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By Emmanuel Aziken, Political
After years of a near monopoly of the media space, the highly proactive publicity machine of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN is perhaps meeting a match in the retooled Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. Is it for real?

THE highly successful 60th birthday celebration of the national leader of the ACN Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu was an opportunity for the country's democracy enthusiasts to celebrate with the highly successful politician.

As leader of the ACN, Tinubu has successfully demystified what was once thought as the invincibility of the PDP in not only the Southwest, but also in many other states of the country where he has so pitched his tent.

The loud and lively celebration that marked the birthday was, ironically in bad taste in the perception of the PDP.

The party's Southwest zonal publicity secretary, Kayode Babade, in a statement issued in Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State, penultimate Monday, denounced what it described as the devotion of the Southwest Governors to the ceremonies marking the birthday of their leader saying that 'it amounts to high level of irresponsibility for elected governors to be running up and down for a whole week in celebration of birthday of a single individual.'

'As we write, all the ACN governors are on their ways to Abuja for another dinner, as part of Tinubu's birthday celebration. This is after staying away from their states for the better part of last week, and our question is: were these governors elected to serve Tinubu or the people of their states?'

Construction of church building
In yet another statement reacting to the chant by the ACN at the national level for the impeachment of President Goodluck Jonathan following the construction of a church building in the President's hometown of Otueke by a construction firm, the ACN's Babade said last Thursday:

'Rather than calling for the impeachment of the President, the hypocrites in the ACN should be honest at least for once by calling for the removal and trial of its governors, who used public fund for the false birthday of the party leader, Bola Tinubu.

'If President Jonathan must be impeached because a contractor renovated a church in his hometown, what should be done to Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State who used the State fund to build an ICT centreĀ  for Anglican Grammar School, Arigidi-Akoko, Ondo State and named the centre after Tinubu, a private individual?'

They were unusual salvos from the PDP which had in the past been at the receiving end of diatribes from the ACN. It was not surprising that when it replied, that the ACN would refer to what it claimed was a desperate bid by the new PDP leadership to gain relevance or legitimacy after the controversial congresses that threw up new leaderships across board.

Alhaji Lai and Chief Metuh
Justifying high level of prebends
Reacting through the Publicity Secretary of the Oyo State chapter of the party, Dauda Kolawole, the ACN said:

'It is apparent that, just coming from the conclave where its officers were recently anointed, the PDP officials are psychologically harried to begin to justify the high level of prebends expended on them.

'This is what is responsible for the hyperactivity of the recently-anointed PDP officials in the South-West. In their hyperactivity, they mix together irrelevances and latch on to glaring lies to justify their hyperactive falsehood.'

Noting that nothing would be too much to celebrate Tinubu after his heroic role in liberating the Southwest from the PDP, the party added: 'Tinubu is too polished, too urbane, too much a man of dignity to ask anyone to contribute state funds to his birthday celebration.

'This allegation is not only a figment of the hyper-fertile imagination ofthe PDP, it is a testament to the rough tactics of tar-brushing their perceived political enemies which the party has elected to embark upon preparatory to the 2015 elections,' the ACN said.

The development at the Southwest is also playing out at the national level where the ACN had through its highly efficient publicity committee headed by Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party's national publicity secretary kept successive PDP administrations on their toes.

The assertions of the ACN especially at that level have been regarded as sometimes constructive as not all the declarations of the party at that level were condemnatory. Some have been constructive advises and in some exceptional cases, even commending of the administration.

But the PDP administrations have not been too amusing of the ACN statements and especially the present administration. Dr. Rueben Abati the presidential spokesman not too long ago rebuked the ACN for taking its criticisms of the presidency above the normal describing the party as being consumed with an ambition to desecrate the institution of the presidency.

It is, however, to the new national publicity secretary of the PDP, Chief Olisa Metuh that party enthusiasts hoping to fight back the attacks from the ACN are relying on. Metuh's experience and exposure to the ruthless politicking in Anambra State and his connections to the media in the Southeast may have prepared him for his new job description.

And it looks like Metuh may not disappoint the faithful given his initial actions as compared with his quiet predecessor, Prof. Rufai Alkali.

Announcing his arrival on his first working day after the controversial convention where he was elected, Metuh said:

'The PDP as a Party has for so long tolerated mindless criticisms by the opposition on seemingly obvious achievements by the PDP and its elected representatives.'

Metuh's comment followed denunciations by the ACN of the process that threw up the new PDP national executive which the opposition party described as a kangaroo election and a one man show.

'Today, the joke is on the same President, who cajoled and arm-twisted others to step down for his anointed candidate as Chair of the PDP during a mock convention. It is now obvious that President Jonathan either does not understand what internal democracy means, or he is being deliberately cheeky in castigating other political parties for lacking in internal democracy,' Mohammed had said in a statement following the PDP convention penultimate Sunday.

Hitting back at the ACN, Metuh said: 'Our attention has been drawn to the unfair, unjust, uncouth and senseless remarks by the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and a loose coalition of fringe parties under the auspices of the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) wherein the outcome of our recently held National Convention came under criticism.

''We challenge the ACN and indeed any other party in Nigeria to come up with evidence of any of their internal electoral processes that is anywhere near our Congresses and Convention in terms of mass participation and transparency.

''We particularly deplore the hypocritical stand of the ACN. It is disingenuous for a party that is completely under the whims and caprices of one individual to criticize a tested and trusted PDP process. The undemocratic nature of their conduct in anointing and appointing its representatives is a well known fact and cannot be shielded by a false sense of self righteousness.'

Undeterred, Mohammed and the ACN last week opened a new front with the demand for the resignation of the President over the Otueke church building affair.

'By openly and gleefully saying, at the inauguration of the church at his Otuoke hometown, that 'the managing director of Gitto made him a promise to build and donate the church to Otuoke community after he (the president) had complained of the aging structure of his church', the President has demonstrated that he is either not conversant with the Constitution he swore to uphold or thinks very little of the laws of the land,' the ACN's Mohammed had said.

Responding the following day, Metuh described the call as 'recklessly infantile and the hallmark of a political party whose provincial obsession and pretended nationalism have left mercilessly hobbled; hence the perennial perchance for antics of destabilization.'

After retooling its leadership at all levels of the country, the once laggard PDP is for the first time taking the contest in the media back to the ACN. It indeed promises to be a more interesting affair, only if the confrontation does not slip from the media to the realm of the physical.