2011 polls: Between Nwodo, parties and Jega
Looking into the unfolding political scenarios of the 2011 transition to a democratically elected government at all levels, it is clear that chairmen of all the political parties have finished their roles, except for those who still await substitution maneuvers and meanders.
With the end of primaries for all political parties, according to the timetable laid down by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the hard jobs of the leaders of Nigerian's major parties have been concluded. Prominent among those who have been on the scene recently were the Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, Dr. Ogbonnia Onu of All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), Chief Tony Momoh of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and Chief Bisi Akande of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).
Apart from these men, not many Nigerians can remember the names of a lot of other parties not to talk of the names of members of the party leaderships. Many of them are family properties whose leaderships are merely family members and close friends who would continue to lobby to be swallowed by stronger parties. INEC should study its functions properly to understand the position of such parties which cannot produce a ward councilor.
Now that Nwodo of PDP has finished his job, Nigerians await Professor Attahiru Jega's own game. And his, in the next few months, will be more decisive.
Nwodo was particularly picked for this discussion due to the controversies that were linked to his party's primaries up to 13th January, 2011. Many critics have said what they feel about the PDP primaries across the country. Whether or not they were free and fair, the concern in this piece is not limited to the presidential aspect where incumbent president, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan showed supremacy over former vice president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
Many people do not believe that Nwodo did a good job. Despite the fact that in Nigeria it has proved impossible to oust out a sitting president or governor at least under a democratic setup, the PDP chairman did not only deceive morality, he also betrayed many party stalwarts by crafting an atmosphere for his heart desire.
Recall that immediately after his controversial imposition as the party's helmsman, he warned politicians to steer clear from visiting him in his house. I sounded it clear in an article titled “Nwodo, Jega: In search of national relevance” that visiting him was not the problem, but that such visits are mostly accompanied by full-loaded bags of money to influence decisions and seek favour. I made an assertion that whether we accept it or not, as the fact stands today, PDP was the overpowering party in Nigeria; and that Nwodo should accept the responsibility of leading PDP as a national trust from which he could recover the confidence of Nigerians against the allegations which trailed his appointment as the party's chairman.
He played with the court order from his state which sacked him as the PDP chairman. He frustrated the court order to reach him. His predecessor had court cases. He did not learn.
Nigerians are now judging him. However, even if the primaries witnessed great shortcomings as some people claim, politicians as well as all the party stalwarts contributed to it at the local, state and presidential level. There are still protests in some quarters over the PDP primaries. In Nigeria, politicians do not join a party for its painted manifestoes. They join where to eat freely and influence others. They jump out when they feel the boat cannot contain them any longer. Sometimes, they jump into the sea and get drown.
Although not the opposite was expected from Nwodo as he automatically became a member of the federal government, considering the accepted norm that there is hardly a clear demarcation between government and a ruling party in Nigeria, he could face his failures and carry the cross by himself.
I was one of those Nigerians who prayed fervently for Nwodo to succeed. It was not born out of my disposition as a politician or any party admirer, but because I felt that if PDP could even unwilling be drafted apart from the “carry-go' syndrome, the 2011 transition could be the best in the history of the country.
Maybe I was wrong to join the prayer warriors for Nwodo. And I now understand that I was wrong because God did not answer us. But, in the first place, is there any good praying for politicians who do not keep their words; those who betray God and mankind? This is not to undermine the significance of prayers. With prayers, many things are wrought. But in Nigeria, many prayers are not properly done or are misdirected. Many of the people who claim to pray are mere deceivers. They do not have good intentions and those prayed for are often confused. It is what they pay that matters.
Nigerians of little faith believe that opportunity comes only once. So such citizens do not derive joy in working for people. Their greatest target is always in maximizing personal profits from the work, even against all odds. The rich people, in their discontentedness, feel cheated by the poor and that's why they use them like non-humans. If not, there will be no need of buying votes to continue acting anti-humanly.
But this was not to be. Nwodo, either by twisting the PDP constitution or being twisted by the party's power which is claimed to belong to the people, allowed anything to be. There have been some states, local governments and wards which have never witnessed peace or have witnessed uneasy calm and fragile or imposed harmony since the last transition. Most of these areas are governed by the ruling party. Against all political ethics and culture, majority of them were returned. Was it through election by grassroots members of the PDP or the normal anointment by carefully selected and induced members of the party?
What baffles a patriotic soul from the PDP primaries is a State like Plateau where hundreds of innocent citizens have been sent to the grave due to mismanagement of situation. This incumbent governor was returned by the party to continue for the next four years if the party can win the state. The state has suffered under this dispensation but the federal government has been unable to take a firm stand to end the loss of lives and property there. Trust what former President Obasanjo would have done in this case, though he still rules.
The same is Abia where businesses have been continually disrupted due to kidnapping and robbery. If PDP got it right in these areas, one would then wonder why the party bigwigs such as former governor Chief Joshua Dariye, former Deputy Senate President, Ibrahim Mantu, former deputy governor Dame Pauline Tallen, Arch. Pam Dung Gyang, Alhaji Yahaya Kwande, among others, would dump PDP and join another party in an apparent struggle to pull the state off PDP's strong hand.
In Abia, there were two primaries conducted by two different groups under the same party. There were two governorship candidates, and the party caucus chose one. The simple truth is that results from the PDP primaries have seriously injured many party stalwarts who are now gnashing their teeth for revenge in the April polls to be presided over by Prof. Attahiru Jega.
Jega has promised in different fora that he will give the crown to who deserves it according to the votes of the Nigerian people. Funds have been made very much available to his Commission. The president has ensured that INEC does not lack in the course of carrying out its statutory functions. The National Assembly has also been responsive to INEC's several requests, including its emergency demands. The Nigerian people, up till now, have been cooperative. Many of them have left their businesses behind for several days in the struggle to register for the April polls. The exercise has been hectic; it will be criticized in a latter article.
Will Jega yield to pressures to make or mar the 2011 elections? Can he make a difference in the history of Nigeria by conducting accepted elections? Will he be different from Nwodo, or more precisely Prof. Maurice Iwu? And so many other questions, due to the Nigerian factors.
Whether or not Nwodo survives the whirlpool on the verge of consuming him or he has lost national relevance, he has played his part not too accurately. He could not understand the two sides of the script he was supposed to display. He should have learnt from the predicaments of his predecessors. I strongly believe he could not have done otherwise; after all how can a man who cannot guide justice in his own home state do otherwise wherever under the same cloth.
Muhammad Ajah is a writer, author, advocate of humanity and good governance based in Abuja. E-mail [email protected]