This weekend, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) will undertake its national convention to elect new executives. Instructively, if the PDP pulls this through, it is going to be its first elective convention since its ouster from Aso Rock, the seat of our federal power.
As the convention day draws near, not few Nigerians are anxious to witness the unravelling of either the convention or the PDP itself. Beyond the reveries of naysayers and doom prophets who want the PDP dead, every patriotic Nigerian knows that it is in the best interest of our country that PDP survives.
Not only that the PDP possesses the muscle to provide the necessary opposition needed for the survival of democracy, it is also the party whose history mirrors the trajectory of our national history. From emerging as an impregnable behemoth in our political firmament in 1998, to perching on the precipice due to many instances of infighting and bad management, to showing great signs of greatness and recovery to relapsing into yet another serious instance of hopelessness, PDP’s story is the microcosmic version of the Nigerian story.
It is on account of this that PDP’s survival, its resurrection from death after three years in limbo is to be treasured by every right thinking citizen as it will demonstrate once again to the external world the irrepressible Nigerian spirit and reinforce the African belief that nothing really dies.Things merely go under in order to regenerate themselves and reappear as new.
While wishing for PDP’s regeneration, it is pertinent to remind the party that recovery does not tantamount automatic ticket to the various Nigerian seats of power across the tiers of Nigerian governments. This act of reminding is necessary if the party must be guided against relapsing into limbo in case it fails to clinch political power in the 2019 general elections. The question of power and control of governments may be the dream of all political parties but never their essence. The essence of political parties, as I understand it, is the aggregation of thoughts into a body of ideologies.
Ideologies, whether good or bad, are meant to guide actions. In the case of political parties it is on the strength of their ideologies that the citizens measure and moderate their expectations of them. Many of the criticisms against Nigerian political parties rest on the assumption that they are devoid of ideologies. Those who are charitable enough to ascribe ideologies to them feel strongly that these ideologies are indistinguishable across parties.
If PDP survives this weekend’s convention, Nigerians expect it to undertake instant self-revival unprecedented in party politics in Nigeria. This must begin by crafting strong ideologies which must serve as articles of faith to the party and its members. In this case, members of the party are members only because they profess their belief in the ideologies which the party stand for. Candidates will also be expected to win and lose elections on the strength of these ideologies.
To do this successfully, the PDP must be careful to avoid the loopholes that characterised previous ideology-making in Nigeria where machineries were approached to craft pseudo-legal musings in the name of ideology for political parties.
The practice in the past was to look for someone who had participated in the crafting of the ideologies of political parties in the past and plead with them to help manufacture ideologies for new political parties. In this sense, Bola Ige is reputed to be the architect of the ideologies of AD, APP, and PDP, the three political parties that existed at the beginning of the fourth republic. This explains why the ideologies of the political parties were basically the same having derived from the intellectual beliefs of one man.
Thus, Nigerians expect the new PDP to re-engineer itself through a systematic process of ideology making and wholesome operation of the party on the basis of the stipulation of the new ideologies. In doing this the party must bear in mind that Nigerians want to see a new PDP, one unrecognisable from the impunity, infighting, undemocratic practices, bad governance, dictatorship, injustice, disrespect for the rule of law, etc that characterised some aspects of its history while in power.
If it comes through in these areas, Nigerians want a political party that will address them equally as citizens of the same country and not one that will divide them across ethnic, religious, political and other fault lines.
Ironically, this Weekend’s convention will provide the major inkling about the party’s capacity to achieve this. The greatest statement about its readiness to attain this will be made by the party if it is able to conduct a free and fair election, one acceptable to all sections of the party during the convention.