by Ismaila Abubakar
In 2011, Nigerians looked to the political class to provide a viable alternative to the Peoples Democratic Party which had ruled the country for 12 years. After years of impunity, complete disregard for the rule of law, anti-democratic actions, anti-peoples policies, collapsed infrastructures, unresolved killings and political assassinations, rising costs of living – in short complete failure of government to meet the yearnings and aspirations of Nigerians through the instrumentality of democratic governance, the people yearned for change.
However, the change desired by the people never materialized as the Congress for Progressive Change and Action Congress of Nigeria, the two leading opposition parties in 2011, failed to deliver on a much anticipated merger for 2011 elections.
The result is that PDP had a field day; it exploited this cleavage to its maximum advantage, and drove in a wedge through infiltration, and then romped to victory.
After this finger burning experience, the political class apparently learnt hard lessons and resolved that enough was enough. Things in the country have only gone worse since 2011.
CPC, ANPP and ANC have now come together to form the ALL Progressive Congress. Other new Political Parties have been registered such as the Peoples Democratic Movement, PDM.
The two new groups APC and PDM today present viable options in the country for the people to choose from in contrast to the corrupt and visionless PDP. Yet for any Political party to serve as a credible and acceptable alternative, it MUST be completely devoid of any PDP-like tendencies or characteristics. This is where there is a seeming departure between the latter two above.
The APC, like its precursor ACN, is already exhibiting the PDP-esque attribute of imposition where a conclave of old men picks candidates who are presented, fait-accompli, to the people.
Other interested persons, perhaps even better choices, are then shut out by the all powerful party machinery, backed up by equally powerful and vociferous media, aligned or owned by some members of the Party Leadership. Those persons are then subjected to a most vicious media attack in order to subdue and to demonize them before their people. This is the scenario currently playing out in Ekiti State between the APC machinery and Governor Kayode Fayemi on the one hand and Honourable Opeyemi Bamidele, a Member House of Representatives, who is insisting on the right to have a Party Primary Contest against Governor Fayemi.
The Party does not want a primary, it wants Fayemi, simply as the unchallenged candidate. All manner of fascist attacks are being launched against Bamidele, right from the Ekiti caucus of the House, from which chairmanships he was removed after careful orchestration by the Party leadership.
Gratuitously, the APC leadership looks set to let the Party present a Northern Candidate for the Presidency in 2015. Going by the antecedents of the ACN in 2011, this may not materialize. In 2011, a last ditch deal between the ACN Leaders and President Jonathan saw the ACN dump its own presidential candidate, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, another Northerner and ensured massive victory for PDP in the South-West States. What guarantee is there that it will not be a case of, as it was in 2011, so shall it be in 2015.
However, by far what is most puzzling the minds of discerning Nigerians is the indecent haste and readiness with which the APC is willing to engage the G-7 Governors of the PDP in their fight with the leadership of PDP. Do not call this real-politik because the message this sends out loud and clear is APC is willing to be PDP by another name.
The action itself calls to question the self-styled progressive credentials of the APC and its leadership. It also begs the question of how much does APC and its leadership think of the intelligence of Nigerians.
As for the Peoples Democratic Movement, it is in its infancy as a formally registered political Party but this does not obviate the fact that it is in reality very much older than its registration may imply. In fact, material I read recently suggests that PDM had actually tried to get registered as a Political Party as PFN in 1989 and as PDM in 1995. On these two accounts, it was denied registration because of its radical bent. Essentially, therefore PDM has been involved in the struggle to be a registered Party for the Past 25 years. After each failed bid, those who saw their existence as being beyond the philosophy of PDM, jumped ship and joined other parties principally, the PDP. However, the core of the PDM remained faithful to its ideal and soldiered on quietly. It finally obtained registration in 2013. Like the proverbial sphinx, the PDM refused to die and has finally risen from the ruins of its two previous attempts. It becomes clear then that the PDM is a resilient body, and truly so. It has withstood the stress of time and its abandonment by fair weather members whose allegiance was to bread and butter in other parties. On this score, the identity of the PDM as a durable and tested institution is unquestionable.
Leadership of the PDM is made up of accomplished young men and women who have made their mark. They are clearly men of vision and focus. It is unlike APC and PDP, whose leaderships are made up of septuagenarians and gerontoracts, puppeteering young men governors and other elected public officers of the Party-controlled States.
The different reactions of the ruling PDP to the registrations of APC and PDM equally speaks volumes about what it thinks of the two.
It clearly was cynical about the merger of CPC and ANC and the subsequent registration of APC. It was even boastful that APC would be gifting the government to it if in 2015 it presented certain individuals for election. Until the recent “romance” between the G-7 PDP governors and APC’s leadership, PDP held scant regard for APC as a political rival. The opposite was the case on the registration of PDM by INEC. Individually and collectively, to say the Leadership of PDP was stunned by this development is an understatement. They were simply apoplexic, nearly in shock.
Like someone hit below the belt, they ran to the nearest loo to relieve their bowels of the resultant pressure. They railed and railed but PDM’s registration has stood. PDP is even resorting to its time worn tactic of divisionism. Its antics will not wash, this time. Not with a party of the PDMs antecedents. Perhaps, it is even the antecedent that is giving PDP the shakes.
The reaction of the PDP to the PDM is indication and measure of the threat it represents to the ruling party’s continued stranglehold on the polity, despite glaringly manifest failure and paucity of ideas to drive the nation forward. From what has been gleaned about the PDM, its coming on board presents the opportunity to make a clean break from how politics has played out in the last 14 years, politics of exclusion where the majority are only onlookers in the affairs that affect them, their children and generations yet unborn too. The PDM seems more of a mass movement which finds a place for everyone. This is the Party that Nigerians want and have waited for. It seems like PDM is the only genuine alternative to PDP in the political firmament, in which case, it is a Party whose time has come.
Abubakar wrote in from Gwagwalada, Abuja