What would you say has made the crisis in the People’s Democratic Party, of which you are a member, so intractable?
What is happening to the PDP now is a result of sheer leadership failure at various levels over time. The loss of power at the centre jolted us and contributed majorly. We have not fully recovered from the effects of that loss of power. Due to the loss, a leadership vacuum emerged in the top structure of the PDP.
When the leadership vacuum began to emerge, it was filled by not-too-experienced leaders. Yes, they were leaders in their own rights, but they weren’t too experienced politically for the kind of burden they were called upon to shoulder.The PDP had a body that was supposed to be a repository of wisdom and was expected to have risen up to the occasion, which was the Board of Trustees. The PDP BoT from the beginning of this crisis till the end was an abysmal failure.
All this cumulated in the quagmire that the PDP has found itself. Unfortunately, sentiments were allowed to override good judgment.
At a point, the former President Goodluck Jonathan made efforts to provide leadership, or leadership was thrust upon him, to settle the crisis. Why would you say he failed?
The Jonathan intervention came too late. By the time he came in, the foundation structure of the PDP had been damaged. In the post-2014 exco, the chairman was nowhere to be found. At a time he was removed. Then came the problem of who would succeed him. Then they had a successor who was Deputy National Chairman. Then those ones wanted to perpetuate themselves despite their gross incompetence. And after that, some people brought in Ali Modu Sheriff for whatever purpose and they didn’t care to explain to anybody.
Politics is too sensitive and existing in Nigeria for too long for the PDP to make the blunders it made. For anybody to bring a man like Sheriff to be the Chairman of the PDP, certain institutions needed to be consulted, the idea must be debated and accepted, and then collectively embraced. But what did we have? A couple of governors just came together and believed they had all the powers to do anything. Yes, they have powers as executives of their states, but they don’t have the political know-how. In the end, as the proverb goes that a child can’t know how to eat solid pap without smearing his hands, these governors have now smeared their hands by their action. Worse, they have smeared the party. That was how we got into this crisis.
Has the PDP suddenly become a pariah?
If the PDP ruled this country for 16 years and then was thrown out, we must have done something fundamentally wrong. As events have unfolded, it’s clear we did something wrong; it’s clearthat like all human organisations are wont to do, we misused power. We did not look after the poor to the best of our ability. We must have done some other things to render us less worthy of being custodians of that power and that made another group to come to power.
We must bear that in mind. The stakeholders of the PDP must come together and repent. We have offended the people and we have offended God. We are human beings; those there now can also commit the same error. It is not a shame at all to fail; it is not when you fail that is the problem, it is how well you pick yourself up.
The running around that some PDP elements have been doing to form new political parties mainly to corner power in 2019 will not work. In 2019, only the will of God will prevail. Look at President Buhari. For 12 years, he sought power, but fruitlessly. Suddenly, when he had lost hope, that long-sought political power came to his life. But now that he has the power, he can’t effectively use it.That is God’s will.
Every 20 years, Nigeria experiences a dramatic political change; every 20 years, something dramatic must happen in the country’s political history. The year 1959 was the prelude to our Independence, the year 1979 was the return to civil rule from the military, In 1999, there was the change of government again from the military to civil rule. In 2019, another 20-year cycle, despite all the running around by politicians to corner power, God’s will is waiting. Those who believe they make presidents and are lords in Nigerian politics will fail.
How fractured is the PDP today?
The PDP has broken into a minimum of five political parties, all seeking registration from the Independent National Electoral Commission. The PDP has broken into nothing less than five factions. There is the Sheriff faction; there is the Makarfi mainstream; from the Makarfi mainstream, there is a new faction seeking INEC registration called APDA (Advanced Peoples Democratic Alliance); then there is the ADPA.
It is laughable. My question for PDP leaders is: When we were a whole and were in government and in power, we lost elections to the All Progressives Congress (APC). Now the APC is in power and we have broken into, at least, five, so how do we oust the APC? It is ridiculous the race some people are running. They are leaving leprosy and treating scabies.
A people like me will not be involved in that kind of running around. At 65 years of age, I won’t do that. We must realise we had done something wrong, apologise that we did something wrong, try to win again the goodwill the people had in us and work to right that wrong. But if we dissipate energy just on seeking to corner power, sorry, it can’t work.
But is it not possible that only one strong new political party can emerge from all those factions and fuse with some elements from the APC to give the ruling APC quite a contest in 2019?
If you know how Nigerian politics has been for over 35 years, you will realise that for those who have formed these new political parties now seeking INEC registration, the survival of their political platforms is more important to them than the survival of the PDP and the survival of even the country. That is the factor behind the impossibility of the opposition to come together. Politicians don’t have a collective will. Everybody wants to have his own platform and corner power.
Of course, I am not naïve not to realise that the APC has its own internal problems, but the APC will still be the party to beat in 2019.
Do you still view yourself as a member of the PDP?
I do not see myself as a member of any political group that has no serious-minded leadership. The PDP, as it is now, even if the court doesn’t give it to Sheriff, if it goes to Makarfi and that group has broken into three or four factions. The Sheriff group will not join the Makarfi camp; that group is even growing by the day because elections are coming and some people still want to contest on the PDP platform. If you want to contest on the PDP platform today, Sheriff must sign your paper, otherwise you look for another party.
People like me will not want to be part of this disarray, directionless and nonsense. There is no crisis that can’t be resolved. The failure to resolve the PDP crisis has exposed those at its top leadership level as grossly politically incompetent.
The Lagos State local government elections will soon hold and it doesn’t seem as if the PDP is existing in the state as to be competing in the elections. How prepared is the PDP for the LG elections?
Two groups of the PDP are contesting the local government elections in Lagos State, which is idiotic. Anyway, Governor Ambode of the main party in the state is doing so well.
The PDP in Lagos State is broken into two. There is the APDA (not ADPA, another faction) led by Chief Bode George, and there is the other one led by Segun Adewale, who heads the Sheriff’s faction and they control a large section. The tragedy of the PDP in Lagos State is that it is not united, whereas the APC that is in power is united and strong, and is doing very well.So the PDP has heard its results already.