Along with the forthcoming Anambra State governorship election scheduled for 6th November, the PDP national convention held 30-31 October are a sort of bellwether for the main opposition party, PDP and a referendum for the ruling APC. The assertion above is underscored by the fact that both events would serve as a sort of barometer on the organizational preparedness of the PDP to reclaim its old glory as the ruling party and a peep into what the electorate is thinking of the current main opposition party with respect to whether it would be voted back to power at the centre in 2023.
It would be recalled that following the return of multi-party democracy in Nigeria in 1999, the PDP emerged as the ruling party at the centre and held sway back-to-back for 16 years until 2015, when it lost control to the APC which is a coalition of five opposition political parties that coalesced into one formidable political force that unseated the PDP, then ruling party.
Since 2015, the current main opposition party has been struggling without success to regain control of the political leadership at the centre.
But given the litany of leadership failures by the current ruling party ranging from the unprecedented level of insecurity nationwide, to the extent that bandits are said to be closing in on Abuja the federal capital city,(after recent invasion and kidnapping of a professor and his family in university of Abuja) lack of inclusivity in governance, also known as marginalization of other nationalities and nepotism by the incumbent president that have spurred the emergence of sundry separatist movements across lgbo and Yoruba nations that are contending that they prefer to be decoupled from Nigeria rather than be enslaved; an ugly development that has plunged the country into socioeconomic and political doldrums of Olympian proportions: the stage seems to have been set for the return of the PDP as the number one occupant of Aso Rock Villa, from 2023.
As an aside: how can bandits or religious insurgents that the authorities in Abuja have been boasting as having been degraded and only attacking soft targets in the hinterland be encircling Abuja, the federal capital territory as is currently being reported in the mass media and as reflected by the heightened security alert in the federal capital ? Sometimes it is better for government spokesmen to keep their mouths bridled and spare the masses of the ire of these daredevil marauders who are without compunctions than to open their mouths and trigger an avalanche of avoidable catastrophe on harmless Nigerian masses. Apparently , the nefarious ambassadors (for lack of a better term) get riled up by the unhelpful utterances of government spokesmen that appear to provoke them to want to do more damage to government by harming innocent citizens in the bid to prove the spokesmen of the authorities wrong. We have witnessed the outlaws do so by attacking military formations (as has been the case lately) and now they are laying siege on Abuja(as reported in the media) the seat of government power , perhaps to controvert the authorities and prove that the Insurgency is still very much alive , potent and dangerous.
On the issue of the confidence being projected by the PDP that it would win the presidency in 2023 which is being bolstered by their successful wrapping up of their convention at the end of October without rancour as most of the 21 offices were filled via consensus, (except the office of vice chairman, South West which was settled through voting)coming out of the convention without any individual or a splinter group heading to the courts to seek redress or forming a parallel executive committee or even an alternative party, (which was the case when nPDP was set up by a breakaway faction) the main opposition party, PDP has proven that it possess the cohesiveness amongst its leadership that is required to engage the ruling party, APC in the battle for the presidency in the next election circle.
With the convention failing to implode as had been predicted, and former chairman Uche Secondus, (suspended chairman of the party) failing to prevail in the courts in his bid to stop the convention: instead the party seem to have waxed stronger as the conference was organized in a most tranquil atmosphere resulting in a win -win outcome.
And l could literarily hear the PDP exhaling and exclaiming ‘one down and two more to go’.
Having trained myself to understand politicians by taking note of their foibles and antecedents then matching the findings with prevailing political dynamics , l understand that they don’t rest on their oars. Hence it should not be surprising that the PDP might have also set its eyes on clinching the next jewel-Anambra state gubernatorial election on November 6.
In light of the desperation of the two major political parties to add Anambra state to their sphere of influence, in addition to the very high calibre candidates contesting for the governorship of the state, it is apparent that the election which promises to be the bellwether for the PDP on 2023 general elections, and referendum for the APC would be the hardest nut to crack for both parties. More succinctly put, having the PDP candidate , Valentine Ozigbo or Andy Uba as the number one citizen presiding in governor’s Mansion, Awka , Anambra state would be foreshadowing the ambition of the main opposition party PDP to take over Aso rock villa in 2023 and the chances of the ruling party in retaining the presidency, post Buhari regime.
Having lost Ebonyi and Cross Rivers as well as Zamfara states to the ruling party via cross carpeting of three former PDP governors to the APC, it would be imperative for the PDP to have a coveting ambition of one of its own in the top echelon of the political architecture in Anambra state. By the same token, a loss to the APC would be a wakeup call to change its strategy and tactics.
And there is every likelihood that after the anticipated victory in Awka, PDP would then set its eyes on the July 16, 2022 gubernatorial contest in Osun State in order to regain more states in its fold.
