PDP: 2019 and The River Between

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SATURDAY POLSCOPE

By Eddy Odivwri;eddy.odivwri@thisdaylive.com 08053069356

After a needless fight of over 18 months, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), last week, regained some breath from the choking gasp caused by the leadership tussle. The ruling of the Supreme Court declaring that Alhaji Ahmed Makarfi, former governor of Kaduna State is the legitimate Chairman of the party, seems to have finally zipped the ambition of the boisterous Alhaji Alli Modu Sheriff, who many party faithful believe was an interloper and a mole with a mission.

Ever since the apex court ruled on the leadership of the party, the remnants of the PDP have not only been heads over heel, rejoicing, they have been trying to reassemble themselves to rejig and assess their capacity for a return to power in 2019.
I believe they are too soon made glad. They are like a smashed China plate. Many of the pieces have not only been reduced to mere smithereens, some of the smithereens themselves have gone irrecoverably missing. I do not think the PDP can regain itself to the point of clinching power again in the next election.

Yes, it is good to exercise faith, in the tradition of exaggerated political assumptions, common with politicians, the truth is that the PDP will have a wide and long river to cross to arrive at the habour of power again. Perhaps, not so soon.
Already, it has fixed August 12 for a non-elective convention, which may extend the life-span of the Makarfi-led regime. The PDP is now like a big husky shell, with many of its content gone. The party, perhaps does not realise the amount of damage both the crisis and its governance ineptitude caused it.

Does the party realise the number of its members that have long dumped the party? Not many will be in a hurry to head back. For the PDP to recover enough to take the presidency again, will require more than National convention. It will require more than strategic planning and political vigils.
It will indeed, require a thorough purgation from the signature malaise of taking Nigerians for granted.
Here was a party that boasted that it would rule Nigeria for the next 60 years. It managed to clock 16 at the helm of affairs. It settled in so much, and assumed to their doom, that they would always hold the longer end of the Nigerian stick. How wrong they were!

All that was needed was a strong opposition. And it came in the mould of the APC with all its imperfections. Its presidential candidate in the 2015 election, Gen Muhammadu Buhari, couldn’t have been the best alternative to the decrepit governance displayed by the PDP. But Nigerians were buffed up with the PDP and its drivers. Completely! It was like ABJ—Anyone But Jonathan.
The rather unimpressive performance of the All Progressives Congress-led federal government, thus far, may have buoyed the belief of the PDP that it can indeed bounce back to power again. Former President Goodluck Jonathan at the expanded caucus meeting of the PDP, during the week, claimed that Nigerians still trust the PDP. This is not true! I believe Nigerians are yet scared and loathsome of the PDP. Yes, we may not be getting the best of governance or the benefits of democracy from the APC-led federal government, yet, the PDP and all the mess it stood for which were poured on us, is hardly an attraction. The Supreme Court ruling is not enough deodorant to make the PDP smell good and attractive. Not yet!

Some might even argue that the “hard start” the Nigerian economy is experiencing, which is actually the root cause of the suffering in the land, was caused and foisted on us by the gross and reckless rule of the PDP. It is not enough for the PDP zealots to speak glibly of a new fortune waiting for us somewhere, and make it look like we have all suffered collective brain-format, thus forgetting all that is past. No, we have not forgotten.
How can we forget, when every day, new cases of unbelievable graft and decrepit governance are uncovered? How can we forget all the running cases of prosecution of those alleged to have run the country aground under the watch and supervision of the PDP?
How can we forget when a better part of the two years of the APC-led government, has been used in chasing the “thieves“ of yesterday whose actions and inactions have brought us to the economic valley of today? Are we not suffused with the avalanche of fraud cases?

There are talks of almost N2 trillion recovered from those PDP overlords who stole the till blind…. Are they not the same people lacing their boots for another march over our heads?
It is too soon to think we have all suffered collective amnesia. No, we haven’t.
In case they forgot, it was under the PDP rule, that we had the greatest fortune of oil boom in which the price of crude oil hit between $120 and $140 dollars per barrel, at a time production peaked at about 2.3 million bpd. Yes, it is true! Where did all that take us as a country? Where is all that money? Let them ask Norway what and how they have done with their crude oil fortune!
Was it not under the PDP rule that our skies were littered with private jets, so much that even hitherto known hustlers could be flying in convoy of private jets, just to go celebrate a girlfriend’s birthday party somewhere in Dubai or Bahamas?
And have we forgotten how former president Jonathan cited the huge numbers of private jets in Nigeria as a proof of the health of our economy? Where are those private jets today?

Have we forgotten the N350 million collected by a former senate president from Col Sambo Dasuki (retd), former NSA, for a so-called consultancy? Or is it the running battle of former First Lady, