The recent Supreme Court ruling which affirmed the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led faction of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the authentic one as against the Senator Alli-Modu Sheriff-led faction, is not only a victory for the nation’s nascent democracy and party politics but a victory for the rule of law. It has also demonstrated that the judiciary is indeed the last hope of the common man.
Therefore, the apex court’s ruling is significant in so many ways. The judgement has put to an end the 14-month leadership crisis in the PDP, the country’s main opposition party. Perhaps, it has given the PDP a new lease of life preparatory to the forthcoming general election in 2019. The second coming of the PDP through this ruling will ensure a virile opposition in our politics. The country and indeed our democracy need a strong opposition in order to survive.
The people will now have a choice between the APC and the PDP and others. It will derail the APC ploy to turn the country into a one-party state with its dictatorial tendencies. The survival of multi-party democracy will also ensure the survival of the nation as well.
Since the former political behemoth was defeated in the 2015 general election by the All Progressives Congress (APC), an amalgam of some political parties that was then referred to as the coming together of strange bedfellows, its centre of gravity could no longer hold together. Apart from hounding and labeling most members of the PDP as corrupt people by the APC using the instrumentality of the anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), members of the party defected in large numbers to the APC, the new happening party. They forget in a hurry that corruption does not know any party.
Defection is a common feature of Nigerian politics since the inception of multi-party democracy in the country. Every politician worth the name would like to belong to the ruling party. Winners have many friends while losers are treated as orphans. Unbridled defection can be regarded as the major bane of Nigerian party politics. It shows lack of political vision and ideology.
It also shows absolute lack of principles on the part of our politicians. They can be white today and turn black or any other colour of their fancy tomorrow. They can be in party ‘A’ in the morning and defect to party ‘B’ in the evening. They are neither here nor there. That is why the two main political parties in the country, the APC and the PDP are two sides of the same coin. Both are capitalist in orientation. They care mostly for the elites and their political and business interests. Their costly nomination fees to elective positions manifest their brand of capitalism.
For the second coming of the PDP to make much sense, the party must wean itself of old tendencies that made it to suffer a major defeat in the 2015 general elections. The party must do away with impunity and embrace internal democracy that ensures the triumph of popular choice in party primaries. The imposition of candidates is one of the ills of the PDP as a political party. Pride is another factor that made the party loose favour with Nigerians. Its boast that it will rule Nigeria for 60 years alienated it from many Nigerians. Lack of public accountability is another of its mistakes.
After 16 years of unbroken democratic rule in the country under the PDP, some Nigerians felt it was time to change the leadership baton from the PDP to the APC. The North felt it is their turn to take power. The decision to go for change no matter is meaning was supported by the enticing campaign promises of the APC as well as its harsh criticisms of the PDP.
The APC campaign machine put the PDP on the defensive. Despite some defensive responses by the PDP, it was clear that the APC had the upper hand during the campaign. The shift of dates for the elections gave the APC another campaign material to finally kill the PDP.
But since the APC came to power, it has not cured those ills it accused the PDP of. Nigerians are yet to see the change that the APC promised. Apart from the technical defeat of the Boko Haram sect, the release of some of the Chibok girls and the selective war against corruption, the APC has nothing to show two years down the line. The sharp fall in crude oil prices at the international market and the attendant economic recession did not help matters for it.
The coming of the APC to power has divided the country and polarized it along the line of those that gave the president 95 percent votes and those that gave him five percent votes during the 2015 presidential poll. The ethnic boundaries have become more open now than ever before as well as the religious divisions. Nigerians are more divided now than before. There is every need to have an alternative party that the electorate can switch over to in any election as they do in United States, Britain and other advanced countries.
Now that the APC is foot-dragging over restructuring the country and other cogent matters, perhaps the PDP may give us an alternative. Let the leadership of the Makarfi-led PDP reconcile and reunite all party members in order to play the role of a credible and virile opposition. Nigerians still yearn for a credible opposition party that will put the APC in check. Nigerians detest a one-party state. They want this democracy to succeed. They want a workable federal system of government.
That is why most Nigerians are calling for restructuring of the country in such a way that it will benefit every part. It is a pity that the restructuring message is being misinterpreted by some Nigerians for selfish reasons. I believe that with time they would realize their mistakes. Those eminent Nigerians that are supporting the calls for restructuring know what it means and its inherent benefits to the country. There is no doubt that if the APC refuses to restructure the country before the 2019 general polls that it will feature in the campaign of other parties.
Since restructuring which the 2014 National Conference discussed exhaustively is the brainchild of the PDP government under former President Goodluck Jonathan, if the party comes to power come 2019, it will be in a better position to implement some of its recommendations and restructure the country.
Those arguing that what the country needs now is only good government sorely missed the point. How can there be good government with too many structural defects? Let the PDP leaders commence the healing process and embark on massive membership drive. No doubt, Nigerians look up to it as a viable alternative come 2019.