By Ifeanyi Maduako
Just like Nigeria that has two major political parties, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the United States of America’s democracy also has two major or dominant political parties. The Democratic Party and the Grand Old Party (GOP) otherwise known as the Republican Party.
Whereas the Democrats control the presidency and the senate, the Republicans will soon take control of the House of Representatives. Unlike the US where independent candidacy is allowed, the Nigerian version of democracy does not allow that. A Nigerian politician must belong to a political party in order to achieve a political ambition. Therefore, political parties in Nigeria are vehicles to political destinations or positions.
A political party is useless in Nigeria if it cannot control power in the local government, state or federal level. A political party that cannot win a single seat in a general election risks deregistration by the election monitoring body which in this case is the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
To be clear, the 2023 presidential election is mainly between the PDP and the APC. Ordinarily, it should have been between the PDP and the Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate, Peter Obi, if competence will be the sole criterion for electing the next president of Nigeria.
Unfortunately, for most Nigerians, the ruling APC will be in strong contention for the position owing to incumbency factor at the federal level and their control of the National Assembly as well as 21 governors out of the 36 states governor in the country. In a saner clime, the presidential candidate of the APC can never be considered for a local government chairmanship position going by his antecedents and controversies around him. Sadly, he’s a candidate to beat if the main opposition party-the PDP – which has fielded a more competent presidential candidate does not put its house in order.
As I posited in my previous article, the fate of the PDP in Nigeria will be similar to its fate in Lagos if Bola Ahmed Tinubu wins the 2023 presidential election. For the past 24 years, PDP has been struggling to survive in Lagos despite having had the opportunity to control the presidency for 16 years as a result of Tinubu’s stranglehold of the politics of Lagos State, then imagine what the fate of the party would be, if the same Tinubu finally captures the presidency of Nigeria. That would signal the death of the PDP.
Since the governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, lost the presidential primary election and also the vice presidential nomination of the party, the PDP has been in turmoil. Wike’s primary demand for truce is that the National Chairman of the party, Dr Iyorchia Ayu, must vacate his position and cede the seat to a southerner before the general election. Wike’s agitation is altruistic and understandable as the presidential candidate, the national chairman and the Director-General of the presidential campaign council cannot all come from the northern region of the country. However, one begins to wonder if the southern region of the country will collapse or cease to exist if that position is not ceded or conceded to the region before the general election.
Currently, under this regime of the APC, all the top military and para-military positions are domiciled in the North since 2015, yet the South has not gone into extinction. All entreaties to the group of G5 led by Wike to allow the matter be settled after the general election have proved abortive.
Immediately, the late President Yar’Adua was elected into office in 2007, the position of the national chairman of the party which was held by then Sen. Ahmadu Alli was ceded to the South to balance the pendulum of power rotation. And that should have been the case in the instant situation in the PDP.
Will southern Nigerian or southern PDP go into extinction between now and May 29, 2023 if it does not control the national chairmanship position? At times, one begins to wonder again if the group of G5 governors truly and actually wish or pray that PDP wins the presidential election.
Do they want the national chairmanship position at all costs so that they can control the affairs of the party if the PDP loses the presidential election? Do they pray that the PDP lose the election so that they can take charge of the party in preparation for the 2027 general election? If they truly wish that the party wins the election, how do they expect that they will continue to control the party after the general election if Atiku becomes the president of Nigeria? Even if Ayu steps down now and they succeed in imposing their preferred candidate as the next national chairman, how sure are they that Atiku – as the president of the country and the leader of the party if PDP wins – will retain that chairman or chooses another southerner because the seat must definitely go to the South?
This is the time that Ayu must make the sacrifice by relinquishing the position to Wike and his group. Ayu has to stoop low to conquer. Every sacrifice worth making in order to stop APC from continuing to rule this country beyond next year must be made by all Nigerians, including Ayu.
I, therefore, plead with Sen. Ayu to vacate the position from January in order to accommodate the grievances of the G5 Governors. If Ayu truly loves millions of suffering Nigerians and Atiku, he must make that difficult sacrifice by resigning from the seat.
Wike has gone too far in his gallery display that he can never change his mind on his demand for Ayu’s resignation. Having lost two battles – the presidential and the vice presidential – he would never give up on his current agitation. Atiku needs these G5 governors and their millions of votes in the forthcoming general election that promise to be perhaps the most contentious general election in the history of Nigeria. Can Ayu make the sacrifice?
• Maduako, writes from Owerri, Imo State