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SAVING NWODO FROM HIMSELF

By NBF News

It has been quite interesting listening to Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) between June when he got into office, and now. So dizzying has been the velocity of his speeches, that one is compelled to say: 'Easy doc, easy does it. Those who run may stumble.' Particularly when the running is done with the mouth.

For those who don't like the PDP (and I beg to be numbered numero uno), we need to be honest enough to admit that we can't ignore the party. It prides itself as the largest political party in Africa (no matter, even the butterfly sometimes thinks itself a bird), and because it's an army of occupation ruling our lives, and has vowed to do it for 60 years minimum, then we must take an interest in its fortunes. And its misfortunes.

I wish PDP would implode, explode, or do both, so that we can be rid of it. But then, I wouldn't mind if the party is also straightened out, some sense knocked into its head, and it truly becomes democratic in its ways and actions. We can then call it a party truly worthy of its name. That was why some hope resurged in my heart when Nwodo became party chairman. Why not? This was a man that had experienced undemocratic acts in the crudest forms. He had been a victim of godfatherism, of impunity, of godmotherism (if such a thing ever exists), and eventually had to abandon the PDP, first for the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), and then, for the Action Congress (AC). He was equally in the vanguard of the formation of a mega party which would wrest power from the PDP. Eventually, sometime last year, he rejoined the PDP.

This piece is not about the propriety or not of a man going back to say Good Evening where he had earlier said Goodnight. It is about the hope Nwodo symbolised for those of us outside the party two months ago, and how that hope is petering out, fading, evaporating. The day Nwodo was inaugurated as National Chairman, I almost could not believe my ears. He vowed to restore the party to what the founding fathers envisioned. He pledged to restore internal democracy. He said PDP would no longer purloin electoral mandates, but would truly win them. He said the goodwill of the party that had been frittered, squandered, would be regained, rediscovered. Grand promises. A Daniel had come to judgment.

Two months down the line, however, I have seen a lot of shuffling, a lot of pyrotechnics, but little movement from Nwodo. It's all motion without movement, and he's even begun to make serious mistakes, products of being a verbal spendthrift, a man who discloses all that he intends to do before doing them, thus giving out what should be vital tactics in the war plan. Right was Albert Camus when he said, 'A man is more a man through the things he keeps to himself than through those he says.'

After the initial grandstanding of battling godfathers and godmothers, and restoring internal democracy and respect to the party, I have been amazed seeing Nwodo stumble from one point to the other. For instance, the goof about zoning, which he said was long dead in the party, when even he, is a product of zoning. If the post of National Chairman was not zoned to the South-East, how could he have emerged, not to talk of being granted a waiver, since the party's Constitution prescribes that those who left and came back could not hold positions for a certain period?

American actor and impressionist, Frank Gorshin, says, 'It is better to light one little candle than to curse the darkness.' That was what we expected of Nwodo. By being light, we expect him to dispel the thick darkness in the PDP. But on the contrary, he began to curse the darkness, and if he's not careful, the darkness may do him mischief. We know how powerful the governors are in PDP. In fact, they're a cabal. To dismantle them, you don't go frontally, or you get damaged, decimated and dashed to pieces. Therefore, I was both amused and scandalized to hear Nwodo denounce them as rogues and rascals, asking that they should no longer bring bribes in 'Ghana-must-go' bags to his house.

He said any of them who wanted to see him, should come to the party secretariat, rather than his house. He went further to say the next one that brings a bribe to his house would be publicly disgraced. Valiant words. But careless, reckless. Who installed Nwodo? The governors. Who can remove him? The Governors. Yes, they needed to be checked, but you don't play to the gallery in doing that. You don't do it on the pages of newspapers. Did Nwodo think through before he tarred all the PDP governors with the brush of infamy? Does he think they would pat him on the head, and say welldone, good and faithful servant? I was not surprised those ones ganged up against him, and it took the intervention of President Goodluck Jonathan for the party chairman not to be removed last week in Abuja.

Rather than cover the ground with his words, what we expect of Nwodo is to organise free, fair and transparent party primaries towards next year's elections. We know what happened in 2006, how Olusegun Obasanjo and a few others wilfully changed the results of primaries, and unilaterally picked the candidates. We know the confusion it caused. Changing the old order is perhaps Nwodo's biggest challenge, and not a statement of intention. Like the Arabs say, 'when you have spoken the word, it reigns over you. When it is unspoken, you reign over it.' As it is, many words reign over Nwodo. For instance, why not wait till shortly before primaries, then roll out the guidelines, which would include the fact that unelected personal aides to governors, would not be automatic delegates? Why boast about it months ahead, thus providing fuel for those who want to roast you? A man is more a man through the things he keeps to himself than through those he says.

Nwodo is talking himself into trouble. It may be good for us, as he may well be the last national chairman of the PDP. But it is also good if the Augean stable can be swept and garnished by the new broom called Nwodo, who had been a National Secretary before. But it would depend on what he does with his mouth. 'Among my most prized possessions are words that I have never spoken' (Orson Rega Card, American writer). And then, this one from another American, Will Rogers, a humorist: 'Never miss a good chance to shut up.' Nwodo is a medical doctor, an elder, a former governor, an accomplished man. It would be rude and impertinent of me to tell him to shut up. But I wish he would simply take the advice of Will Rogers.

One year after, Lockerbie bomber lives
Exactly a year ago today, Abdelbaset Al-Megrahi, the man popularly known as the Lockerbie bomber was released from jail by Scottish authorities, because he was in the final stages of cancer, and had just three months to live. They said he was 'going home to die.' After the release last year, I asked what if God decided to send Al-Megrahi's cancer into remission, and he does not die in three months, would the cause of justice have then been served? At least 270 people died in the airliner on which he allegedly planted a bomb in 1988. How would their families feel?

Now, to mark the one year of the Lockerbie bomber's release, Saif, Moamer Gaddafi's son, is holding an anniversary party. Megrahi had returned to a hero's welcome in Tripoli last year. I said it last year that the Lockerbie bomber, now 58, may not die in three months. Who do we blame; the Scottish authorities who believed the doctors, or God, who shows mercy, even to the unworthy? Aren't we all unworthy? Food for thought.