I admired the PDP when it came on board the nation’s political landscape in 1999.Then, the party founded by men of valour and integrity, offered hope to a despondent and hopeless citizenry who were bruised by military jackboots. The PDP of then wanted to enthrone the tenets of democracy and restore those democratic values every Nigerian desired. They wanted the culture of One Man, One Vote.
Styled in the mould of South Africa’s Africa’s National Congress (ANC), the PDP’ s founding fathers were committed to the task of ensuring that Nigerians reap the gains of democracy. It is a party where its founding fathers had the interest of Nigerians at heart. The party strived to achieve these objectives and somehow, some of those efforts paid off albeit temporarily.
Somehow, things went awry for the party. It was invaded by political neophytes and mercenaries that are averse to those fine values originated by its founding fathers. The party slipped from grace to grass. Its popularity rating and acceptance dwindled. And because Nigerians later rejected it in their hearts, the PDP began to exhibit desperate and unconventional means to hang on to power.
It is believed that the PDP introduced dangerous and unacceptable democratic practices in the country by introducing the concept of rigging and manipulation of the nation’s electoral process. This was done to symbolize its desperation to remain the number one party in the country. This prompted noble laureate, Wole Soyinka, to describe the party as a nest of killers and den of robbers
The new PDP evolved draconian policies, alien to democratic ethos, a major factor which compelled its founding fathers to watch helplessly from the side-lines as the party continued to leapfrog into political abyss. And because it resolved to be undemocratic, it became a place where all sorts of alien political and democratic practices, strange to our democracy, began to find its foothold.
For 12 years, the PDP has remained on the saddle of the country; Nigerians are yet to see the best of good governance. They cannot beat their chest and say they have seen the best of times. From removal of fuel subsidy, hike in tariff of electricity, high cost of living and rising insecurity, the worst cannot be said to be over in a country the PDP holds sway.
This sad tales perhaps prompted one time National Chairman of the party, Okwesilize Nwodo, to conceptualize reforms aimed at sanitizing the party. Nwodo wanted re born PDP, which will strive to assuage the yearnings of the people and galvanize the expectations of Nigerians.
For now, the PDP is at cross roads. Its National convention scheduled hold this Saturday offers a unique opportunity for the party to redefine its role in the nation’s political firmament. This convention offers the party the platform to bring on board responsible and responsive officers, who can re invent those values embedded in the party by its founding fathers
I will narrow my discourse to the position of National Chairman and National Woman leader – a slot allotted to Imo State. Infact, one has seen a rare display of political sagacity exhibited by contenders for the position. I support intoto the aspirations of female politicians from Imo State for the position, though I express strong reservations over the ambition of Ambassador (Mrs) Kema Chikwe. I admit that kemafor is a woman of substance, a political amazon who has shown political resilience in her political endeavours.
However, I will advise her to allow upcoming female political turks to hold onto that position. Nda Kema has benefited immensely from the PDP. Having served as Minister for Transport and later Aviation, and immediate past Nigerian Ambassador to Ireland and Iceland, it will not be out of place if one suggest that she takes a bow.
Some argue that she is polemical and if this is true, it further justifies the need for her to step aside and allow a bridge builder to galvanize PDP women into a strong component of President Goodluck Jonathan transformation agenda. And because PDP women constitute an integral component of President Jonathan’s Agenda, PDP women requires a level headed female leader and not one disposed to fanning the embers of discord.
A new PDP is in dire need of a leader who will assimilate the gospel of change as propagated in the party by President Jonathan. If the party is keen to restore those fine and democratic values that will endear it to Nigerians once again, it will also require a woman leader that will understand and execute the message of a new brand PDP.
This was why I was taken aback when the Imo State chapter of the party resorted to the ugly practice of adopting Mrs Chikwe as the sole candidate for the National Woman leader position.
Such action is not only reprehensible, but runs against the grain of common sense for the State chapter of the party to bless Chikwe’s aspiration when there are other female contestants in the party eying the same position. That singular action, to say the least, is in bad faith. No responsible father takes sides in a fight or battle among its children.
This is what Imo PDP has done and such actions are capable of destroying the bond of unity and reconciliation in a party already traumatized by its loss of the governorship seat of the State to less fancied, rag tag APGA.
While I wish all female candidates vying for the National Woman leader post victory at the convention, I pray that the party elects only those who are willing to assist the party to attain glorious heights.