Thursday, 14 February 2013

Of 2015: PDP, APC, and the Rest of Us! - By Efe Wanogho

Of 2015: PDP, APC, and the Rest of Us!

Efe Wanogho
Nigeria is witnessing unprecedented political developments that could shape the future of the country for some time to come. The stranglehold of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, on the polity, is facing a clear and present challenge from the budding amalgam of key opposition political parties. In a move that jolted many out of their manifest complacency with regard to the possibility of any realcompetition to the unfettered influence of the PDP at the national stage, the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, the Congress forProgressive Change, CPC, the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, and the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA; have taken steps to concretize the long talked about merger of parties to form a veritable opposition to the overriding influence, and seeming monopoly of the PDP at the national center.
Whereas there are discordant tunes from the camp of APGA regarding its participation in the new arrangement, as the party has persisted in some sort of internecine politics of a factional nature; the move by the opposition parties to merge and metamorphose into the All Progressive Congress, APC, can only deepen the democratic experience in the country. It is hoped that the electorate, and by extension, the citizenry, would be the better for it; as there would be a clear alternative to the status quo.
This new arrangement would give the PDP reason enough to evaluate its place in the sociopolitical life of the people and determine whether to remain as it is, its sole claim to fame being that of “the largest political party in Africa”, or reposition itself to be the party of choice for the voting population. It also enables the opposition political parties, under the auspices of the APC, to provide sharp contrasts with PDP and thereby constitute a credible alternative. What is at stake in the unfolding scenario is the trust and soul of the mass of the people.
As citizens, we are faced with four clear choices.
Firstly, to cast our lot with the PDP and continue to experience the directionless ideology of a political party that has unilaterally wielded power at the center, controlling an overwhelming majority at the National Assembly and singlehandedly constituting the executive arm of the government, replete with policy somersaults, government after government. A decision to embrace the PDP would imply that one is satisfied with the way and manner the country has been run since 1999, with its myriad of failings in effectively exorcising corruption out of our national psyche, providing adequate security of life and property, tackling the menace of epileptic power and general infrastructural development, and a general lifting of the socioeconomic fortunes of the populace, among others; or it could mean that one is not necessarily satisfied with the PDP, but weighed against the opposition, the PDP seems the better of the two evils. To this end, rather than seek change from without, one decides to stick with the PDP and cause change from within. Those susceptible to this line of thought are the same ones who are wont to argue that the problem of Nigeria is not the quality or difference in political parties, but the general attitude of the citizenry. They are the proponents of the there-is-a-PDP-in-all-of-us dictum.
The second choice that confronts us is to embrace the APC and join it en mass, hoping that it would satisfy the yearnings of the populace for a new order in which the ills of (mis)governance that have consistently plagued the country and stifled its socioeconomic advancement, would be dealt a fatal and decisive blow. In this case, having suffered national stagnation, if not outright degeneration, since 1999; we are ready to support any party but the PDP. It could also mean that we are not necessarily swayed by the advances of the APC, but that we believe that supporting an alternative party would cause the PDP to take us more seriously and thence, commit itself to giving life to the aspirations of the people.
The third line of action available to us is to, in collaboration with like minds, form a new political movement. In this case, we dismiss the existing political parties with a wave of the hand and align with others to bring to being, a new political party. Naturally, we must be poised to take steps to fulfill the requirements of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and satisfy the provisions of the Electoral Act with regard to registration of political parties. We are spurred on by a desire to be untainted by the politicians of yesterday and those of today.
The fourth option is to continue to be politically unattached, a euphemism for political apathy. Those of us in this category tend to demonize the entire political process and participants. We believe that nothing good can come out of the PDP and the APC, and yet, we deign to take steps to form a new platform for the realization of the political aspirations we hold dear. We are the perpetual critics and beer parlour analysts who have all the solutions to the problems bedeviling Nigeria, but do nothing about them. We are merchants of doom who supposedly want the best but see only the worst in every party. We are the indifferent lot. We are too preoccupied with our professions, or satisfying our immediate individual survival needs to have time for the “dirty” game of politics. We are those who would not present ourselves for elective office, but scorn any chance to vote for others at the polls. We want change so badly, but the most we do to bring about change is to become the eternal opposition of both the status quo, and those who present themselves as alternatives.
Of the four categories, this last set of Nigerians is the worst sort of citizens a country can have. They are the very enemies of the State, and by extension, of their own interests. They are latently and manifestly antagonistic to participating in matters that directly and indirectly affect them; the very soul of any democratic enterprise, properly so called. They are the sort of people that Pius Adesanmi would christen as the Spectocrats; having taken on the toga of perpetual spectatorship in the sociopolitical life of the people. Truth be told, we are all in this mess together. There is no such thing as being indifferent or apolitical in the sociopolitical arena. To assume the state of indifference is tantamount to encouraging all manners of usurpers and pretenders to navigate the ship of State.
Seeing that I presently do not have the financial muscle to kick-start and galvanize a new change process, at the moment, coupled with the pernicious and fratricidal apathy that characterize the mass of the people, occasioned by the twin evils of ignorance and debilitating poverty; my prescription is simple: Join and or support the PDP, or join and or support the APC. Personally, I would be guided by the antecedents of the PDP, if any, being the sole driver at the national level since the onset of the present democratic dispensation, and the quality of the persons that lead the party and that have been projected to leadership positions, elective or appointive; and parallel it with the quality of persons that lead the APC. I would contrast PDP leaders such as Olusegun Obasanjo, Goodluck Jonathan, Bode George, James Ibori, Lucky Igbinedion, Anthony Anenih, David Mark, Farouk Lawan, Diepreye Alamieyesegha, Chris and Andy Uba, Ahmadu Ali, Patricia Etteh, Femi Otedola, Doyin Okupe, Theodore Orji, etc. with APC leaders such as Muhammadu Buhari, Adams Oshiomhole, Babatunde Fashola, Nasir El Rufai, Rochas Okorocha, Bola Tinubu, Dino Melaye, Pat Utomi, etc. I would contrast Lagos State with Rivers State, Edo State with Abia State, and Jigawa State with Ekiti State. I would decide whether I want more of the PDP brand of governance, or whether I would subscribe to the uncertain promises of the APC.
After a detailed scrutiny of the characters that are the symbols of both parties, I would decide whether to stick with a vindictive autocrat with unexplained wealth from Ota, or with an incorruptible and benevolent dictator from Daura; I would decide whether to stick with a seeming cluelessness and mediocrity, or whether to seek out focused leadership.
Well, this is not about me, but about us. What would you do? Where would you stand? Would you abandon the fate of Nigeria to charlatans, and pray endlessly for that elusive deliverer in the mold of the biblical Moses; or would you take a stand to, alongside others, shape the destiny of Nigeria? Do you support accountability in government or do you believe that 67Billion Dollars of public funds should be expended without explanation? Would you stick with the PDP, support the APC, form a new party, or condemn yourself to eternal lamentations?
I am @efewanogho on Twitter.

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