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Abuja convention: Uninspiring outing

This is not the issue I wanted to handle this week. Indeed there are many more vital issues begging for attention. In fact, I have for a very long time thought to do another work on “Disease and dependency”, especially in the in light of frequent outbreaks of various diseases in our nation. The issue became more urgent with the recent “Contaminated Egg Scandal” that rocked The Netherlands and some European nations but I had to zero down on the topic you are reading because of what I have come to know about small issues and national development. Let me make this point before we move on: every underdeveloped nation that intends to turn things around within the shortest possible time must as a state policy have an eye on matters we often describe as “small things.”

I must confess, I considered the non-elective convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the first after the Supreme Court saved the party from what would have been sudden and unexpected extinction as a small matter and for that reason I did not apportion time in my schedule to watch it. Later I was to change my mind based on what I know about small things and national development and especially about the strategic role of political parties in shaping national policies and programmes and the construction of national administrative architecture. So I watched the PDP convention with clinical interest. I could say my deductions are quite different from what the party chieftains seem to say are their own observations. I have heard most of them say it was a great gathering and a clear indication of their readiness to win the general election of 2019 and take over power at the centre. It is good to have a wish but I thought that by now they would have known that there is a wide gap between wish and substance and that as is commonly said, if wishes were horses even the beggars would ride.

I choose to deal with this issue because it is time all of us got it into our heads that ambition may not require anything but vision is a different matter. Till tomorrow, vision would always require substance and sterner stuff to ride it. Many Nigerians had expected that with the way PDP was sacked from power, her experiences in the hands of power hijackers and then the mood of the nation, the party would have learnt enough lessons such that by now it would have seen the need to repackage itself, introduce new gladiators and of course appreciate the need to run on sound nationalistic programmes inclusive of major current issues. Every indication however, seems to suggest the party felt nothing and learnt nothing; that is what I got from the whole outing at the convention and I think a lot of Nigerians I encountered on the social media are of the same opinion.

The organization was a sham. If you watch what the Americans do, you would see that the political class maybe not just the PDP, have sworn an oath to always confer us with indignity over their continuous inability to efficiently execute even minor assignments. We may not reinvent the wheel in the 21st century but nothing says we cannot view what others are doing and learn the good aspects; in fact that is why history and experience are very important; they are there to help us circumvent the trouble spots encountered by our forebears. If ours is a nation quick to learn, the rostrum would not be at the extreme where it was. It would have been at the centre of the arena and all the delegates would have been made to sit round or in a rectangular form to the rostrum. The security personnel would have been massed in accordance with the sitting arrangement and by this freeing the centre of any encumbrances including unnecessary human traffic and crowding.

We didn’t see these, rather delegates were allowed to gather at the centre of the arena and on both sides of the thoroughfare leading to the podium. This was disorderliness personified and constituted a huge security risk especially given the kind of security climate prevailing across the nation. Moderating was substandard, the event was being beamed life and was very embarrassing that the Master of Ceremony didn’t know the sequence of events or who would perform which of the acts. There were always loud conversations, very audible to the viewing audience all indicative of inadequate preparation. The convention chairman, Delta State Governor, Senator Okowa, some members of his committee and members of the party’s Caretaker Committee who crowded the podium ought not to be there except any had a task to discharge. In that case you mount the podium at the time of duty and leave immediately on completion.

The objective of the party seem to have been well marketed on the occasion and that is to be in power after the next general election but from what the key speakers said it would seem there is no foundation to it or that whatever foundation there is to it, is erected on a sandy soil. Forget whatever the party is saying about its performance while in power. In the minds of many Nigerians the party is a major contributor to the mess we are in and it is true they desire a strong opposition party, but this time it has to be an opposition with vision and the men to achieve it. This is the expectation and this first outing offered the party the opportunity to reap the benefits of a first time renewal exposure. Unfortunately they blew the chance talking irrelevancies and even making jest of what should be a very serious and solemn occasion. Except for Senator Godswill Obot Akpabio, who came nearer to addressing germane issues, the rest were glorifying in the old order of talk without substance. Former President Jonathan looked pitiable, he could neither extempore nor was his scripted points relevant for the moment. If PDP would be a strong opposition, nobody is talking about winning yet; it would have to work hard to put its house in order. Nigerians want a party driven by programmes which are foresighted and some of which should address current issues that constitute serious impediments to proper development of our nation. The nation wants to see young, well educated and capable Nigerians to take over the political space. The two big parties may be surprised that this issue of young Nigerians may stand between them and Nigerians in the next few months. The possibility of the emergence of a third force is not ruled out if the big parties fail to understand what the time is saying. 

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Editor, Online: Ikenna Emewu
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