Osun state may be a much easier territory to capture for the PDP than Anambra due to the current feud between the former governor, Rauf Aregbesola, currently, minister of the interior and his successor Gboyega Oyetola.
The assertion above is underscored by the value embedded in the conventional wisdom, ‘A House Divided Can Not Stand.’
Considering that the PDP only lost Osun to the ruling APC party due to the intimidation of voters by security agents allegedly at the behest of the authorities in Abuja, the weak link arising from the internal conflicts in the ruling party in the state to reclaim the mandate presumed to have been lost through a sleight of hand in favour of the incumbent by the ruling party at the centre .
That unwholesome event nearly four years ago represents to political watch dogs , one of the earliest rape of democracy by the ruling party which has since added to her list of actions that amount to violations of the ethos of democracy such as the raiding of the homes of top ranking members of the judiciary including Supreme Court justices culminating in the sacking of the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Walter Onoghen shortly before the 2019 presidential election on the bogus charges of corruption. One thing for sure is that it is the nature of authorities all over the world to go after their adversaries by stopping at nothing to accomplish their goal which may be by hook or crook . Likewise, there are a number of charges that can be levelled against an opponent of government to nail him or her, no matter his or her moral standing. One of such antics is to level the charge of corruption against a target and try to prove it . But the way and manner such political shenanigans are executed in Nigeria has been at best crass . And it is a reflective of the character and capacity of those whose duty it is to influence the president in his policy decision making process .
They brazenly make it look like the case of ‘Give A Dog A Bad So That You Can Hang lt’
Could the incongruity be underpinned by the wise counsel by Andy Stanley? “leaders who don’t listen will eventually be surrounded by people who don’t speak“
Not adhering to the admonition espoused by Andy Stanley,, an evangelical pastor has often proven to be the Achilles heels or bane of multiple leaders, not only in Nigeria but around the world ?
Now, allegations of corruption against public officials stick because it resonates amongst the masses and it often generates sympathy for government and hatred for the fellows being framed because it pertains to messing up with the commonwealth of the hoi polloi which often elicits extreme emotion in our country given the fact that there is belief in the polity that the elite is responsible for the emasculation of the populace via their consistent maladministration of our beloved country over the years . So tagging a public servant with the dishonourable badge of corruption is a classical tool. That is how the late music maestro Fela Ransom Kati, who was a torn in the flesh of government at a point in time was charged with Money laundering simply because he and members of his band had foreign currencies on them in the course of embarking on a foreign trip to perform and earn hard currency abroad .It may also be recalled that in our country, Tam David-West , a professor of morbid anatomy and former cabinet minister for power and energy in 1991, after being put through severe scrutiny and no ‘ smoking gun’ of corruption could be linked to him, because government was determined to ‘nail’ him , was eventually jailed merely for accepting a cup of tea and a gift of wrist watch. Are those instances not hypocritical actions? His experience as a victim of the use of state power of coercion was documented in two books by professor, David-West .
Unsurprisingly, with these past perversion of justice in mind, the allegation against the high ranking members of the body of benchers that were arrested in Gestapo style and arraigned are viewed by most Nigerians as political witch-hunt by a wide spectrum of Nigerians beyond ethnic or religious divide which some people often input in every act of injustice.
In any case , authorities are yet to have any of the charges proven against any of the victims of the mid night assault by the executive arm of government.
No wonder most Nigerians deem such acts of executive high handedness as acts of political subterfuge designed to intimidate the other arms of the three arms of government and also ploy to undermine the will of voters .
With respect to the pending gubernatorial elections in Osun state, it has been close to four years since the dance loving PDP governorship flag bearer, Ademola Adeleke, to the consternation of most voters was declared the loser in the controversial Osun state contest. But all things being equal , the good people of Osun State may on July 16, 2022, (barely six months’ time) have the opportunity to right the wrong , particularly as the incumbent governor is also reeling from the damage inflicted on his integrity by the revelation in the Pandora papers that he is one of those that have hidden huge sums of money in secret financial instruments, offshore.
Since all things are hardly equal, especially in our clime , simply because things are always subject to manipulation to suit the interest of those who wield political power , PDP would have wait to see how the elections pan out in Anambra and Osun to really foretell what its fortune may be in 2023 presidential elections.
In all of these animated gyrations of political actors in a highly toxic and volatile political atmosphere in Anambra state , one policy which may help the cause of PDP and all the other parties that are entertaining the fear that the will of Anambra people may be subverted through vote rigging using the power of state actors , is the planned reliance on electronic transmission of election results by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
It is a law already passed by National Assembly , NASS, but awaiting the assent of president Buhari.
