15 years of PDP: Nigerians suffering not smiling

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The Presidential Election of 2015 will go down as a critical turning point in the historical and political life of the country, as Nigerians deal with the reality of the merger political alliance and the birth of the All Progressives Party (APC).

It is becoming clear that incumbent President may indeed seek a second four-year term under the banner of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), making the contest an interesting one.

It would be against the grain of Nigeria’s leadership history if he were to demit office voluntarily, without a whimper after all the posturing, regardless of the underperfomance that has characterized his tenure.

The period between 1999 and 2014 saw a broad loss of political legitimacy, unprecedented increase in corruption, poor or negative economic growth, electoral experiment and fraud, political violence, and rising tide of divide and conflicts along ethnic and regional lines. As a result, many political analysts and political observers, including human rights advocates, civil servants and Nigerians in Diaspora, are concluding that if Nigeria hopes to rebuild on sound democratic principles, she must address the leadership and governance problem head on.

PDP has ruled Nigeria for 15 years. In doing so, PDP failed to adequately promote and sustain democratic tendencies and behavior. PDP failed to set a new political and social culture and order. PDP failed to control or check the growth of corruption. PDP failed to improve public education. PDP failed to be transparent and accountable. PDP failed to mitigate ethnic, regional, and religious conflicts and cleavages. PDP failed to capitalize on the gains in liberalization of the national economy and the benefits of regionalization and globalization, and in our recent memory, PDP continues to fail to check the Boko Haram insurgency, which is tearing apart the fabric and character of the nation.

PDP has released a strategy document titled “2013-2015: Political power and governance road map.” The reelection committee felt there was an urgent need for the PDP government to establish a Political Intelligence Unit (PIU). The PIU “collates and analyses data on current political power dynamics, the alignment and re-alignment of political forces, maneuvers of political groupings and blocs, emerging political trends, and the strategic trajectory of opposition political forces”.

The strategy also calls for responsibility for the deep and strategic penetration of the media, civil society, labor, organized non-state actors, front political structures, and develop time-phased application of multivalent political resources to create a safe and conducive operating political space for President Goodluck Jonathan’sre-election. Furthermore, the strategy calls for management of President Goodluck Jonathan political profile and promotion of his vision and mission in the second term. APC’s capacity to mobilize mass participation will be greatly challenged.

APC must design a comprehensive political blueprint and establish a political manifesto geared toward winning the hearts and minds of ordinary Nigerians, without relying on bullying, scare or intimidation tactics which pervade PDP governance. To the extent that the proposed National Conference, on the surface, seems to be a welcome idea, even when all indications are that it is no more than diversionary tactics on the part of a drowning Presidency, seeking to obfuscate and confuse APC should capitalize on the outcomes of the conference, by ensuring that though it has seen through the ruse of the Conference, it positions grassroots representation to insist on decency and accountability in all processes of the Conference.

APC should not condone electoral malpractices and fraud.The return to legitimate democracy in Nigeria should be the goal.” National politics has remained about individual aspirations, vote buying, and the use of thugs for political campaigns, ballot box snatching and rigging during elections.
Political ideology and democratic values and principles should co-exist in our democratic practice.

APC should welcome anyone willing to be part of the new political dispensation including the likes of Atiku Abubakar, who defected from the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) a few weeks ago. Similarly, those from the state level who defected should be encouraged but APC must be cautious.
If APC wants to successfully move beyond merely accommodating discontented PDP loyalists, whose agendas and commitment are questionable, APC needs to reorient them to the new vision. To this end, there is need to have workshops and seminars at the highest levels for the defectors, to debrief them and to sensitize them to the new direction Nigeria must trod in order that the persistent poverty which has been the lot of the masses of Nigerians are a thing of the past.

Nigerians want change. Nigerians want the youths to be well educated and employed. APC must insist on the rule of law and due process. APC must ensure that new entrants into the fold understand that the change will be gradual and purposeful. Change must be drastic but yet gradual. APC must avoid profligacy, nepotism, and cronyism.APC must promote meritocracy and inclusiveness. This will frame the APC’s political ideology as it attempts to streamline big government into a modern people oriented governance machinery atuned to delivering service, protecting life and property, maintaining law and order and ensuring justice returns for the benefit of all Nigerians, regardless of class, gender, faith or other differences.