The defeat of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) after 16 years of unbroken control of federal power, caused a dislocation in the psyche and coordination of the party that thought it could rule for 60 years. Needless to say that its internal crisis, marked by recriminations, blame game and significant defections of many of the key members to the victorious All Progressives Congress (APC) made the splinter forces left behind disoriented vis-a-vis their role in opposition.
The matter was made worse by the resignation of the National Chairman, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu. The absence of direction that followed has remained irreconcilable 10 months after. In the ensuing confusion, not less than four persons had laid claims to the headship of a party that should have formed a viable opposition since May 29 last year.
We are relieved that Ali Modu- Sheriff has been asked to act as Chairman of the party. His promise to give opposition politics a new face is reassuring. That will make the APC government face the task of nation-building and good governance with more seriousness.
PDP has a few lessons to learn from APC, no doubt. Since its formation in 2013 until the 2015 elections, the APC proved to be a strong opposition party with unyielding determination to capture power at the federal level.
For the PDP to wrestle power from the Muhammadu Buhari government, it will require more than wishful thinking. Strategic thinking, rigorous mobilisation of the masses and a clear-cut pro-people ideology can ensure it bounces back in 2019.
Fortunately, the new PDP helmsman has the advantage of being with APC in its formative stage. He has charm, resources and the staying power to cause APC to sit up. He has what it takes to rally party members across the country and transform PDP into a viable opposition capable of dethroning the APC from power in subsequent elections. It will augur well for democracy. Modu-Sheriff must be above board, act as the moral figure to disabuse people’s minds of pre-conceived notions and stereotypes about him. Only then can others who have left or lost confidence in the party retrace their steps and queue behind him.
To be taken seriously, PDP should stop chasing shadows and face the business inherent in opposition politics which is a desideratum for liberal democracy to thrive. Voters stand a better chance of choosing between contending party programmes, visions and personalities. In the process, multi-party democracy will flourish.
We have all learnt that PDP has failed so far as an opposition party because it lacks ideology, like other parties in contemporary Nigerian politics. The predominance of self-serving politics and resort to unbridled brigandage and corruption variously referred to as “stomach infrastructure”, “chop-I chop”, or “turn-by-turn” or “garrison” cannot lead us far. It is not only immoral; for us, it is criminal. While we welcome Modu- Sheriff on board, we challenge him to activate all needed avenues and mechanism to provide sustainable, viable opposition and check self-serving politics which breeds corruption. He must work assiduously towards the consolidation of Nigerian democracy. The National Assembly should also review existing laws to check cross-carpeting, strengthen existing framework so as to enhance political discourse and build same around ideologies in order to give voters clear, issue-based electoral choices.