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The staying power of a political party is its resilience in trying times.  In the 16 years of reign by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), its resilience was, really, never tested, until the 2015 general elections when the party was defeated by the All Progressives Congress (APC). Naturally, the defeat brought despondency to many members.  Times heal, as they say, and months after the painful defeat, the PDP is already beginning to pick up its own bits and pieces.

Those grieving PDP's defeat fall into different categories: among them, are the genuine members who have been consistent and loyal to the party for years and who invested time, human and material resources in the elections, which the party lost for reasons that have become obvious.  Another category of those in grief are some men and women whose campaign activities were motivated almost solely by personal interests, greed and avarice.  And, of course, there were those who were members of the party only by name, and who never made any investment to the party's efforts, and have been without any commitment to its fortunes and survival.  Together, both the genuine and the counterfeit have been grieving or pretending to grieve over PDP's defeat.  Who, exactly, belongs to what category is better left for the conscience of the individuals.

However, Nigerians must have been surprised to hear the television guru, High Chief Raymond Aleogho Dokpesi, express regret over PDP's defeat at the 2015 polls and apologising to Nigerians for the mistake of presenting former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan as the party's Presidential candidate. That colossal error, he said, was responsible for the defeat of the PDP.  Dokpesi then claimed to be championing the task of reviving the PDP, first, through massive electronic membership registration drive all over Nigeria and second, by organising a self-assessment stakeholders' conference in which the remote and immediate causes of the party's defeat would be analysed and solution proffered. Then, there was confusion!

The National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Chief Olisa Metuh, one of those responsible for the party's defeat and whose loyalty is also doubtful, queried Dokpesi's locus standi to speak for the party.  Metuh is right.  Dokpesi cannot speak on behalf of the PDP for many reasons. He is not a member of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party. And, concerning Jonathan's candidacy, the High Chief was, in 2011, the Director-General of IBB's Presidential Campaign Organisation, which tried but failed to stop Jonathan from contesting for the President that year.

On the issue of whether or not the PDP made a mistake by presenting former President Jonathan as the party's Presidential candidate, the truth is that Dokpesi was not speaking for the PDP, and he could not have intended to speak on behalf of the PDP, because he, really, was never in the PDP.  Nor was he ever with Jonathan, in spite of his recent flattering 58th birthday wishes in which he credited the former President with the enthronement of democracy in Nigeria. Dokpesi was speaking for himself when he apologised to Nigerians for the choice of Jonathan. What he really meant was that he had, ab initio, been against Jonathan's candidacy for re-election in 2011 and that Nigerians did not listen to him.

That's Dokpesi's brand of politics!  His problem borders on political dubiety and bloated self-estimation, which are common afflictions with successful media businessmen who veer into politics.  Recall that Dokpesi had campaigned for Jonathan based on his assessment of what he would get there and then. In other words, his loyalty was determined by immediate reward, rather than principles or national interest.  It was common knowledge, for instance, that Dokpesi had to abandon Jonathan in 2011 on the pretext that the former President declined to approve payment of a bogus sum for the transmission by his AIT of a global football competition hosted by Nigeria.  The contract was purportedly packaged under the administration of the late President Umaru Yar'Adua.  I stand to be corrected on this.

If Dokpesi were sincere to himself, he would have admitted before Nigerians that he was neither in the PDP nor with Jonathan.  And, if he were modest enough in self-assessment, he would have known that he does not have what it takes to champion the task of rebuilding the PDP.  What you don't have, you don't give.  Yet, sadly, that was what Dokpesi set out to do by organising a conference to reassess the fortunes and misfortunes of the PDP.

Being crafty and clever by half, Dokpesi sought to enlist the support of elder statesmen such as former military President, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, Mallam Adamu Ciroma and Chief Alex Ekwueme as Special Guests of Honour, only for the General, whose Campaign Orgainsation Dokpesi served as Director-General, to tell him in the plainest language, “Count me out”. What a shame! Rebuilding the PDP requires men and women of integrity, moral rectitude, commitment and selfless devotion. Unfortunately, the current members of the party's NWC lack these essential requirements.  They are, therefore, incapable of reviving the party.

The good thing is that the PDP still has, in abundance, men and women of honour and integrity, of strength and character, determination and drive, to start the genuine task of rebuilding the party.  The problem is that they are not likely to come out, until all the charlatans on the dancing floor give way.  What gave the like of Dokpesi the audacity of thinking they can hijack the leadership of the PDP is the void created by the exit of the former National Chairman of the party, Alhaji Adamu Mu'azu.  After the departure of Mu'azu, the corrupt members of the NWC refused to vacate their positions, in flagrant violation of the party's constitution.  To date, Uche Secondus, one of those believed to have betrayed President Jonathan by working for his own pocket rather than for the former President, has insisted on holding on to the position of National Chairman which, legally and rightly, belongs to the Northeast geo-political zone.

The greatest challenge facing the PDP today is that the current NWC is a liability that would continue to affect the fortunes of the party. Anybody hearing Olisa Metuh talk, in his usual infantile manner, would never take the PDP serious. The situation is not made better with Uche Secondus' lack of ideas, focus and personality.  All this is compounded by Dokpesi's entry into the scene, claiming to have the magic wand for reviving the PDP. The situation is pathetic, but not totally hopeless.

The founding fathers of the PDP and other committed members of the party still around, must take up the challenge, chase out the charlatans and start the genuine task of rebuilding the party.  The PDP has all the advantages – the structures, experience, material and human resources and above all, committed men and women with the required determination to drive the process through.  Rebuilding the party must be seen as a call to duty.

Written by Hamisu Abubakar, Development Consultant, from Kaduna.

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