PDP is Nigeria’s greatest impediment to democracy and the country’s very survival

April 1, 2012


by Tola Adenle


Yewande, dear,

I know; correspondences have flown one way these past couple of months and you know why. Your dare is apt: “Auntie, let’s see you keep mute on the court ruling on Yar Adua!” I could not, and would not!

When a girl says “yes” to a bully, she needn’t complain when she becomes the punching bag of a wanna be boxer. What I’m saying, dear, is that antecedent IS everything. I’m not saying that Nigerians actually elected Retired General Obasanjo (rGO) whose Ogun constituency recorded more votes than the voters’ list number. Nor did his “worthy successor”, a label that Alhaji Yar Adua accepted since he has never repudiated it nor seem capable of straying far from the leash of he who descended from being an internationally-acclaimed “statesman” to an internationally-disdained master rigger – win. What I’m saying is that no white eko could be expected from the black pot of the motley crowd that remained in the Peoples “Democratic” Party (PDP) once its early days were over.

Therefore, Nigerians should have seen it coming by 2003, pardon me, if not earlier. When party primaries at every level meant so-called “chieftains” decided who would run on the platform of the PDP, Nigerians should have seen the sinister hands of dictatorship reaching out. When a party would ask contestants for gubernatorial elections to pick up party “forms” for N5 million naira, it should have been apparent that democracy was up for sale; invest some millions and stand to recoup billions. When an Ibadan “party chieftain” cried out in a full-page ad in which he wondered how an “investor” would be expected to stand by and watch his “investment” go down the drain because a single individual had cornered all the positions that would be shared AFTER the ’03 (s)elections, the ominous clouds of an oligarchy were already gathering.

As a popular saying goes, you cannot give what you do not have and let’s face it, dear, the PDP has no illusion about democracy: “consensus candidates”; dismissal of members who may have other ideas about “party discipline”; governors who cried out to Yar Adua at successive judgements against the PDP several weeks ago to do something to halt the trend, an SOS that might have led the man at the helm to warn the judiciary not to be led into judgements by the public mood, etcetera.

I watched that [CNN’s] Femi Oke’s interview with Alhaji Yar Adua during that maiden UN trip after his crowning by rGO’s electoral body. When asked how he would describe himself, “I am God fearing …” surprised me because one leaves such opinions to others. An almost incurable optimist by nature, I still doubted that any good could come out of the evil that rGO planted in Nigeria but I did entertain ever so slightly the idealistic notion that for a man to say that the fear of God was second nature to him, Nigerians might get recompensed for the rape of April ’07. This was no baseless assumption. Alhaji Yar Adua did confess to the whole world that the elections were very deficient which led me to broach the idea in discussions that with this owning up to be in possession of what, in effect, was “stolen property”, added to the quick setting up of an electoral reform panel, a man whose description of himself tallies with how many had described him, would go to the Presidency, call for another election after say, six months which he would probably forgo, ensure its transparency, and then go down in Nigeria’s history next to the only other hero who ever ruled the country: Murtala Muhammed.

My fancy assumption discounted an important fact: Yar Adua may be a decent man but he’s a politician: “A politician, Proteus-like, must alter his face and habit; and, like water, seem of the same color that the vessel is”. Here is an Aminu Kano-supporter who had metamorphosed to one that could not just accommodate the locust-type collection of men who people the PDP but seems to be coming into his own within a party that is threatening the very survival of this country.

Very early this year, I wrote of my hope that ’08 “be THE year in which Nigeria starts taking real steps to adulthood although how that will happen in the chaos of the moment, … I foresee that something will have to give this year. May that ‘something’ be towards a better Nigeria.”

I think that “something” may become clearer in the next week or so as the party that has elevated undemocratic governance through various means, not excluding thugs-as-godfathers – to high art form – goes for its convention where one-man-one-vote is an aberration. While Alhaji Adamu Ciroma’s name as the Chairman of a review panel for the convention should bring relief to skeptics like me, dear, Nigerians have been taken on such roads that promised big things but have proved equally-big letdowns.

Let’s look at why or how it may prove Herculean to reform this party filled with – how shall I put it, dear – men and women whose pasts are less than positive images for Nigeria. Here’s my description of many in politics, especially the ruling party in “Nigeria, Inc.” back in December 2003: “returnees of the drug pushing variety, credit card scam artists and advance fee fraudsters, … even the diplomatic service and others too numerous to list…”

All one has to do to see that Ciroma already has his work cut out for him as the saying goes is check out newspapers these days and see not only how upside down the country has become but the desperation within the PDP. On a single day recently, here are some items from just two newspapers: “Obasanjo gets desperate, lambasts Speaker …”; “PDP Convention … the ominous signs …”; “I will survive any allegation” – a National Secretary contestant; “Obasanjo and Iwu exult”; “We won’t accept consensus national chairman” [meaning one is being foisted]; “419 lawmakers: Senator Aliyu faces probe”; Olugbo stool crisis: Yar ‘Adua petitioned over … [a mockery of Nigeria’s “federal” system]; “Delta lawmakers split over plot to impeach Speaker”; “Anambra lawmakers want court to void state congress” and “the road to Yar Adua’s victory”.

I’ve made the subject of your letter the last on the list. Most Nigerians know that Yar Adua did not win. Rather than what would amount to a long and winding letter, I’m attaching some respected opinions from those same two newspapers. There’s “Justice made difficult and technical” from the NATION; “In this case, I go by form” and “Yar Adua’s election: God’s case no appeal” both from the VANGUARD for you and your friends to digest. Put little stock, though, on a caption, “how president floored Atiku, Buhari , others in court” because it’s not from a columnist but a reporter although this does not make the reporter’s reading of the strange Appeal Court verdict, any less sad. Add to this the disdainful way Yar Adua took the looming judgement by planning a China trip, later cancelled, to coincide with it. Dear, I had even wondered whether it was for medical reason as that would be the only excusable reason for such a cavalier attitude – nay, more of a fait accompli – towards the expected judgement. After all, witness the elevation of Ogebe, the principal actor to the Supreme Court days before the judgement was delivered!

One’s hopes remain that Nigeria’s fortunes, though inextricably and unfortunately tied to the PDP’s, do not go the way the PDP’s fortunes go. Its leadership has – among other things – planted evil in the land. Witness, again dear, how RGO, a man who once walked with statesmen around the world, announced to the world at Ibadan that the bar the world set for him was too high because he feels more at home in the same depths where he who unleashes matchete-wielders on Ibadan from time to time, operate.

Because you are well, I remain well.
Aunt Tola.

The Nation on Sunday, March 2008.



Nigerian newspapers and online news sources
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  • National Daily Newspaper
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