The national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Uche Secondus, may have secured a breather with the sudden re-arrangement of the party’s elective national convention from December to October. But for that face-saving move by the governors of the party and the Board of Trustees, he was almost swept aside in the manner of his predecessors. Even then, his travails are not over yet. The odds are clearly stacked against him. His remaining days in the office will be rough, henceforth. He will, at best, remain a lame duck.
The concern is not particularly on whether the allegation that Secondus lacks the capacity to reposition the party holds water, but in the PDP tradition, he has more or less been declared guilty as charged. And in the typical Nigerian political culture, his seat has been subtly declared vacant, even when he is still in office. Nocturnal meetings are already taking place even among his friends and foes on who gets what from his anticipated fall.
That is the way of our politicians, friends in the morning and enemies at noon. Theirs is akin to the ways of the vulture, a cursed species of birds that derives pleasure in feeding on the vulnerable, including its own. In the game of power, Nigerian politicians do not take prisoners, they go for a kill.
Secondus understands the rule as much as his traducers. He has been a beneficiary of the sordid game and knows the language; no permanent friend or enemy but an eye on fixed interests. At all times, Nigerian politicians have their eyes on the ball, not for public good but primarily for what they stand to gain.
In the curious book by V., “The Mafia Manager”, they fit into the characters driven by one aim: “profit and not averse to using any means to ensure and increase that profit.”
None is altruistic in the true sense of the word.
That is, perhaps, how the crisis in PDP, Nigeria’s leading opposition political party, can be properly understood. But that is not a story that can be exhausted in one setting. Just as the party, at its height, had appropriated the claim of the largest political party in Africa, the dimensions of its story have been those of an octopus.
One thing that cannot be contested by even its committed members (assuming there are still some) and its supporters is that the party has become a bungled dream, in a way. Even when it had been thought that managers of the party would learn from the avoidable mistakes that pushed it out of power six years ago, nothing seems to have been learnt. In the process, the slide continues.
The piteous situation in PDP is usually what you get in a system that is nourished on intrigues – a verdict of history! From the skewed emergence of Olusegun Obasanjo as its presidential candidate in its 1998 Jos convention, PDP has not had any transparent primary at all levels. The party has also not had any democratically elected national chairman since the former Vice-President, the late Dr. Alex Ekwueme, and Second Republic Plateau State governor, the late Solomon Lar, occupied the office in interim capacity. None of the party’s chairmen had also served out his term on a good note. What has rather been the norm is a culture of imposition and absence of internal democracy, a far cry from the original agenda of the party.
Here is a party, which the facilitators, at its formation on July 29, 1998, had imbued with great vision of putting the Nigerian nation on a new phase of political engineering. The long-term objective was to create a framework that would ensure a just and equitable distribution of power, resources, wealth and opportunities to conform with the principles of power shift and power sharing, rotation of key political offices and equitable devolution of powers to zones, states and local governments so as to create socio-political conditions conducive to national unity and to defend the sanctity of electoral democracy.
To add up, the PDP had in its fold a generous spread of the nation’s first-rate politicians. It also appropriated to itself the tag of the largest party in black Africa. In a way, its claim of greatness paid off handsomely, initially, as it garnered many electoral victories, though, often questionable in some cases.
How then did the party get it wrong? And how can it be pulled from its unceasing drift? These are the questions that many chieftains of the party do not seem bothered to ask themselves or have chosen to ignore. This is why PDP has remained a toddler at 23; a scarecrow of sorts and an object of ridicule even among casual political observers.
It is the failure to address these questions that has seen the organisation, even in its fallen state, still being callously raped by its officials and members who only see in it a platform for attending to personal needs and attaining political offices. For a party that says it wants to claw back to power in 2023, the expectation is that of a radical departure from an ugly past that has not earned it enduring rewards. But that seems far-fetched.
Of course, with the uncertain trends in the party, it may be convenient to watch from the sidelines and say; ‘it is their thing; it is their business.’
That may be correct, to some extent. After all, it is not everybody that is a politician. More so, not all the politicians belong to its fold. The danger, however, is that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), which seems poised to reap from the failures of the PDP, does not offer hopes for Nigerians. APC lacks focus and sense of direction, hence, more than six years after coming to power, it is still confused on what to do. All it will do, henceforth, is to sustain its culture of recklessness and continue riding roughshod on Nigerians in the absence of a viable alternative.
Whatever any person may make of the current situation in PDP, it points to a sorry tale in the country’s political development.