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AGAINST ALL ODDS AND THE PDP NATIONAL CHAIRMANSHIP RACE.

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BY OSEGHALE ERAHODU.
Contrary to the objective of the death wish offensive deployed by the ruling APC against the PDP, recent developments in the PDP point clearly towards a revitalization of the party driven by a redefinition of its political profile. Even the most pessimistic pundit must concede that the tempo and temperature of the battle for the soul of the PDP that pitched Ali Modu Sherrif against Makarfi highlighted the rise of Africa's largest party rather than its fall.

The eerie irony of the PDP's defiant profile is that the ruling APC's pathetic squandering of electoral popularity is providing the impetus for Nigerians to earnestly yearn for a repositioned PDP renaissance. Believe it!

Arguably, the most potent force of redefinition and repositioning of the dynamics of PDP politics is the wave of shifts and slides of party command and control generated from within the party itself as marvellously manifested in the Ali Modu Sherrif- Makarfi skirmishes. The strategic impact of that episode has dealt a heavy blow on the presumed pre-eminence of PDP governors in determining which way the party goes.

It was a blow long expected but stoutly deflected by the governors until the inevitable alienation of majority of members finally swept them out of dominance and relevance, owing among others to poor judgment in their choice of Ali Modu Sheriff as national chairman.

Today's scenario of a new PDP devoid of the arrogance of power brandished by governors and their legion of collaborators is the best thing to have happened to the party because it has effectively restored the more legitimate leverage of the hitherto powerless members and followers. Most significantly, we now have the best opportunity to restore the elective sovereignty of delegates in the choice of candidates of the party which was the greatest casualty in the monopolistic manipulation of power by past governors of the party.

It has since been confirmed that the erosion of internal party democracy which eventually crippled the PDP began with the subjugation of the process of emergence of delegates to the whims and caprices of state governors.

The remarkable resolve of the credible leaders of the party to stay the course in charting a new people-oriented direction for rebuilding the PDP has also strategically snubbed the judicial junketing approach to management of democratic party politics that once frustrated the popular will of party members. In particular, the decision to jettison the decadent duelling among northern party leaders over the remnants of party chairmanship tenure by fast forwarding the southern ticket has adequately liberated the full potentials of credible people oriented leadership capacity to the obvious advantage of the party's rejuvenation agenda.

In this context the exciting emergence High Chief Raymond Dokpesi as a leading contender for the national chairmanship of the party is symbolic of the much needed redefinition of the political profile and character of the new PDP. For the first time in a long time we are having a credible contestant for the chairmanship of the PDP who is not fronting for one clandestine clique or the other but is proudly and confidently counting on his rich political track record and entrepreneurial excellence.

Chief Dokpesi has a unique record of always making himself and his highly influential national and international media organization , DAAR COMMUNICATIONS available for the advancement of the cause of the PDP especially in times of need to the extent that he endeared himself to the mass membership of the party. Across Nigeria, Chief Dokpesi's liberal management of his media empire empowered thousands of political activists, including PDP members at all levels, to speak out and contribute positively to the growth of the democratic process. It is indeed doubtful if there is any politician anywhere in Nigeria who can be compared to High Chief Dokpesi in terms of qualitative promotion of democratic culture through mass media and liberal accessibility.

Even more remarkable about High Chief Dokpesi's political career is the fact that he has always felt comfortable playing the supportive role, empowering others and generally facilitating the political progress of the PDP and its members. He has campaigned valiantly even at great risk to his life in his home constituency just to ensure that the PDP retains its dominance. He has frequently offered his personal facilities to host crucial meetings of the party requiring neutral grounds.

Yet the High Chief has not joined the tempting tendency to demand personal dividends for party contribution by seeking powerful offices in the party or ruling government or bull-dozing his way to around as several other PDP leaders have done with reckless ambition.

Now that he has expressed interest in being the national chairman of the new PDP by setting the pace and carrying his campaign train through the southern states in a record one week and started his consultations with delegates and party men and women in the northern states, it is obvious the name of the game has changed.

High Chief Dokpesi is actually returning to his familiar territory where long time ago, he earned a reputation as a detribalized nationalist who feels at home and gives his best wherever he finds himself. Taken together, the political career of High Chief Dokpesi has earned him all the credentials required to lead the way in the national assignment of redefining PDP and restoring the democratic aspirations of Nigerians currently marooned under the failed government of the APC. He is indeed a man of the people fit to lead Africa's largest political party to a befitting rebirth.

Furthermore, it must be noted that in the history of elections into national offices of the PDP, this is the very first time ever an aspirant to the office of national chairman would embark on a nationwide tour of all thirty six states of the federation and Abuja to meet with party men and women, leaders and delegates in their constituencies, mingle with and listen to their problems, worries and expectations. Little wonder therefore that he has raised the bar of electioneering in the manner he has been received everywhere he has been to with resounding applause and endorsements.

This unprecedented move and the accolades bestowed upon him has set in a paradigm shift in the consciousness of party members and the their expectations of leaders seeking political party offices. Indeed more than anything else, this is hardly about the person of Dokpesi and other contenders but more about what he represents, people oriented politics anchored upon time tested principles of internal democracy as opposed the anointing and selection process by a few.

OSEGHALE REAHODU WRITES FROM ABUJA.
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