SURELY we cannot continue to allow individuals and groups to do what they liked and undermine our unity, cohesion and effectiveness. Henceforth, we shall not condone acts of indiscipline in our party”. – Acting PDP National Chairman, Dr. Haliru Bello
The PDP’s Dr. Haliru Bello may be excused his views about party discipline, but his effort to Photoshop PDP’s history, and by extension Nigeria’s, in recent months, must be challenged. The new found love for discipline seems to be a post-election phenomenon.
All of a sudden, President Goodluck Jonathan found new romance with the erstwhile taboo word of zoning, in the prebendal sharing of the loot of power, after he was “freed and faired” by INEC. The politician is often clever by a half, and wont to assume that others must either be stupid or not overtly bothered about the defining narratives of the political process.
When Chief Vincent Ogbulafor committed the faux pas of reminding party members, that according to extant agreements, power was to remain in Northern Nigeria, he received a short shrift from Jonathan.An obscure corruption allegation was exhumed to force the man out of power. In came a gung-ho Dr. Okwesileze Nwodo, who made it clear that he was on a mission as PDP’s Chairman, to effectively kill zoning, to the satisfaction of Goodluck Jonathan, who had seized the levers of power by the scruff of the neck: stealthy here, capricious there! The president would be PDP’s candidate, and therefore no appeals to party agreements mattered.
If Jonathan carried a moral burden of having signed at the 2002 expanded PDP caucus meeting, which upheld rotation of power between the South and the North, he felt no obligations to that elite consensus. His ambition for power, trounced everything else! So Jonathan’s camp pulled all stops to achieve its aims: threats were issued by Niger Delta thugs, better known as militants; abuses were hauled by Chief EK Clarke; and a media lynch mob was recruited.
There was an unconscionable deployment of money as everybody was assumed to have a price along with a total propaganda onslaught: zoning was dead. All who spoke for upholding respect of zoning were tarred with the brush of “regional” chauvinism; even a divine origin was constructed for Jonathan’s earthly political ambition, befitting Nigeria’s penchant for metaphysical mumbo-jumbo.
So if zoning died in order for President Goodluck Jonathan to be PDP’s candidate and then be “freed and faired” into power, how come it suddenly found a new lease of life? Why the double standards being imposed by President Jonathan and the PDP leadership? Why have all those who spoke out against zoning a few months ago, decided not to see, hear or speak, now that zoning was suddenly back in vogue?
Why did they lose the ability to be indignant at the injustice of enforcing party “discipline”, when it deserted long ago, in the shape of Goodluck’s presidential ambition? Why insist members of the House of Representatives choose a Speaker from the Southwest, because the position had been “zoned” there? While having nothing against a Speaker from the Southwest, I nevertheless think it was fraudulent to use standards which Goodluck Jonathan and the PDP apparatchik were imposing!
In a matter like this, I seek your pardon to use an erotic illustration. Zoning, in the wake of Goodluck’s ambition, was tossed into a dustbin, rather like people are wont, a used condom; right? Well, no one in his senses will seek that a used condom be brought back to operational existence! If zoning was dead; and it was the platform which got Goodluck Jonathan “freed and faired” into power, then let no one, not even President Jonathan, tell us to rummage through the dustbin to recover a used political condom.
No! It is a most unacceptable way of conducting the serious business of building a country. The appropriate interrogation for Dr .Haliru Bello is very simple: when did the PDP arrive at its resolve not to “continue to allow INDIVIDUALS and groups to DO WHAT THEY LIKED (the capital is mine)”? Was it before Goodluck tore into shreds the agreement to zone power, or after? If it was BEFORE, then the party was complicit in “condon[ing an act] of indiscipline”, by the president. And once that was allowed to pass, the party lost its moral force.
The PDP’s self-serving horse of “discipline” bolted long ago, and it is a futile attempting to close the barn now. In employing naked intimidation to impose a Speaker on the House, they went completely overboard! By abandoning all pretences at respect for democratic decency, the PDP stepped on political banana peels, risking serious injuries. Aminu Tambuwwal’s emergence as House Speaker exploded their hypocrisy.
PDP must still come to terms with the consequences of Goodluck Jonathan’s ambition: it polarised the party and has divided and endangered our country. One day zoning was dead, because it suited his purposes and the next day, zoning got a kiss of life to satisfy a new set of ambitions. The PDP mandarins have been less than honest from the beginning; that is why zoning returned to haunt them, big time.