PDP: Before the blackout

TODAY, Political Panorama will talk about the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP). Since the Nigerian Tribune approved the publication of Political Panorama near 20 years ago, there have been few occasions when the Column has been partisan about discussion and analysis of political events in Nigeria. We once wrote a critical analysis on some matters in the Senate election of Senator Bukola Saraki, as the Senate President of Nigeria. We warned the APC about the way and manner the party went about the issue of the election of President of Senate particularly as it affected Senator Bukola Saraki. The Party (APC) heeded our appeal and did its best to lessen the political matters that surrounded the Senate Presidency affair.

Today, we will talk about the PDP, the second largest Party in Nigeria today. We have aptly titled today’s article: “PDP: Before the black out”.

I remember that in 1970, a member of the Editorial staff of the Nigerian Tribune Mr. Umoh James Umoh wrote an article inside the Tribune titled “Before darkness falls”. It was a beautiful article written by Umoh James Umoh warning Nigeria and Nigerians about the antics and machinations of a Nigerian politician (now deceased). Umoh warned that any careless handling of the matters connected with the Nigerian politicians could destroy the political nerve centres of Nigeria. Umoh James Umoh was correct after all. The politician discussed by Umoh is no longer alive but what Umoh warned about him came to pass.

Today, we publish on the PDP in the same manner that Umoh James Umoh had warned in his “Before darkness falls” article, unless the PDP positively addresses the issues raised inside PDP – “before blackout”, the party may soon prepare to sing the nunc-dimittis of its existence. About three weeks ago, I addressed a press conference on the goings on inside the PDP. I did the press conference on behalf of a concerned group within the PDP that will never wish the death of the party. We hope you will enjoy the contents of the Press Conference. We wish you a happy reading:-

“Gentlemen of the Press, I want to talk to you today with deliberate forthrightness, with deep sense and consciousness of a concerned Elder who cannot afford to sit down quietly and pretend everything is going on well in my party, the People’s Democratic Party.  In truth and in fact, the PDP is terribly ailing, sick, prostrated by greed hobbled by selfishness, stricken by the absence of equity and maimed by the dark conspiracies of little men who want to play God.  We lost the last election in 2015 because the highest hierarchy of our party was hijacked and swindled by fly –by-night mercenaries who virtually shoved aside men and women of character and impeccable merit and moral distinction who in more enlightened times could have helped us secure a deserved victory.

The very few, the unproven and untested mercenary characters descended heavily on the jugular of our party and virtually wiped out any sense of decency and any inkling of propriety and fairness which were once the critical ingredients that gave us victory consistently for more than 16 years.

Today we are now in a deep morass. The party is torn asunder. There is no sense of coherence anywhere. There is no contemplative and thoughtful vision to move us ahead. Everywhere, people are scurrying about in selfless scheming and in desperate, blighted vision to corner for themselves whatever is left of the tattered and wretched fabric of a dying party. While some of us are ready, willing and capable of rescuing our party from plunging into a destructive abyss and permanent forfeiture, some people who are overwhelmed by inordinate ambition are blindly insisting on a narrow provincial self-elevation to the detriment of the greater good of the party.

There little and muddled characters have virtually abandoned the guiding equity, the fairness doctrine, the balancing  pivot and the sweeping articulation of justice which our founding fathers had long anchored the fundamental principles of our party. In the history of political foundation in this country, the People’s Democratic Party is the first organization that consciously accommodated all the diversities of our common Nigerian Union.

The founding fathers insisted that every tribe, that very tongue, that every geo-political zone must all have a sense of belongingness and a sense of equal participation in the affairs of our party.The PDP zoning principle was to cultivate our common bond and our common brotherhood. In this rotational platform all major positions in the party hierarchy were to be distributed evenly and appropriately among the zones. For instance, if the chairman comes from the North in a four-year tenure, the position must shift to the South in the subsequent tenure. All other positions will be equally redistributed to accommodate our national plurality.

And even in the zoning along the North and South axis, there is no ambiguity at all. If a particular position is zoned to the South for instance, the specific beneficiary section of the South will be clearly defined and indentified. There cannot be any vagueness. There cannot be any confusion or uncertainty.  But now the tables are turning. A deliberate and divisive muddle is now being injected to suit the dubious and the dangerous agenda of some neophytes at the State House whose purpose and fixity is to commandeer the party into their private pockets, dictating and directing like some primitive overlords.

