PARTY DISCIPLINE - PDP'S EXAMPLE
THE Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, renders no apologies for its ways. The biggest party in Africa, as it calls itself, does what it wants, when it wants and prefers to leave its members dumbfounded. PDP is a party apart. It rejoices in the flexibility of its standards, though the flexibility is a poor excuse for the fact that the party may not have standards.
Politicians troop to PDP because it is reputed to be the party to be in if you want to win elections or be part of the booties that its occupation of the presidency in 12 years has guaranteed some of its members.
Issues like the party primaries in Bayelsa State show PDP at its best - decisive, unmoveable, controversial, even as members ponder the standards used in reaching decisions. Where are the standards that determine who runs for elections? How would anyone know if he is short of the standards?
PDP delights in what it calls 'internal party machinery' to decide matters. There have been cases of arson, murders involving PDP factions, notably in Oyo, years back, the party intervened to remove the matter from a criminal offence, saying it was ' a family affair' of PDP.
The ruckus over the current primaries for the governorship ticket creates another opportunity to examine the lingering matter of party discipline, which has been pending and is treated as anyone deems fit. For PDP, discipline is not important. Members' obligations and relations to the party are circumstantial, and highly dependent on political expediency.
Is it possible that PDP does not know the difference between internal party matters and criminal offences? Would the ruling party not allow the law take its course in allegations of criminality?
If PDP kept its disruptive tendencies to itself, many Nigerians would have carried on with their lives. For days, governors of various States amassed in Abuja in a last attempt to rescue a clearance for Governor Timipre Sylva, whose party thinks does not deserve a ticket to contest the primaries.
Ordinarily, since Sylva is a party member, and the primaries would be 'an internal affair of the party' we expected
PDP would sort out whatever issues it has with the governor through the delegates, who if they are really representing their people, should know if the governor has worked for them.
The party would not want to get to that point. There are fears that the delegates may not vote in a way that will please the party, not the people. Sylva, a sitting governor, is left in the most precarious position to find someone who has so much party. Party supremacy is at work.
Bayelsa, the President's State, is determined to admit that the party performed poorly in the State, for which it is removing its governor. Whether it succeeds or not will not be the point. Our concern is that whether in the PDP or any of the other parties with claims of democratic credentials, members' rights are indeterminate. A few, supposedly acting for many, jeopardise any chance of our political parties being democratic.
In 12 years, the tendency has grown and among those who complain are its beneficiaries who never knew they could be victims some day. Democracy, and party discipline are on trial in Bayelsa - but there are no judges to try this case, there lies the real tragedy.