17th May, 2010
These are certainly not the best of times for the ruling Peopleâ€™s Democratic Party, PDP. The self-styled largest political party in Africa, which exhibits the characteristics of the ostrich, that big for nothing bird that cannot fly and usually buries its head in the sand when there is danger, is reeling under a plethora of crises and it seems its mantra of ruling Nigeria for the next 60 years has become mere wishful thinking. In most states of the federation where the party is in power, there is no peace within its fold. But its leaders keep saying itâ€™s a family affair.
In Lagos State, the crises within its ranks cost the party the governorship seat in 2007. In Ogun State, there are two parallel excos. Things are not even better in Cross River State where one of the partyâ€™s chieftains and immediate past governor of the state, Donald Duke, has dumped the party for the Labour Party.
It is the same sad story in Edo State where two PDP members in the House of Representatives from the state, Patrick Obahiagbon and Samson Osagie have switched to the Action Congress, AC, because of the protracted crises in the party. At the national level, the crisis has taken a wider dimension with the suspension of over a dozen of its chieftains who wanted to reform it.
Besides, the erstwhile National Chairman of the Party, Vincent Ogbulafor, was forced to resign last week after he was dragged to court by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, for alleged fraud. Crisis is also brewing in the party regarding who should be appointed the Vice President. The partyâ€™s leaders, state governors who are wielding so much influence over the affairs of this nation, the Senate and members of the House of Representatives are all at loggerheads over this issue that is expected to be laid to rest this week.
What may eventually lead to the implosion of the party is the choice of the partyâ€™s standard bearer for the 2011 presidential election. The partyâ€™s zoning formula and the ambition of heavyweights, like Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, who want to contest at all costs, may create deep divisions within the party that may be difficult to resolve amicably in the run-up to the general elections.
Interestingly, if the Goodluck Jonathan administration successfully carries out the electoral reform, PDP will be the worst hit because the party has been the greatest beneficiary of electoral fraud since 1999. With the reform, it will no longer be business as usual for election riggers and the apostles of do-or-die politics.
It is for all these reasons that PDP is seen as one of the greatest threats to the nationâ€™s democracy and unless it puts its house in order, it could be consumed by its internal crises and eventually lose its grip on power at the centre. It is not enough for the party to style itself as the biggest political party in Africa. It must start operating by the rules. The party used to be accused of sowing seeds of discord in other political parties. Now its period of reckoning has come.
PDP must shed its toga of winning elections at all costs and being a â€œnest of killers.â€ This ignominious tag was foisted on it following the spate of killings involving the partyâ€™s chieftains at the national and state levels since 1999. Scores of them are usually killed by suspected political opponents during elections. As it stews in its own juice, 2011 will be a decisive year for the party and its henchmen who think the can impose themselves on the people.