Posted by Eze Chukwuemeka Eze | 2 October 2012 | 5,599 times
Watching with sadness the sudden and terrible nosedive of our democratic practice, that even the destiny of our nation as one indivisible nation is being threatened, the need to x-ray the ideals and vision of General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, a man that willingly sacrificed his life for the deepening of our democratic values becomes imperative. This is more so necessary having monitored the ongoing regrouping, re-engineering and realignment of our political structures all aimed at the general elections of 2015.
Nigeria’s peculiar type of democracy
According to Dictionary.com, democracy is defined as “government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system; a state of society characterized by formal equality of rights and privileges. Its system of democracy ensures that people have a direct say in the country’s affairs. In a democracy, nothing is supposed to matter more than the will of the people.”
On the contrary, democracy in Nigeria can be captured or defined in my own interpretation of our democratic practice as “the government of the corrupt cabal for the corrupt cabal by the corrupt cabal as those privileged to be in any particular government in Nigeria governs the country as if it is an occult society where only those in power are empowered to be the sole beneficiaries of whatever the government in power can provide.” In this regard, the contracts are shared amongst the National Executive Council members with their cohorts at the national level while at the state level, the Chief Executives (Governors) and members of the various State Executive Councils.
We are the sixth largest oil producing country in the world but what do we get in return? Our highways have become death traps, darkness the lot of our people, hospitals have become consulting centres, schools in a comatose state with half-baked unemployable graduates as its products not minding billions of naira contracts assumed to be awarded weekly on pages of national dailies at the national level and state levels without any sign of the execution of any contract or tangible project on the ground. This unfortunate state of our democracy notwithstanding, commendation should go to the governments of Lagos, Akwa Ibom, Kwara, Rivers, Edo and few others states in the country where the dividends of democracy are delivered to their people.
PDM and the politics of Nigeria
Like a General that he was, the late Yar’Adua commanded a strong following such, that even in death, he is still being celebrated. This contrasts sharply with our experience in recent history where the memories of some of our leaders are fast being consigned to the dustbin.
But political observers are quick to point at his leadership qualities. This quintessential politician, strategist and manger of men and resources founded a political group, the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM). He brought his careful planning, organisational skill and adroitness to bear on the group such that in no time, the PDM became a force to be reckoned with politically.
It was, therefore, not much of a surprise to many that in the run up to the 1992 transition programme of the Ibrahim Babangida regime, the Tafida was coasting home to victory in the Social Democratic Party (SDP) primaries before the process was truncated. He, alongside other presidential aspirants, was banned from participating in the election.
Even at that, his PDM structure was instrumental to the emergence of the late Chief M.K.O Abiola as the flagbearer of the SDP. The late Abiola went on to contest the June 12, 1993 presidential election and was coasting home to victory until the election was annulled by Gen. Ibrahim Babangida.
By then, the influence of the PDM had become very visible for any student of the politics and power not to note. His political structure (the PDM) was reputed to have provided the platform upon which former President Olusegun Obasanjo rode to power in 1999. Indeed, most of the leading members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at inception were leading members of the PDM.
Political pundits are quick to point to this as the reason behind the prominent roles some PDM members played in the first term of the Obasanjo presidency. For instance, the former Vice President Atiku Abubakar (shown in photo) emerged from the group. There were other members of the PDM who held strategic positions.
Though, it has been many years of Gen. Yar’Adua’s demise, many of his lieutenants still bestride the political space, pulling their own weight too. From North to South, East to West.
The recent attempt to rejuvenate the PDM political machine
It seems that PDM has lost its potency in the political affairs particularly after the first tenure of General Obasanjo Presidency. But on August 29, 2012 at the Shehu Yar’Adua Centre, Central Business District, Abuja, a rejuvenation Meeting of the PDM was held.
The purpose of the meeting, according to the communiqué issued at the end of the meeting signed by Chief Engr, Goddie Ikechi, Secretary of the group, was to provide a forum for the reunion of old members of the Movement and also bring on-board new members. Delegates from all the 36 states of the federation and FCT were in attendance. Also present at the meeting were key leaders of the Movement, among who were, Chief Tony Anenih, Alhaji Lawal Kaita, and Ambassador Yahaya Kwande.
At the meeting, the Movement presented a road map for its immediate future activities, among which is a proposed National Summit on “The State of the Nation” scheduled to hold in the last quarter of 2012.
One unique feature of the new PDM is it is being anchored on the vibrancy and resourcefulness of younger Turks within the group to enhance the Movement’s reinvigoration, complete re-engineering and to make the movement more acceptable to Nigerians. The new PDM is chaired by Chief Bode. Alhaji Inuwa Baba, former Chief Protocol Officer under President Olusegun Obasanjo and late Shehu Musa Yar’Adua administrator is also said to be very involved in the process of restoring the PDM to its former enviable status.
This meeting is seen as the most vibrant effort to revive the one-time political machine that determined who governed at the centre and the pivotal group that initiated the formation of PDP. Alh. Lawal Kaita, one-time governor of the old Kaduna State a famous and influential member of the group, told members that Atiku could not make it to the meeting due to cold and apologised for his absence while pledging his unalloyed commitment to the group. However, Mallam Shehu Garba, spokesperson for Atiku Abubakar, has denied that the meeting had anything to do with Atiku’s presidential ambition.
Supporting this view, the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh in his defence of Chief Anenih’s presence at the PDM's meeting, quoted Anenih as saying that he was there to re-emphasise the oneness of the PDP as a political party. “I have it on good authority that he told them that we don’t have division within the party.”
The new mission of PDM defined
Was this type of democracy as painted above that General Shehu Yar’Adua died for, of course no; this may be why the revival and rejuvenation of PDM at this time becomes imperative as being the major stakeholder in PDP, the onus lays on them to breathe life back to the party and make it more acceptable to Nigeria and Nigerians.
Let me conclude this treatise by quoting a great mind, President Bill Clinton while nominating President Obama as the next President of America on September 6, 2012: “To succeed as a leader, the story of your life and service records, your values and beliefs, your conviction and desperation for change must count and drive you beyond puerile partisanship.” And he believes that “when you work hard and done well and walk through that doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you. No, you reach back and you give other folks the same chances that help you succeed.” A word is enough for the wise!
*Eze Chukwuemeka Eze is a Media Consultant based in Port Harcourt, South-South Nigeria.
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