• Monday, May 27, 2024
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Anenih and his daunting peace mission for PDP

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Someone has told of his frustration trying to sell the idea of getting a reputable PR outfit to polish its image to an official of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in one of the states. The well thought-out proposal was dismissed with a wave of the hand in these words: “Look, we already have the structure within the party to do all these. What we need now are the resources to deploy material – vehicles in particular.”

The party has just realised that there is a limit to which material resources can go in politics. PDP just cannot be content with the worn-out refrain of “the largest party in the Black world”.

There are those who expect not much from Anenih’s current overtures, because nothing has been done to analyse the anger, disenchantment and apathy that now prevail among and around the party. Yet, in embarking on his current peace mission, there are many who believe that Tony Annenih, as chair of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the PDP, is doing the logical thing for a party that is in disarray despite being the-party-in-power at the centre.

The flashpoints for PDP’s self-destruct tendencies throughout the federation are legion – as are the grievances that its rank and file harbour against their own party. But they can all be summed up in one word: impunity. While PDP shares with other parties every damnable trait that has blighted party politics in Nigeria dating back to the pre-independence electioneering processes, it is unsurpassed for its ability to take undemocratic decisions and slam them down the throats of those whose views are not considered at any material juncture to matter.

However, there is also the matter of non-belief in young people. Ibrahim Babangida betrayed this aversion for youth when he had a shot at the presidential ticket in the run-up to 2011 election when he said that Nigeria’s youth were not yet “prepared” for the position of president of Nigeria. The youth were not impressed and the man is still trying to recover from the misguided opinion in the eyes of a generation that has seen the ways in which the British didn’t use Tony Blair’s age against him and he himself didn’t disappoint; how a youth Bill Clinton pushed Bush the First out of White House and charmed Americans to the extent that they forgave him when he committed an otherwise unforgivable sin.

The very brave ones among them – such as Peter Odili – have come out with their versions of this tendency, this unbridled recourse to impunity in tackling issues that require the democratic option or consensus building.

But the good majority of the aggrieved are either too lily-livered to do likewise or simply do not feel it’s necessary when they can be PDP in the day and in the opposition camp (ACN, Labour, CPC, etc) at night. And how well they have got away with their strategies!

During the week a PDP member was still sulking from the way a gubernatorial ticket was denied him after assurances that it was there for his picking. “Why did I have to spend all that money?” he is still seething. While the party was entitled to take the final decision as to its flag-bearer at any election, why set out nomination criteria that the party will end up ignoring? Why encourage anyone to literally empty his/her treasury when the minds of the party had been made up on who will get the ticket?

And it’s just as well that the olive branch has been stretched to ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo. Indeed, the distinction between being a political asset and electoral asset can never be over-flogged. The man failed to deliver any electoral plus to the party’s fortunes in the 2011 elections, despite what was supposed to be residential influence from his eight-year tenure that enabled him to determine whom his successor was only four years earlier. With all his “boys” in the southwest failing the gubernatorial elections, Baba has been left reeling in the humiliation of electoral irrelevance.

However, all the indications that he has ceased to be any real electoral asset to the party notwithstanding, his capacity to rock the boat by his pseudo-populist utterances from always opportunistic positions is not to be underestimated, given the many local and international forums available to him.

But when the train moves to Adamawa, Anenih will require more than all his negotiating skills to unravel the multiplicity of interests and intrigues at play in the state’s branch of PDP. It’s a miracle that, in spite of these divisions, the party has always managed to cling on to power in the state.

Rivers State provides an intriguing dimension to the imbroglio. Although 2015 is being presented as the trigger for the current tension between Rotimi Amaechi and the president, have people forgotten that the relationship between Amaechi and PDP provides some clues? When Amaechi eventually clinched the gubernatorial seat in 2007, the battle he fought was not against the candidate of any opposing party, but against his own party. Did anyone remember to win the peace after the battle was won?

Inspired by Amaechi’s doggedness, Charles Airhiavbere, after his misadventure of trying to dislodge Adams Oshiomhole from Dennis Osadebay Avenue last August, has tried – some say he is still trying – to explore and exploit just any tissue of technicality to get justice. Nothing is impossible. But the retired army general is practically on his own as far as PDP in Edo is concerned.

He always looked to be on his own, anyway. During his campaign only Dan Orbih, Edo PDP chairman, and initially former defence minister Godwin Abe, a retired army general, accompanied him on the trips. The PDP bigwigs in Edo (Ogbemudia, Daisy Danjuma, Julius Ihonvbere, etc) were conspicuous by their absence at rallies. It was reported that not a few of them sneered at Airhiavbere, “Serves you right”, implying that his securing the ticket ahead of older party loyalists with longer-nourished intentions was immoral. Some of them eventually – almost inevitably – defected to the party of the incumbent governor, who was supposed to be a common “enemy”!

In the South-West, Anenih will find PDP a party on the verge of extinction. The moment APGA gets its act together and goes into wedlock with APC, that will be it.

The party does have a lot to do. And whether Anenih and party chairman Bamanga Tukur or younger persons – as the PR option would have preferred – would have done a better job of it is another matter.

 

Tommy ODEMWINGIE

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