By Jide Ajani
No man is good enough to govern another without his consent – George Washington
The consequence of the serial delinquent conduct of its leaders, is the chaos that has enveloped the party. For the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, an over bloated and overrated sense of self-importance that its leaders parade, set the tone for the current malady afflicting the party; and which has led to this tumbledown.
But, first, to understand the mentality of PDP leaders (and by extension, the typical Nigerian politician) you need to understand their perception of wealth and power and the relationship that exists between both. Because, in the final analysis, the crisis in the party today about which of the factions should rightly lead, is about wealth and power – naked wealth and naked power, that is.
It was Andrew Chua who wrote that “some have said that Wealth is Power. But it is equally well-known that Power brings Wealth. So, what is the relationship between these two objects of desire? Which brings which? Which is the chicken and which is the egg? When we combine the definitions of Wealth and Power, we get the correct perspective to view these two subjects.
The truth is, Wealth is ONE TYPE of Power. Wealth itself can also be traded for other types of power. You can use wealth to influence those in positions of authority, through both legitimate lobbying and corruption. So the question of ‘Do you want wealth or power?’ is in itself faulty. Wealth is one type of power. It’s like asking if you prefer apples or fruits. A better question would be ‘Do you prefer Wealth or Authority?’ Maybe this is what people really mean when they ask the afore-mentioned famous question. Now, we are correctly asking if you prefer apples or oranges. And of course, like choosing between two different species of fruits, the answer comes down to personal preference”.
For those who once claimed to own PDP, they want all. And any which way, the one brings the other. But which one first? Both; depending on your status at the point of entry.
And because they want all, they create all manner of confusion in their bid to get all.
Even the simple matter of laid down procedure by their own making, is treated with scornful disdain. That is why the aggregate of litigations from this crisis of leadership was generated by PDP’s shambling approach to the observance of its own rules.
Today, intrigues and surfeit of distractive tendencies to good behaviour, are the hallmarks of PDP. Former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua spent more time attempting to resolve intra-party crises, just as then President Goodluck Jonathan, too, spent more time interfering, via subterfuge, in the affairs of an already shambolic party during his time as leader of the party.
The Appeal Court sitting in Port Harcourt has decided that Ali Modu Sheriff is the rightful leader of PDP. Consequently, the Ahmed Makarfi caretaker committee stands useless.
After the judgment, the latter group insisted it will go to the Supreme Court; while Sheriff himself, flexed muscle, declaring that his party, yes his PDP, would cage the likes of Governor Ayo Fayose and Nysom Wike. The irony in this declaration is that it was both Fayose and Wike who sourced for and imposed, in the first instance, Sheriff on PDP as interim chairman.
But this would not be the first time that the PDP would shoot itself.
The whole crisis in the party can be traced to the following series of mis-steps because accidents don’t just happen; a series of events lead to what ends up being a mishap.
When the PDP was being conceived, the founding fathers, from 18, to 34, had their vision and mission.
However, once Matthew Okikiolakan Aremu Olusegun Obasanjo was released from prison and imposed as presidential candidate of the party, it was only going to be a matter of time before that folly would catch up with leaders of the party – imposed, because one of the guidelines of the party, enacted by its leaders, was that to contest the presidency, an aspirant must have delivered (won for PDP) his ward, local government, federal constituency, senatorial district and state at the earlier elections. Obasanjo did not help PDP win in any, yet that rule was violated.
To further gravitate the PDP towards lawlessness, Obasanjo, after jettisoning the consensual approach the party had intended to employ in choosing a running mate for him – he deceived the party leaders, avoided them and single-handedly picked Atiku Abubakar who had, earlier in the year 1999, won the Adamawa State governorship election – he went ahead to institute a process that ensured that governors-elect, operating from their houses, became defacto leaders of PDP at the state level, thereby rendering the state party secretariats where the chapter chairmen and exco members were supposed to take decisions for the party, irrelevant.
It was on that template that every other public office holder in PDP sought, demanded and grabbed loyalty for himself and not the party. With the help of some short-sighted leaders of the party, Obasanjo proceeded to rig-out late Sunday Mobolorunduro Awoniyi, one of the founding fathers of the party, and imposed Barnabas Gemade as national chairman.
Even Gemade’s tenure became indeterminate because at Obasanjo’s convenience, he ensured that Gemade was removed and Audu Ogbeh, was imposed on the party. Gemade, after being disgraced out of power by the same Obasanjo who imposed him, placed a curse on the party, declaring in anger that the fate that would befall subsequent chairmen of the PDP would be worse than what he was being made to suffer at that time. And when the duo of Gbenga Olawepo and Emma Ibeshi, young leaders of the PDP at that time, egged on by Atiku, insisted that Obasanjo’s whimsical approach to party engineering was bound to spell doom, they were ignored and later dealt with.
Gemade’s curse is still potent and continues to be the lot of PDP chairmen as exemplified by the latest Appeal Court sacking of the Makarfi Committee.
That was not all: In fact, there are 40 documented instances of PDP’s serial infraction of its own laws, or malevolent, distractive or destructive actions by its leaders.
Even when Goodluck Jonathan had taken over as President after the demise of Umaru Yar’Adua, some of these same party leaders embarked on a voyage of grand treachery, spiced by greed, avarice and lack of tact. They broke their own agreement which said after the eight years of power in the South, the North would rule for another eight years.
The agreement, reached on December 22, 2002, at an expanded caucus meeting of the party which held inside Aso Rock Presidential Villa, ordinarily forbids Jonathan from seeking the office in 2011. But the same Obasanjo reportedly said “Jonathan, you must run” in 2011. Whereas the Nigerian Constitution is superior to PDP’s zoning agreement, simple decency should have dictated to the party leaders that what they were doing was not only wrong, it was immoral and ungodly. It came back to haunt the party.
That the party lost the general elections of 2015 is yet another sad result of the irresponsible conduct of some of its leaders, leading to defections and anti-party activities before and after the defeat.
As the shambling and shambolic PDP wobbles on, it would be interesting, the findings of an interrogation of how a party with so much promise became a scandalous embarrassment to the memories of its founding fathers.
The PDP governors have withheld consent on Sheriff; and the majority of party members are on their side. So, how Sheriff plans to lead the majority of PDP leaders and members without their consent would be an interesting development.