THE WAY THE COOKIE CRUMBLES
PDP!!! Power to the people. Which people? What power do the people really have under the PDP government? Economic power? Political power? So, change that to read: problem to the people. Yes, PDP! Problem to the people. Poverty mto the people. Looting of the people's common purse. And an orgy of bloody fight to control the political space, the do-or-die people of the war general, Olusegun Obasanjo.
Why am I writing about the People's Democratic Party, PDP, in today's column,
not being a politician nor a registered member of any political party? Simple: the PDP is the ruling party at the centre and in at least 20 states of the federation. So, if things are the way they are in the country today, then the PDP must carry the can. It must bear the responsibility for everything that has gone thoroughly rotten in our country.
And except you are from mars or other outer space, you can see that in the 11 years of being in the saddle, so many things have gone terribly wrong: unemployment keeps soaring almost beyond the roof top. Graduates today account for over 40% of the unemployed population. You see them clutching their CVs, their clothes worn out, shoes needing the cobbler's urgent attention, in search of non-existent jobs.
Even the graduates churned out from our secondary and tertiary institutions are something else altogether. Most of them can't string two or three words to make a correct simple sentence, no thanks to the infrastructural decay occasioned by the misrule of the federal and state governments. The hospitals are in shambles with many Nigerians dying of ordinary, preventable diseases like cholera, dysentery, malaria, typhoid. The average life span of the Nigerian has shrunk to between 40-45years.
Yet, many are homeless, hopeless and broken-hearted in a country which should have nothing to do with poverty with its position as the 6th largest oil-producing nation on earth.
This is a nation which promised so much at the advent of the current civilian dispensation on May 29, 1999, that it was going to deliver democratic dividends to the people. That with the coming of a government of the people for the people and by the people that things would be markedly different from the arbitrariness of the old order when our brothers in khaki impoverished the people. But 11 years on, where are the democracy dividends the PDP promised the people? Where are the good roads, health care, food and shelter and the other good things of life the party promised the people? Instead of providing electricity to light our lives and homes, and to generate power for jobs, we are stuck in a perennial politics of mega watts.
We are stuck in endless promises of nothingness. We are just waiting for Godot.
The PDP game of deceit started with General Olusegun Obasanjo who took over power in 1999. Burly and brash, his voice coarse, the chicken farmer and soldier who had fought in the nation's 30-month civil war thundered at the Eagle Square, Abuja, when power was being transferred to him and a new set of leaders, that the nation was terribly rotten; therefore, it will not be business as usual. 'We will step on toes,' he vowed. 'We will not tolerate corruption and corrupt practices. And it will not be business as usual.' We cheered on. Here at last was the revolution the people had been yearning for. Here at last was a man of the people for the people. Here at last was the great emancipator, the man who would free us from the clutches of want and despondence. Here at last was freedom from our bad brothers in jackboots who displayed their gallantry mainly by their brazen assault on the collective till.
Even whilst his kinsmen cautioned on our enthusiasm about the leadership wizardry of their son, we would not listen. And we thought we had good reason. Here was a civil war hero, who, against the seductive temptation of power, had relinquished power in his first coming. Then, he became a strong voice of opposition against the misrule of the man with the long cap, and later, the man with the slit in his teeth and the other fellow who wore dark glasses even in the dark. And for his trenchant criticism of the dark-goggled One, the chicken farmer had an unforgettable date in the dungeon, escaping only by the skin of his teeth. Who better to teach the citizens the lessons of responsiblecitizenship than the man who himself had learnt tough lessons of life?
Even on the international circuit, the Balogun Owu, had distinguished himself as a pillar of support for oppressed peoples, speaking harshly against injustices and inhumanity of man to his fellow man in apartheid South Africa. So, we cheered and cheered as the long, sanctimonious speeches tumbled out of the mouth of the man who spoke like the Messiah who had come to heal the land of its myriad ailments.
'Our citizens are poor and hungry,' he bellowed. 'Hopelessness has been in the land, especially during the evil regime of that man (you know him). Fellow citizens, we are determined to replace hopelessness with hope.' Like a charged bull, Obasanjo set out to implement his programmes. He thought charity should start from abroad, not home. The home was already rotten and citizens hungry, homeless and hopeless. He embarked on long, foreign tours to plead with our creditors to forgive our old debts, while promising to pay up substantial amounts owed to the powerful Paris and London clubs. He also embarked on reforms meant to 'strengthen and boost the economy' which he hoped would, in turn, ensure quality standard of living for the people. He succeeded largely on his first mission: our debts, owed via the recklessness were wiped off. On the second mission, it is debatable if the people are better off than they were before the Obasanjo reforms.
The 'almighty' reform agenda of Obasanjo was once dismissed as 'reforms of hunger and poverty,' by the radical lawyer, Gani Fawehinmi. Don't ask me if Gani was right or wrong. However, all we saw during the so-called reforms were faces of frustration. Men and women who have moved from hopelessness to total resignation.
After eight years of Obasanjo and 11 years of PDP's leadership, the people have been wondering : has corruption and corrupt practices vanished from the land ? Are we better off with a PDP government? The answer, of course, is obvious. When you add the many killings of party stalwarts since the coming to power of the party, you get a perfect picture of an organization that has done much violence to its people and the psyche of Nigerians.
Under the PDP-led government, several prominent Nigerians, including the nation's chief law officer, Chief Bola Ige, have had their lives abridged. The culture of violence, including bomb blasts in some major cities of the country have become quite frightening. As we approach 2011, we have to pray hard that PDP does not lead us into anarchy as major contenders for the party's platform are baying for each other's blood. With the approaching party primary and the elections proper around the corner, the PDP war lords gunning for the presidency would have to be told that Nigeria does not belong to them alone.
Should they destroy our country just because they are crazy for power? And you ask: where does the PDP war leave our country? As I noted in an earlier piece in this column, it would 'leave Nigeria better off! The fight, in my humble view, would either leave the party di integrated from which the ashes of a brand new party would emerge or the group that eventually gains the upper hand would hopefully become more responsive to the yearnings of its members. It would also hopefully begin to show greater sensitivity to the yearnings of Nigerians who they purportedly grab power to serve. 'Again, If PDP implodes, this could be the veritable wake up call to the other opposition parties to position as the parties of choice in the land. But that may be too far-fetched because the major opposition parties are either regional in character and spread, while they are themselves bedevilled by other internecine diseases.'
The biggest bane of the PDP, I also wrote, ' is undoubtedly godfatherism; godfathers are perennially locked in supremacy battle. One godfather is always seeking to knock out another godfather. Yar'Adua, Obasanjo's loyalists contend, knocked out OBJ after he got to power; now, Jonathan also knocked out Yar'Adua's people as soon as he got to power, in preparation for 2011. If PDP eliminates godfatherism today, the party would begin to see clearly and would then be in the ready to be a truly people's party. The 'democratic' in its name would then begin to make sense to its members and indeed, other Nigerians. However, isn't that a tall order? Isn't that expecting too much from a group of people used to rancour and man-eat-man as a way of life? As for the rest of us, we wait and watch how the high drama of the PDP imminent implosion plays out.'
Indeed, the good news for all Nigerians is that apart from the fact that the PDP, in recent times, has become a crumbling cookie, their stolen electoral victories in different parts of the country are gradually being retrieved. From Edo to Ondo, Ekiti to Delta, those who subverted the people's will under the do-or-die dispensation of the emperor from Owu are licking the dust of shame. This should be a lesson to all election riggers that every injustice to the people will never go unremedied, no matter how long delayed. If not by the courts, certainly by God.