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With the successful holding of its elective convention since becoming the opposition party following its defeat in the 2015 general election on Saturday, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has demonstrated that it is battle ready to provide a vibrant opposition, the necessary ingredient of a multi-party democracy. Although the convention was riddled with accusations of vote-buying, imposition of candidates and other electoral infractions common in our electoral process, which have been denied any way, it is good that the party had the convention than none at all.
With the new party executive in place under the leadership of Prince Uche Secondus, the party is set to address all grievances and bring all members on board. After all, the convention was held within the ambit of a family affair with positions zoned to certain regions. The party should expectedly show that its umbrella is big enough to accommodate all its members, including its estranged members in other political parties.
Interestingly, Secondus recognized the need for reconciliation following the grievances arising from the convention and has extended his hand of fellowship to his erstwhile co-contestants. He assured that the grievances that emanated from the convention, which he regarded as ‘a few family disagreements,’ are being addressed though the party’s robust conflict resolution mechanism.
He promised that under his leadership, PDP will not marginalize any zone or region and that there will be no imposition and impunity of any kind. Following his emergence as the new chairman of PDP, Secondus made it clear that the mandate given to the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) is to return the PDP to power in 2019. He has gone ahead and issued the APC a quit notice in Aso Rock Villa that will expire on May 28, 2019.
It is good that the chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, has congratulated his PDP counterpart, Prince Uche Secondus and charged him to make the PDP a responsible opposition party. The APC leader assured Secondus of his willingness to engage him robustly in an atmosphere devoid of rancour and acrimony. I hope Chief Odigie-Oyegun has not forgotten how they campaigned and uprooted PDP from Aso Rock Villa in 2015.
We shall see how this game between the ruling party and the opposition plays out as we inch towards the 2019 poll. If the rancourous campaigns that heralded the 2015 general election are anything to go by, what will happen when the 2019 poll campaigns start can be imagined than described. However, only time can reveal how sweet or bitter the 2019 campaigns will be.
But if the character of average Nigerian politician is to be reckoned with, more acrimonious campaigns would be expected in 2019. The fight for tenancy of Aso Rock Villa will always be fierce and keen because those seeking for leadership positions in Nigeria have not clearly articulated why they want power. Their aim is to get power first before thinking what to do with it. Their campaign manifesto is always tailored to simply capture power and not something that will be implemented.
We have witnessed time without number failed campaign promises in the nation’s political history. Most of the campaign promises of APC have remained at best promises, after two and half years in power. Their highest achievement so far is to blame the PDP for their poor performance and other woes. The worst sin in this democratic dispensation is for a political party to publicly deny its campaign promises.
Not keeping to campaign promises by political parties will play out in the 2019 poll. It is a pay-back time. The Nigerian electorate is wiser now more than ever before. The records of those campaign promises are all over the place including the internet, they cannot be denied any more. The electorate can no longer be deceived. They have played the fool for a long time. I strongly believe that they are now wiser. They can read between the lines and know the difference between the foot of a cow and capital B.
While it is good for any party to aim at capturing Aso Rock Villa in 2019 as the PDP is letting Nigerians to know, I want to say that it is not enough. The PDP was in Aso Rock Villa for 16 good years before it lost power to the then opposition APC. The question the PDP should ask itself is: What went wrong? An honest answer to this simple question will guide the party to know if what it is doing right now is the sure way to Aso Rock Villa tenancy in 2019, considering what happened at its recent convention.
Is the era of imposition and impunity over in PDP as Secondus has assured? Why did the PDP lose its tenancy of Aso Rock Villa? Is the party ready to occupy the tenancy of Aso Rock Villa? Is the Nigerian electorate ready to hand over the keys of Aso Rock Villa to PDP? These are fundamental questions begging for truthful answers from the new PDP leadership.
After soul searching, the new PDP leadership should do a thorough home work and come out with a manifesto that will thrill the Nigerian electorate once again in the same way the APC mesmerized them in 2015. The manifesto should be well coded in simple terms and poetic language. There should be no room for ambiguity. The PDP must woo Nigerians with sweet words before another political romance will commence.
The task at hand is enormous. While it may not be so easy to accomplish, it is also not insurmountable. The PDP should clearly explain to Nigerians why it and not APC or any other party deserved to be the next tenant of Aso Rock Villa in 2019. The PDP must tell Nigerians what it wants to do differently from the APC and what they stand to gain in the project. Although the ruling APC has provided the PDP enough nails to nail its political coffin come 2019, the question remains, can the PDP be willing to put the nails in the right places when the time comes? Is the PDP willing to take the opportunity with both hands and smile home to victory? The journey to 2019 has commenced. The PDP has no time to waste.
It must start working for its success now beginning with its current reconciliation meetings following the acrimonious convention. The party must work hard to bring all its estranged members to its fold. For the PDP to make it in 2019, it must be seen as a vibrant opposition and a substitute to APC. It is my contention that mere pronouncements alone without commensurate hard work are not enough to return the party to Aso Rock Villa in 2019.