PDP after Bamanga Tukur
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the ruling party in Nigeria, has been in power at the centre since the return to democratic rule in 1999. The party has also been the dominant party in the majority of the 36 states including the Federal Capital, Abuja. It is to PDP's credit, as well, that it has retained the majority of the seats in both chambers of the nation's bi-cameral legislature. The ruling party has, for the most part, been self-styled as the largest political party in Africa. It does not matter if the opposition parties and other PDP-haters like this or not, PDP has proven to be a great party indeed in Nigeria. It is quite easy to dismiss the boasting of members of the ruling party with a wave of the hand yet that does not, in any way, diminish what the party has achieved in the past fifteen years it has been in existence.
It has to be noted that the ruling party did not achieve all this by a stroke of chance. It goes without saying that the PDP was founded on a solid democratic footing. It all started with a group of courageous patriots who were opposed to, and indeed fought against, the self-transmutation of the maximum ruler, General Sani Abacha to a civilian president. When fate gave a helping hand with the death of the former tyrant, and his successor, General Abdulsalami Alhaji Abubakar, provided the fillip for free choice to flourish again, the founding fathers of the PDP did the rest. Their idea was the formation of a pan-Nigeria political party that will represent the very best in democratic practice and mobilization. Did Alex Ekwueme and the founding fathers of the PDP realise this dream? The truth is that no other party in the history of partisan politics can boast of this nationwide spread that the PDP enjoys.
The spread of the PDP, together with its electoral victories, has come with huge costs. Although the party has seen a lot of crises in the past, the latest crisis, which came with the election of Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, about two years ago, has continued to raise the spectre of implosion of a party whose former chairman, Vincent Ogbulafor, had predicted would rule the country for sixty years. Was it a mere coincidence that when Tukur was refuting the story of his purported resignation on their way to what turned out a crucial Board of Trustees (BoT) meeting a week ago, directly behind him was the same Ogbulafor who was also forced out of office through resignation?
When Tukur was being encircled for the top job in the ruling party by the powers-that-be some of us who have had the benefit of either working in the PDP or understanding the workings of the party had our reservations. The reservations were never because Tukur was a bad person. Some of us felt that the old man had stayed away from partisan politics for a long period to be fully abreast with the dynamics of politics since the time he was elected governor in the old Gongola state. But even more ominous for Tukur's tenure was the type of crowd always around him some of whom ended up as his aides. These were the people who destroyed the old man by using him to fight their own personal political battles and vendetta against old foes and opponents. Tukur's apparent lack of dissimulations in dealing with matters concerning the governors did not help either. PDP was almost collapsing on the old man's head.
The good news, though, for the ruling party is that it has once again rediscovered its magic wand, which is the ability to resolve, internally, their problems at the roundtable. As President Goodluck Jonathan observed at the past National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of his party, the former chairman, Tukur did commit any offence; but his resignation was in the interest of the PDP. Tukur must be commended for stepping aside to allow peace and reconciliation in his party given the fact that INEC had recently pronounced his election as chairman as being without blemish. Those who think that the presence and the style of the former chairman were obstructing harmonious relations and creating undue tension in the PDP have the ball now in their court. And if the tension in the relations within the party exacerbates even with the ouster of Tukur, then the joke is now on them.
As the PDP tries to reinvent itself in the post-Tukur era, let it be known to its leadership that the public is interested in what happens in the ruling party. Former Bauchi Governor, Ahmed Adamu Muazu who has taken over from Tukur must understand that the public interest in matters that concern the PDP is not misplaced because as the ruling party, whatever upsets the party has a way of impacting on the Nigerian democracy. Even so, it appears that the people are not convinced about the sincerity of All Progressive Congress (APC) especially the way and manner the party is wooing those it regarded as thieves and murderers in the PDP, just yesterday! The new chairman must therefore see himself as a custodian of Nigerian democracy by promoting internal democracy, justice, party loyalty, discipline and the rights of membership. The new chairman must take another look at the genuine grievances of some of its members and woo the defectors still keen on returning to the party. For instance, there is still this illegality and arbitrariness in the present occupation of an important position as the National Secretary of the party. The removal of Tukur cannot remedy this anomaly.
More significantly, Muazu must see through the blackmail of some of the defectors and fifth columnists who are still in the party who reckon that they have hit the ceiling of their political ambition within PDP as long as President Jonathan runs in 2015. For this latter category, even if Tukur is replaced ten times over, their bodies and soul have left the PDP a long time ago. It is even in the interest of the PDP to allow these power mongers and desperate politicians to go join APC and unleash on the (opposition) party their maddening political goals!
Ugboajah wrote from Abuja.