PDP as stick in our throat

Casmir Igbokwe

 

The recent scuffle over N10, 000 by some supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party in Ikirun, Osun State, typifies what the ruling party has become. A party chieftain had reportedly given out the money. But these thugs disagreed over the sharing formula. Hence, they freely used broken bottles, charms and knives to settle the quarrel. This resulted in the chopping off of the ear of one of them. 

 

Troubled by variegated crises, the PDP is afraid even of its shadows. It parades influential godfathers and boasts that it will rule for 60 years (or is it 100 years?) But from the way things are going, the self-styled largest party in Africa may not live to see those years. And unless it maps out strategies to provide genuine leadership and correct some perfidy within its ranks, it may be dragging the entire nation along its thorny and destructive path.

 

The party is currently strategising on how to ensure the victory of Liyel Imoke in the forthcoming gubernatorial election rerun in Cross River State. Last month, the Court of Appeal in Calabar nullified the election of Imoke as governor. The former Power and Steel Minister, you will recall, was one of the characters the House of Representatives Committee on Power interrogated recently over the mismanagement of the power sector funds. 

 

Nigerians are anxiously awaiting the report of this panel. But a report in the SUNDAY TRIBUNE last Sunday indicated that the boss of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mrs Farida Waziri, visited the Presidential villa two days after the National Chairman of the PDP, Chief Vincent Ogbulafor, took Imoke to see President Umaru Yar’Adua. Besides, the report of the panel has been unduly delayed. The question is, are there attempts to sweep some issues under the carpet?

 

Speculation is rife that the report of the panel is being delayed to protect some powerful interests in the ruling party. The rumour is that if the report indicts Imoke, releasing it will put a question mark on his candidacy for the rerun election.

 

Some recent events seem to give credence to this insinuation. At first, members of the committee started quarrelling over how to write the report. Some of them even denied being part of the one submitted to the House by its chairman, Mr Ndudi Elumelu. To worsen matters, Tell Magazine alleged in a recent publication that the committee took a N100m bribe from a contractor in Port Harcourt.

 

Elumelu, though, had categorically denied the bribery allegation. Nigerians, he said, had suffered untold hardship as a result of power failure. He fumed, “Let us stop deceiving ourselves. It is important to tell Nigerians the truth. The National Integrated Power Project never existed in the first place…Anybody who takes bribe not to expose what has gone wrong will be taking blood money and will know no rest.” He said some people were frustrating efforts to make the report public. The House ethics and privileges committee is already investigating the allegation. But how far it can go to restore the confidence of Nigerians remains to be seen. Perhaps, by the time they eventually make the report public, Imoke will have assumed power again. By then, any noise about his indictment or otherwise will have no effect, as the ruling party will plead immunity.

 

Already, the party is making efforts to present him as the darling of the people. Market women and students, for instance, had protested the annulment of his election on the streets of Calabar. This is not surprising because the unofficial slogan of the PDP is “share the money.” The other one is “do-or-die.” The most annoying thing is that the nullification of rigged elections has not changed anything. The courts have unwittingly extended the tenure of these governors. Adamawa State Governor, Murtala Nyako’s election was nullified. He re-contested and won. The same thing happened in Kogi, Bayelsa and Sokoto States. Cross River State is another one waiting in the wings.

 

The Senate President, David Mark, was unlucky that the Appeal Court in Jos upheld his own election. If it had ordered a rerun, Mark would have cruised to an extended tenure. When I saw his supporters and hangers-on popping champagne, clinking glasses and dancing to his victory, I was forced to shout, “Pee Dee Pee…! Share the money!”

 

I don’t really blame them because the party is feeding fat on the absence of a virile opposition. Apart from the publicity secretary of the Action Congress, Lai Mohammed, who tackles the ruling party on the pages of newspapers, I have not seen any concerted efforts by other opposition parties to confront the inanities of the PDP. Some leaders of the so-called opposition collect money and pledge their loyalty to the ruling party. Some governorship candidates in one of the Southwest states recently decamped to the PDP. Where then lies ideology? you may ask.

 

It is this bread and butter politics of ours that is causing ripples at different levels in the PDP. In Anambra State, about six factions are fighting one another. There is some spice of juju in the war in Ekiti State. Even when the Alhaji Shuaibu Oyedokun-led reconciliation committee is still preparing its report, two factions emerged in the state chapter of the party. In Oyo, the war is taking a toll on party garrisons and platoons. In Plateau State, supporters of the erstwhile deputy Senate President, Ibrahim Mantu, are licking their wounds. They accused the party of betraying Mantu because he lost the rerun election of the Plateau Central Senatorial District to an AC candidate, Sagir Gogwin. At the national level, Ogbulafor contends with a lot of forces.  

 

To escape its self-inflicted wounds, the largest party in Africa says other parties are plotting to truncate our democracy. The National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Prof. Rufai Alkali, who reportedly made the allegation, premised his argument on the fact that some opposition leaders like Chief Bisi Akande, Alhaji Balarabe Musa and Alhaji Buba Galadima granted press interviews disparaging the ruling party.

 

Weep not, PDP. You should first put your house in order and then impress it on those who mounted the mantle of leadership on your platform to start giving dividends of democracy to the citizenry. You should direct your members in the National Assembly to stop toying with the Freedom of Information Bill Nigerians are earnestly asking for.

 

The ruling party should also take heed of what happened in Turkey last month. The ruling AK Party escaped an outright ban for allegedly undermining the country’s secular system. Judges at the country’s Constitutional Court rather cut half the party’s treasury funding for this year. The court case reportedly arose out of confrontations between the AKP (which has Islamic roots), and secularists.

 

Also late last month, Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, said he would step down in two months time following allegations of illegal election donations levelled against him. Although he pleaded innocent, he said he would quit as soon as his Kadima ruling party chooses a new leader on September 17. As he put it, “I am proud to be the prime minister of a country that investigates its prime ministers.”

 

Can the characters at our own ruling party emulate Olmert? Pee Dee Pee…!                 

 

 

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