Five months ago I left the PDP and I told the world why I chose to do so. I also said that the party had hit the rocks and that it was a sinking ship. Few believed me at the time but today even the most chronic of doubting Thomas’ have changed their minds. The division within the ruling party has now become so self-evident that only a fool would believe that things can ever be the same again between those that honestly believed that they had cornered the market on our country and that they would rule Nigeria for the next 100 years.
Never in the history of our nation has the ruling party at the centre suffered the kind of division and open rupture that the PDP has suffered in the last few weeks and months. To most this is a blessing in disguise but to the members of the party itself it is a terrible affliction and nothing less than a curse of monuemental proportions. Yet anyone that is familiar with the way God operates will understand what is going on and will appreciate the fact that only the Lord could have done this- He has divided their tongues and caused them to turn their swords upon one another.
The truth is that the PDP stopped operating like a political party quite a number of years ago. For the last few years it has been nothing more than a cult of personality and power- a contraption that was put in place simply to take power, under the guise of democracy, and to keep that power ad infinitum. It’s sheer incompetence in governance at the Federal level in the last five years and it’s insensitivity to the plight of the ordinary people and to the fortunes of Nigeria are manifest for all to see. Yet that is of the least concern to those that control and lead the cult.
This is because their only purpose and raison d’etre for being together is to hold on to power at all costs and to share the resources of our nation amongst themselves. With that power comes the most extreeme and insufferable manifestation of arrogance and this explains why it is that no-one, no matter how big or small, matters to the PDP. As long as they hold the centre and control the purse strings they believe that every single Nigerian not only has a price but also bows and trembles before the Almighty Federal Government. They forget that with hubris always comes nemesis and that like the mythological Greek character Icarus, the closer they fly to the sun the more the wax that holds their wings together begins to melt.
What is going on in the ruling party today has little to do with the ordinary people of Nigeria. It is simply an internal and brutal struggle for the very soul of the party which is being waged between the new order, led by a relatively weak, inexperienced yet desperate President and the old order, led by a highly experienced, dangerous, calculating, patient and ruthless former President. The latter group is fully backed by elements from the old ruling military establishment who have effectively been running the affairs of this country and determining who would become what since 1966.
President Goodluck Jonathan came to power on the backs of these people though he never asked for it and, in fairness to him, he now seeks to assert himself and break free of them. They, on the other hand, see the PDP as their construct and their creation. They see it as THEIR platform. They believe that they literally own it and that they also own the President that they afforded the rare privilage of mounting it in order to acquire power by their collective resolve.
That platform was conceived and established by a tiny group of exceptionally powerful men led by General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida and General Aliyu Gusau in 1998 almost immediately after General Sani Abacha was murdered and General Abdulsalami Abubakar came to power. t’s objective was to keep Nigeria one, to bring General Olusegun Obasanjo to power, to keep the progressives and radical elements out of it and to protect the interests of the powers that be, the ruling class and their business associates.
Given this scenario it does not take a genius to figure out the fact that the stakes here are enormously high. In the minds of the protagonists and antagonists one thing is clear- whoever ends up controlling the PDP, they believe, will end up controlling Nigeria with its vast oil and gas resources and it’s enormous influence on the African continent. What they fail to appreciate is that once the internal struggle for the soul of the party becomes too pronounced, too bitter, too violent and too extreeme, it creates the potential for destroying the very foundation of the platform itself and it may well result in the loss of power for them all. With an increasingly disciplined and well-organised opposition in the form of the APC, whose ranks are growing by the day, this seems increasingly likely. Consequently for the first time in the last 14 years of democracy in this country, as a consequence of the divisions within the PDP, the opposition may well be set to take power by 2015.
