The near civil war that engulfed the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over Ali Modu Sherrif’s chairmanship has not happened before and it is amazing how one wing of the party leadership can foist their will on the party and think they can get away with it. Unlike the present chaos that greeted the appointment of Sheriff, Ahmadu Adamu Mu’azu’s entry into the PDP Chairmanship, was well celebrated across party lines throughout the country.
If Nigerian politics is infested with a few more of the Ahmadu Adamu Mu’azu, then not only will our political culture advance for the better, the political space will never be overheated by loudmouthed politicians who do not know that what comes out of their tongue is capable of putting the entire country on fire. Of course I am talking about the former National Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party, Mu’azu, and the legacy of politics of nonviolence and no personal attacks that he left behind to guide the party in the future.
His political philosophy permeated throughout the party over the period of his leadership. A newspaper had accused him of “not embarking on campaign different from the ones organized by his party’s Presidential Campaign Council in states,” but he simply ignored the question and focused on the campaign task ahead.
The media further criticized him for not speaking against the then presidential candidate of the All Progressive Congress, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd).” Muazu detests politics of acrimony and would not engage in brinkmanship knowing that what was important was the legacy he would leave for historians to take note of.
Why should he dwell on the abuse of the opposition leaders as the main diet of his campaign? Why should he run parallel campaigns when the party has articulated strategies by its Presidential Campaign Council of which he is the Chairman? Why should he be pouring invectives on the opposition presidential candidate where there is no need to do so? Why should he engage in the demonization of Buhari when he can successfully poke holes into the opposition argument and expose it as mere propaganda? The biggest problem of Nigerian politics of this present republic is the penchant to attack political opponent’s personalities rather than going for the jugular by shredding their manifesto to show that they add no value to the advancement of the country and its democracy.
Dr. Mu’azu’s model is rather than engage in political fisticuffs and fight, it was better to examine the opposition strategy, poke holes into it and show the inconsistencies in their argument. It was better to expose the futility of the opposition’s position, their ill-thought out campaign promises and their desperation to win at all cost instead of mounting abusive language and using crude methods to tackle political opponents.
I recall when he issued a statement accusing the five governors who left his party with PDP manifesto and foisted it on their new government under the opposition APC who accused the PDP and its presidential candidate of cluelessness. When these ungrateful governors were pointing accusing fingers on the PDP, they forgot that their remaining four fingers were pointing back at themselves and their futility.
Those governors were indeed ashamed of their senseless criticism of their former party when they realized their ill-conceived ideas would not sell. Mu’azu is a quiet operator who doesn’t even use sirens when he is on the move and does not carry along retinues of media men for the world to know that he is working effectively. He is a politician who knows what he wants and how to get it without anyone knowing what he is doing. They don’t call him Game Changer for nothing. He raised the status of the PDP higher than what he met on taking over the party.
On the eve of the presidential campaign kickoff by the party under his watch, Mu’azu took exception to perceived injustices in the PDP in which those who did the hard work for the party usually end up getting nothing when the party wins elections and thereby ensure that, monkey de work and baboon de chop.
That speech at the beginning of the campaign was very telling. Fearlessly Muazu developed a symbiotic relationship with the then president, Goodluck Jonathan as party chairman and this is not for nothing. I watched them closely at work interacting during the long 36-state campaigns of last year’s general election, holding hands as they alight from the presidential jet or hopping into presidential choppers.
It was the realization of this togetherness that some people thought that some negative reporting of Mu’azus’ political activities would do the damage and push the then president and Mu’azu apart. The tactic failed of course as the former Chairman, politically suave and smarter, showed his detractors that they could not match his usually advanced methods in planning and implementation.
Mu’azu operated quietly and achieved highly. Olisa Metuh, PDP’s National Publicity Secretary was quick to denounce the APC tactic during the campaign to bring down his Chairman when he attested to the Chairman’s moral high ground when he said that: “Our National Chairman, as the face of the PDP, has remained restrained despite numerous unwarranted provocations, a stance which does not in any way detract from his commitment to the campaigns but reinforces our values and dedication to unity, peace and stability of our dear nation”.
He went further to attest that “This exemplary style of politics (by the Chairman) played a significant role in reducing the tension in the polity ahead of elections and has already endeared our party to a majority of Nigerians and key stakeholders in the electoral process. It is to the credit of the National Chairman that his leadership stabilized our party at its critical moment and successfully achieved unity among our leaders and members while strengthening the confidence of Nigerians in the PDP as the only vehicle to deliver true democracy dividends to them”.
When Dr. Mua’zu became the National Chairman of the party in January 2014, the gang of five governors had just left a void, precipitating a huge crisis which was aimed at crippling the party and its tremendous structures. It did not take Dr. Mu’azu long to devise the strategy that returned the PDP back in pole position. Mu’azu knew the game and knew how to checkmate the plot.
Mu’azu’s political mantra is simple. “Don’t abuse personalities. Go for the issues and you can deliver the knockout punch if you articulate well. What use is it when you mount the rostrum to abuse people, heat up the polity and get the whole country boiling and unleashing violence? There is no better way of playing the politics of violence than abusing your fellow politician. If you don’t keep your tongue in check, you will commit more slaughter than Boko Haram, because as leaders, the followers follow your every word and your body language tells the masses what to do.”
Throughout his period as Chairman of the party, Mua’zu always admonished the media to strike a balance in their stories and stressed that it was important to take things easy in order not to spin out of control and damage the country in the process.
Perhaps the biggest achievement of the former PDP Chairman was the fact that he encouraged former President Jonathan to throw in the towel and save the country from further bloodshed as it became clear that the former opposition party, the APC was winning the last election. The Gbagbo (Ivorian President) model was already creeping into the critical joints of the party hierarchy as well as the Jonathan presidency and even former President Obasanjo was busy with his famous letters accusing President Jonathan of setting the agenda to introduce the Ivorian President’s style of leading the country to disaster.
Mua’zu figured that Nigeria, having already lost many souls as a result of Boko Haram insurgency could ill-afford another round of butchering fellow Nigerians as a result of political unrest after the general election. Coupled with Jonathan’s already known position that his political ambition to get a second term was not worth the blood of a single Nigerian enabled Mu’azu to push through his non-violence agenda.
Today, Nigeria is better for it. Former President Jonathan is happy today globetrotting the world as a revered elder statesman, observing critical elections across the world and enjoying the afterglow of having succeeded where others are now facing the International Criminal Court in The Hague for crimes against humanity. Not many will remember the part played by Mu’azu in the whole scenario.
It is also important to note that Mu’azu brought into the Nigerian political space the culture of resigning political appointments when such a resignation would ensure peace and harmony in the country. Rather than watch his party in turmoil because of personal interests, he was ready to resign the position and let peace reign in the land. He was sick in a hospital bed abroad and wouldn’t stand the furor generated by his remaining as party chairman when the PDP lost the presidency in 2015.
There were good reasons why he should not resign, but he handed over his resignation letter to stop the din created by his remaining in office. That is an epoch making act, especially in Nigeria where the culture of tenacity is the order of the day.
And for Mu’azu, he has done the best he could to leave a strong legacy for the future of the PDP, still the largest and most experienced party in Africa.
-Amadi is a veteran journalist