Chidiebere Nwobodo –email@example.com
I have observed with rapt attention and watched with keen interest, the ongoing intrigues and horse-trading entangling the race to the PDP presidential ticket. As at last count, we have 13 aspirants jostling for the candidature of leading opposition party in Nigeria. In less than three weeks from now, the main challenger of President Muhammadu Buhari—who has been adopted as the APC sole candidate, will emerge from party primaries of the PDP. The ruling party is waiting in the wings with anxiety and palpable fear to know the candidate of the leading opposition party—the PDP.
Unfortunately, what is happening in the party now is personality clash and unnecessary ego trip. Individualism is beginning to shade into egotism. Some aspirants are in the race, not because they want to win, but to block their perceived rivals from emerging. Some are also using the contest for cheap publicity stunt. As a party that styles itself as “rebranded”, the PDP should ensure a level playing field for all. Free and fair primary is the first strategy of resolving post-primary crisis.
The PDP will record 40% of its victory ahead of the main election, if the “right” candidate wins at the end of the primary. It will loose its 45% winning chance, if a “wrong” candidate is thrown up by the process. In my perspective, a “right” candidate may not be the ultimate choice of power brokers in the party. He may not even be rich enough to “buy” delegates and finance the general election. An election-winning candidate may not be a “saint”—entirely free from corruption. He may not be the darling of every geo-political zone, tribe or religion in Nigeria. He may not have the magic wand to solve all the nation’s problems in one full swoop. Oratory skill may not be part of his makeup. But he MUST possess one strength—the capacity and popularity to galvanize Nigerians towards electoral victory of the opposition come next year. Coming election will be the last royal rumble between ultra-conservatives despots and liberal-minded democrats. It’s a referendum between ethno-religious absolutists and moderated conservatives.
The “wrong” candidate; he is the opposite of the “right” candidate. The consequences of electing such a candidate for the PDP is better imagined than experienced, because it goes beyond loosing 2019 presidential election. A “wrong” candidate for the PDP will usher in full blown dictatorship in Nigeria by making it easier for President Buhari to stage a comeback. It will kill opposition politics; the PDP will then exist only on INEC register. The expensive mistake of “wrong” presidential candidate will cost the PDP following states of Rivers; Delta, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Abia, Ebonyi, Benue, Kwara, Sokoto, Taraba, Gombe and subsequently, Bayelsa State. The governors of these PDP states will not withstand bandwagon effects that will herald the loss of a presidential election, as a result of “wrong” candidate. The “Federal Might” will be emboldened to bury want will be “carcass” of the PDP then, if the “wrong” candidate looses to the incumbent.
All those PDP leaders and stakeholders opposing Buhari’s re-election now, should be ready for jail or exile, if they present a “wrong” candidate to Nigerians. 2019 election will redefine Nigeria’s existential possiblity. The tyrants and power-drunk-oligopolistic mafia in the Villa, will invade National Assembly the manner Adolf Hitler torpedoed Poland—apology to Sen. Godswill Akpabio. If Buhari wins, the cabal will rather watch National Assembly go down in ashes than see Sen. Bukola Saraki and Hon. Yakubu Dogara return as senate president and speaker of House of Representatives, respectively. The current National Assembly leaders; even if they win re-election in their different constituencies, won’t have the democratic luxury to vie for leadership positions in the chambers again, because they will be arrested and clamped into indefinite detention—Dasuki Treatment is already a sore precedent.
A “wrong” candidate may have blessing of majority of the PDP governors to emerge, yet looses general election as a result of bankruptcy of public support. A “wrong” candidate may have deep pocket to “bribe” his way through primary but lacks credibility and grassroot support to win election. A “wrong” candidate may have substantial control over National Assembly and wide network of contacts, yet not favoured by geo-political configurations to win presidency against the incumbent. A “wrong” candidate might have been loyal to the party through its trying times. He might have been one of the stakeholders that saw the PDP through struggle for the soul of the party, yet he is not in possession of the wherewithal and political clout to win a presidential election. Should the PDP hand over ticket to him out of sympathy and loose the main election? A lot of questions on my mind.
I think it is time for all the aspirants to tell themselves the hardcore truth. Not everyone will be president next year. Let existential survival of Nigerian democracy be of paramount interest to all. There will be no democracy again in this country, if the PDP fails this great test of electing the right candidate, and allow Buhari to come back. Majority of impoverished and beleaguered masses, that are looking up the party for a better alternative, will be hugely disappointed if they fail to get their acts together. This is time to put interest of Nigerians above selfish and parochial political considerations. The stakeholders and potential delegates should be availed of the opportunity to know personal strengths and weaknesses of all the aspirants, in order to make informed decision. At the end of the day, anyone that emerges will still need the unflinching support of others to win.
That President Buhari has performed abysmally poor as president and Nigerians earnestly yearning for real change, doesn’t PDP organizes presidential debate for all its aspirants, to afford Nigerians the opportunity of assessing them before primary. Doing so, will help the party discover unpopular and ill-prepared aspirants even before automatically translate to victory for the PDP, if they don’t present the right person to Nigerians. I suggest that primary. The PDP should bear in mind that an army of lions led by a sheep, will always be defeated by an army of sheep led by a lion. Everything rises and falls on leadership. The candidate will be the leader as we go to the polls. We need a formidable, sellable and popular candidate with enough street credibility, to unseat President Buhari who is not ready to relinquish power without a fierce fight. Forewarned is forearmed.