constitution of the party in the conduct of the party’s affairs is the only hope for sustaining the existence and legitimacy of the party. Also, the legitimacy of the party can only be sustained if the provision of the welfare needs of Nigerian citizen takes precedent in the heart of the leaders rather than primordial politicking.
There is need to reverse the declining trend of PDP in the South West. PDP cannot afford to depart from the South West.
Atiku Abubakar is the Turaki Adamawa and former Vice President of Nigeria