PDP prepares for life after war
To assuage the feelings of defeat and bring magnanimity to victory, the slogan of “No Victor, No Vanquished” became the rallying cry for the establishment of post-conflict peace after the destructive 30-month civil war in Nigeria.
The purpose was to give assurance of mutual respect, trust and commitment by all sides to the common course of upholding the indivisibility of Nigeria as a united country and for the promotion of general good.
It is assumed that this same purpose and objective of conflict resolution with eyes on entrenching lasting unity, was responsible for the exact choice of slogan by the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which last Wednesday, ended a 14-month “civil war” that threatened to obliterate active opposition from Nigeria’s political scene.
Senator Ahmed Makarfi, Chairman of the Caretaker Committee of the PDP, a position he got through a National Convention which was affirmed by the Supreme Court in the Wednesday judgment, was the first to mouth the slogan as he took possession of the Wadata Plaza, Abuja headquarters of the party, when he said, “with today’s judicial verdict putting an end to the litigations rocking our party, there is no victor, no vanquished.” He shared the same position with the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu.
Makarfi urged those who did not get favourable court pronouncement to remain in the fold of the party saying, “We should continue as friends, knowing that there are things we can do together to raise the bar for our party. I urge them to come forward, join hands with us and let’s see how we can move PDP forward.”
Speaking in the same vein, Taraba State governor, Darius Ishaku and the leader of PDP Youth Frontier (PDPYF), Usman Okai Austin, also reiterated the need for the party to see the victory as a trophy for all members in their quest to establish a virile opposition that will strengthen democracy in Nigeria.
The governor in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs, Emmanuel Bello, said there were no losers and winners in the legal contest that resolved the PDP crisis.
According to him, “There is no victor and no vanquished. We had disagreements, which are healthy in any organisation, and the Supreme Court resolved the matter. Let me urge all of us party faithful, to come together and work for the party. After all, we all want the best for our party. This is the opportunity we all have been waiting for to forge ahead with the goals of our party.”
And like a man ready to receive the offered olive branch, former controversial Chairman of the party, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, who was caught on the wrong side of the law in the apex court judgment, congratulated Makarfi and expressed his readiness to work with the new leadership.
He declared via his twitter handle minutes after the verdict that “The Supreme Court has spoken. I congratulate Senator Makarfi. We must all put our hands together to channel a new course for the PDP. Moving forward, we must embrace true reconciliation, so as to be united as a formidable option to send the All Progressives Congress (APC) packing in 2019.”
Also yesterday in statement signed by spokesperson of his faction, Bernard Mikko, which underscored the importance of genuine reconciliation in the party, the Sheriff group stated that although it was shocked by the outcome of the judgment, it was still waiting to study the full copy of the verdict.
The group disclosed that going forward; it would continue to insist on demand for full return of the party structure to the people, so that they and not godfathers or jobbers, should elect representatives and candidates.
Sheriff maintained that institutionalization of internal democracy remains the irreducible basic demand of his group for their future with PDP, stressing that impunity and all manner of imposition must be done away with if the party would forge ahead in unity and strength.
However, in embracing a true reconciliation that can fortify the party and strengthen it in the quest to play the role of a strong opposition that can be entrusted, once again, with leadership by Nigerians, the party leadership needs to move forward from the era of sloganeering to concrete action.
This can only be achieved if the party followed the historical steps taken by the author of “No Victor, No Vanquished,” General Yakubu Gowon, Nigeria’s former Head of State who prosecuted the civil war who, in order to concretise the message of the slogan, went further to introduce the three Rs, which stands for Reconciliation, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction.
Already the party seems to have begun on a good note with the declaration by Makarfi that consultation meetings aimed at reconciling all the factions across the country would soon commence.
According to him, “These meetings will include Expanded Caucus, Board of Trustees and National Executive Committee so that we can take far-reaching decisions on how to take the party forward.”
He pledged the setting up of a committee, which would “within the next few days, begin consultation and come up with a programme of meetings between it and expanded PDP caucus.”
Also former National Deputy Chairman of the party, Chief Olabode George, said having won the legal tussle, the next step was to begin a reconciliation process that would eventually get everybody both within and without, back to the fold for real business.
According to him, “It is necessary we reconstitute and go back to the principle of justice, equal representation as laid by the founding fathers in the party’s constitution.”
He promised that necessary steps would be taken and in the next two weeks the party is most likely to come out with its plan of action.
It is expected that the PDP, because of the internal crisis plaguing the ruling APC which is being held together only by the fact of incumbency at the federal level, would provide an alternative platform for Nigerians in the country’s political space.
As the 2019 election approaches, the bond of unity in the ruling party is bound to be stretched to the limit because of individual and group’s repositioning for fresh power acquisition, a situation that a strong PDP can capitalize on to score maximum political goal.
For the PDP to achieve this, the committee promised by Makarfi should look into all the issues, not only the ones that divided the party along the leadership tussle in the last one year, but even the ones that led to the exit, few months to the 2015 general elections, of notable chieftains including governors and senators that formed the nucleus of its albatross in the APC.
For instance, in the process of reconstruction, internal democracy must be further strengthened by stopping the impunity of imposition of candidates and promotion of money politics, two factors that have contributed to weakening the power of the ballot in the party’s primary elections.
Although the Makarfi group could truly claim to being the mainstream faction of the PDP, many who had identified with Sheriff during the struggle or sat on the fence waiting for which side the apple would drop, should also be brought on board.
Specifically some of the leaders, who because of the need to maintain peace in the party, warmed to Sheriff, like Bayelsa State governor, Seriake Dickson, should not be seen as belonging to a rival faction, instead they should be given roles to play in the process of reconciliation.
And in doing that, members of the Sheriff camp, in the true sense of reconciliation, should be involved in the process of party building and reconstruction to make the PDP an alternative government-in-waiting.
The party should also, in response to the advise of former President Goodluck Jonathan, show commitment to welcoming those who left the party in the countdown to the election that swept it out of power.
With proper management, constructive criticism and observance of the tenets of democracy, the PDP could be able to drop the toga of a rogue party that had been hung on its neck by the ruling APC and change its fortunes by getting back to the corridors of power.