(Warning: Long post)
In parts 1 and 2, I begun a series on why President Buhari should have an easy Re-election in 2019. Last week, I mentioned a reason – that PMB is a master of deflection using red-herrings as a tool. Today, I want to discuss another reason – unfortunately one that is an own goal by the president’s main opponents.
Reason number 2: PEOPLE’S DEMOCRATIC PARTY (PDP).
It is no longer news that after being in power for 16 straight years, the Nigerian electorate kicked out the PDP in 2015. And that in itself is not strange in a democracy. It has been the way of life in all multi-party democracies, musical chairs of governing. Also, as we can see from those advanced democracies, losing power ought not to be a death knell for a political party.
But for Nigeria’s former ruling party, I suspect it may well be, sadly! (Apologies to many who wish and hope otherwise!) But the following facts are true, are they not?
PDP allowed itself to be painted with the permanent marker of corruption! For many months after its defeat, the party went about as if it had done no wrong! Rather than take stock and seek to make MORAL amends, the party went into a tail spin for almost two years after its loss. It was seriously hung over when it’s ‘pot of soup’ – the presidency – got taken away by voters.
First, it was to do with itself out of power – be gallant in defeat, or sulk? It chose to sulk – big time. Grave error! It even attempted to rail road it’s flag bearer in the 2015 elections, President Goodluck Jonathan to retract his concession of the election! That singular act showed up the party as arrogant! Remember it had already boasted to rule for 60 years? How did this show arrogance? It shows the party as thumping it’s nose at the electorate who (for good or ill) had rejected it once after voting for it in 4 election cycles! It’s like saying, “How dare they vote against us!?”
You wonder what should have been the first act of such a party? Acknowledge that Nigerians had spoken, that they get the message; and promise to get it right if trusted with power again. Go and check again, that is what all serious-minded political groupings do in established democracies when they lose power. Why? Because the outcome of any election is about the governed, about their governance preference. Never about the contestants! There was an attempt by a group within the PDP led by Dr. Raymond Dokpesi that issued an apology akin to contrition on the outcome of the elections. But even that was disavowed by official party line. Another manifestation of arrogance!
So, PDP could not manage its defeat. But other series of faux pax soon followed. For example, it practically abandoned the public opinion space to the new ruling party to declare a bankrupt treasury, kept pointing the finger at PDP and its bed fellows unchallenged. The APC simply waited for the ink of tarnish to run permanently dry! Not a meaningful whimper from the PDP. Notice how it was that PDP’s mouthpiece was arraigned for corruption charges. You have mouth odor and you want to speak at a close-up gathering? And people still think that APC does not know how to place politics o! Choi.
Apart from the Publicity Secretary, other leading lights of the PDP were charged with one corruption offense or the other? Rather than face the issue headlong by (a) condemning corruption in all its ramifications, (b) urge the new government to go after corruption for the sake of Nigeria sparing no one, (c) while offering robust legal support to its members to keep party cohesion, and (d) wait for the slow judicial system to make mincemeat of the judicial process (as it obviously has now done); PDP went on defending the indefensible! Does it matter if there are rogues in the ruling party? Does it make it better that corruption is not exclusive to your party? Come on!
To make matters worse, who then became PDP’s de facto major mouth pieces against the new government’s corruption crusade? Governors of one south-western state and a South-south state who themselves have credibility issues! Like a lamb to the slaughter, PDP offered itself as cannon fodder to an APC government that was obviously ill-prepared for office (the truth be told, please!) It wasted the opportunity to go on the offensive – another law of power that opposition parties have used to good effect before! You keep sniping at government’s heels. Something will stick, and you start early before that government settles down!
Free counsel to the PDP: Where people hurt as they obviously were so much that they voted against your party, guess who will be easy target for their anger? Those who had charge over them before, anyone who can be painted as having caused the problem in the first place! And people will still say PMB is not a good politician o, not good at deflecting o! Just as it is easy for many to blame he APC government for its perceive incompetences now.
AND IT IS IMMATERIAL TO THESE HORDE OF VOTERS THAT THEY HAVE IN THE RULING PARTY PEOPLE WHO ALSO SHOULD BE FACING CORRUPTION CHARGES, which appears to be the feeble defence PDP offered to the APC’s unrelenting onslaught on its credibility! And people reckon APC’s media managers are not up to their jobs! 🤣
Other opportunities at being a credible opposition were wasted or mishandled by the PDP. Take for example the spate of PROJECT completion by the APC administration. PDP’s response? It claims all that these were projects PDP government started! Really? PDP did not know governance was a continuum? APC can rather position itself as a party that ensures projects are not abandoned, and get all the accolades.
How should the party have handled that good news (good for the economy of Nigeria – for all irrespective of party affiliation) you would ask? How about congratulate government for finishing up projects that PDP’s foresight begun, but place emphasis on the bloating loans portfolio it is taking to get these projects done; and task government to explain how it plans to structure the repayments in a way that will not affect spending on other sectors of the economy that impact on people’s lives? No o! That is too intellectual. APC must be bereft of ideas since “they are completing our projects” was all the party could muster!
PDP’s resurgence of late has only come with the realization that another national elections cycle beckons, and the need to show a presence.
Even the recent spate of inter party defections has not in my view given the PDP any added advantage. The way I see it, it would have been better if the notable defectors to the PDP have not by their antecedent, action and/or utterances been shown to be after self gain, rather than the corporate interest of Nigeria! How, for example, do you explain to the discerning voter the reasons given by rAPC, and even the Senate President for leaving the ruling party? What they did not get? Come on!
The former Ruling party made itself easy pickings for the APC, and it should prepare to lay on its bed so badly laid, even when it could have exploited APC’s internal inconsistencies to advantage. All PDP kept hoping for was that “APC will soon implode”, “APC will soon implode”, forgetting that the allure of power easily closes ranks and attract other strange bed fellows with electoral clout, as it did for the PDP for years! Reason why APC cannot implode! To the Nigerian politician, a bird in hand with the ruling party is truly worth more in the forest of opposition!
And that is what is playing out with the several cross-carpeting of our professional politicians! When many rejoiced at the defections to the APC, and the ruling APC seem not to bother, but rather heaved a sigh of relief, I knew immediately something was afoot! Then came the defection of the senate minority leader – there probably goes Akwa Ibom, a jewel in PDP cap. Then if you “Kwakwanso me, I will Shekerau” cross carpeting happened. Suddenly Kano is off the calculations for PDP! From recent movements, Delta State, another jewel in the PDP crown (oil producing state) is now shaky. Many people forget that Ex-Governor Uduaghan is a cousin of James Ibori, and both are tied at the political hip!
Another free lesson: The upper hand will always belong to the party in power, so whether the Senate president jumps ship or not, whether a trickle of state governors leave or not, and regardless of the massive financial war chest they may come with; in this game of chess, the standing Rooks, Bishops and Royalty in this game of chess will always lie with the party in power!
In part 4, I would like to discuss another reason why PMB has a front row seat to winning the next presidential elections – and his name is Bola Ahmed Tinubu! Should make for interesting reading, I reckon!
©Adewale Adeniji. 10th September 2018.