The outcome of the Ondo State governorship election is a clear message to the Peoples Democratic Party. The message is at many levels and it is my hope that those running the PDP, if they don’t want to end up in political wilderness, would heed the message now and begin to address some salient issues plaguing the party at all levels right now. The effort should start not today but yesterday. It is that clear.
Given the hardship across the country, it does not automatically translate to an overwhelming desire of the people to vote always against the party at the centre. The party at the centre always seems to have the “capacity” to rally people to the polls and command and also promote a sense of, “if I can’t beat them, let me join them”. The politics of vendetta within the PDP must end if we are ever to achieve success again. In many quarters, we seem to think that all politics is personal, especially when we are not the one engaging in personal victimisation. All of our leaders should look at themselves in the mirror and find a way to reconcile and find how they can reach out to all and everyone that can help bring our great party to power. No one is too big or too small to help in this regard. That ordinary mobiliser in the remote village maybe as important as the big guy in the city who comes home once in a while.
No one is negligible and no one should be ignored. The umbrella means something and we should use it effectively. Let me send a warning to many who think they know what is going to happen in today’s politics, remember the US presidential election. It is simple, you do not know. You may think you have your back covered and your plan is solid until it actually happens and you are left to face the music. The only cover is our people and the same people must have the ability to put food on their table and raise their family with jobs for their loved ones. If you do not care about them, or if you play to their ignorance, you will eventually pay for it for generations to come. You cannot destroy an institution put in place to guide and protect us and expect that system or that same institution to protect you afterward.
The national leadership must move immediately to resolve the stagnant leadership we are currently experiencing by holding its convention as soon as possible. All the factions must come to the table and iron out their differences within weeks to make this happen. A caretaker committee cannot effectively run any election at the state level. People will gravitate toward stability.
PDP governors should provide requisite leadership that transcends their own local, self-cantered desires to be the centre of power. They should put the interest of the country and the party ahead of their own grandiosity and self-righteousness. They should clearly learn from their APC counterparts. Outgoing governors should immediately realise that the desire to impose a candidate can be detrimental to the success of the party, especially if they are unable to bring the different factions together in time for an election, can produce uncertainty and eventual loss at the end. Primaries should be effectively managed in such a manner to allow everyone involved to have a sense of partnership in the electoral process. From my experience, many of our people lack a deep sense of commitment to their parties and we live in a world where everyone believes they can be governors even when they have no resources to effectively do so. I do not mean only financial resources to run a campaign but the capacity to provide adequate leadership for our people. This eventually does show in the end either during campaigns and sometimes afterwards.
Look around the country and see the leadership provided by both parties since 1999. Blame here, blame there and agencies of the state are used to prosecute political opponents and the immunity clause is violated, while they violate the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The only refuge of the ordinary man, the courts, have been violated and corrupted and the enforcement and security agencies compromised. And we are talking about political decay. It is all around us from the top to the bottom. The ineptitude is not only executive, but legislative and judicial.
We have a lot of work to do in the PDP, we must be seen as a party dedicated to making things better for our people. We must acknowledge the failure of the past and promise a better Nigeria for all. We must provide adequate economic and socio-political platform for change. It must be real and it must be practicable and it must be obvious to all.
Putting our house in order will be a step in the right direction. Personal animosity and too much believe in me-politics at every stage must be eliminated. We must provide a roadmap for taking Nigeria forward.
First, we must acknowledge the failure of our system and cut cost of governance such a reduction in the emolument of political leadership, especially in the legislature, and find a way to empower state legislatures to reduce the power of the governors to control the parties and their legislative branches. There is a need for audit of financial activities of the state governments and anyone under an iota of investigation must be denied the opportunity to run for any office ever. Those being prosecuted must be brought to justice as quickly as possible because the long jam of cases is clearly an abuse of the judicial process.
Those seeking office must demonstrate some degree of success at their chosen careers and we must encourage young Nigerians to start a career outside politics. We must investigate anyone who seems to have acquired untold riches through political office. That means job provision and a revitalisation of our education system is necessary in laying a foundation for a better Nigeria. How about going back to agriculture? How about rural development and provision of basic infrastructure in all our communities? A government that has failed in all these areas surely does not deserve another term in office at any level. Nigerians deserve better. Someone must stand up for the ordinary Nigerian and I hope our party can do that henceforth.
–– Professor Ojo, former chairman, Governing Council, Michael Imodu Institute for Labour Studies, is of the School of Criminal Justice, Political Science and International Affairs, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Teaneck, New Jersey, USA.