That many Nigerians are delighted with the seeming implosion of the self-acclaimed Africa’s largest political group, Peoples Democratic Party (PD) is not a secret. What many suspect, but refrain from voicing out is the fear that when push comes to shove, PDP and its various factions may come together rather than lose control power and all the privileges that come with it.
PDP has a history of internal wrangling, but has always managed to patch over those differences before every election to cling to power at all costs. The party’s numerous fights have never been about principles, policy direction or even about governance. The night meetings, long knives, legal battles and theater all come down to who presides over the depletion of Nigeria’s resources.
Traditionally, the fight to partake in the sharing formula is what has driven PDP’s constant internal wrangling; the same fact that in the end brings back aggrieved members – even in shackles. Not many in the PDP fold can rise beyond the hunger for power and influence, no matter how peripheral.
However, PDP’s current fight is anything but traditional, and the actors are after more than just tangential power and influence. What makes this implosion more intricate is that for the combatants, especially the self-styled PDP, it is fight for political survival and therefore a fight to the finish. No matter the pretexts, it is evident that President Goodluck Jonathan not only wants a second term, but is working assiduously, if behind the scenes, to actualize it. Members of New PDP, understanding the dynamics of power from experience, are clearly determined to take control of, or at worst, destroy the base. The stage is clearly set for a big fight.
While the back-stabbings, betrayals and sheer deceptive powers of the main actors may amuse Nigerians for a while, the fact remains that Jonathan’s already poor governance record deteriorate even more, further worsening the security and economic challenges government has been unable to tackle over the last four years. What is disheartening is that this is a fight that Jonathan didn’t have to fight, and a distraction that he can do without. But because he chose to abandon all the election promises he made, the president not only has to face his political adversaries, but has little sympathy from most Nigerians.
All Jonathan needed to do to silence his political opponents was to address some of the most fundamental issues affecting Nigeria today: corruption, poverty, insecurity, unemployment and infrastructural decay. If Jonathan had managed to free himself from the narrow clique deceiving him with heavily padded data about so-called economic growth that not translated into jobs and improved living conditions for Nigerians, he would know all except the most selfish beneficiaries of his kabu-kabu economics are happy that the party that elevated him to power is breaking up, and that he may end up without a credible platform on which to re-contest the presidential elections.
Unfortunately, like all presidents before him, Jonathan has surrounded himself with cronies and hangers-on who would tell him anything except that truth: Nigerians have become poorer and less secure since he became president; corruption is unparalleled, even by Nigeria’s very low standards, the fine figures about economic growth being bandied about means nothing to majority of Nigerians; Boko Haram still kills and maims at will; 20 million Nigerian youth still have no work and no prospects; education and health are complete shambles, our road networks are pockmarked with potholes and craters; religious and regional divisions are tearing Nigerians apart.
Jonathan’s big fight is not only with members of New PDP. Undoubtedly, with the likes of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and governors Sule Lamido, Babangida Aliyu, Murtala Nyako, Rabiu Kwankwaso, Rotimi Amaechi, Aliyu Wammakko and others comprise formidable opponents.
But what leverage does Jonathan have over them, and what would be their motivation for supporting him? If anything, a Jonathan triumph would very likely translate into jail terms for them, as James Ibori would confirm. Incidentally, most of the major contenders see themselves as qualified for, and therefore, potential candidates for the presidency.
Interestingly, there may be no guarantees for Jonathan even from the South – South and South – East. Of the northern governors that are currently on his side (reports indicate that more may jump ship) governors like Isa Yuguda, Ibrahim Shema, Jonah Jang, Gabriel Suswan, Mukhtar Yero – may not have enough influence to deliver their home states nor control their state delegates at crucial moments – like the presidential primaries – which is actually the root of the current crises.
Still, in the unlikely event that PDP manages to mend its seriously compromised foundations and presents Goodluck Jonathan as its presidential candidate, how many Nigerians will genuinely re-elect a president that has presided over unmatched looting of the treasury while hunger, insecurity, poverty and unemployment have worsened? Persuading Nigerians to re-elect him, and not PDP – whether new or old – will be Jonathan’s biggest fight.