By Truson Sydney
AS Nigeria’s democracy rolls into its third uninterrupted decade, the question on every lip seems to be whether the once-ruling party, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, can ever rediscover itself to pose any threat to the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC. Of course, the answer to that question lies inside the very fabric of PDP; in its disposition to self-destruct and in the hordes of moles and fifth columnists parading as party leaders, and spawning unnecessary controversies and diversion.
At the dawn of democracy in 1999, many parties cropped up but could not survive beyond the election of that year, which produced former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo of PDP. The party held sway and became so strong and almost unbeatable, despite several attempts by others who wanted a taste of power at various levels.
The party survived several implosions that almost broke the very fabric that held it together till 2015, when several parties came together to merge under APC, which eventually untied the winning strategy of PDP and equally beat them to their own game to the surprise of many.
APC leaders, after going through the rigours of a merger in 2014, set aside their individual differences and elected Muhammadu Buhari as the presidential flag bearer of the party for the 2015 elections. Losers of the primary worked for the party with the mind of ‘seizing’ power. To the APC, Buhari was a better candidate with a mass appeal. The disenchantment among the citizenry not only helped prop him up, but also elevated him to the seat of power as man who is claimed to be incorruptible.
The then incumbent President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and his PDP co-travellers were so sure that the gathering of minds in APC could never stop them from re-electing the man from Otuoke for a second term, after the successes of the 2011 elections that saw him emerge due to the death of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.
Their calculations were faulty. Many members who felt aggrieved that they were not handed the flags at various levels, including presidential primaries, sabotaged the party, while some members openly canvassed, worked and organised for APC to win and enthrone Buhari.
There was more of distrust than support among PDP members. They never believed that the broken pieces of the party after the 2015 shocker could be mended. Most PDP members, like kids being dealt with by hunger pangs, could not piece it together. They abandoned the party and began working for the APC discreetly. The few who attempted to hang on and rally round some were branded saboteurs, thereby further discouraging the few who still thought that something could be done.
As the pressure mounted, it became obvious that places like Ekiti, where Ayo Fayose was governor; Benue with Gabriel Suswam, and Ondo with Olusegun Mimiko, still had something to offer but were being bamboozled and harassed to further cow and destabilise the few who dared to remain and rebuild PDP. Today, with attention shifting to the 2023 elections, and the off-season elections in between, PDP is still drifting.
The problems of the party, too numerous to mention, are a mess that may lead to another shameful end. And this drift may continue if the few selfish leaders, mainly state governors, who want to grab every available position in the party or are working in strong alliance with APC, continue with their gangsterism with state funds, and fail to retrace their steps.
Rather than condemning the electoral heist for what it is, some PDP leaders are buying the APC narrative of internal wrangling in PDP to justify the rigging out of their party, and blaming fellow party members of losing the elections. This is even when every independent observer of the polls is insisting that the votes were not allowed to count.
More so, it is no longer a hidden secret that some of the state governors are taking it to another level. They want to ride on the back of the alleged loss of election to become the new local/regional champions, who decide not only what happens in their own states, but also in neighbouring states. It’s a deadly manifestation of an otherwise healthy sibling rivalry. And it is driven purely by a selfish quest for power.
The 2023 elections in Nigeria may be three years away. The jostle for power has begun. But if PDP wants to actually wrest power from APC, or at least play a relevant opposition, the fifth columnist must be taken care for now.
This must start with identifying and weeding off the saboteurs or reconciliation on all fronts, so that aggrieved and ambitious members can find common grounds. Even boundary disputes among PDP states must settled fast.