The Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL) cannot help feeling concerned about the development within the rank and file of the People’s Democratic Party, understandably as it is the ruling party in the country and as such, the umbrella body to which the major players in our polity identify with; a position that has also conferred on it the powers to make and unmake the major administrators of governance in the country. It, therefore, cannot be out of place to assert that the PDP is the captain that mans the ship of the nation of Nigeria. This perhaps explains why there’s always that brouhaha over whatever crisis rocking the party. Of recent, developments in the party in respect to some states under the party’s control and largely at the national level, have consistently been indicative of numerous cracks ‘in-house’ thus making the required mending more difficult and cumbersome. Granted that this is not the first time that the party has been engulfed in crisis at one time or the other and had resolved and still participated in the following elections as one and undivided body. This time, however, is witnessing a development that is unique in certain aspects: One: Unlike in the past when the party only had intra-party crises culminating into factionalizing, to deal with, this time around, a new party, People’s Democratic Movement (PDM), has emerged from the party and interestingly the progenitors and financiers of this new party are PDP members, prominent among whom is the former Vice President of Nigeria, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who, though admitted being part of the PDM, still claim to belong to the PDP; that is, having one leg in the PDP and the other in the PDM. What a rather complex duplicity. Two: Never in the history of governance in this country has ethnicity and geographical divides generated so much controversy, especially as it concerns who occupies the seat of the president of this country, apparently pitching one region against the other. Whilst some powerful elements are hell bent on their demand for a ‘northern president’ for 2015, their counterparts from the South-South have sworn never to settle for anything short of their kinsman (the incumbent) running for the second term in office. The Islamic insurgents too had come out to demand, among other things, that the sitting president converts to Islam, for them to lay down their arms for peace to reign. Where is this leading us? We now have, within the PDP another faction tagged the “New PDP” that accommodates membership that cuts across every segment of governance – from the state and national legislatures to governors and other public functionaries. They held a parallel congress, elected their own national executive members and promised to secure, very soon, a functional secretariat. They were even reported to have gone to court to ask it to declare the other congress illegal and to stop their officers from further parading themselves in their newly elected designations. Whilst one PDP has declared Governor Rotimi Amaechi and his loyalists in the Rivers State chapter suspended from the party, the ‘new PDP’ has declared them valid members. Of latest, the New PDP’s national secretariat in Abuja was over the week-end locked up by the police who claimed to be acting on the orders ‘from above’, an action that has been described by the party as the height of impunity and contemptuous of the judiciary. The affected faction is reported to have threatened a court action to affirm their fundamental right to freely associate as enshrined in the constitution. We are undoubtedly now poised to witness a wider dimension to the contest in days to come. Very recently, a reconciliation party led by Chief Obasanjo, had made a significant but hurried move to find a truce to the crisis when it summoned all the major players which included governors, national assembly members, state and national officers of the party to a reconciliation meeting in Abuja. The meeting was however reported to have ended up in a stalemate. The drum-beating of war has since been sounding louder and louder, with no sign of possible compromise in sight. Putting all these together, one is wont to ask: What exactly is it that is tearing into shreds this party that often brandishes itself as the largest in the continent of Africa? What is the stake of the warring gladiators in this contest? Are the conflicting interests informed by the desire of each of the contestants for a better developed and better administered Nigeria OR are these interests parochial in some sense, that is, set to satisfy the narrow interests of a few at the expense of that of the nation to which that of the generality of Nigerians are tied? So far, feelers from all the contending camps are all pointing to just one direction and that is the forthcoming 2015 general elections. On the front burner and which today stands as the most contentious, most controversial and most volatile, is the presidency, come 2015. This issue has singularly succeeded in polarizing this big party with neither of the opposing camps ready to concede position. Whilst a section which comprises mainly most of the national officers of the party and appointed officers at the federal level and who, understandably, are loyal and sympathetic to the incumbent’s desire to run for another term in office, the other, which comprises mainly of members from the northern (Hausa/Fulani) extraction, have sworn never to settle for anything other than a president from their ‘zone’. What therefore does this stalemate with each faction’s seeming resolve never to shift grounds on the contending issue, portend for the Nigerian nation, taking cognizance of her fledgling democracy? It certainly would be a demonstration of sheer ignorance or pretention for anyone to have reduced this development to a mere intra-party wrangling which shouldn’t in anyway be of concern to anyone except the PDP members only, because the truth as it is today, is that whatever affects the PDP automatically rubs off on the entire country. However, there is a word for these political combatants in the PDP, most especially President Goodluck Jonathan: If they are still interested in the indivisibility and continued existence of the Nigerian nation, this crisis must be solved, whatever it takes. They must realize that whatever powers they wield today was given to them by the masses of this country and that the same masses will not open their eyes and allow these few opportunists destroy all that our founding fathers fought dearly for.
We need more than ever before, peace, justice and security in our polity if this country is to achieve its set goals. The President must realize that there are so many challenges bedeviling this country that he must re-channel his energy into combating instead of leaving the business of governance and fighting an avoidable war; he must think of putting an end to ASUU Strike and letting the children of the masses return to school; he should devise means of combating frontally unemployment so as to reduce the security challenges in the country. CACOL hereby urges President Jonathan and his co-travelers sheath their sword and place the overall interest of the country above their parochial and selfish desires. What should be the major concern of the President is how to deliver the dividends of democracy to the masses that gave him their mandate instead of overheating the polity. Debo Adeniran Executive Chairman, CACOL 09 Sept, 2013