Nigeria Needs PDP to Reinvent Itself, By Teinye‎ Akobo

By Teinye Akobo June 11, 2016 11:49

Nigeria Needs PDP to Reinvent Itself, By Teinye‎ Akobo

When a building is old and becomes uninhabitable (needing a lift, both exterior and interior) you have to move everyone out, collapse the building in hopes of reinforcing the basic structure to keep the building standing and habitable.

That is the place the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, has found itself. The party has suffered extended blows from the unraveling of monies stolen, and squandered under its control.

The enthronement of Ali Modu Sheriff, an alleged Boko Haram financier, didn’t help the image of the party. The PDP has taken a beating over how it managed itself and the country since its inception, synopsized by Governor Ayodele Fayose telling Seun Okinbaloye of Channels TV, that the opposition party didn’t win because of what “they did, but rather what the ruling party failed to do”.

This assessment by Fayose encapsulates the underpinnings of the last election. During the election, the All Progressive Congress, APC, executed an effective strategy that the PDP couldn’t counter.

Even in situations where many of the APC prosecutors were former founding members of the PDP, the public perspective was pretty set: if you are still in the PDP, you are Nigeria’s problem.

Well, the elections are over and the people are slowly coming to terms with how inept and ineffective the “change” government has become. From the selective fight against corruption to the crumbling economy; the people are witnessing the effects of voting in slogan without substance.

Right now, the PDP controls 12 states in the federation and a minority of the National Assembly. It is only expected that after being whooped so badly in the polls, the party will be experiencing some semblance of the stages of grief.

This has led to a total collapse of its messaging, and lack of coordination among its rank and file. To further amplify the situation, the party is in a power tussle for its leadership. Despite its battered image and lack of an agreement on the way forward, the party still has prospects, albeit arduous.

Many predicted that the PDP will come back, but over a stretch of time; time here being a faithful presenter of good fortune. But for PDP, that time seems to be closer than anticipated.

The current political landscape offers many avenues for the resurrection of the PDP: voters’ buyer’s remorse, and poor rating for how the present government is handling the affairs of the nation.

The people are still grappling with the falling naira, and the uncertainty that hovers over our economy. Shifting attacks by Boko Haram, herdsmen and the Niger Delta Avengers have undercut the APC’s pledge to restore security. The scary episodes of Fulani herdsmen brandishing AK47s, and maiming anyone that challenges them continues to defy our collective sense of safety.

The delay in payment of salaries has brought the people closer to poverty, while political high handedness has showcased the APC as a party interested in vindictive politics, lacking needed dexterity in solving the nation’s many problems. All these are positives for the resurrection of the PDP.

However, for the PDP to commence its therapy and re-emerge from the trenches, it must begin to think of new ways of engaging the electorate, and redefining its politics to bring it more to the mainstream, and here are some ways: stop the in-fighting and let Markafi work.

Ahmed Markafi, was governor of Kaduna, and later, senator from the state. His performance in government was stellar. He superintended over a state that was rife with ethno-religious conflicts and managed it to calmness. His understanding and acceptance of politics of higher-ground is inspired by an exemplary profile in maturity and civility.

The party and all its players must give Markafi the space he needs to pilot the affairs of the party. It doesn’t make sense to hold him down to a three months’ timeframe for a job that could need 3 years.

Markafi, has the unique skill of being both a unifier and umpire- which is what the party really needs now to bring its ranks together. It helps that he is a decent, intelligent man, that avoids unnecessary diatribe, drama and distractions. But Markafi and his team need to know that the PDP must discard its old way of assuming its mood, translates to that of the nation- which often times put it at loggerheads with the people.

The PDP must start advocating for commonsense solutions (apologies to Senator Ben Bruce) to the problems of the common man, and becoming a mirror whereby the people could see a reflection of themselves.

The party needs to align itself to responsible opposition that would not tear down the whole system, unlike the APC. It must embrace the fact that, if you subject everything to condemnation, you leave nothing for commendation. President Buhari would not be wrong all the time, neither would he be right all the time- the difference is objective observation and constructive criticism that enriches national debate without demagoguery and scapegoating.

The PDP must start putting out sound policy ideas on how to revive the economy, while still holding the government to account. The party must encourage governors of its extraction to work hard and well, so they can become the microcosm by which the people will judge whether it is time to entrust it again with greater power and responsibility.

It must avoid wild promises of “3 million jobs in 1 year” or “five thousand naira stipend to unemployed Nigerians” or “constant power supply in 6 months” as the case may be.

The APC did a disservice to the nation by promising too much and delivering too little- so far. It has and is destroying national coherence by its tactic of character assault and campaign of calumny.

However, a shattered opposition, which essentially is the PDP, poses a greater risk to our democracy. This is why the party must pick itself up, reassemble and do what needs to be done in the interest of the nation. Democracy is stronger when the minority has its say in the shaping of the nation.