It’s a presidential directive: Capture 32 states

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“We have a presidential mandate to move beyond 23 states in our control and win at least 32”– PDP National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur

“When the time comes, I assure we will do what we know how to do best”– PDP BoT Chairman, Chief Tony Anenih

IT is certainly one of the biggest stories of the week. The embattled National Chairman of the ruling PDP, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, took time away from the desperate battle he is fighting for survival, within the party, to rally the troops. Not the best of times at the head of the party, and more often than not, putting out the fires lit by political enemies, the chairman was for once receiving a friendly delegation of a Southwest caucus of the PDP.

The occasion obviously got the better of his effusive side.  BamangaTukur might not have been an ex-soldier, but it is clear that the years of hob-nob with military men have left some deep imprimatur on the venerable old man’s consciousness.

This is because in that meeting he underlined the fact that “2015 (is) a year of serious political war”, which “the party must win”. The old man had recently openly declared that the 2015 election was “Total War” for his party.

This time, the less-than spritely Tukur informed his party men (or whoever remains in the party, if he survives all the knives going for his jugular!), that “we will move with the speed of jet and we will deliver…”

Never mind the appropriateness or otherwise, of the imageries of movement ‘with the speed of jet’ or even the “presidential” weight of the directive to “win” or “capture” (more appropriately the language of the PDP!) 32 states; the huffing and puffing cannot paper over the deep cracks within the party.

Tony Anenih has picked up the pieces of the failed reconciliatory process which the chairman commenced with much fanfare but which exploded in his face like soap bubble. Several critical sections of the party, from the governors through to Obasanjo and his foot soldiers, are determined to terminate Bamanga’s chairmanship; he hangs to President Jonathan’s coattail as the main instrument of survival.

And considering the president’s own relative political inexperience, Bamanga’s bluster is balanced by the more street-wise, wily and cold-blooded ability for intrigues of the old colonial policeman, `Chief Tony Anenih. While BamangaTukur huffs and puffs, Anenih has moved with stealth to plug the leakages on the PDP’s umbrella.

He has taken a team around the country and this week, they entered the python’s cave, when they visited the old despot, Olusegun Obasanjo, in Otta. We do not have a full account of what transpired at the meeting, but Anenih is making the right noise and he cared to remind friends and foes alike, that when the time comes, the PDP would do what it knows best. It was the best example of deliberate ambiguity.

You can interpret to suit your fancy. What does the PDP know how to do best? In my opinion, it is to continue to defy the basic laws of political behaviour: the more incompetent the party is in governance; the more votes it gets in elections. It is as if Nigerians enjoy suffering. They “give” more votes to the PDP come every round of elections to increase their suffering; or are wedded to the PDP’s politics of capture and looting. It is as if the Nigerian maiden feels safest in the hands of a serial rapist!

But given all the factors at hand today, can the PDP win the 32 states that BamangaTukur is moving at the ‘speed of jet” to capture? Which are the four states that the PDP has agreed to spare of its “Transformation Agenda”? What is the need for the ‘modesty’ of “winning” or “capturing” “ONLY” 32 states? Will the four states spared include Edo, where Tony Anenih was badly pummeled to humiliation by Adams Oshimhole? Bamanga Tukur leads a party at war with itself; the most influential tendencies within the party are not singing from the same hymn book with him and he is not better than a general without troops about to go to a decisive war; he called it “total war”.

Then there is the significant problem with the candidate he is marketing, President Goodluck Jonathan; his record in power has been one of utmost disappointment for those who voted for him in 2011.

The “shoeless boy” from the backwaters of Bayelsa has done a lot to alienate many sections of the country. His narrow, ethnic prism badly weakened the religious constituency which he adroitly manipulated in 2011. His much-publicised, recent return to Pastor Adeboye is not likely to return the votes of the mass of Christians whose conditions of existence have worsened, like their Muslim compatriots, under his watch.

The PDP will also have to contend with the fatigue and anger Nigerians feel about being ruled by the same party since 1999. Most Nigerians see the party as a redoubt of the worst specimens of political leadership, whose most worrisome attribute is to have incrementally ruined Nigeria, under their watch.

It is the reason that there is so much enthusiasm about the possibilities of the opposition parties finding the métier to unite under a new platform. Not even the well-worn use of security forces and the electoral umpires, to rig the elections can save the day in 2015. Never mind that Chief Tony Anenih was bragging that when the time comes, the PDP would do what it does best. Times are changing in Nigeria and the people feel a right to hope and the possibilities for an alternative current of development.

But more fundamentally, the past thirteen years under the PDP have seen the maturing of the worst forms of anti-state revolts than at any moment in our recent national history. It was the different PDP administrations which began the systematic transfer of public assets into private hands, in dubious privatization processes.

These governments strengthened the bonds between governments and private sector groups in corrupt sweetheart deals to the detriment of the nation. They have pauperized the Nigerian people!

Under the PDP’s watch Nigeria enjoyed record earnings from oil exports but most of these sums were often stolen by top officials to the detriment of the basic needs of the Nigerian people.

The PDP over the past fourteen years has frittered away the hopes invested in the transition to civil rule plus the sacrifices which ended military dictatorship. Against this backdrop, we might confidently predict that there is no way that the PDP can win or capture 32 Nigerian states in a free and fair election.

The dice of disgust of the Nigerian people is too loaded against it. And if they fulfill Tony Anenih’s vow to “do what we do best”, they are most likely to harvest the whirlwind of protest. We can conveniently issue a riposte to Alhaji BamangaTukur, that the “presidential directive” to capture 32 states is a most deluded and unrealistic one. It has taken the dead-on-arrival trip to the mortuary of Nigerian politics.

The 2015 elections will turn out to be Alhaji Bamanga Tukur’s TOTAL WAR. But he and members of the ruling party must prepare a lot of body bags, because they are likely to suffer a lot of collateral casualties along the way!

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