Showing great forensic skills, analytical intuition and a gift for clairvoyance, our bearded Prof Wole Soyinka famously described the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as a nest of vipers. This particular set of vipers don’t take prisoners either. Grim reaper like, the evidence of their bloody intrusion into the Nigerian political terrain is everywhere.
The incursion of the PDP into the politics of Nigeria has come at a terrible cost. For one, the party, which has developed a penchant for fouling-up the air, has re-defined politics as a ‘do-or die’ affair. The evidence of this is everywhere. As has been aptly observed by Tatalo Alamu, the cerebrated columnist of the Sunday Nation, the electorate has since been abolished? Many people as well as potential voters now consider it more prudent to stay at home rather than take part in the electoral process.
For those who do not want trouble, this is a prudent thing to do. It is one thing, of course, to exercise your civic duty, indeed in a democracy, it is the right thing to do; however under the rule of violence championed by the PDP, the cost could be enormous. The last set of elections was, without a doubt, the bloodiest in the nation’s chequered history. The elections left in its wake broken limbs, unsolved assassinations and a general state of fear and heightened anxiety. The scars, both physical and emotional are still with us.
If this country is to make a transition from a ‘semi’ to a full blown democracy, the PDP must be reformed. For the debauchery of the PDP is aided by its access to control of the machinery of the state. Vital here is the vice like grip of the party over the security forces. The PDP in its anxiety to have total and unimpeded dominance over the terrain, has gone all out to subvert the ethos of the security forces. Large swathes of the police now see themselves as not just members of a vital organ of the state’s apparatus, but as adjuncts of the PDP. In Osun State, for example, our own Moronike clearly sees himself as Chief Security Co-ordinator to the PDP. In this, his loyalty is not to the Nigerian Constitution or the Nigeria Police, but to the PDP, a political party. His type and thinking run across the police force.
It is for this reason that a dominant segment of the police have become in return for pecuniary gain, willing accomplices in the rape of the constitution and the democratic ethos. The Moronikes abound everywhere and which have to be reformed, if democracy is to make headway in our country. The task will be difficult. For it is akin to asking the PDP to commit political suicide. From its opportunistic hastily cobbled up inception, the PDP appears to know no other route than that of violence and misadventure. To wear it off this path, will be difficult. Yet, it has to be weaned-off if democracy is to survive in our country.
There is an important reason for this. The year of the Lord 2011 is menacingly around the corner. All the old certainties are over. Some dangerous fault lines are already developing. For example, the sensible belief in the independence of the nation’s admirable judiciary is being eroded by the day. The PDP appears to be quite happy about this, seeing it as a continuation of the enforcement of its sovereignty. The omens are however not comforting. For, if the belief in the independence of the judiciary is eroded, the country might end up going the way of Kenya. In that East African country, the battle cry was, “We won’t use (President) Kibaki’s courts.” The result was 2,000 people dead and 300,000 displaced, some of them permanently. It must not be allowed to happen here.
For the sake of the country, the original founders of the PDP – the Alex Ekwuemes, Solomon Lars, Adamu Ciromas and so forth must be encouraged to take their party. Only an end to the domination of the Obasanjo-led ‘garrison commanders’ will rescue Nigeria’s democracy. The task is urgent, for time is running out!
•This piece, first published on Monday, October 6, 2008 Edition is repeated due to popular demand.