The PDP Is Ten, Nigeria Is Ten Years Behind

People Deceiving People Papa Deceiving Pickin People Dey Pretend Party Destroy People People Destroy Party Pin Di Pin Power Di Power Power Drunk Politicians Progress Destroying Party Politics Drunk Party Power Drunk Party Power Determines Process Papa Dey Pretend Party Deleting Progress People Deleting People Pawo Dele Party People’s Democratic Party Na lie. There is…”
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November 6, 2008 5:48 am
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People Deceiving People
Papa Deceiving Pickin
People Dey Pretend
Party Destroy People
People Destroy Party
Pin Di Pin
Power Di Power
Power Drunk Politicians
Progress Destroying Party
Politics Drunk Party
Power Drunk Party
Power Determines Process
Papa Dey Pretend
Party Deleting Progress
People Deleting People
Pawo Dele Party
People’s Democratic Party

Na lie. There is nothing about people, or about democracy, or about the classical idea of the political party in what is generally known, around here as the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). The members are quick to proclaim that they belong to the largest political party in Africa.

It is the cheapest claim that they can make, Nigeria having the seemingly eternal advantage of number, but in terms of effectiveness as a political party, the PDP as it is known in Nigerian circles and through a variety of acronyms, a few of which are outlined above, is a most irresponsible political party, its continuing success in Nigerian politics, a great oxymoron, but a veritable indication of the putative nature of Nigerian politics marked as it is by insincerity, inequities and injustice.

The PDP, in power in most parts of Nigeria and at the centre since 1999, when the country returned to civil rule, is a most guilty offender. But last week, the same party had the effrontery in typical Nigerian style, to roll out the drums and to celebrate ten years of its existence. The high point of this was a stakeholder’s conference in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom capital where all the PDP big wigs met, and pretended to be friends. Long before that, the PDP Chair, Vincent Ogbulafor had boasted that the PDP would rule Nigeria for the next 60 years. May God forbid that.

How did Ogbulafor arrive at his 60 years calculus? What Nigeria has suffered most tellingly since 1999, is the absence of an effective opposition to the ruling PDP, a party whose ‘men and foot-soldiers have shown and demonstrated great contempt for Nigerians, as they are wont to place greater emphasis on the party’s slogan. This slogan is a hortatory shout of P- D- P! In high decibels with an equally assertive responsorial counterpoise: PO-WE-R, uttered with a near-hysterical affirmation. Few Nigerians are fans of the PDP and how the party has shown itself to be, in eight years of Nigerian democ­racy, a power-drunk party or as Professor Wole Soyinka puts it, ‘a nest of killers” or as someone else suggested, “a party of strange bedfellows. “

The diminution, the implosion or simply the failure of the PDP is to be located in the larg­er question of Nigerian attitude and culture. When the party was founded in 1998, it set out originally as a gathering of men and women who were opposed to military rule and who wanted to provide the necessary leadership at the time to get the military out of power, and free Nigerians from the shackles of second colonialism. The group known as G-14, led by former Vice President Alex Ekwueme and dominated by persons of Northern extraction, soon metamorphosed into the G-34, an expanded forum of pro-democracy activists who wanted Nigeria to move forward beyond the military. This political group was acting then in the context of a nationwide agitation against Abacha misrule and military tyranny. It activated the momentum for a return to civilian rule and truly, the Alliance for Democracy (AD), and the APP were offshoots of this process. The founding fathers ·of the PDP deserve credit for helping to fire general interest in political activities. Ten years later, they can claim credit in this direction.

But I am sorry, that is where it ends. In ten years, the PDP has done great damage to Nigeria and its people. Consistent with the mood of the times in 1998, the founding fathers of the PDP promised Nigerians a political party that would uphold the sanctity of the rule of law, human rights, strong political culture, equitable wealth distribution, minority rights, intrastructural development and high standard of living. They have failed Nigerians on each and every one of these issues. At the Akwa Ibom event, President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua had stated that the PDP has been successful on both political and economic fronts. He was off the mark.

Politically, the President noted that the party has won Presidential elections thrice since 1999, in 1999, 2003 and in 2007 and that the PDP is the majority party at all levels of governance in the states, local councils and in legislatures across the country. The President needs to be reminded that this is not a sign of general acceptance of the party by the Nigerian people, but the result of the wizardry of PDP leaders and their agents in rigging elections. Besides, the PDP has used the power of incumbency to crowd out, intimidate, and eliminate the opposition. In a country where politicians are opportunists, the bandwagon of the stomach has driven too many politicians in the direction of the PDP, creating the semblance of a one-party state.

The President further noted that the PDP-government has introduced a number of economic policies that are beneficial to the people including the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS), and the Vision 20-2020. We concede that there has been a lot of creativity on the economic front by the PDP Government, but the funny news is that this has not translated into measurable difference· in the lives of the people.

