I remember 2014. That was the year the campaign against the government of President Goodluck Jonathan went frenetic. The new political coalition, which had metamorphosed into the All Progressives Congress (APC), came with fire and brimstone. It was ready to do anything and say anything to make Jonathan and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), look bad. The campaign of denigration was total. While all that happened, the ruling PDP wallowed in comfort. It did not appear bothered. Whenever it joined issues with its traducer, its responses were laid back and feeble.
It was in that year that the APC and the northern oligarchy, in the desperate bid to wrest power from Jonathan, concocted something called Chibok. The abduction of the over 200 schoolgirls of a Chibok secondary school was a mischievous design, an orchestrated act of blackmail aimed at weakening the Jonathan presidency. The abduction reverberated across the globe. Even the Cable News Netwok (CNN) had to send an investigative crew to Nigeria. The opposition made so much political capital out of the abduction saga. The conclusion and inference from the whole drama was that Jonathan was incompetent, that he had no clue about what to do to secure the country.
As if the destructive campaign was not bad enough, some PDP governors who had been recruited into the gang of conspirators began to leave the party. About seven of them defected to the APC at once. But unknown to the PDP leadership, most of the defectors did not leave the party just to feather their nest. Their principal reason was to boost the chances of the APC in the presidential polls. Regardless of this obvious ploy to weaken the PDP, the party ambled along as if nothing was the matter. In the end, it turned out that PDP was a victim of its complacency. Jonathan was hounded out of office. He was replaced by Muhammadu Buhari, the man they believed had the magic wand. The watching world was made to believe that, with Buhari in the saddle, insecurity would take a quick flight out of Nigeria.
Since then, PDP has been licking its wounds. But the party has been fortunate. The party that overthrew it has turned out to be a bad alternative. It has come out worse than the party it denigrated to no end in its bid to wrest power. The failure of the APC and its government is bad for Nigeria as a country. The suffering people of Nigeria have nothing but regrets. They wish they were not taken in by the pernicious propaganda of the APC. But the development is good for PDP. Since the business of political parties is to win elections and take over power, the failure of APC to perform in government should serve the interest of the PDP. The opposition party should have seized the moment. It should have cashed in on APC’s failings. In fact, the very poor performance of Buhari and his party should have been sauce for PDP.
Surprisingly, PDP has not been able to seize the day. It has not provided a strong and robust opposition. Nigeria under Buhari is as bad as a banana republic. Insecurity, which they said Jonathan did not tackle sufficiently, has become a daily fare in Nigeria. The people are groaning over the killing field that their country has become. In Buhari’s Nigeria, life has lost value. In fact, Nigerians are trudging on like hopeless voyagers.
This messy state of affairs is regrettable. But it should have provided the PDP raw materials with which to tackle the ruling party and the government in power. But the party has continued to act as if it is yet to wake up from a long night of drudgery. Rather than bare its fangs with aggression, the PDP is looking morose. That is why the present government is getting away with blue murder. If one-tenth of what is happening in Nigeria today happened under Jonathan, the country would have been set ablaze by the then opposition party. The opposition would have made Nigeria look like a wasteland. They would have created in the mind and psyche of the ordinary Nigerian the urgent need to change government. In fact, it is ironic that a party under whose watch Nigeria is witnessing the worst form of instability is gaining more grounds and winning more converts while the PDP, the opposition party that is supposed to build on the ruling party’s non-performance, is losing grounds and losing its members. This has been the unenviable lot of the PDP.
But the governors elected on the platform of the party made the situation worse last week when they met to discuss the state of the nation. The communique issued by the PDP governors at the end of their meeting in Abuja gave them away as a group without a sense of urgency. They sounded pliant and malleable. The scandal that is the APC administration appeared normal in their eyes. Otherwise, they would have taken the Buhari government to task. They would have told the party that produced him that it has failed. They would have reminded Buhari that he has performed worse than Jonathan whom they were quick to hound out of power. The PDP governors did not do any of this. They did not tell Buhari and his party that they have failed woefully to deal with insecurity. They would have seized the opportunity to tell Nigerians that the APC has failed in this regard. They should have asked Nigerians to compare notes. Rather than do that, the governors told us that they would not play politics with insecurity. Then you ask: what did APC do in 2014 when it arranged the Chibok abduction? Did it not play politics with insecurity? Did it not work in its favour? But here we have a PDP, which lost power largely because of the politics of insecurity, telling Nigerians that it will not play politics with insecurity. What naivety! What childishness!
In fact, the PDP governors did not sound as if there was any plan by their party to take over power in the near future. Otherwise, they would not have told the President that they would join hands with him to fight insecurity. An opposition party that has its eyes on power does not sound so passive. It was the passive disposition of the governors to urgent national issues that led them into pleading with the President to bring more succour and relief to Nigerians and support state governments in the discharge of their mandate by making available resources to them. Let me repeat, an opposition party does not speak with submissive voice to the ruling party. Rather, it provides and prescribes alternatives to show that it is a better choice. The PDP governors simply sounded like an appendage of the ruling party.
The supine disposition of the PDP governors is unhelpful to the cause of the party. It throws them open to suspicion. One or two among them must have led the others by the nose. Could it be true that some of them are looking towards defecting to the APC? The party should take a closer look at the body language of these governors who fought shy when they should have talked tough.