By Sufuyan Ojeif
I thought I read in one of the newspapers the newly-enthroned national chair of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus, say “there is no victor, there is no vanquished” in the national convention that produced him. That scorched-earth catchphrase being played up over and again to massage frayed nerves and battered egos. That is the traditional refrain employed by the favoured to mollycoddle the disadvantaged and the disgraced.
For me, that is the preoccupation of the new PDP leadership in a frantic bid to ingratiate itself with the aspirants from the southwest zone whose individualities have been denigrated by the gambits, politicking and pecuniary intimidation which bore the imprimatur of their Excellencies, the suzerains, yes, “executive governors” in the eleven states controlled by the party.
Buoyed by the governors, Secondus, who did not crisscross the thirty-six states of the federation and the FCT to address delegates as did Dr Raymond Dokpesi (even if from the south-south zone also), was primed to win the coveted prize; and no opposition was potent enough to upstage the agendum of the gang. Not even the legitimate and reasonable claim by the southwest zone to the position could dissuade Governor Nyesom Wike and his allies from forging ahead and pushing through.
It was all clear that they had an assignment to accomplish; and, therefore, wise counsel by statesmen against monetising the process and hijacking the leadership of the party was scoffed on the altar of a supposed political exigency, which was obviously in service of some parochial interests. It was baffling how the PDP leadership dramatically turned the table against the southwest to which it had originally ceded, through micro zoning, the position of national chair.
The fact that the position was gifted to the southwest received ample validation going by the number of aspirants from the zone who expressed interest in the position. Prominent and respected leaders of the party threw their hats in the ring in the belief that the position was conclusively for the zone. The understanding was that one of them was going to get it.
They staked their individual reputation in the race for the coveted prize only for them to be confronted by the wall of opposition erected right in between them and the position by the governors of the party who floated and fronted their own anointed candidate from outside the zone. That clearly explains the pains of Chief Olabode George whose reactions continue to reverberate through the labyrinth of political consciousness.
I concur, to a very large extent, with George who demonstrated the courage and conviction to speak truth to a clan of self-appointed neo-leaders in the party who were nowhere when the party was formed in 1998. Some of them were, at best, aides to some leaders of the party at the formative stage. But today, they have suddenly transmogrified, presenting pictures of modern-day dictators and power-drunk demagogues. They elevated pettiness and parochial interests over and above the sacrosanctity of a hitherto agreed political correctness.
Such undisguised display of littleness or pettiness by otherwise recognized leaders of the party upends that recognition and renders them, pitiably, the “vanquished”. It is sad that some little men who chanced on power would resort to gangsterish use of such power in the context of political party structure and administration as witnessed in the December 9 national convention of the PDP in the determination of the national chair.
Indeed, these are the ultimate losers, the “vanquished”. Whereas, the winners, the victorious are Bode George who withdrew from the race because, according to him, the position of national chair had been sold to the highest bidder. George’s reactions were defining in so many ways and they provided the ground and anchorage for other aspirants who subsequently withdrew from the race. His summative attack on the shortchanging of the southwest was aptly captured thus: “The zoning principle, which was publicly reinforced last year in Port Harcourt, had specifically and rightly affirmed the southwest as the zone to produce the national chairman. This binding proclamation was based on equity, fairness and natural balance that hold any organisation together.”
His conclusion that “this old, legitimate and morally sound micro zoning principle has now been trashed, dumped in the waste bin, flung into the gutter by very little men who have compromised the pivotal moral anchor of civilised engagement for temporary selfish gains” cannot be faulted. But the party still has one more chance to redefine itself through the choice of the right presidential candidate whose cosmopolitan outlook and capacity to engage with the powers-that-be are surefooted.
Otherwise, the PDP will end up confirming, indeed, Bode George’s verdict that: “It appears the PDP is now bent on self-destruction. It has obviously allowed money moguls to dictate its thematic largeness. The party has lost its soul. It has lost its principled beginning and the predications of righteousness. It has traded the finer principles of democratic guidance and equity for the squalid, dirty and shameful resort to mercenary agenda where nothing matters save the purid, oafish gains of the moment.”
Just as he refused to be part of the “screaming aberration”, the likes of Rasheed Ladoja, Jimi Agbaje, Taoheed Adedoja, Gbenga Daniel were also likewise disposed. They withdrew, leaving Professor Tunde Adeniran, a fine, taciturn intellectual who is shorn of the common baggage of the bad and the ugly past as well as Chief Raymond Dokpesi in the race against the governors’ anointed one-Uche Secondus. Here again, Dokpesi, who ran a decent campaign nationwide, refused to be intimidated out of the race. He fought to the finish in the face of the scary hurdle.
Like George who said he would not leave the party despite the sad development, Dokpesi has immediately congratulated the new leadership and promised to remain in and work for the party’s success in the forthcoming general elections. Dokpesi, like George and co., is a victor. Professor Adeniran, even though he stormed out of the convention venue in protest against the manipulation of the process through the emergence of a Unity List that put him at a great disadvantage, is also a victor.
Those who manipulated the process in such a grotesque fashion complained about by Adeniran are the “vanquished”. Indeed, those who feel at home with the perfidy that took place at the Eagle Square and, especially the beneficiary of the act that put the entire southwest zone in the cold, who cannot reject the process as flawed, are the “vanquished.” To put it succinctly, therefore, in the just-held national convention of the PDP, “there is victor; there is vanquished.”
What the new leadership should do is to engage in some form of restitution through genuine reconciliation in order to restore the confidence of the entirety of the party members in it. The party should make overtures to truly aggrieved individuals and do the needful rather than engage in the luxury of mere political statements that do not deal with the substance of the contending matters. It certainly cannot afford missteps in the build-up to the 2019 general elections.
Mr. Ojeifo, Editor-in-Chief of The Congresswatch magazine, sent this piece via firstname.lastname@example.org