The Torn Umbrella and the Rainy Days Ahead

Like the fictional Humpty-Dumpty that sat on the edge of a cliffhanger and expectedly fell off and collapsed, the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP’s) multiple internal contradictions are beginning to show how vulnerable the party is to a loud fall. The party had since 1999 managed its plethora of crisis and had applied the needle and thread to make multiple patches. However, the patches here and there have, as shown by recent developments, rather created a rag than a tidy whole with the resultant manifestation of deterioration.

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The internal contradictions, which the party had never publicly admitted, were openly advertized and dramatized by the emergence last week of a parallel PDP. Former Vice-President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar officially became a factional leader when he led a powerful group of party members (including former national chairman of the party, former national secretary, seven serving governors, and numerous other party stalwarts) to a separate national convention to elect party leaders ahead of the fast-approaching 2015 general elections. This was happening at the same time as the familiar half of the PDP led by President Goodluck Jonathan and the Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur were observing a vigil at the Eagle Square in the name of doing exactly what Atiku (and company) were doing in Abuja- electing their leaders.

The unfolding schism was dangerous enough for President Jonathan to hurriedly assemble the Atiku faction for the purpose of mending the fence. The entire last week was thus crowded with fence-mending meetings, which involved governors, PDP leaders across the aisle and of course the apparently most charismatic member of the party, former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

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Jonathan has the burden to mend the fence for two reasons: the PDP must not collapse under his supervision or leadership; and he must not fail to have a reelection in 2015. But the crisis, though existent since formation, was exacerbated by the cantankerous disposition and actions of the president in the first place, on certain matters. Jonathan had stubbornly overruled the objection of a number of self-styled progressives in the party, by endorsing and midwifing the emergence of the current National Chairman, Tukur. Again, Jonathan had stirred the hornets’ nest and had daringly poked the nose of OBJ in the choice of the Board of Trustees Chairman. Against all odds, the President had chosen the opposite seat on critical party and national matters, such as ignoring his predecessor’s advice on how best to move the nation and party forward, choice of security advisers and strategy to properly position the party for future challenges, which had irritated and distanced OBJ and his loyalists in the party from him.

The intractable crisis in the PDP had deeper roots than what was disclosed or publicized. For instance, Jonathan had seemingly abandoned embattled party members such as the former National Secretary, Colonel Olagunsoye Oyinlola (rtd). Litigations had been a nemesis for the former Osun State governor and when he was eventually booted out of the party’s national secretariat, the President did nothing obviously decisive to save him. Oyinlola and other fellows in the same shoes felt that the President was rather blinded by his quest for reelection to see the need for the survival of other people.

Moreover, the President’s personality rift and faceoff with the Rivers State governor, Rotimi Amaechi, on what can best be described as petty assumptions and unfortunate power tussle heated up the party and created a deep injury. Some governors and party faithfuls considered some of Jonathan’s acts as unpresidential. These included his perceived culpability in the seizure of Amaechi’s aircraft, Mrs. Jonathan’s careless remarks during and after her visit to Rivers, the Inspector-General’s breach of protocol on visit to Rivers, State Police Commissioner’s disregard for the State’s Chief Executive, and so forth. The most widely condemnable act was the factionalization of the Governors’ Forum (NGF) and orchestration of the emergence of a parallel NGF Chairman, Governor Jonah David Jang of Plateau State.

These were banal steps that deepened the PDP crisis. The younger and more “progressive” members of the party, including the highly influential Governor Babangida Aliyu of Niger State, sympathized with Amaechi and began what looked like acts of defiance to the Bamanga Tukur and Jonathan-led PDP. What these “youngsters” needed was a Robespierre or Napoleon that would be daring enough like Prophet Moses to lead them out of Jonathan’s Egypt. And that was what Atiku did last week when, for the very first time, the concealed rot that had slowly but steadily eaten deeply in the PDP, publicly released its worms.

The implication of the infractions in the ruling party are the gains of the opposition party, the newly formed mega All Progressives Congress (APC), which is made up of veterans and dynamic youngsters whose main aim is to wrest power from the PDP in 2015. The curse or could it be the “otomopo” of the opposition seems to be working. Just as the APC emerged from the merger of major political parties in the country, which had instilled fears and trepidation, and which had generated all manner of incomprehensible but derisive babbles in the PDP, the ruling party is collapsing like a pack of cards. Coming in a season of high political tide penultimate to 2015, this is a massive blessing for the opposition.

The PDP crisis demonstrates a crisis of leadership as well as a confidence gap, which does not place it a good position to be elected in 2015. Coupled with the copious cases of intractable national crises, including the failure of the security system and infrastructural decadence, the opposition is simply having an edge. Although both parties appear more like two cancerous fingers on the same unfortunate hand, the APC could however capitalize on the degree of malignancy in the PDP and seize the opportunity to win the 2015 elections for a change, at least. And maybe it is just the time for the “broom” to sweep off both the rain drops and the tattered “umbrella”.

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Dr. Folarin is the Head of Department of Political Science and International Relations at Covenant University, Ota, Nigeria. buy diflucan pilldiflucan 100 mg price

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