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People’s Democratic Party and the need for circumspection!

107

The Bible Book of Ecclesiastics teaches those of us that are Christians that there is time for everything under the Heaven. This means there could be a period when carelessness and impunity could be ignored while a time could be when the two would be considered an anathema.

Based on a letter dated 2nd September, 1998 and signed by Chief David Elechi Ikoro, Ochiriozuo Item, I was one of the twenty-one political leaders that convened the People’s Democratic Party, P.D.P. in Abia State on the 4th of September, 1998. 

I was the first State Organizing-Secretary of the Party in Abia State and worked tremendously for the electoral success of the Party in the transition elections in late 1998 and early 1999. The Party, in appreciation, has assisted me by way of social mobility and elevation.

Out of the twenty-one conveners of the People’s Democratic Party, as at 1998 in Abia State, eight have died, three defected to other political Parties, four are no more active because of superannuation or illness, two became Traditional Rulers while four have remained active in the Party.

As a convener of the Party in my State, I considered it my responsibility to wish that my Party, not only in Abia State but in Nigeria, grows in strength and stability. I also know that for the Party this feat, it must be very responsive to the feelings, wishes and thoughts of her membership.

The People’s Democratic Party, so far in the history of Nigeria, has been the luckiest in terms of retaining power at the centre. It governed this country for sixteen unobstructed years, 1999 to 2015. I am not sure that the present ruling All Progressives Congress, A.P.C, would be as lucky as the P.D.P. Since the Party is human driven, its conduct may not have been anchored on infallibility. It must have made its mistakes in the course of its sixteen years of governance. 

One flaw in the leadership of the Party that must have affected its cohesion and unity was the culture of impunity. Because of impunity, our Party lost hundreds of thousands of her members, including some sitting governors, senators and many other notable politicians from 2013 to 2015. The mass exodus that hit our Party ended up swelling the members of the newly formed All Progressives Congress and this eventually led to the electoral victory of the Party in 2015 general election.

In a democratic setting, a political Party in power could lose control of power for many reasons. A ruling Party could lose in an election due to poor economic policies and implementation. A Party that is adjudged to be inconsistent in its foreign policy objectives could also suffer electoral defeat. 

In the same vein, a Party that is perceived to be weak in its defence and security thrust could be booted out of power by the electorate. In the case of the People’s Democratic Party, the above did not apply. The storm that overwhelmed its boat was internal squabble that resulted from impunity.

Many members of the Party had thought that with what happened to our Party, our leaders should have withdrawn to their drawing board to ask relevant rhetorical questions and provide answers to such questions, as to re-orientate, re-organize, rebrand and reposition our great Party. 

The English idiom; once bitten twice shy, should have asserted much psycho-mental influence on our leaders. By my thinking, the era of impunity, imposition and extreme financial extortion of members of the Party should have been over by now.

The leaders of our Party, like a people bewitched by principalities threw themselves into another round of avoidable controversy on the 16th of February, 2016 by appointing Alhaji Ali Modu Sheriff whose membership is not more than two years as the Party’s National Chairman. This development has sparked a very devastating wind of protest and threats by many stake-holders to decamp from the Party. 

What has been a source of relevance for our Party since we lost election at the centre has been our numerical strength in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. But with the current discord, as a result of which twenty senators and fifty members of the House of Representatives have sent strong warning on their intent to defect to another Party, P.D.P. may no longer be in a position to offer credible opposition, if it is allowed to happen.

Just like the Bible puts it, there is time for everything. As one of the Conveners of the Party in Nigeria, I am strongly of the opinion that this period, rather than continue with the culture of impunity and arrogance of imposition, the P.D.P. should thread with caution. 

There should be wide consultation before any major decision is taken by the Party leadership. The Party leadership should, at all times, endeavour to arrive at policy decisions through consensus, as to carry every major stake-holder along. As a party, for now, we are in a precarious situation. Hitting up ourselves internally would be outrageously disadvantageous.

Alhaji Ali Modu Sheriff, no doubt, is an astute politician, with considerable influence in the North-East of Nigeria, especially in Borno State which he had governed for eight years, even though during the 2015 general election his impact could not be felt in P.D.P. Besides, there is this wide allegation that he had a hand in the emergence of Boko Haram insurgency.

Since a mechanism is being put in place by some leaders of the Party to reconcile the different opinion groups over the issue of Modu Sheriff, I humbly plead with all, including the P.D.P. Rescue Group, to sheathe their swords. The congresses of the Party are most probably to commence, latest, in March this year. It would culminate in its National Convention not later than April. 

The convention, based on consultation in the overall interest of the Party, should be able to put to rest the brouhaha emanating from Modu Sheriff’s appointment. It is not only Modu Sheriff’s matter that the Convention should address. 

There are certain officials in the National Working Committee of the Party whose only business is to extort huge amount of money from aspirants during Party Primary elections and orchestrate imposition of unpopular aspirants over popular ones. 

They did this with impunity during the 2014/15 primary elections. The irony of this travesty of justice is that the main person who is notorious for this crude conduct has never delivered his polling unit, ward, local government area or state to P.D.P. Besides, he has attracted the worst press to our Party.

 If our Party is sincerely committed to rebuilding itself on the Part of positive engagements, the forthcoming National Convention would be an opportunity to send political parasites and liabilities in the Party on a reformative leave. Let us not allow more respectable members, as recently was the case with Senator Ken Nnamani, desert our Party due to impunity. A stitch in time should save nine for us.         

Scripted by Don Ubani


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