Last weekend, I ran into an old Lagos PDP friend of mine. During the last general election, he was in the forefront of the revolt against the APC in my neck of the wood, a movement, which ultimately led to the PDP, winning both the state assembly seat and the House of Reps seat from that part of Lagos State.
But my friend is no longer his bubbly self, even as the state’s local government elections is fast approaching. In fact, his face lost even more colour as soon as I broached the issue of his once beloved party.
“There’s nothing like PDP any more,” he told me, with a tone of finality. ‘‘Won ti da PDP ru (they have scattered PDP),’, he emphasised in Yoruba.
He would later go into a long lamentation about how the party has completely lost the momentum it generated with the appreciable showing in the last elections, and how local chieftains of PDP have either swallowed their pride and gone back to the APC or scattered into other parties, with the Labour Party being a major beneficiary.
What this tells you is that if the APC can overcome the perennial problem of imposition of candidates, which always costs it dearly in the area, it may well reclaim that constituency.
Of course, what is happening in this my Amuwo part of Lagos is replicated virtually all over the country. All over the country, the PDP is determinedly working for the success of the APC, even as the ruling party continues to fumble, and seems equally determined to squander the enormous goodwill that swept it to power in 2015.
Now, if we were to be in a saner clime, I could have wagered my last Kobo on the APC, losing the next general election. I could have borrowed a leaf from what transpired in the United Kingdom last month. How Jeremy Corbyn and his rampaging Labour Party army, bolstered by social-media-generation youth voters, almost booted Theresa May and her corky Conservatives out of 10 Downing Street. May had to be rescued by an unlikely DUP, in a curious minority government. That is the beauty of democracy. Vibrant opposition!
And, need I say, nobody has decamped from Labour to Conservative and vice versa? There is no talk of anybody wanting to join the mainstream. Neither the Scots, the Irish nor the Welsh have been accused of committing political suicide because they did not vote for the winning party.
But that’s dreamland. Welcome back to reality! Welcome back to Nigeria!
Here, even though the APC has barely managed to score between the C and B grades, its clay-footed foundation has remained unshaken because those who should give it the little nudge it requires to get it crumbling are busy with the more exciting job of self-destruction.
And the result? There’s nobody to challenge the APC – at least, not the PDP.
And definitely not any of the newly registered parties. Nor the motley of 40-something odd parties that exists only in the books of INEC.
So, APC will still win in 2019, even though it has not performed spectacularly well in the last two years.
Of course, I always had my doubts – that the APC is wired for playing the opposition, and not running the government at the centre. I had feared that, at some point PMB and his party would forget that they are now the ones running the government, and would carry placards in protest against unfavourable government policies.
Of course, they did a bit of it before they latched on the ‘smart’ idea of blaming the last government for everything that goes wrong (including those they did themselves, and those that seemed too sophisticated for them to comprehend). They even did a little bit of fighting themselves and trying to foist new warrant chiefs on the Bola Tinubu-controlled South West and Edo. Till this day, the CPC elements have refused to accept that the ACN are co-inheritors to the kingdom. Of course, the ANPP descendants have since accepted their fate, as third-class citizens. It was only recently that the nPDP settlers bullied their way into relevance – despite the two-pronged bid to elbow them into irrelevance. Even at this moment, the APC centre is still not really holding.
But the PDP can’t take advantage. It has contrived to take, to the Supreme Court, a normal intra-party squabble, that it would usually settle over a few bottles of champagne, some bags of Ghana Must Go and delectable beauties (sometimes imported from Asia and the Middle East).
Even when a God-sent Seriake Dickson National Reconciliation Committee presented them with a compromise position that would have given the PDP a win-win resolution, the delinquent elders of PDP have insisted on toeing the path of self-destruct.
Even as the warring camps have since agreed that they would still come back to the roundtable to discuss (and settle) the matter, they are still bent on getting to the end of the Supreme Court. Now, that is the best way of telling a man possessed by some strange demon!
If Ahmed Makarfi wins, he would not automatically take over the party. The same thing applies to Modu Sheriff. If he wins, it would just be to complete whatever time is left on his checkered tenure, which would not run till the next general election. Whoever wins at the Supreme Court would have just about enough time to catch his breath and then organise a national convention to put a proper national executive committee in place.
Incidentally, such a convention is unlikely to make any sense if the warring factions of the party are not first reconciled. In other words, whoever wins at the Supreme Court would have to reconcile with the loser before the PDP can move forward – unless, of course, the ultimate aim is not really to rescue the party.
Forget all that after-thought talk about the Supreme Court verdict helping to test the constitution, and foist internal democracy in the parties, not too many people drag themselves to court and still return to being friends. Once the court makes its pronouncement, that is the end of PDP.
Only an undertaker bent on driving-in the final nail on the party’s coffin would insist on resolving the current crisis in PDP through a pronouncement of the court.
Meanwhile the gale of decampments sweeping through the party continues to ravage. The party continues to lose personalities who constitute the soul and the very essence of PDP to the APC. Soon, only those who have no electoral value (and, therefore, of no use to the APC) would be left in the party. Those who have been shut out of the APC have found solace in all manner of parties and nomenclatures – ID, IDP, APDA, UMPP, UPP, AD, ADP, DA, TTC, GSS, ABC, and all sorts. And the APC controlled government and INEC are gladly obliging them a long rope to hang themselves, by registering even more parties, to enable every disgruntled PDP chieftain own his own party – and perish any chance of their returning to PDP anytime soon.
By the time the leaders come to their senses to let commonsense prevail, the PDP would have resoundingly lost yet another general election. But the danger goes beyond losing election in 2019, it points to the beginning of the end for PDP. It also portends ominous signals for the very democracy we currently ‘enjoy’ in the country. For a democracy without a vibrant opposition is the recipe for autocracy and dictatorship.