If it is deployed , chances are that the best candidate would win fair and square as was the case in Edo state governorship election .
That is more so now that IPOB has in the spirit of reconciliation and hopefully the thawing of its icy relationship with authorities, lifted its seat-at-home order which could have negatively affected voter turnout-out. I wish the armistice was secured earlier to give them enough time to boost the confidence of voters for massive turn out . Nevertheless, it now behoves of INEC and the political parties to in the short space of time, energize their campaign by gingering up voters to perform their civic duties of turning out massively to vote for their preferred candidates since IPOB has in a show of respect to the wise counsel of lgbo elders and leaders, unshackled them.
In the event that the nail biting November 6 election swings the way of the PDP, the main opposition ruling party would be more surefooted to retake the presidency which it lost to the ruling party when Goodluck Jonathan was president, but who currently appears to be distancing himself from the party that made him Deputy Governor, Governor , Vice President and President.
Ex-president Jonathan’s decision to travel abroad during PDP convention last week unwittingly gives fillip to the rumour swirling around in the political space that he may be bracing up to be the presidential candidate of the ruling APC that may be finding it difficult to find a viable presidential candidate from the south -east and south-south from amongst the political class to fill president Muhammadu Buhari’s big shoes in 2023.
If that happens , Jonathan would have been rewarded for not investing sufficient grit to win the 2015 election , and little wonder that he yielded to the APC even before the final results were called.
One low point during the two days long PDP convention that l could observe is that both Goodluck Jonathan , and Olusegun Obasanjo , two surviving immediate past and former presidents of Nigeria under the platform of the PDP, were conspicuously absent. That was odd.
Another unusual and potentially unsavoury outcome of the convention is that most of the 21 strategic offices went to the north. It would have been the ideal thing if the presidency was zoned to the south. But the presidency has been thrown open to both the north and south , as opposed to the party’s past practice of rotating the presidency between the north and south which would have justified such an arrangement.
Hopeful, the skewed power arrangement in the PDP leadership hierarchy would not become a point of friction in the future. With PDP convention done and dusted, all eyes are now riveted on the ruling party , APC which also hopes that its candidate, Andy Uba, a serial contender in governorship contests in the state, would come out tops in the November 6 Anambra state election.
The ruling party at the centre that has been rescheduling dates for its national convention to avert what critics speculate would be an explosive event that could result in the 5 legacy parties returning to their status quo ante, in light of the fact that the party is actually a union of five strange bedfellows that have not had the chance to interact closely enough to blend and articulate or develop a common leadership agenda based on any defined ideology other than to hound then ruling party, PDP out of power in 2015; is also determined to end up being a stronger and more united party after its convention scheduled to be held next month.
Whether , given the circumstances of APC’s birth and the current cracks on their wall reflecting divisions along the lines of the founding parties-CPC, ACN, ANPP and so and so forth, the ruling party would survive as one party is anyone’s guess.
But the Mai Mala Buni ( Yobe state governor ) led interim executives that have been at the helm of administration of the ruling party in excess of one year, seem poised to achieve the feat of holding the party together and even consolidating its control of power at the centre.
Considering the number of governors and deputies that the party had poached from the main opposition party under Buni’s watch , in addition to the membership drive that it had earlier embarked on; all eyes are on the party to see if it’s convention would be as productive as the PDP’s.
Just as the Anambra election is a bellwether for the PDP, the same election is a sort of referendum for the ruling party, APC as it would be a foretaste of the general elections that would produce the president in 2023 as Nigerians have practically been in a sort of Intensive Care Unit, ICU gasping for breath in their struggle to survive in a benign war zone which our beloved country has transformed into since the advent of Boko Haram religious insurgents , some (10) years ago, and whose ranks have been swelled in the past six (6) years by the entrants of ISWAP, and bandits/violent herdsmen which the likes of Kaduna State governor, Nasir El-Rufai has been prodding the authorities to declare as terrorists.
I’m holding my breath in anxiety to hear or read how the ruling party, APC would explain the monumental tragedies and horrendous catastrophes that have befallen the nation under her watch in the past six years and expect the electorate to cast votes in their favour.
As the saying goes , a day in politics is a long time , so there is still ample time before the general elections in 2023, for the ruling party, APC to turn a new leaf in the event that it losses the Anambra election or retain its winning formula, if it wins the contest fair and square.
Incontrovertibly, November 6 , an Anambra governorship election is pregnant with meaning.
Happily , the fear of still birth is no more being entertained since IPOB has promised to sheath its sword. But the integrity of the midwives and whether the baby would be male or female is currently the concern.
-Onyibe, an entrepreneur, public policy analyst, author, development strategist, alumnus of Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, Massachusetts, USA and a former commissioner in Delta State government, sent this piece from Lagos.
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