A new vista of opportunity has opened in 2018 for the electorate in Africa’s largest democracy to rejig their political architecture, which, for many, arguably requires immediate restructuring for equity and national development. This year, therefore, symbolically heralds a new era of political activities and permutations nationwide in Nigeria. With over 60 political parties gazing at the crystal ball of the 2019 general election, the country of 180 million citizens with multifarious challenges ranging from hunger and unemployment to ethno-religious conflicts and outright breakdown of law and order is verily available for a comprehensive administrative reset and political reform.
Meanwhile, the race towards 2019 presents would-be voters at party primaries and the general election with a classical choice of choosing from mere rookies and solid masters. In fact, it is obvious that there are few serious contenders to the throne and many clowns in flowing gowns pretending to aspire for the crown. So, without prejudice and unequivocally speaking, only the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and its archrival, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), can boast of the massive muscle and mileage across the nation capable of putting a President in Aso Villa via electoral process in 2019. The rest fledging parties are yet to develop the wings to fly in the inclement Nigerian political windstorm. And the country, currently bedevilled by socio-economic and political malaise, may not be ready for awaiting-result politicians!
Succinctly put, the battle for Aso Rock in 2019 is one between two political titans in the country, APC versus PDP. But that’s a story for another day. Nonetheless, a concrete point peaks as a cynosure: the likely inability of the ruling APC to have a landslide victory and smooth sail to power next year. Many reasons may adduce for this seeming rough road. The party, lacking in cohesion and team spirit, has almost lost the confidence reposed in it by majority of the populace in 2015. Thus it has been scored below par in most of its rosy pledges as chronicled in the APC manifesto.
Truly, the PDP is an active volcano gone dormant, but one that is awaiting eruption. The more reason its affairs as per who the party will feature to challenge incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari in the presidential election itches the skin of political analysts and of great public interest. Precisely, many leading opinion leaders in the country are converging on scoring the present APC Federal Government low. Many reasons are being given by clerics, political watchers and the ordinary citizen for their conclusion. They allege and allude to a seeming absence of policy direction, reported nepotism in terms of appointments, ambiguous anti-corruption campaign, insensitivity to loss of human lives, abdication of role as citizens’ protector, doubtful economic resuscitation, fuel scarcity, poor infrastructure and power supply, rising unemployment and incessant breakdown of law and order.
However, the APC still stands as a strong political force that cannot be swept under the PDP umbrella without a thorough, thoughtful and strategic game plan, a plan purposefully hinged on a goal-getter and an election-winning candidate who has charismatic mass appeal and the wherewithal to race the horse home triumphantly. Currently, Nigeria and Nigerians are longing for a rescuer since their ‘messianic expectation of 2015’ seems to be failing the litmus test on reality and pragmatism. With the country tilting towards the fault lines of insecurity, disunity, disillusionment and hopelessness, many are vociferously searching for a leadership bailout.
The PDP as an alter ego to the APC must, therefore, take the bull by the horns and pedal hard to change its past adversity at the polls to prosperity, hostility to friendliness, apathy to sympathy and failure to success. How? By thinking out of the proverbial box in choosing a presidential flag-bearer that cuts across the spectrum of society. Such a leader must be patriotic and compassionate, politically experienced and commercially sensitive, innovation and technology-compliant, people-centred and development-oriented, investor in education, job creator and wealth generator, detribalised and non-religious fanatic; also, locally focused and globally connected.
It is pretty obvious that the Nigerian state is sitting on immense untapped natural resources with matching human endowment, all of which require the political dexterity and administrative acumen of an all-round leader to harmonise, synchronise and synergise, for the greater good of the greater majority of a yearning populace. So, without belabouring the point, the PDP is urged to screen its candidates for the primaries on the basis of the aforementioned and see whose camel can pass through the needle’s eye in terms of public acceptability and political correctness.
The PDP, without an iota of doubt, has a legion of distinguished members who could aspire to the top job. However, methinks only one candidate fits the bill on equity, restructuring, political sagacity, constitutional audacity, business astuteness, philanthropic pedigree, local understanding and global relationship, detribalised and non-fanatical, patriotic and compassionate, visionary team player, visible and accessible, youth mentor and bridge-builder and, most of all, a defender of democracy, statesman and selfless steward. The party needs a tested and trusted candidate.
PDP is now the cynosure of all eyes: let the party rescue Nigeria and Nigerians. Things could be done better. Let’s make our country and countrymen work again. Let a job creator do the job. After all, Lord Acton, British political philosopher, once said: “for forms of government, let the fools contest; whatever is best administered is best governed.”
• Yusuf, a strategic public commentator, wrote from Abuja.