PDP PERFORMANCE TOUR: BEYOND THE HYPE
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is currently carrying out a nationwide Performance Tour. According to the party's National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh, the tour team aims “to visit and publicize all projects executed by all PDP elected and appointed officials at the federal, state and local government levels in all the sectors of the economy since 1999.” On the one hand, this sounds innocuous enough: the PDP is right to record and make known its achievements. On the other hand, it is fair to ask if this tour is not a mere publicity stunt triggered by the heckling of a belligerent opposition.
In truth, Metuh's statement hinted at what spurred the PDP to embark on the tour. While announcing that “millions of Nigerians continue to enjoy the evident benefits of having the PDP in power, and demonstrating their satisfaction through their votes in successive elections,” Metuh also observed that, “the opposition has mounted a negative campaign, asking what the PDP has done in the last 15 years.”
Considering that the PDP is the most successful political party that Nigeria has ever seen, it is reasonable to raise questions regarding what the organisation has accomplished in the years it has held power as the party in government charged with running the affairs of Africa's most populous nation. And as it is now standard in such debates, expectations are that the PDP will reel out a long list of roads, bridges, schools, hospitals and such infrastructure that the party has either built from the scratch, or rehabilitated, in order to put naysayers to shame.
In this regard, the party, through its National Publicity Secretary, has declared that: “There is no state, local government or ward in Nigeria that has not been positively affected by projects executed by PDP governments at federal, state and local government levels. Such projects abound in non-PDP states and many Nigerians erroneously give credit to the opposition, which they eagerly accept.”
This is all very well; and, certainly, the ongoing Performance Tour will provide the PDP ample opportunity to list specific feats across the country. In all likelihood, the PDP will end up showcasing brick and mortar projects in order to beat its political chest and taunt the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC). The probability of this scenario playing out increases when it is recalled that, even though Lagos is a frontline state of the APC, in 2013, the President Goodluck Jonathan-led PDP Federal Government approved construction of the first ever deep sea port in Nigeria to be sited at Lekki, Lagos State.
Moreover, we can also expect the PDP to publicize the party's achievements in aviation, agriculture, the cement industry, new universities, et cetera. In fairness to the party, these lists of accomplishments have become mandatory because it is what the electorate expect to hear and see. And yet it may be argued that, for credibility sake, the PDP may be better served by sometimes allowing others to speak of its good deeds on its behalf.
For instance, Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture, Mohammed Monguno—who happens to be a member of the opposition APC—is on record as praising President Jonathan's performance in agriculture in a televised broadcast of an agriculture-related event at which the President was in attanedance. Monguno said, “I must say that the agricultural transformation agenda being pursued by your administration is unparalleled and unprecedented.” He went on to add, “We must learn to give credit where credit is due and I'm doing exactly that.”
However, beyond all the hypes, the greatest achievements of the PDP, in the opinion of this writer, is best captured in the 2014Democracy Day statement of the Chairman of the party's Board of Trustees, Chief (Dr) Tony Anenih. The relevant portion of that statement is worth reproducing at length for contextual and historical reasons.
Anenih said: “In its 15 years at the helm of affairs of our great nation, the PDP has created an atmosphere that allows total freedom of expression, dissent and the greatest level of inclusive political participation ever recorded in our country. A case in point is that never before has Nigeria seen the high number of women in senior elective and appointive positions as obtains today under the PDP's leadership.
“Moreover, it is to the credit of the President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan-led PDP government that this ambience of democratic freedom has encouraged the most combative opposition rhetoric ever experienced in Nigeria's history. President Jonathan has also demonstrated respect for the rule of law by his non-interference in judicial, legislative and electoral matters. Ironically, our liberal and exceptionally tolerant President has been vilified for promoting and protecting the very democratic freedoms that others are using unfairly against the government.”
To Anenih's credit, it has to be said that even though brick and mortar projects remain exceedingly important to the development of Nigeria, the air of “total freedom of expression, dissent and the greatest level of inclusive political participation” engendered by the PDP is simply a must-have for successful statehood.
In embarking on the nationwide Performance Tour, Metuh is not unmindful of this significant legacy. In his words: “We invite Nigerians to note that these achievements were in spite of very serious security challenges facing the administration, especially the insurgency in the north. It is our incontrovertible statement that no other political party in this country would have maintained democracy in the face of such stiff distractions.”
It is against this backdrop that the Performance Tour must draw commendations from the membership and leadership of the PDP. The eyes of Nigerians will be opened to the achievements of the PDP and its Governments. Projects executed in all the nooks and crannies of the country will be showcased for people to see. The people can, thereafter, do their reality checks to ascertain the veracity of the projects; and, then assess the Party with the facts on ground. There is no doubt that the PDP will reap bountiful harvests of goodwill, trust and confidence from the achievements.
Indeed, a payoff line that would resonate as the PDP goes into the 2015 electioneering season is: PDP, nurturing Nigerian democracy with visible dividends since 1999!
Written by Abubakar Galadima.