“Remember Okwesilieze Nwodo – the ousted party chairman who was out to instill discipline in the party? What became of him? The system ate him up!”
Last Saturday saw a stab in the heart of democracy by those who daily profess to uphold its tenets. The Peoples Democratic Party, Nigeria’s ruling party, held a national convention that highlighted their reluctance to aspire for the sublime. The convention, designed to gag members’ natural desire for expression of choice, left the president the ultimate winner, and threw up men hired for a predetermined assignment as supposed elected leaders. In the build-up to the charade, only one word was hauled into circulation by the PDP: consensus.
Consensus is the name of the game which principal rule operates by denying people the right to choose their leaders. And that game was designed by the self-styled biggest political party in Africa.
And while the charade in Eagles Square was on, elsewhere somebody misread the mood of young Nigerians and got them enraged. Ohimai Amaize, famous as a “change” activist, a young man who should be concerned about what that arrangement portends for his future, made a declaration that got some of us to cringe. Hear him: “Who is watching the PDP National Convention on NTA? Great Party”. Further tweets from him revealed that he had just obtained the membership card of the party.
At this point I must express my understanding of the role Ohimai is playing for this government. He is a Special Assistant to the Minister of Youths and Sports, and being young, he is expected to work in the midst of young people – his immediate constituency – to increase their level of followership of the administration. He has a visible presence on Twitter – where his ID is @MrFixNigeria – and from time to time he makes comments that tend to project the government in a positive light. Sometimes he makes sense, other times he struggles to defend the defenseless. Such has always been the dilemma of anyone working for any organization – public or private – that harbours repugnance for that which is excellent. PDP fits this description; which is why I question Ohimai’s definition of PDP as a great party.
It must be impressed on my friend that greatness isn’t the same as beauty – which is said to be in the eyes of the beholder. Greatness is a concept that is defined by certain key elements. In the case of an entity like a political party, excellence in modus operandi – as it concerns playing by the rules of participatory democracy – and delivery of results when in power, are two of such elements. Ohimai struggled throughout the debate following his announcement and couldn’t get anyone to take him seriously.
I had expected to hear how PDP the great party lifted millions of Nigerians out of poverty in the 13 years that it has ruled Nigeria and with the unprecedented amount of resources that each of their administrations was fortunate enough to rake in from oil. I longed to hear how many Nigerians PDP government provided housing for in their 13 years of ruling and reigning over the affairs of Nigeria. I had expected to hear from Ohimai how PDP created jobs for our teeming youths, provided affordable education for our children, opened up roads to connect our towns and villages, built and equipped hospitals to take care of our health and established law and order in our society. But no, I didn’t hear any. I only heard that the party is large and that it has national spread.
And I ask, why won’t it be large? For a party that has had the key of the nation’s supreme vault since 1999, and is notorious for gathering members who are unable to differentiate between private pockets and public purse, why will having a daily influx of people be a big deal? For a party under whose watch criminality in government grew worse than the Abacha years and continuously receives official endorsement from the state, why won’t there be an overwhelming influx of people? Isn’t it natural that all rogues of every shade and size will find a natural habitat in a party whose members – including elders – rig elections and then validate them with judgments procured with stolen state funds? And in a country of 160 million people, the number of the rogues will be appreciable. Add that to the number of the hungry who would go anywhere there are hand-outs in exchange for loyalty and multiple thumb-printing and you have a mass.
But I will not be fair, or objective, by generalizing that everybody in PDP represents that which is unwholesome. There are few good people there. Yet what we see on ground defeats this reasoning. In terms of differentiating between private and public pockets, the decency and goodness that a few have in PDP haven’t reduced the amount of public funds that find their ways into foreign accounts. That decency and goodness of a few hasn’t improved the quality of governance the party gives Nigerians.
Which brings me to those who have risen in categorical defense of my friend, Ohimai. Some people hailed his joining PDP. After all, they quote, if you do not join them, how do you change them?
Actually, there are only two places where this theory works: the first place is the textbooks from where those who believe in it read it; and the next place is any country other than Nigeria and its two or three competitors for the world’s most corrupt country slot. I have seen and known enough to appreciate that the PDP reality forbids change, and will eat up anybody who comes in with a genuine intention to ennoble the organization. Remember Okwesilieze Nwodo – the ousted party chairman who was out to instill discipline in the party? What became of him? The system ate him up!
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