PDP’s HISTORY OF LACK OF RESPECT TO DEMOCRACY THREATENS DELTA POLITICS.
There is no doubt that the politics of Delta State today mirrors the politics of Nigeria when the PDP was the ruling party. The on going scenario that is playing out is drawing a striking similarity with the way the party was run and how it managed the affairs of the nation for 16 years. The fear is that if the party is not careful, it will lose its grip on Delta State to a strong opposition party. Perhaps a cursory journey into history will buttress the speculation being entertained that the party may lose Delta State if care is not taken. The PDP which formerly styled itself as the “largest party in Africa” is yet to learn from its past mistakes that pushed it away from the centre as being the ruling party to the opposition. A Party formed mostly by wealthy retired generals to inherit power from the military regime won virtually all elections in Nigeria by a landslide victory though not without electoral malpractices. Majority of the States were governed by PDP while it maintained a comfortable majority in both Chambers of the National Assembly.
Even though the party was an assemblage of very rich and powerful Nigerians with no common ideology, it nevertheless grabbed political power and ruled for 16 years. Gen Olusegun Obasanjo who was the first beneficiary under PDP, emerged as the President in May 1999, later on the party stalwarts became power drunk and they gradually drifted away from democracy and democratic ideals. Obasanjo’s dream of a third term was thwarted by the Senate under the leadership of Dr Ken Nnamani. In retaliation for his lose he frustrated all presidential aspirants at the time and anointed late Umaru Musa Ya’Adua as Presidential candidate, a man believed to be unhealthy and unprepared for the job.
President Umaru Ya’Adua’s administration was marred by official corruption, extra judicial killings by security forces, kidnappings by militant groups and wanton impunity by the perpetrators. This was despite the administration‘s commitment to fighting corruption, enthroning good governance and sustainable development, premised on the rule of law. Under the Yar’ Adua led government, the country witnessed a low ebb in the modus operandi of the EFCC (the most active and functional anti-corruption agency during the Obasanjo administration), charged with combating the scourge of corruption and other financial crimes. The systematic destruction of the EFCC by the Yar‟Adua administration began as soon as James Ibori, former governor of Delta State (and a recruiter, ally and financier of Yar‟Adua), was charged for money laundering and corruption at the Federal High Court Kaduna in December 2007. Ibori and his two wives faced similar charges in UK courts and were sentenced to various prison terms.
A quick succession of events led to the extra-legal removal, demotion, and dismissal of the EFCC‟s respected chairman Nuhu Ribadu and the deployment of all the investigating EFCC staffs trained by the FBI and London Metropolitan Police. It is instructive to state here that the lackadaisical attitude of President Yar‘Adua encouraged and promoted brazen corruption, looting of the treasury and wholesome primitive accumulation of public wealth at all levels/organs of the government. There was also interference in the judicial processes; the much-touted respect for the rule of law of the administration thus became a mirage, rubbished and thrown into the garbage. The functions of EFCC and ICPC were sufficiently incapacitated and made irrelevant.
Following the death of President Umaru Yar‘Adua on 5th May 2010, the then Vice President Goodluck Jonathan stepped in on 6th May 2010 as the 14th Head of State and President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. This was in accordance with the order of succession as enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution. Goodluck Jonathan’s ascension to the presidency was not without drama as some powerful Cabals refused to accept the Bayelsa born Vice President because they believed the presidency of Yar Adua was a northern slot hence a Northerner must occupy it irrespective of the Nigeria Constitution.
The National Assembly had to adopt a resolution based on the “Doctrine of Necessity”. Dr Goodluck Jonathan, the most educated man to occupy the presidency since independent and a beneficiary of democratic struggle did little or nothing to strengthen democracy and democratic institutions. Instead, in many ways he destroyed and threw into the abbys the sterling legacies of our past heroes. The government fared badly in Power Generation, Security, handling of Fuel Scarcity, Crude oil theft, the Economy, Foreign Relations and Corruption. After the unforgivable lapses in security especially in the north-east, corruption was another factor that Mr. Jonathan couldn’t manage effectively or deliberately allowed to flourish under his administration. Aides and ministers accused of corruption were either shielded or allowed to stay in their position.
The granting of presidential pardon to former governor of Bayelsa State, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, who was convicted of money laundering, sparked up wide outrage and bitterness by Nigerians. He also did nothing, until too late, when former Aviation Minister, Stella Uduah, bought two armoured BMW cars for N255 million. When he eventually acted, he only removed the former minister from office without ordering or calling for her prosecution. $31b was stolen from NNPC and nobody was held accountable.
Jonathan’s recognition of the governor with 16 votes as winner in the governors’ forum election against Gov. Amaechi Rotimi with 19 votes revealed it’s weakness to manage internal democracy. This disintegrated the party and led to the formation of new PDP and subsequent decamp of 5 aggrieved governors with their followers. Anointed candidates were imposed on the people against those that won party primaries while their names were deliberately deleted from Party list presented to INEC as endorsed by National and State Chairmen. The lack of internal democracy within PDP dealt a heavy blow to the unity of the party and consequently many strong party faithfuls exited from the self-styled African largest party.
The 2015 electoral lose by PDP was predicted months before the election but was dismissed with a wave of the hand as an illusion while nothing was done to avert the impending catastrophy.
Today a similar situation is playing out in Delta state where PDP has ruled for about 19 years and yet, people no more see the party as their hope, rather the individuals being presented to them. Many aggrieved party members have left the ruling party while some are waiting for the party leadership and Governor to cross the red line. Impunity, imposition of candidates and lack of internal democracy in the Party are issues that are believed to be the red line that the Governor and Party leadership must not cross.
It is disturbing that the incumbent Senator Peter Nwaoboshi’s e-rats and media team have constantly written on social media that the PDP Delta North Senatorial ticket to Peter Nwaoboshi was a DONE DEAL with Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa, which implies that Okowa had already endorsed Peter Nwaoboshi to run with him for a second term. This is against Okowa’s public statement of providing a level playground for every contestant. According to Czeslaw Milosz, “in a room where people unanimously maintain a conspiracy of silence, one word of truth sounds like a pistol shot “. The last week outrageous hosting of elected Party officials meeting at Nwaoboshi’s house calls to question Okowa’s sincerity on his ostensible claim of ‘level playground’. It is also disgusting that the attendees conspired to be silent on a meeting aptly described as an anachronism. It was an opportunity lost by the party men and women to tell Senator Peter Nwaoboshi the truth. Nobody to bell the cat. This portends great signal of danger ahead!
As 2019 approaches PDP Delta State can do itself a lot of good by avoiding treading on the same path that led to its massive loss of power at the Federal centre in 2015. To borrow a leaf from Martin Luther King Jr, “Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness “. Apparently true! Therefore PDP must work and allow for a free and fair primaries devoid of any iota of interference by the governor or party leadership in favour of any candidate, only then can a competent and acceptable candidate emerges.
By Raymond Nice and Samuel Onwordi
Ned Nwoko Admirers Movement (NNAM)
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