Growth in the Nigerian economy in the last nine years has been more artificial than real, and the neo-liberal, tree-market economic approach that the PDP appears to have adopted hook, line and sinker is precisely what is now unravelling before us with grave consequences for investors and the ordinary man who is now being told that he would have to pay more taxes to fund Budget 2009. The people still ask, almost in vain: where are the dividends of democracy? ,

President Yar’Adua talked about national cohesion and how the PDP has managed to keep the military in the barracks. The point about national cohesion is obviously a myth. Nigeria is as much a divided society today as it was in 1960. And the PDP should not take credit for keeping the military out of political power. The credit should go to the hapless people of Nigeria who in the face of the inefficiency of the PDP have nonetheless accepted democracy as a kind of blackmail. The Nigerian people have since found themselves at a crossroads where they embrace civilian rule because the alternative cannot be contemplated. It is like a choice between colonial rule and independence, even if the new masters have proven to be worse than the soldiers before them.

All the strange bedfellows, except Dr Alex Ekwueme, a founding father of the party attended the Akwa Ibom reunion of the PDP. The party’s big men admitted that there are cracks within the party and there had been some funny attempts at reconciliation, with Mallam Adamu Ciroma noticing Obasanjo’s presence, Obasanjo shaking hands with Chief Tony Anenih, or Chief­Solomon Lar exchanging banters with General Olusegun Obasanjo. But the truth of the relationship crisis in the PDP was not lost on keen observers.

It is a divided political party, a party where the end justifies all the means and the meanness, and where the party register is full of obituaries. Across the country, there is so much strife in PDP constituencies, In terms of values, the PDP has gone down the scale in the last ten years, and the direction is clearly, permanently Southern. But while the party leaders pretended to be on good terms, they forgot to spare a moment or even a thought for all the victims of PDP’s power politics, the men and women whose lives have been sacrificed by ambitious and greedy party members. In Akwa Ibom, in a celebratory mood was this party and its members who forget so easily.

General Obasanjo the party’s Board of Trustees Chairman was definitely in such amnesiac fit. He is on record as having told his audience that he is vindicated on Obong Victor Attah and had added that Godswill Akpabio is a performing, Governor. “You are a working Governor”, he reportedly said. “I am very proud of you. Every time I see you, I feel happy. You are not a suffering and smiling Governor; you are a working and smiling Governor. God bless you”. Governor Akpabio deserves the praise, but did Obasanjo have to put down Obong Attah in order to praise Akpabio? That was a cheap shot, but this is the spirit of the PDP, a party of mean-spirited power mongers. It is also funny seeing Obasanjo playing the role of a praise-singer. How times change!

Back to President Yar’Adua’s speech, he had tried to provide a sense of balance when he admitted that “our (that is the PDP’s) electoral process is not of standard”. Trust Obasanjo: he added a riposte that “there is room for improvement and – that it is only a bad family that washes its dirty linen in public”. But who does not know that the PDP is a party of Godfathers, family members, thugs and ballot box snatchers? It is also a party of corrupt men and women. The EFCC says between 1999 and 2007, 31 Governors were indicted for corruption.

These are PDP Governors mainly. The EFCC in its latest report has also disclosed that in the past one ,ear alone, politicians have stolen N21 billion of taxpayers money, and again, these are mostly PDP politicians. In PDP states, violence is the principal instrument of dialogue and the graveyard is full of many PDP corpses. In Akwa Ibom, party leaders couldn’t even bother to observe a minute’s silence in honour of the lost lives and the rivers of blood that the party has had to shed to remain in power.

In nine years of PDP preeminence, there has been very little growth in the economy; the cost of living continues to rise, public infrastructure is in a state of decay. The country’s external reserves are big ($65 billion?), but the people at home are losing weight. There is so much anguish and anxiety in the land in the face of pervasive inefficiency and the failure of the rule of law.

The average Nigerian remembers the PDP as the party of the late Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu, Chris Uba, Okija shrine, Marshall Harry, Dikibo,’ the Odi mas­sacre, the Bakassi sell-out, rising prices, nation­wide insecurity, Niger Delta crisis and so on. And this is the political party that inflicted General Olusegun Obasanjo on Nigerians. Very few Nigerians are happy when they see the former PDP President. And after Obasanjo, the party has also inflicted on us. Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, under whose government we are all still suffering and smiling eighteen months later. Party Deceiving People truly?

The advantage that the PDP enjoys is the absence of a functional opposition. Government being the largest distributor of largesse, politicians in the opposition goes across at night to lobby for favours from the ruling party. Members of the legislatures have lost the appetite for constructive objection. They are all unable to challenge the PDP hegemony and its power brokers. As PDP members celebrate the tenth anniversary of their party, Nigerians must worry about building a credible opposition and making the vote of the average Nigerian count. With the PDP, Nigeria has lost an opportunity in the last nine years or so, to develop the infrastructure for national renewal.

In its communiqué at the end of the Uyo event, the PDP restated its commitment to power rota­tion. It doesn’t quite matter. What is needed is a reform of the PDP. And what the country needs is to build a strong opposition party system to deepen the people’s capacity to make a choice and to encourage greater competition in the political field. Individually and collectively. A strong political party system based on the principles of equity, representation, diversity and choice is impor­tant for the growth of democracy. PDP members place too much emphasis on power, that empha­sis should shift to service. If PDP members still find cause to celebrate, well, good for them, but let us worry more about what is good for Nigeria and its future.

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