Vanguard (Lagos)

21 January 2013

Nigeria: PDP Bigger Than Nothing

CONTRADICTIONS that distinguish the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, from all others sustain it.

A party that, in its 15 years, has never elected its national chairman, talks of democracy with the same glibness it practises it and it works.

Current chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, in reminding his members that none of them is bigger than the party, makes the same argument about the supremacy of the party without proof of its efficacy. Supremacy of the party is based on laws not the whims PDP instituted in those 15 years.

The rebellion of governors and other PDP members is based on the inferiority of the party which built over the years through wanton breaking of its constitution from its foreclosure of the debates on zoning to tweaking it to suit immediate needs.

How does PDP intend to punish the mutineers? Can it punish them without further endangering its position?

Is the PDP chairman just noticing the powers of governors, whose candidates dominate the National Working Committee?

Tukur suffers the double disability of his partisan interests in the turmoil over the executive of the party in his native Adamawa and the weak support he would get from a President whose hands are full battling the same governors and his own various burdens.

Tukur is at most disposable and the history of former seven PDP chairmen is a study in this regard.

When Tukur was governor 30 years ago, politics was a game of numbers - that has not changed. What appears lost on Tukur are the dynamics of today's politics, where as national party executives appropriate shaky power handles at the centre, governors lock up delegates whose votes make all the difference.

During Tukur's days in the National Party of Nigeria, NPN, it was inconceivable that a governor would exchange an unkind word, even in private, with party chairman, Augustus Meredith Akinloye: party discipline saw to that.

Unfortunately, PDP's bigness is based on nothing. It has no verifiable membership. Neither the President nor governors use the party's manifesto (it has one) in their campaigns. PDP is a useful platform for accessing power and easily forgotten until the next elections.

Its national executives bear the moral burden of not being elected. They are unpopular and stooges of the President who handpicks them. Those are not the credentials that could give one the credibility to claim as Tukur did recently, "I am committed to reconciliation, without confrontation. We must run a party based on justice".

The indiscipline in PDP prefaces the larger domineering attitude of politicians, across parties, which makes our democracy uncivil, almost militarised.

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