SO many issues competed for my attention this week. As we all know, our nation is never short of stories and developments, especially the nasty types. The issue of Biafra secession is still a crucial matter holding the nation at the jugular. It has become more so now that some Nigerians have carved out what they call “Organized Igbo Leadership.” Before this I had contemplated doing a work on putting an end to “midnight appointments” and then there was also the renewed invasion of Southern Kaduna by herdsmen and the killing of about 37 innocent citizens under the watch of Governor Nasir El-Rufai who is never tired of telling us how brilliant and excellent public servant he is. About the same time also, the national peace committee led by former Head of State, General Abdulsalam Abubakar , held a meeting and came out with a resolution that the nation was boiling and was at the verge of spilling over. I saw the pictures of those who were in attendance; I couldn’t help but roll on my bed and burst out in laughter, not knowing if I was laughing at myself over seeming inability to cope with the harsh times or at my nation over what has become “circle of national stupidity” as propounded by Wole Soyinka.
General Abubakar could call President Goodluck Jonathan to order before, during and after the hotly contested 2015 presidential election but when issues like lopsided political appointments and militia (herdsmen) invasion became the vogue, he lost his initiative, when even the ignorant know that these were recipes for a convoluted nation. The Sultan of Sokoto was in that meeting and it was not long when he told us, himself and other religious leaders whom he refused to name, went to the then embattled President Jonathan, a Nigerian president of minority extraction to ask (order) him to make the teaching of religious studies compulsory. The result is now the compression of Christianity and elevation of Islamic and Arabic studies. Sultan had said what they got was not what they bargained for, but the question would be, what were they expecting when instead of talking science and technology in an atmosphere of deep deprivation and hunger, they went on to elevate religion which ordinarily should be a private affair. If such act is not capable of igniting embers of hatred and conflict and moving the nation to the edge of the precipice, somebody should educate me on what else could so inflame tempers especially in a divergent nation such as ours.
Those are some of the issues and you can see they are all weighty, but I zeroed in on the resurrection of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) because of the serious implications it has on democratic development and national stability. Like Thisday rightly conjectured in its cover news on Monday, July 17, the troubles of our nation including the ones that sent PDP to its “death” are outcomes of a badly structured nation, negative attitude and general poor governance structure. The way the nation is structured has made a section to carry the “born-to-rule” mentality and we have seen how that disposition instigated frequent military intrusions into our national politics. PDP’s problem began from this point. When civilians had finished building the party, bad behaviour caused the departing military to introduce their poison when they brought their jailed colleague, General Olusegun Obasanjo from the prison and found a way not only to make him the presidential candidate but eventually the president of Nigeria. Between that time and the extinction of PDP (politically) both the party and the nation were anything but democratic. One person became both the party and state; at the federal level it was the president and governors at the state level. These officials were both the laws and the policies of the parties and government.
Internal democracy was destroyed in the parties and the will of one man was supreme in every aspect of life and soon the nation was saddled with a situation where the whims and caprices of a few men were all that mattered. Nigerians knew it was a matter of time before something caved in and it happened with the 2015 defeat of the party in the general election. What was left of the party was finally buried also by impunity. Some of the governors brought Ali Modu Sherriff to act as the National Chairman and the question among right thinking people was, how would members of an organization aid a new comer to the apex position of such an association? How would people see an in-law of an incumbent president and recruit him to come and be a leader of the opposition party? This is what happens in an atmosphere of impunity and selfishness, anything goes. PDP in the wilderness became of great concern to citizens not because its activities before were fantastic but Nigerians know the party’s constituents represented and still stand for a particular important tendency that is ever present in every democracy: the conservatives. Secondly, the party can be said to be a truly formed up political party and since every democracy would require the presence of a strong opposition to thrive, Nigerians therefore earnestly desired that PDP be resurrected from “death” and that was exactly what the Supreme Court did and I can say it is good. The issue now is: can the PDP bounce back? Like I said, they have only resurrected and since they were revived by human elements, the sores and pains are all there and it will require plenty of treatment and nursing to achieve full restoration. I have watched members of the party and I see traces of the old attitude, unnecessary exuberance, notice-me disposition, selfishness, it-must-be-me or no one else, non-ideological outbursts and lack of position on critical national issues. By now the party should know that you can’t do things the same way and expect new results. The party should be concerned about how many of the incumbent governors and members of the national assembly are committed to remain with the party. I have heard some chieftains of the party from the West indicating interest to be National Chairman and Presidential candidate. There is nothing too wrong about this development except perhaps I am thinking this is the time the party should do away with impulsive reactions and become more serious. I expect the party to shop for well educated young minds with vision and decorum within and outside the party and their introduction should follow a very formal process and atmosphere. I expect the likes of Jimi Agbaje, Chukwuma Soludo, Jim Ovia, Donald Duke, Tony Elumelu, Atedo Peterside, Abdulrahaman Daiyabu, Dr Tafawa-Balewa to become the new face of the party and possible public officials. It would be nice if PDP becomes purely ideological and have identifiable positions on all national challenges. Let’s hear what they have on education, housing, food security, productive economy, oil and gas, shipping and airlines, international trade and relations, restructuring, secession, new constitution, bi-cameral legislature, direct rotation of public offices, federal character, and defection of elected officials, amongst others. By now it should be clear to our politicians that parties and governance fail because they don’t run on ideals. This is one big lesson PDP must learn from its self-induced adversity.