Young people need to learn a thing or two from PDP if we want to provide good leadership for Nigeria.
Let me first of all state that I do not hold brief for the PDP in any capacity. I am simply writing to expand some of my comments I have made on Twitter recently when ministerial assistant Ohimai Amaize (@MrFixNigeria) declared that the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) is a “great party”. All sorts of negative expletives were directed at him with strong suggestions that he had been possessed by demons. Truth be told, PDP is indeed a great party in a sense of the word ‘great’. I always refer to the dictionary meaning of words to properly understand context, especially since English is an adopted language for we Nigerians. Words such as ‘large’, ‘huge’ and ‘gigantic’ have been used as synonyms to describe what great means.
Or, it could mean ‘wonderful’, ‘first-rate’, or ‘very good’– words that the anti-PDP folks were thinking about when they heard the word ‘great’. Such attributes are subjective as different people have varying views of the PDP. People will think of the unemployment, rigging, corruption, poverty, etc. that have subsisted under various PDP-led governments and conclude that PDP has not been anything near great. Whether these opinions are correct or not is a different topic for another day; in order to avoid controversy I believe that the first set of definitions accurately describe PDP as great.
The fact of the matter is that PDP is the only truly national party in existence in Nigeria. Late Major General Shehu Musa Yar’adua created the People’s Democratic Movement (PDM) which became the core on which the PDP was built. PDM was a great collection of personalities from all across the nation. PDP has taken it as a point of duty to ensure that its membership is drawn across all sections of the country thereby ensuring that it reaches the grassroots. The party has an organizational structure in every state, local government area and ward in the federation. They have shown exemplary party primary selection processes with a culture of internal democracy, negotiation and active canvassing for votes from the electorate.
Most people will say Nigeria is not where it is supposed to be because of bad leaders. PDP has produced majority of the political leaders in the past 13 years. It is easy for us to conclude that PDP has provided bad leadership and in the process crippling the growth of the nation. PDP has provided all sorts of leaders with different ideologies under its umbrella. You will find the conservatives, progressives, reformists, etc that have been affiliated with the party e.g. Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, Dr Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, Dr Oby Ezekwesili, General Olusegun Obsasanjo and many others. This lack of a uniform ideology has been viewed as a weakness but it has helped create a great collection of people understanding that diversity is a major characteristic of Nigeria.
In Chinua Achebe’s book ‘No Longer at Ease’, he showed us that the corruption problem which has been tagged as a PDP creation was actually in existence before our independence in 1960. Others will agree and say indeed corruption has always been part of Nigeria but had accelerated growth under the IBB government and that the PDP has taken it to a whole new level. Whatever it is, the truth of the matter is that corruption does not have a political party that it exclusively belongs to.
Young people need to learn a thing or two from PDP if we want to provide good leadership for Nigeria. Last year, the PDP announced that they were going on a 40 million membership drive. Only great institutions set such lofty goals and achieve them. They have also deliberately sought out to be a strong participant in democratic structures either by providing government or credible opposition. They attempt to settle issues amongst themselves like a family where concessions are made amongst members to reach consensus. They also engage in healthy competition between themselves but always see the party as supreme in deciding matters.
I don’t believe young people should join the PDP because it is a great party and can be a bridge to achieving their political aspirations. They should join the PDP or any other party because they have seen the imperfections of the system and intend to be part of the solution. We are limited by what we can do from outside the system and so it is needful to encourage every single person to be part of a political party so you can be more involved in choosing your leaders.
Chuta is Board Member of Engage Nigeria Forum (ENF). Follow him on Twitter @nnabros
Apologies for the editing errors, the article has been updated.