Home Op-Ed Can The PDP Rise Again?

Can The PDP Rise Again?

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pdp-logo1By Bayo Olupohunda, a renowned Nigerian educator and columnist
With the recent parliamentary coup in the National Assembly when two PDP members surreptitiously emerged as the deputy Senate President and Senate leader of the 8th Assembly, some commentators and PDP supporters expressed confidence that the fallouts may have signalled the resurgence of the party after its defeat in the latest election. While that event at the Assembly may have rekindled the hope of latter-day PDP supporters, the reality on the ground is far from being so.

One could understand the optimism of loyal party men and women during the inauguration where senators Ike Ekweremandu and David Mark emerged as two of the principal officials in the house, much to the chagrin of the APC. But the truth is that the PDP may not rise again so soon, if at all. The dramatic turn of events at the National Assembly inauguration which produced Senator Bukola Saraki as the Senate President only follows precedent when the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, defied its party to earn the position in 2011.
Indeed, it would take more than a National Assembly election for the PDP to shake off its new status as the new opposition to the APC. To understand why it may not be ‘morning yet on creation day’ for the PDP, perhaps it will be useful to look into the history of the party disintegration. For those familiar with Nigeria’s recent political history, the collapse of the party that once touted itself as the largest party in Africa and said it would rule Nigeria for 60 years did not start with the defeat at the 2015 elections.

The party had it coming from the days it began to see itself as the ‘Goliath’ of Nigerian politics. Indeed, the party dominated the Nigerian political landscape like a colossus. There was once a time when not being a member of the party seemed like a taboo. You are either huddling under the ‘umbrella’ or you belong to nowhere. At the time, the opposition was in tatters. Any semblance of opposition was limited to the South-West where the Alliance for Democracy, under former Lagos State Governor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, now APC leader, held sway. This was at the time when just holding the umbrella guaranteed one a piece of the national cake.
The party welcomed everybody – the good, the bad and the ugly: you were admitted into the party as long as your pocket was deep enough to buy influence. Party’s primary became so corrupted that candidacy for positions was handed to the highest bidders. Money became the name of the game. Party members who became aggrieved left or were forced out. The so-called founding fathers also left when new ones came, and their reputation, good or bad, hastened the party to its demise.

As the party engaged in its macabre dance of the absurd, the country also disintegrated. Corruption became hydra-headed, and quality of lives deteriorated. The country became one huge laboratory with the citizens being the guinea pigs of bad policies. The misrule of the PDP reached its peak under President Goodluck Jonathan: the four years of Jonathan administration became the turning point. Nigerians finally got tired of the PDP that has become the ‘enemy within ‘and decided to kick the party out in the April 2015 election. In its glorious years, the party controlled the presidency for sixteen years and dominated at all levels of governance. The fall of the PDP was a warning long foretold, but the party chieftains became power-drunk and trampled on the rights of Nigerians.
At the latest elections, when the party saw the endgame, it did everything, including almost breaking the country up through hate campaigns, to keep itself in power, but Nigerians had had enough. The aftermath of the elections saw high-ranking PDP members engage themselves in the blame game. The truth of the matter was the PDP had always been a marriage of strange bedfellows united in one common cause – sharing of the national cake. But when things fell apart and the centre cannot hold, many party members began decamping to the ruling APC until the party said it would no longer take decampees.

Those who have concluded that the party is on the rise again after what transpired at the Senate inauguration missed the point. Indeed, they have failed in their analysis to look from where the rains begin to beat the PDP. The loss at the April elections is not a one-off event; it was a combination of many self-inflicted factors that led to the party’s downfall. Really, it will take more than Assembly elections for the party to return to its ‘largest party in Africa’ delusion it wallowed in for many years.
The question the PDP supporters should ask is: Who will champion the rebirth of PDP? Is it the same discredited politicians that are already in the bad books of Nigerians? What they must know is that for many years to come, Nigerians may not forget quickly the agony the party put them through in the last sixteen years. They may not want to trust the affairs of Nigeria in their hands just yet.

The National Assembly election is an internal affair and does not portray the common mood of Nigerians. In fact, Nigerians felt betrayed at what transpired at the inauguration. They are angry that the change they clamoured for is being hijacked again by elements of the PDP who have managed to get into the house.

Those who think the PDP will emerge immediately from the ruins of defeat have also failed to realize that running a party is capital-intensive.

For many years, the PDP controlled the till at the centre and doled out political patronage to make the institutions work in their favour. They no longer have that advantage and will not have it in the near future. How many of the governors in the PDP-controlled states will be ready to finance the party in the face of dwindling resources?
Looking at the situation with the PDP dispassionately, I do not see the possibility for the party to mobilize in the coming years into the formidable entity it once was unless something dramatic happens and the APC loses its goodwill; even at that, the PDP might have to change its name to gather any sympathy. What I suspect is that more PDP members will decamp to the APC to butter their bread while the party struggles to find its feet. It may never do.

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