Reformed Peoples Democratic Fraternity

Casmir Igbokwe

First published in SUNDAY PUNCH, May 2, 2010

 THE other day, the former vice-president, Atiku Abubakar, was waving a broom all over the place. The broom, as you know, is the symbol of the Action Congress. The main rubbish he wanted to sweep away from our consciousness was the Peoples Democratic Party. A few days ago, Atiku became reformed. He dumped the AC and rejoined the PDP, a party he helped to found.

 He has expressed support for the reform of the largest party in Africa. But he wants due process to be followed. The former presidential candidate of the AC was reportedly scared of a dominant one party because a president from such a party might want to rule for life.

Former Senate Presidents, Ken Nnamani and Adolphus Wabara; former Imo State governor, Achike Udenwa; former Gov. Peter Odili of Rivers State and other bigwigs like Ifeanyi Ararume and Aminu Bello Masari are all reformers now. They want to reform the PDP. They believe that the ruling party harbours a lot of rot. They want to stop the rot. They want to make the party more civil, more responsive and more people friendly. They go by the name, Reform Forum.

The PDP suspended 19 of them. They went to court to stop the National Executive Committee meeting of the party that held last Tuesday. Just in the nick of time, the court overturned its earlier ruling and made way for the meeting to hold. I have a feeling that the reformers will be nursing some ill-feelings now. Should they eventually decide to pull out of the PDP, I suggest they adopt ‘Peoples Reformation Party‘ as their name. There is something cool and refreshing about the word ‘reform‘.

 Remember the Ogboni Fraternity. The name meant certain things to certain people. To most Christians in particular, it conjured some frightening images. Certain powers were ascribed to it. Part of the tale was that if one made the mistake of overtaking a member on the road, one would have one‘s fuel drained and transferred to the Ogboni man‘s car. Conscious of some of these negative perceptions, perhaps, the group decided to reform. Thus, it changed its name to Reformed Ogboni Fraternity.

 Brethren, this is what the PDP reformers say they want to do. But I suspect it‘s all bread and butter reformation. Whether at the national, state or local government level; whether at the elite or masses level, the fight in the PDP, as the acting President, Goodluck Jonathan, has observed, is to get more share of the pie in 2011.

The crises cut across. Last week, a faction of the party in Ondo State called a news conference in Akure and announced the suspension of the state chairman, Tayo Dairo, and members of his executive. The leader of the faction, Teniola Dele, announced himself as the interim chairman. Dele‘s group gave Dairo‘s executive 14 days to vacate the party secretariat or risk having a parallel PDP secretariat in the state.

 Also last week in Plateau State, the police reportedly sealed the office of the state caretaker committee of the party led by Abu King-Shuluwa. They premised their action on a court judgement that reportedly declared the sacking of the executive led by Prof. Dakum Shown by the National Working Committee of the party as illegal.

In 2008, some party supporters at Ikirun in Osun State chopped off the ear of one of them over N10, 000. These thugs disagreed over how to share the money given to them by a chieftain of the party in the state. They used broken bottles, charms, and knives to settle scores.

 The problem with the PDP, in the words of a Reform Forum member and former Health Minister, Prof. ABC Nwosu, is “politics of exclusion and winner takes all.” The leader of the group, Nnamani, asked, “How many of us here now can say we are better off now. Yes, we have been in power for 11 years but are we better off today…?”

True, some members of the party are not better off. The country is not better off. Perhaps, the PDP should change its unofficial slogan from “share the money,” to “reform the sharing formula.” Something like, Pee Dee Peeee! Reform the sharing formula!

But what of the opposition parties? They have formed and reformed many times, all to no avail. Some of them pursue parochial issues and champion largely sectional interests. Be it APGA; be it AC; be it PPA, they are no match for the PDP in terms of size, spread, and resources. Now, some of them have come together under the aegis of Mega Summit Movement. They have reportedly sent their application for registration as a political party to the Independent National Electoral Commission. If registered, the new party‘s name will be Social Democratic Mega Party. Hopefully, people like Prof. Pat Utomi, the interim national chairman, will bring some sanity into this new opposition party. That is if the majority of members will not go after reforming their own sharing formula.

 The next few months will be very interesting for Nigeria. There will be alignments and realignments. Some will claim their people asked them to contest. Some youths may emerge to earnestly ask for Jonathan. There are speculations already that he might decide to run for 2011 polls.

 Interestingly, there is election fever in the United Kingdom as well. This week, May 6, there will be general elections in that country. Prime Minister Gordon Brown of the Labour Party, David Cameron of the Conservative Party and Liberal Democrats‘ Nick Clegg are slogging it out now. Their campaign trains are moving from one part of Britain to the other, discussing issues and what they intend to do for the people if elected.

 Watch out what will happen when our campaigns start. You will hear things like, “PDP is a stupid party; its umbrella is leaking. AC is not on the ground. Mega Party is a union of frustrated people,” etc.

Now that the INEC chairman, Maurice Iwu, is out of the way, let‘s see how far we can go in conducting free and fair elections in 2011. The reform must go round.

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3 Comments »

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  2. 2
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  3. 3
    my marty Says:

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