The Peoples Democratic Party
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is not seriously planning to return to power. It is more focused on the inordinate ambitions of its stakeholders and how much money can be made from each. If Nigeria is on the minds of its members at all, it is with respect to what can be made out of it with the party as the vessel. Even at that, they are not ready or desirous of reinventing, re-positioning and strengthening the vessel. It is not taking the path to recovering its influence in national politics.
Permit me to regale you with one or two stories about reinvention and re-positioning.
Prior to September 2006, Ford Motor Company was broke. By 2008, its stock price had fallen to as low as $1.01 a share. It was neck deep in debt, as in 2006 alone it incurred losses to the tune of $12.7 billion. Everybody expected the company to file for bankruptcy.
Then it brought in Alan Mulally from Boeing as its CEO. Ford had achieved remarkable, history-making revitalisation by 2014 when he retired; Mulally had achieved a remarkable turnaround for the Ford Motor Company.
In 2005 Ericsson had around 47,000 employees, down from a peak of around 107,000. It had lost billions of dollars – including $3.7 billion between March 2001 and March 31 2002, and had asked its own shareholders for $3 billion.
Then it brought in Carl-Henric Svanberg, who was leading another Swedish company, Assa Abloy, as at 2003. By the time he was through with it in 2009, he had managed to build the Swedish vendor into the undisputed leading network equipment vendor in the world.
There is also the story of Sanjay Jha of Motorola and many others in the business world.
Helmut Kohl served as the Christian Democratic Union’s (CDU) Prime Minister for a long time and he presided over German unification. However, when he became embroiled in a party funding scandal that was threatening to cost the CDU the election of 2005, Angela Merkel, an unassuming politician untainted by past party sleaze and who represented the new face of the party, was drafted in.
She is the first Chancellor from Eastern Germany and someone described her as “lacking the attributes long associated with political success… she did not work through the ranks as a political foot soldier, had no support network of troops in key positions, and little eloquence or media charisma.”
Political parties – just like businesses – that are keen on reinventing themselves always ‘recruit’, from among themselves or outside their cocoon, people they believe would give them the necessary fillip for resurgence. But they have to be parties that are peopled with selfless members and elders who have love for and the interest of their parties and the nation at heart.
The PDP can boast of people who could be president and have the wherewithal to give any opponent a run for his money, but credibility is what the party and the contestant must always keep in mind.
Whether one likes it or not, President Muhammadu Buhari has raised the bar and become a yardstick and reference point as far as credibility is concerned. Going forward, such virtue is what the average voter will use to size up contestants.
While those gunning for PDP’s presidential ticket may not have been indicted for allegations of corruption by any court of competent jurisdiction, they are generally seen as corrupt by the average Nigerian. And this is what, at the end of the day, will determine the party’s electoral success or otherwise.
Of course, that is harsh judgement by the electorate. An unfair assessment based on naïve assumptions, it is the reality nonetheless and is a shadow that will dog them, perhaps forever.
They will give Buhari a strong fight, no doubt, but unfortunately, will do so limping, because they will never be able to match him in the area that Nigerians now see as a prerequisite to owning their trust – integrity.
None of them will be as strong and formidable as former President Goodluck Jonathan, who had the nation’s coffers, commanded its Armed Forces and employed its electoral officers. In the elections of 2015 Buhari used him to mop the floor by the sheer weight of his perceived integrity.
The PDP needs to borrow a leaf from international businesses and credible political parties in developed countries, whose main gladiators or stakeholders eschewed personal ambition and their ego for the revival of the entities. It is hoped that Nigeria shall remain until the end of time and likewise, political parties as conduits or platforms through or on which the nation will be catapulted to the top.
The PDP gladiators or stakeholders warming up to vie for its presidential ticket would do well to sit down and ‘recruit’ someone from among its rank and file, the academia or business class. Someone who the people do not consider a thief, someone younger than Buhari and better educated. This would give the electorate an option when it comes to perceived credibility and integrity, while the other qualities would give him the upper hand.
