By Chiedu Johnson
Nigeria’s main oppositon party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is on a quest for rebirth having been miraculously rescusitated from its near interment state, all thanks to the surgical intervention of the Supreme Court. Now hope is renewed that the party can indeed fulfil its role as the main opposition party or even a viable alternative to the ruling government.
The PDP is quite in a weird position as an opposition party for the first time since its creation in 1998. This very much explains the conflagration it has suffered since losing its hold on the power at the center. The Presidency, which has hitherto served as the centre of gravity which held party stakeholders of different tendencies and cleavages together is no longer there. The PDP governors who attempted to takeover the Party’s power center post 2015 have gotten their fingers burnt, other caucuses attempt at controlling the tide have been futile. Thankfully, the ad-hoc National Caretaker Committee is already putting in place plans and measures to usher in a stable and properly constituted National Executive Committee for the Party. An elective National Convention is billed for early December.
The reality now is that the PDP is in dire need of a leader in the mould of a National Chairman who can help navigate the Party’s ship in her quest to better its fortunes in the states and ultimately regain power at the centre. That is why it becomes essential to thoroughly inspect the profile of the man (or woman) that will the Party into the next elections. The PDP in this moment cannot afford another fatal gamble in choosing the kind of General it needs to lead her troops into battle. Of course the Party possesses an array of stars who are up to the task but only one outstanding man will be chosen. So what’s is the profile of this outstanding man? Follow me.
Perhaps the primary character to be found in the next PDP Chairman is Courage. Leading a viable opposition party in this country is a herculean task. The ruling party is hostile, brutal, vindictive and combative in its approach so it is expected that the arrowhead of an opposition party like the PDP will surely be tested to the limits. He will suffer massive personal, economic and other forms of attacks. A lily-livered Party Chairman will cave-in or sell out at the heights of the pressures. Therefore, the next PDP Chairman must be a tough, resilient, and battle-tested veteran who must have survived similar onslaught in his political trajectory. The Chairman PDP needs now must not be one that can be swayed by blackmail or bad propaganda. He must show demonstrable courage at all times in all matters.
Money they say, is the root of all evils. It is one of the reasons why political parties succeed or fail. A PDP National Chairman must be one with a sufficient financial independence to avoid derailment of party principles. The PDP will surely be the beautiful bride of top politicians seeking an alternative platform to realise their ambitions. Many of these politicians will come with their large warchest. A financially unstable Chairman may unduly compromise party processes in favour of parochial gains and this would spell a colossal doom for the larger collectives. Already, there are rumblings about certain aspirants jostling for the position of National Chairman being feted by some moneybags to achieve a narrow objective, this must not be allowed to stand. Internal democracy in an atmosphere of fairness and inclusion is the way forward for PDP.
Having narrowly survived near-death dismemberment, the Chairman the PDP needs now is one who has the experience, temperament and carriage to listen, interact, confer, revert and collaborate with all the tendencies and cleavages present in today’s PDP. There is also a good possibility for the PDP to work with notable likeminds currently outside the fold to accomplish the task of ousting the ruling party come 2019, the next PDP Chairman must be well wired with a good sociopolitical network to guarantee a smooth inroad for bringing those likeminds into the party.
Due to the peculair situation that the PDP has found itself today, the personality of its next leader must inspire rebirth, renovation and refreshness and reassurance. Quite strategically, the PDP needs at its helms a youthful, digital, new generation thinker who can seamlessly deploy the agility and creativity of the young alongside the experience of the old. The PDP does not need a straight-jacketed bureaucrat with a “I am directed to…” mentality who will also be reluctant to challenge unproductive status quo and try new ways of achieving results. Nothing kills a sociopolitical movement more assuredly than monotony. The PDP also at this time does not need an authoritarian who is inflexible or incapable of submitting to superior argument. A “command and control” approach to party matters will be counter-productive in the PDP of today. The PDP most importantly does not need an electioneering neophyte or a serial election loser.
Who the PDP needs is one with verifiable data on electoral successes; one who can deliver given a decent chance in the prevailing conditions. PDP seriously needs a leader with the right blend of the essential ingredients to steer the party forward; discipline, focus, fairness, firmness, versatility, poise, innovation, accomodation etc. The Party needs one who can command a mass appeal from youths and women- the largest voting block. The next PDP Chairman should the able to attract the confidence of the corporate world, the commitment of the majority of the labour force and the compassion of the various players in the socio-economy of this nation.
The leadership of the PDP has reportedly zoned the position of its next National Chairman to the Southern part of the country having also zoned the post of the President to the North. My dispassionate proposal as someone from the South-South is that the position is further zoned to the South-West. Except the party is looking at bringing up someone from the SouthWest to run alongside it’s presidential candidate (that will be most unfair to the South-East who timeously deserve a shot at the presidency), wisdom demands that the SouthWest be allowed to produce a pointsman who can galvanise support from across the country to ensure the party wrests power from the ruling party. The South-South cannot then be expected to clinch the position if the vice-president position is zoned to the South-East. Outsiders definitely veiw the South-East and South-south as the same region hence cannot be allowed to curry the two important positions to the detriment of the South-West who has never produced a National Chairman for the party. The South-South question is not even helped due to the fact that it produced the immediate past President of the country.
I have read about many candidates from the South jostling, propping and positioning for this illustrious position. Highly placed persons with their attendant pros and cons such as Chief Raymond Dokpesi, Sen. Liyel Imoke, Prof. Tunde Adeniran, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, Chief Bode George, Mr. Jimi Agbaje and several more have been reported as having interest in becoming the National Chairman of PDP. As stated ealier, the aforementioned are capable of leading the party on a good day but the expediency of the task before the PDP requires a National Chairman whose profile fits well with the qualities highlighted earlier on in this treatise. Younger elements like Liyel Imoke, Gbenga Daniel or Jimi Agbaje could make a good Chairman to take PDP forward though Engr. Gbenga Daniel strikes me as someone most suited for the job. That assertion couldn’t have been easy to make if one had not come across the impressive profile of the former Governor which has been trending online lately.
As one looks forward to a new PDP to save Nigerians from the harrowing grip of the ruling party, one cannot but pray that the party gets her acts and ensure that it chooses the best man to lead it into success in the foreseeable future.
Chiedu Johnson is a politician and writes from Abraka, Delta State .
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