With the complete routing of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) by the All Progressives Congress (APC) at the Presidential, Gubernatorial and Assembly Elections, as one of many who played some role in the electioneering process, I felt it is necessary to share some insights on why I believe the PDP lost and APC won. Most of the facts are certainly out there in the public domain. Even so, lending credence to them and shading some more light on their interplay and bringing forth some salient factors that may have been overlooked, would help in deepening our understanding of what has just happened in our democratic experience.
Absence of political party system
The fact is: there are no political parties in the real sense of the word in Nigeria as of today. In the First and Second Republics, the Political Parties were formed on ideological and programme basis. Thus, the National Council of Nigerians and Cameroons (later, National Council of Nigerian Citizens), Action Group, Northern People’s Congress, NEPU and so on, had very clear ideological leanings, which made their memberships predictable as Nigerian masses fanned out accordingly in very predictable patterns.
Today’s political party formation, particularly the PDP, lacked any ideological directions. Starting from the 3 initial political parties which played the political field in 1999, it is obvious that each was mere marriage of convenience, as a lot of members could be seen to be strange bedfellows. Bola Ige is believed to have written the Constitutions of those 3 Political Parties. Progressives and conservatives are bunched together indiscriminately with only one thing in common: quest for power. Such awkward assemblages in the name of political parties clearly ignore the basic rules and principles governing political party formation and its peopling.
The absence of political ideologies made movement from one Political Party to another so fluid, to the point that what one thinker christened ‘political jumpology’ (apologies Poet Maxim Uzoatu) became as easy as changing underwear. The capping of this could be the decamping from the PDP, by 5 Governors (Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of Kano State, Abdulfata Ahmed of Kwara State, Wamako Of Sokoto State) and the PDP calling their bluff. Babangida Aliyu of Niger State and Sule Lamido of Jigawa state stayed back in the PDP but with their States going to the opposition (the APC) in all the elections, it is doubtful that their hearts and their heads were actually with the PDP.
There is no doubt that it was the votes of the defected PDP Governors that denied President Goodluck Jonathan reelection. Kano alone delivered 2 million votes approximately to APCand Buhari won with less than three million votes.
Two important lessons are derivable from this manner of decamping. For one, it is a repeat of history. In the 60’s NCNC won majority seats in the Western House of Assembly and could have formed government were it not for decamping by some members who won seats to the Western House on the platform of NCNC, to Action Group. Augustus Meredict Adisa Akinloye, who later became chairman of the defunct National Party of Nigeria (NPN) led the decamping.
Apart from such precedence, there is no law stopping it. In fact, the Supreme Court of Nigeria ruled that decamping is in order, especially where there is division in the suffering party.
Apart from the 5 Governors handing vicitory to the opposition on a platter, apart from Zamfara, Yobe, Borno, Oyo, Ogun, Nassarawa, all the other winners in APC at the gubernatorial election, all migrated from pdp. To say nothing of numerous others who won seat at the Assembly polls jumping from the PDP.
For the avoidance of doubt, as political organizations, it is true that political parties seek to influence government policy, by nominating their own candidates and trying to seat them in political offices. Parties participate in electioneering campaigns and political mass education. But more importantly, Parties exist to espouse known ideologies and visions bolstered by specific goals and form coalitions among disparate interests only where necessary. The big idea is to win an opportunity to steer the ship of governance to a higher level and thus make life more abundant to a greater number citizens and not power grab for its own sake, as is the order today.
It then follows that a political party that cannot participate in elections is improperly so called and a mockery. At best it is a pressure group engaging in protest actions for advancing its own interest. Political parties do not exist for the sole purpose of endorsing and adopting candidates of other political parties as is presently the case. By so doing, it makes nonsense of the fundamental reason why political parties exist. In the concluded presidential election in Nigeria, only 14 out of over 40 political parties could participate. Even at that, only the PDP and APC contested with any real hope or chance of winning. It is a development that has led Nigeria’s multiparty democracy into a sticky situation.
This is a story for another day. But it must be pointed out that it does appear some Nigerians have seized the liberal guidelines for the registration of political parties to engage in it as mere pastime and have no due regard for the serious responsibilities associated with parties as political organizations. For the avoidance of doubt, political parties exist to offer alternative platforms to citizens who have the passion to serve their country and have something serious to contribute to nation building effort. That is why political parties are ideologically driven. Yet, in Nigeria, the political parties have no clear ideology, nor programmes.
APC’s peculiar promises
In the 2015 electioneering all the electorate could hear was, ‘we will create millions of jobs’, ‘we will restore electricity’ and so on, without any clear illumination of the state of things and a plausible road map round it. The fear APC now is that they may have promised too much and may not have paid sufficient attention t the means and realities on ground. What can be called Buhari’s 10 point agenda against which the masses would judge him soon after assumption of office on May 29, are:
1. End corruption in Nigeria
2. Make N1.00 = US$1.00
3. Provide 24 hours electricity in entire Nigeria
4. Fix all the roads and streets in Nigeria
5. Pay every unemployed graduate N5,000 per month for 2 years.
6. Jail all the thieves in Nigeria.
7. End fuel scarcity, achieve N40 PMS pump price, make all Refineries work 100% capacity, Build 4 mega Refineries in Nigeria
8. End Boko haram insurgency, etc.
If the APC fails to deliver on its rather too many promises, it will pave way to the return of the PDP or for emergence of a third force where the PDP fails to rebuild and regain the confidence of Nigerians.
So, this rebuilding period offers the fallen giant (PDP) a rare opportunity to reach out to its inner recesses, do thorough soul searching and purge itself of the factors that led to its sudden fall. It has to redefine its interest ideologically and encourage the return of only genuine adherents. It would take an uncommon sacrifice and last men standing, like Senator David Mark just promised.
Law Mefor is an Abuja based Media Strategist and Forensic Psychologist
Scenarios like this will play out here and there, at Federal and State levels, before Nigerians will believe the PDP has regained perspectvie and trust it again with power. For example, their Excellencies, Senator Dr. David Mark, GCON and Senator Dr. Ike Ekweremadu, CFR, Senate President and Deputy Senate President respectively, are both returning as senators but very unlikely in those exulted capacities. Playing good opposition leaders means that Mark and Ekweremadu must not shy away from the 8th Senate; they are required to sit it out as ordinary members and be ruled out of order, as they did to other senators while presiding over the Senate plenary in the last 8 years.
This will be difficult but it is essentially the first test of the willingness of the PDP leaders to bounce back in record time, and Mark and Ekweremadu, in the face of their Party’s dwindling fortunes and quality membership, are well suited to blaze this trail. After all, Evans Enwerem, Chuba Okadigbo and Adolphpus Wabara all sat it out as ordinary senators when they were removed as Senate Presidents in this dispensation in the banana peels days of Obasanjo.
If the PDP takes its colossal loses in its stride, 2 Party system will find base in Nigeria. It doesn’t, then, a Third Force is like to emerge. Time will tell. (Part 2 dwells on the Reasons for the Implosion in the PDP).