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Weep Not For Atiku And The PDP

Tunde Odediran writes that the PDP’s current wait in the dungeon is a great opportunity to transform it into a party with an ideology and a purpose.

The People's Democratic Party Presidential Candidate, Atiku Abubakar / Photo credit: Sahara Reporters
The People's Democratic Party Presidential Candidate, Atiku Abubakar / Photo credit: Sahara Reporters

Five years after becoming a minority party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) looks pitiful in disarray.

It has become a sorry spectacle of the party it used to be, devoid of a strong leadership, optimism, energy and a plan to get out of the woods.

Having been hammered at the polls and in the courts, the PDP’s hope of returning to power at the centre within an election cycle has become stillborn.

The party is withering and disfigured. The PDP is experiencing severe turbulence, its strength is waning and its colours are fading.

But weep not for PDP, for its days will come after it has learned the necessary lessons under the scorching rays as a minority party.

That is, after it realises that power truly belongs to the people and it exists to serve the will of Nigerians and not the political elite.

For 16 years, the PDP bestrode the political landscape with confident gait and pride.

The party behaved as one that would be in power for ever.

So strong was the PDP that the other political parties had to form an alliance in order to defeat it.

During the years that the PDP ruled Nigeria, there was an opportunity for Nigeria to enjoy a national transformation from its economic prosperity.

The country earned untold revenue. At some point, a barrel of oil sold for as much as $140.

Other than the payment of Nigeria’s external debt, not much could be recorded as an achievement by the various PDP administrations.

As the money flowed in, it also flowed out of the pockets of the people who created the juggernaut called the PDP.

By the time the PDP was done with power, it had drained the nation of much of its prosperity. The people returned to the hunger they had known before.

The PDP left Nigeria almost as broke as when power was given to it.

Corruption was not dealt with successfully, although the PDP created the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent and Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC).

These bodies were largely tools to hound political enemies. Nigeria wasted billions of dollars in oil income, just as in the administrations of the past.

The roads became death traps as Nigerians began to spend hours on the road on journeys that should not have lasted more than minutes. Insecurity was everywhere with kidnappers and Boko Haram terrorists taking over the land.

With the medical systems further broken, Nigerians sought treatment abroad under the PDP administrations.

This was happening just as the universities shut down many times a year as teachers fought unpaid salaries and bad conditions, bringing the readiness quality of our graduates below the mark.

Parents started sending their children to foreign universities, even those within Africa. Any university was considered better than those in Nigeria.

The foreign exchange needed for national development was largely wasted. The system simply unraveled under the PDP administrations. It was a party that wasted opportunities.

The same PDP gave us Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, a president raised from an aristocratic family in Katsina.

Son of a wealthy father, Yar’Adua was literally awarded the presidency by his predecessor, Olusegun Obasanjo.

In 2007, Umaru Yar’Adua, suffered from a kidney problem that caused him to be flown to Germany for medical treatment.

From that time until his death, the administration of Yar’Adua told lie after lie while his illness festered. The PDP stood behind the Yar’Adua administration’s claims that he was fine.

The party did not stop there – it presented Yar’Adua for a second term, which he won.

The 2007 presidential election was held under an atmosphere of uncertainty.

While deathly sick, Yar’Adua was said to have won 70 per cent of the votes cast.

That election was highly controversial, and the main opposition candidates declined the result.

Among them were Muhammadu Buhari, then of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and Atiku Abubakar of the Action Congress (AC). The results were rejected by these two as having been rigged for Yar’Adua.

But there are some things that should not be lied about. You cannot make up good health. You are either sick or healthy.

Yar’Adua died and the lie died with him, leaving us with a man with an exceptional good luck. He did not have a plan to make Nigeria great; all he had was luck.

In the twilight of PDP’s rule, the price of oil fell to its lowest in decades. The PDP was given no choice but to bequeath a nation that was broke, insecure and weak.

This lesson is what the All Progressives Congress (APC) has not learned.

It is behaving like a twin of the PDP – proud, self-absorbed and without a solid plan for Nigeria’s future.

And for failing to learn, the fate that befell the PDP will rise to ravage the current ruling party in an exchange of fortunes.

What the PDP did, the APC has repeated. While known to be sick, President Buhari stayed for months abroad and lied about his health.

He used the power of his office, supported by the APC, to win re-election. The election that was staged by the Nigerian Army became contentious.

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, like Buhari before him, rejected the results.

The main issue though is not whether General Buhari is healthy or not; it is his failure to respect the right of his main opponent, Atiku Abubakar, to reject the result of the 2019 presidential elections.

Instead of pleading for Atiku’s cooperation, he has been goading the loser. The APC fails to take the higher moral ground.

The same person who had railed against keeping secret matters of public interest and rejected presidential election results, now expects his opponents to congratulate him when the election has not been acclaimed to be free and fair.

Nigeria runs a sort of two-party system in a multi-party political system. The two financially strong parties have been taking the people for granted.

The Nigerian people are trampled upon by their leaders, who show them little respect. The APC and PDP have been doing anything they want without being challenged in a meaningful way.

The tax payers continue to pick the bills for unknown spends, either with the PDP or APC. As of now, President Buhari is playing out a shameful act of running his administration in the United Kingdom, living at tax payers’ expense without allowing his Vice President to assume his role temporarily as the constitution demands.

Where else, other than in a Banana Republic, can a president be signing a significant bill into law in a casual dress somewhere outside of his own country?

President Mohammadu Buhari has continued along the same lines of public deceit he inherited from the PDP. Under him, Nigeria is heavily borrowed and the poor are getting poorer.

His cabinet member publicly admitted recently that half of Nigerians are chronically poor. We already knew that.

Nigerians should not be fooled – the APC is a replica of the PDP. The two parties flow from the same source; they are just pairs of a shoe.

That is why their party members have switched so many times that we don’t even know if there are any party lines.

The APC should not be too confident of its political strength, because the poor will give their verdict, sooner or later. The treatment meted to the PDP can be visited upon the APC as well.

Meanwhile, the PDP, having lost all claims to power through the judiciary, is set for a long wait in the dungeon. The PDP is not worth anyone’s pity, for it is being served exactly what it had also served.

It is an opportunity for the PDP to transform into a party with an ideology and a purpose.

Written by Tunde Chris Odediran

Tunde Chris Odediran studied and practiced journalism in Nigeria. He is now a Technical Communications and Information Technology professional in the United States.

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