How Ready Is PDP for 2019? -By Zainab Suleiman Okino

Filed under: Political Issues |

Zainab Suleiman Okino

The former behemoth, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), held a non-elective congress last weekend. Although it was geared toward authenticating Ahmed Makarfi’s leadership for another four months before the main convention, and perhaps for mend-fencing, the opportunity was squandered on the altar of ego-tripping by the very re-cycled people who nearly killed the once biggest party in Africa. In the past, any gathering of PDP would practically lock down Abuja, but last Saturday’s was uneventful. Talk of power changing hands. The convention was a pitiable shadow of its former self, when viewed from the perspective of its glorious past. The half empty Eagle Square venue of the event could only boast of a handful of people, since many of the players of yore have since jumped ship (from the ailing PDP to the sailing APC). Some serving governors were absent at a supposed convergence of party men to prove a point that the party is back on a winning way, even though ‘busy bodies’ like Wike and Fayose were visibly present. The absence of these governors smacks of something sinister in the offing. I thought the survival of their party should be the most auspicious event for them, apart from superintending over the affairs of their states. For all you know, some already have one leg in PDP and another in APC.

The man who squandered the enormous goodwill and boom of his time, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan was at his uninspiring best. After he presided over the loss of power of his party, he is now a lone ranger in the rescue effort — Obasanjo is sitting on the fence, IBB is no longer very active and ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar is still at a crossroad over where to realise his presidential ambition between APC and PDP. By the way, where are General Aliyu Gusau, the Ciromas and the Ekwuemes? What of Yar’Adua’s political godsons? Have they been eclipsed by APC or they have simply disappeared into thin air? So ultimately, Jonathan is now left alone to carry PDP’s can of worms and its denigrated past. Unfortunately the former president has no wisdom (and vision) to handle the new challenge, just as he did not show capacity when he was in office. With Jonathan as the rallying figure, the mini confab could not have fared well. A party in crisis, seeking acceptability and reconciliation should not engage in frivolities, but loads of that were on display on Saturday. Instead of being remorseful, asking for forgiveness and showcasing their roadmap for 2019, the party is still trying to play on people’s intelligence and doing things as usual. Instead PDP members are ranting about what they did right, in the name of opposition, although their boldness and temerity flow from the present lack-lustre APC administration of President Buhari.

Even then, I expected the PDP to show indication that it has reformed, re-engineered and reinvented itself; rather, what we saw on Saturday was a party still living in the past, parading and parroting its old slogans; a party that made an ex-convict one of its planning committee members and another ex-convict is warming up to take over from Makarfi as chairman in the next four months. Imagine Jonathan’s inference to programmes such as the implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA), the Bank Verification Number (BVN) and others that he had the intention of executing but no courage to carry through, while Reno Omokri, his spokesperson, said even the APC government is also looting the economy, as if looting is so liberalised that it is now a competition between the two political parties. For God’s sake, someone, people, elders, whoever should tell Jonathan to keep quiet if he has nothing to say. When Jerry Gana, was called upon to speak, he impliedly vilified Modu Sheriff. I wonder when the party will get over the Sheriff hang-over and move on with genuine reconciliation and an action plan. A highly depleted and fractured party should be wooing members back rather than detract from its rank and file. It will have done PDP a world of good to see Makarfi and Sheriff walk hand-in-hand to the convention venue. That would have convinced Nigerians that the party has the capacity to put its house in order and do the same with governance, if given a second chance.

Finally, the parade of old and tired faces that ruined the party and the Nigerian economy is not a good omen and sign; the party ought to be ready to spin a new narrative. The party needs reorientation and I doubt if the crop of leaders still on parade 18 years after its initial coming to power are ready for a new engagement. I would have expected the PDP to cast its net wide in search of emerging thinkers and leaders in all the 36 states of the federation and Abuja, to incubate them for a few months, and eventually unveil them as worthy successors in leadership training to take over from them, while also coming up with a new roadmap for the party. People like the Reno Omokris and Lere Olayinkas could be in that category instead of wasting their precious time in defending, justifying and comparing PDP’s form of corruption and impunity to APC’s, as if we are in a competition for a loser’s trophy, in a world with people daily thinking outside the box, and preparing to take on the world with new ideas, discoveries and inventions. At the very least, and despite their wobbly performance, APC’s emergence threw up new faces in governors such as Yahaya Bello of Kogi State, Abubakar Sani Bello of Niger State, Muhammed Abubakar of Bauchi State, and a whole lot of APC stalwarts hitherto unknown. This and more is what PDP should do to avoid the baggage of the past.

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