Yet regardless of this both sides in this internal conflict are so drunk with power and the lust for it that they fail to see or appreciate this point. To them, there IS no oppostion and there IS no other platform that will be allowed to take power. They believe that even if they fight one another from morning till night for every day of the month for the next one year, once an election comes whoever wins that fight and ends up controlling the party can and will rig the elections and take power in 2015. It is this strange and peculiar disposition and mindset that has seized their minds that moves me to describe what is going on within the PDP today as a fight unto death between two factions of blind, desperate and reckless men. Both sides are so used to power and the wielding of it that they are not mindful of the implications of their recklessness and extreme and uncompromising positions.
This may be good for Nigeria because it clearly signals their collective end but it is not good for either of the two warring factions themselves. My view is that at the end of the day both sides will lose simply because one will come out on top, though badly wounded, weakened, dissipated and diminished and the other will be utterly crushed. Whichever way it goes by the time this fight is over the party will end up being a shadow of its former self and a pitiful counterfeit version of the original brand. Given the circumstances, there can be little doubt in anyone’s mind that the glory days of the PDP are longer over and more likely than not shall never return.
Permit me to end this contribution by making an analogy. The lion is the king of the jungle and the story is often told about how he controls his pride and runs his kingdom. We can learn a little from that here. The lion remains head of the pride for as long as he lives. He has all the females at his beck and call and he gets to eat before anyone else even though he rarely hunts with the others. His role is simply to lead and to rule, to lay down the law, to define the boundries, to give orders, to judge others, to enjoy the spoils of office, to mate, to procreate and to protect the pride from outside aggression. He is the king and he settles all disputes with a mighty roar and an iron claw. So protective of his own power is he that the minute his own male offspring begins to approach adolesecence or manhood he throws them out of the pride to go and fend for themselves.
If they insist on staying he will fight and kill them. No-one challenges his authority and neither does he brook or tolerate any opposition to his rule. He may delegate power or authority from time to time to others, but as long as he lives, he is king. The only way to remove him from power is for a younger and stronger lion to come from outside, or indeed within, and to kill him. Once that is done the younger lion becomes king and remains king until he is also toppled and killed by another. What is going on in the PDP today is very similar to the lion’s dance. We have, on the one hand, the old lion and his loyalists, who delegated authority and power to his favoured son 2011 and who now wishes to re-assert his authority and reign him back in. In his infinite mercy and wisdom the old lion has decided that the young one is no longer fit to carry out the assignment that he was given a few years back and it is time for him to enthrone another.
Unfortunately for the old lion the young one that he put in power in 2011 has other plans and he and his loyalists have decided that they will not only refuse to go but that they they will also defy and kill the old lion and effectively become the new king. No longer satisfied with delegated authority, the young lion has decided to take over the whole pride for himself and to establish a new order. He is young, he is strong, he has tasted power and he believes that his time has come to take the kingdom for himself and enjoy the pride. This is where we are today.
One thing is very clear- at the end of all this either the old lion will prevail, will live and will continue to rule or the new lion will do so. It is either one or the other. They cannot BOTH live and they cannot BOTH rule. The law of the jungle is simple and clear- there can only be one king. For the new lion to lead the pride the old lion has to die. And for the purposes of clarity here I speak of political death and not physical death. The loyalists of both the old and the new lion will continue to slug it out for the next few weeks and months until one prevails and the other is utterly destroyed.
The implications of this bitter internal struggle for our country will either be for good or for bad depending on how the crisis is managed. It will be for good if it finally results in the death of the PDP and delivers our country and people from it’s oppression, arrogance, incompetence and bondage. It will be for bad if it gets so acrimonious, so violent and so bitter that either side decides to adopt methods that are not lawful or constitutional in order to thwart the other and thereby destabilise our country and sink our democratic boat. The problem is that when blind men fight with the sort of rage and desperation that we are witnessing they are totally oblivious to the consequences and implications of their actions on all those around them.
For this reason more than any other we must pray and hope that the struggle for power within the PDP between the forces of the old lion and the new one does not eventually consumme Nigeria and set us back to the pre-1999 order.