25th January, 2011
The Peopleâ€™s Democratic Party of Nigeria is the most vilified and maligned party in the country today. Many other political parties wish that it implodes and disintegrates into smithereens. I am sure some other political parties have tried spiritual abracadabra to cause confusion within the PDP and ease it into oblivion.
The former loquacious PDP chairman once predicted that the party will rule Nigeria for 50 years. He boasted that the PDP was the biggest, richest and best organised party in sub-Saharan African.
This piece is not about the glorification of the PDP but to show that all the other political parties (combined) are not opposition enough for the Peopleâ€™s Democratic Party. In terms of logistics, operation, internal cohesion and national spread, the PDP is still way ahead of all other political parties in Nigeria. And this is a very sad tale for Nigerian politics.
For instance the last presidential primaries of the PDP was a spectacle to behold. The presidential primaries held on 13 January 2011 at the Eagle Square in Abuja was a great success and boost for democracy in Nigeria. Its openness and transparency are incontestable and for the first time since 1999, the PDP adopted a semblance of the American state primaries by labeling the ballot boxes state by state.
Even though the American system differs by holding the presidential primaries state by state, the PDP system of labeling ballot boxes on state basis is the right innovation by the Prof. Tunde Adeniran-led Electoral Committee.
The strategy of state primaries is to enable whoever emerges presidential candidate to concentrate more efforts on those states where his campaigns were either ineffective or inadequate. As we know, the primaries is only a ticket for the big arena of battle ahead.
A few hours after the PDP primaries in Abuja another presidential primaries took place in Lagos on Friday 15 January 2011, but it was a non-event and an anti-climax as the presidential candidate emerged without the political melodrama of anticipatory pressure soaking, anxiety, skipped heartbeats and the final unfolding of reality. While the Abuja primaries was a nerve racking, horse-trading scenario, its Lagos counterpart was a ceremonial selection whereby two contending candidates were forced to step down for someone perceived to possess a â€œbetterâ€ credential. The Lagos primary which was billed to commence at 10 a.m. did not start until afternoon as the political party concerned had to put its house in order to avoid spleen-venting by the aggrieved and disallowed presidential candidates.
Most political parties in Nigeria are too busy criticising the PDP that they are left with no time to put their own houses in order. Nigerian democracy could move forward if we jettison political selection for free and fair democratic elections either in primaries or the main elections.
What democracy are we practicing when a political godfather selects a presidential candidate for his party, selects a governorship candidate for his party, selects those who represent his party at the federal legislature. This godfather transmutes his status to that of Almighty God and most uninformed Nigerians call such a man a political leader. That a man wins court cases for his party by Machiavellian mea