This is the only way it can hope to sanitise our politics, deepen democracy, give hope to the nation and be a real and formidable opposition. It is not about the tons of money an aspirant or a party has. While money is necessary for logistics purposes, the PDP should not be seen by the masses as a party that thinks money is everything.
As long as the party continues in its ways it will remain outside the gates of power until it atrophies, dies and comes a cropper.
Granted, some may say that there have been a few ‘comeback wizards’ who, like Apple’s Steve Jobs, rejuvenated their businesses or some political leaders who returned to power and made great developmental strides. But it must be noted that such people were not encumbered by intellectual or moral misconceptions.
The All Progressives Congress
The All Progressives Congress (APC) needs to be honest and stop being hypocritical. You cannot claim to be a saintly party, accuse a man of being corrupt and then turn around to call him “reputable” when he joins you. For God’s sake, you cannot accuse a party of “ruining” the country yet continue to work with its members. It is either you are lying or you want to continue ruining the country. You cannot run with the hares and hunt with the wolves; you cannot eat your cake and have it.
What is the difference between the APC and the PDP when its members are crying that they worked for it and therefore need to be “compensated”? None of them ever talk of Nigeria, it is always “we pushed the car and it has left us in the dust.”
Nigeria is seen as little more than a cash cow by the generality of its citizens – the followers, the leaders and those aspiring to lead.
President Muhammadu Buhari
He has had opportunities to redefine Nigerian politics and position himself in the class of the Nelson Mandelas, Mahatma Gandhis, Lee Kuan Yews, etc. of this world, but flunked each time.
He had two very great opportunities to change Nigeria’s politics forever and also have his name etched in the country’s history as “the founder of modern Nigeria”, along with many lesser ones, which I will highlight presently.
The first opportunity missed (probably in a bid to tell Nigerians he had no money) was when he said that he took a bank loan to buy his nomination form. It was a sad day. In the first place, he knew, just as everybody knew, that there were many party stalwarts who could have bought the form for him, assuming he hadn’t the money. After all, they were sponsoring him with their monies, however they had made it, so what was the difference?
Nigeria at that time and the APC in particular were ripe to be owned by the people. Had it been told that he could not pay for the form, contributions from the masses alone would have bought it many times over. From then, he should have made it known that members should contribute periodically, no matter how little, towards the upkeep of the party and we would have by now achieved a real people’s party, the likes of which was last seen in the days of Aminu Kano’s Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU). An opportunity missed.
But as it is, APC, the party of “Change”, is being financed the way the PDP was – from government coffers, in the states at least. No difference!
The second opportunity missed was the day he was sworn in as President. He famously said he “was for everybody but belonged to nobody”. Laudable. And that is what everybody expected, because in the political history of Nigeria, no campaign was ever as intense and nationally engaging as his was. The election that saw him emerge as president was unlike any other before it. It was not like Obasanjo’s, certainly not like Yar’Adua’s and definitely not like Jonathan’s.
Buhari was elected by Nigerians, not by APC members alone, not by northerners alone, not by Muslims alone. Across board, if you may.
Therefore, the election was an opportunity to unify Nigerians for Nigeria, irrespective of political leanings, tribal roots or religious beliefs. Buhari could have been the ‘father of the nation’, if he had picked the best from among the various ‘tendencies’ that abound in the country. There are patriots in ALL political parties, tribes and religions, just as there are also crooks.
Please forget the notion of winner takes all; Nigeria’s case is unique and was especially so at that time. Nigeria would have been united and the better for it by now.
They don’t do that in America, you say? Well, they don’t budget for feeding and utensils for the President in America either. The President in America feeds his family from his salary. The President there buys his family’s needs from his pocket. Let’s not be choosy.
While Nigeria continues the search for a true leader who may be the long awaited messiah, let those saddled with responsibility and public trust remember that the day will come when they will face their Maker.