by Kelechi Oparaku
There is no gain-saying the fact that whatever defects we see in the functioning of our government today is, directly or indirectly, the reflection of the internal workings of the ruling party. It is therefore trite to say that a better PDP will ultimately mean a better Nigeria and vice versa.
I read with gusto Ohimai Amaize’s “Like It Or Not, We Are All PDP” and also the subsequent rejoinder by Raymond Eyo in which he differed with Ohimai, opining that “We Are Not All PDP”. Whereas both made quite interesting reading especially for a neutral like me, I have found it expedient, however, to lend my voice to the simmering debate for the overall benefit of the reading public and teeming Nigerians who are desirous of change in the way our affairs are being run but are slightly unsure how to bring this change about or how to effectively engage in the process.
Equally, I am motivated to correct the unfortunate mistake which Mr Eyo made in his bid to pick holes in Ohimai’s article. The reason for Mr Eyo’s mistake is not far-fetched: This is the season of relentless PDP bashing and given the much-touted less than satisfactory performance of the PDP as the ruling party since the return of democratic governance on May 29 1999; and especially since the advent of the present government led by President Goodluck Jonathan, a new crop of social media foot-soldiers have taken up the mantle and will leave no stone unturned in demonising PDP and everything associated with the party. As such, an article like Ohimai’s “Like it or not, we are all PDP”, no matter how well-intentioned and thoroughly thought out, was always going to meet with revulsion and distaste from this camp.
Now to the major point of controversy in the article: Ohimai had unwittingly stirred the hornets’ nest when he declared that, “There is a PDP in the best of us and a PDP in the worst among us”. However, unlike Mr Eyo, I find no reason to disagree with this assertion. Just as Ohimai further explained, members of the PDP are also Nigerians. They are people we know too well. They are our friends, neighbours, relatives, kinsmen, etc. PDP is not populated by aliens from Mars or Saturn or indeed other celestial bodies. PDP is a micro reflection of who we are collectively as a people, or the majority of who we are as a people if you like to put it that way for comfort.
As Aldous Huxley once said, each country gets the kind of leader it deserves. Therefore, if PDP is, as described by Babatunde Rosanwo, “a party of murderers, looters and political juggernauts”, then it follows that majority of Nigerians, if not all, are murderers, looters and political juggernauts, or in the lesser degree, accomplices thereof. To argue in the contrary will fly in the face of sound reasoning. Otherwise how does one explain that a group of saintly citizens will elect a crop of bandits to superintend over their affairs for 13 years and counting? The argument about the fairness or otherwise of our past elections especially since 1999 will be raised here but such arguments are merely academic as our courts upturned some elections while declaring that despite some irregularities in others, the elections reflected the wishes of the majority of the Nigerian electorate.
Politics, as Ohimai rightly pointed out, is not a game of ludo but that of numbers. Statistically speaking, PDP members or their sympathisers are currently in the majority. This is why it is the ruling party and also commands very comfortable majority that controls both chambers of the National Assembly and also more states of the Federation than all the other political parties put together currently control. Therefore, it is safe to say that Nigerians have, since 1999 deemed it safe to entrust their present and foreseeable future (until the next general election that is) in the hands of the PDP.
Of course the PDP is not perfect, and contrary to Mr Eyo’s assertion, Ohimai did not try to acquit the PDP of the many “sins” which it has been accused of. However, the thrust of Ohimai’s argument is that the only way to make our nation better and greater is not by the ongoing rabid and at times unfounded bashing of politicians and political office holders. His view is that active, constructive and purposeful political participation will deliver the goods and serve us better than armchair criticism. Ohimai never asked anyone who does not believe it is better to engineer change from the inside to join the PDP. However, his gospel as I understand it is that Nigerians, especially the youths should actively get involved in government and politics in order to build the enviable country which we all desire.
Futhermore, Mr Eyo had stated that Ohimai promoted money politics when he said naira notes travel faster than tweets and bags of rice make more impact on the impoverished and uninformed electorate more than social media rants. This is far from the truth and in fact, suggests that Mr Eyo probably read Ohimai’s article upside down. Far from promoting money politics, Ohimai indeed sought to underscore the evil effects of political indifference and the impact of the prevalent widespread hunger and lack in the land which will induce the politically naive and deprived to gladly part with their votes for a mess of porridge. Whereas one does not in any way underestimate the effects of social media campaign as the example of Arab spring is still fresh, we should also not dismiss the fact that we live in a different country with very distinct peculiarities. Most of our Twitter and Facebook militants, in their cosy offices and elite environment, typing on their iPads and sleek smart phones sometimes forget that there are over 12 million almajiri youths who have no Facebook or Twitter accounts.
There is no gain-saying the fact that whatever defects we see in the functioning of our government today is, directly or indirectly, the reflection of the internal workings of the ruling party. It is therefore trite to say that a better PDP will ultimately mean a better Nigeria and vice versa. To this end, every Nigerian, young and old, literate and illiterate, should take more than a passing interest in the state of affairs of the PDP as well as the characters that pilot its affairs. To my mind, there is no better way to achieve this than from the inside, or at least, by formulating a formidable, constructive, progressive and purposeful alternative devoid of hatred and ill-will. The current ramblings of self-acclaimed Twitter and Facebook battalion in the payroll of a purposeless opposition lacking in credibility will barely scratch the surface when the chips are down. We all desire a better Nigeria which we shall only have when we refine and reform the PDP in all of us.
Kelechi Oparaku is a Legal Practitioners, he writes from Abuja.
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.