14 July 2017

Nigeria: So the Peoples Democratic Party Is Not Dead

Photo: This Day
PDP supporters waving flags.
opinion

It's pretty simple. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is not dead! Like a specialist performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation, the three-man panel of judges at the Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Onnoghen, gave PDP the kiss of life on Wednesday.

In fact, for the Peoples Democratic Party, the judgment coming hours after the party secured victory in a senatorial race in Osun State, that now serves as a referendum on the future of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state, and at the national level should be a tonic in its music.

But the PDP has for the last two years been a party of no future ambition, despite all the chances it had to bounce back.

I agree that everything in heaven and on earth has been against the survival of the party.

First, the family feud that left the soul of the party in torment.

Second, the hounding of its chieftains into prison after we began to hear of many atrocities committed during the last administration.

Third, the commitment of the Muhammadu Buhari administration to demand restitution from the corrupt leaders, and the remission of their sin at the table of the EFCC acting chairman, Ibrahim Magu, where billions of naira have been refunded for leniency.

But the PDP actually could have managed to build a good reputation in the Senate in the last two years, despite its challenges.

Sadly, PDP lost its voice from the beginning in the Senate as its strong membership in the Senate turned brown-nosers, declaring support for Senate President Bukola Saraki, a smart politician with deft moves, who is not in the good book of his own party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).

This act of being obsequious to Saraki has left PDP with no political identity. Will the party now retake the territory and begin to consolidate on its recorded gains this week?

It will take PDP members in the National Assembly to improve the party's image in the minds of the people and I think that is where the party's caretaker committee chairman, Ahmed Makarfi, needs to work simultaneously as he begins reconciliation moves that address indiscipline, injustice and incontinent--in the PDP leadership--which gave the party resounding defeat in the last general election.

In the Senate, PDP needs to change the rhythm by sitting and standing where it belongs--opposition.

It is clear that with its rejection during the 2015 election PDP got a single mandate from the people and that is to help advance legislation by forcing APC-led government to come clean before the people, to scrutinise APC's proposed bills and enactments, and to expose every vested interests and shady deals that could compromise governance.

Indeed, were PDP senators ready to improve the chances of the party in 2019, they would have learnt some strategies from the Labour Party in the United Kingdom and the Democratic Party in the United States.

The two parties continue to improve their chances during the next election with aggressive opposition that continue to blow the lid open on the current governments in the two countries.

Germaine Greer, the author of international bestseller, Female Eunuch, who lives in the United Kingdom, responded to a question on what do you want from an opposition party recently, and this is what she said: "The opposition has to be content to oppose until such time as it may find itself in office, when it can expect to be opposed in its turn."

Greer's mind about the role of opposition is clear. It is simply to put the government in power on its toes to fulfill its promises. Sadly, in our own case, the PDP in the Senate is acting like an extension of the APC-- some kind of numbers needed to ratify any APC enactment that requires two-third of the Senate.

Interestingly, because there's no opposition party asking the APC the hard questions, the party is also carrying on the same way PDP did-- silly fudge and floundering. The result is plain: unimpressive leadership and division.

If not, how do you explain this that the APC-led Senate is constantly in a brawl with its own executive arm of government over confirmation of people to be appointed to run the government?

Now, when you consider the example of what happened in the recent election in Britain, a man at the centre of the Labour Party, Jeremy Cobyn, performed a miracle that nearly puts Labour back in government. What he did was simple: Cobyn ensured MPs under the Labour Party forced government retreats on several of their most regressive policies such as welfare cuts and tax rises on the self-employed with a deal on Brexit vote.

But much more, the Labour Party under Cobyn has gone into aggressive political marketing using community engagement and empowerment through grassroots groups to build a movement that can get the party back to No 10 Downing Street with quality leadership that is truly transformative.

If you wonder how the party is achieving its goals as we have seen in the recent election, Emma Rees, who is a national organiser for a left wing British political organisation named Momentum, an offshoot of Cobyn's successful campaign to lead the Labour Party in 2015 explained how Labour is playing the opposition card in communities.

I think her thesis will make a good study for the PDP. One interesting thing is that Rees is a young woman just like many others in the Momentum.

And this, Momentum is less than two-year-old in the life of British politics, yet it has already changed the rhythm.

"Our activists are on the front line of fighting Tory austerity in communities, resisting cutbacks in hospitals, schools, domestic violence, youth and mental health services. In addition to campaigning against these devastating cuts, they are also providing real support to those most affected by them, through local food banks, and by forming credit unions and housing advice surgeries. By filling the void created by the Tories and providing real solidarity in communities across the country, Momentum activists and local Labour party members are putting our socialist politics into practice, while exposing the vandalism of this heartless government," Rees wrote. Can PDP find Momentum?

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