Otu Ita Toyo
I met and grew to respect Osita Chidoka when he was introduced to us by a kind Akwa Ibom professional in Abuja at a critical time when we needed some support for our project to protect Godswill Akpabio’s beleaguered mandate in 2008, he was one of the young professionals who used his leverage to lend us a hand in that battle. He had sustained my admiration for his persona, intellect and sense of duty since then.
After a successful and intelligent tenure as the Corp Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corps and minister, Lately he labored as one of the intellectual pillars and social consciences in the experiment to re-brand the dwindling fortunes of the once great party the PDP.
He was a bright star in the dimming PDP horizon and worked hard to spread that light to help resuscitate his party. His image was promoted as the new face of a new improved PDP and along with Prof. Jerry Gana almost managed to perfume the overpowering stench of their Party’s abysmal records in political party and country engineering. I watched with admiration during the grand launch of their new working manual in Abuja. It was to be the last effort of an exhausted juggernaut. Hope kindled as both of them tried to breadth life into the comatose behemoth but the moment the cameras panned into the audience, I saw the reasons why their efforts had a slim chance of success.
To be sure they produced a a good working document. It cold not have been any less so given that many good and capable professionals contributed to its birth. My wife HE Ambassador Nkoyo Toyo was part of that team and she packs a mean punch intellectually, so were many other deep thinkers who helped fashion out the new schedule of engagement. But how does one retain the new bubbly wine in the old skins the camera panned through. Very viscerally absent was the _class of Chidokas_ The beautiful ones refused to show up. There was no way that old crowd had any new tricks. I had my doubts but I also knew what stuff the Nkoyos and Ositas were made of. If the rest of the team had half their spirit, then PDP had more than a healthy chance of getting weaned from life support equipment but only just.
Despite their enthusiasm with their work however, any time I remember the bewildered audience, that pack of habitual constitution violators and oppressive demagogues who believed that more money can solve every problem, I had my doubts.
I was in the PDP and at a time it was nationally beloved, it held some promise. I worked to help build it up into a disciplined rules based organisation, but that was before the crows perched. For my effort I was sanctioned and I was not alone. Our party preferred to promote deal makers into princes rather than ideologues and strategic thinkers. It is not quite clear to me what secret inoculations they had ( if any) but the hierarchy of that big Nigerian organisation and their packs gradually developed an aversion to any other mode of organisation other than that which flowed from their dictat. In their time, any romance with the constitution (party or country) was something they viewed as high treason. Their word, wish and preferences were the law. The constitutions were reduced to propaganda documents. In time, this party which once held out hope became a prisoner of its own favorite inmates. Decline was the inevitable sentinel.
As I hinted above, I have very high opinion of Osita’s cerebral and attitudinal integrity. If he has indeed abandoned the re-branding effort of the factionalized opposition party and moved out of the PDP, then that is a big sign, a sad one, it hints almost definitely that a big wave approaches that stricken ship. It may soon keel over.
His choice of berthing station also speaks volumes. He did not abandon ship for the shelter of the APC which is becoming like a refugee ship for PDP immigrants. He has chosen a platform on which to build. Maybe try to effect some of the bright ideas they dreamt up for the PDP.
The PDP was addictive to minds which were susceptible to fanfare and grandeur. It’s minders were always suspicious of independent thinkers. So when they had their big test against newly formed APC, they were busier with the processes of cleaning out the vaults at CBN than fashioning out a realistic response. Where they were conscious at all, their reaction was at best vernacular. Deploying violence, ballot snatching and other backward but discarded strategies even when new technology told everyone that those methods were now outmoded. In that premise they had a complaint Supreme Court almost moulded out of the abacus age. In the main however, The whiff of newly minted and carefully wrapped dollar notes kept them sedated.
They lost their shine in the last election so there is very little left of its grandeur and once the treasury looting stopped and the impunity was unravelled, the umbrella machine became like a crippled aircraft carrier. Even when the lack lustre performance and low energy deployment of the APC gave it a chance at some national relevance and resuscitation, the afflicted PDP succumbed to the malignant cancer which was embedded in its innards. With no help from outside they proceeded with grim determination and bewildering efficiency to tear down their edifice.
The Ositas of this world had the capabilities to pull them out of the morass but I guess that even they under estimated the spread of the cancer and the determination of the belligerent sides to tear each other down. Even if it meant they will take the PDP down with them. Nothing really new there, that’s classic PDP behaviour, only this time it was curiously suicidal. The PDP list of patents is as befuddling as it can ever get. Only in the PDP can 16 be more than 19, one man determine who will represent the entire state everywhere and make it official party policy. Only there can they prefer to be represented by gate keepers rather than seasoned professionals. It was also the theatre of real uncommon chicanery and deliberate confusion.
The Ositas of this world, for the pitiful sake of this country, may indeed be more effective plying their delightful trade elsewhere. Nigerians had better prayed that they hit better fortunes whereever they have birthed. But now they are leaving, the last turks with any real deal to offer; Who can step forth and help Nigeria keep PDP alive? At least until the more beautiful ones grow into service. This nation is too fragile to be left in the hands of another “biggest political party in Africa” That alternate platform is essential for good conduct.