These are the same benighted characters who brought Senator Modu Sheriff to our party only because they thought they could use him to further their own political goals.  Well, we all know the reality. It backfired. Sheriff apparently was not interested in playing the role of a servile puppet. Immediately he grabbed power, he became a fearsome bull-dog, menacing, defiant, contemptuous and uncontrollable, mocking those who thought they had found a weakling to manipulate.  You would think that with the misadventure of the Sheriff episode that our governors would learn a lesson and move ahead to rectify their ways.

It never happened. Last year, in the new scramble to elect a new National Chairman, the Committee that was enpanelled with the responsibility to zone the office naturally chose the South West Zone to bring out their best nominee. It was a fair and just and reasonable decision. That is the way it has always been done. That is the old and proven tradition that our founding fathers implanted on the ground. The collective leadership of the South West immediately responded by calling a summit of various leaders across our zone to deliberate, to sift carefully among the aspirants and the vote for the most suitable person to adopt as our consensus candidate.  We all met in Akure in early August last year. Our  then two governors, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko and Mr. Ayodele Fayose presided over the proceedings. All the political heavyweights from Ogun, Ondo, Oyo, Ekiti, Osun and Lagos were all dutifully present to ensure plural contributions and tidy up the democratic flowering.

After an exhaustive debate and passionate submissions, the matter was put to vote. Professor Tunde Adeniran, Dr. Taoheed Adedoja and Chief Olabode George Ibiyinka were presented as the contesting aspirants.  The ultimate decision was smooth and swift. Chief Olabode Ibiyinka George was overwhelmingly voted for and subsequently adopted as the South West consensus candidate for the position of the National Chairman. A communiqué was equally issued to stamp the full weight of the South West Leadership on our collective decision. This has always been the abiding tradition of our party. Once a consensus candidate emerges from a zone, this becomes binding and unalterable at the National Convention.  Here the convention merely approves the unity list through approbation without rancor, without bitterness. Here no one, no matter how mighty or influential, would dare interfere in the collective decision of any zone.

The August 17 debacle last year flung tradition into the wind. It was an aberration writ large. For reasons best known to them, some governors colluded with other conspirators known and unknown and chose to insult and desecrate the collective wisdom of the Yoruba people by conspiring to foist a minority political leader as their adopted candidate for the position of the National Chairman!

It was a grievous injury that they inflicted on us. But we responded quickly that no one would discard the judgment of our leaders and impose an absolute greenhorn on our people. Well we thank God that the dark conspiracy was totally nullified by divine intervention.  I have called this press conference to sound a serious warning to all those who are bent on diminishing the Yoruba people. Yes, we know that they are back at their old game. We understand they are even concocting a new scenario by merely zoning the National Chairman position to the South without the traditional specificity of the particular place in the South.  This is not acceptable to us. This is blatant treachery and a dubious attempt to rob the South West of our just deserve. We will not take this lying low. Out of all the six geographical zone the South West is the only zone that has never occupied the position of the National chairman. The closest we got to it was when Chief Olabode George was elected Deputy National Chairman of the party.

Is it then not fit and proper that our consensus candidate who is the most experienced, well established in party administration, tested, proven, matured, straight-laced professional with integrity should be a natural and the foremost choice for the exalted position? We are ready to fight. We are willing to dig into the trenches to protect and defend what is our right. If they are stubborn and indifferent to our position, we are capable and willing to help them pull down the house.

The conspirators are on the path of ruin and perfidy.  No injustice can be sustained for long. What is fair is fair. It is either they give us what belongs to us and respect our choice or they will trigger the final burial and the entombment of PDP. That is our determined and resolute position. We will never be dictated to by any zone. Let every zone confine its ambition to its zonal boundary. Any intruder or any blatant interloper will be confronted with the collective rage and decisive sanction of our people.  The South-West is crucial and critical in swinging victory in a presidential election. The Lagos State alone has 6.5 million registered voters. You can hardly trifle with this significant figure. What’s more, the South-West contribution to the growth and development of PDP in the last 16 years is immeasurable. We have fought for the truth. We have fought for justice. We have fought for others who had been unfairly treated. We had fought against inequity and the straying of tyranny. We had fought for national unity and inter-tribal harmony.

This time, we are fighting for ourselves. This time we are fighting to protect our dignity and defend a good cause. May the good Lord help us all. I thank you all for listening”.

Chief  Ebenezer Babatope

For the Concerned Pdp Group

Fellow countrymen and women, we apologize for the above divergences!  All surely will be well!!


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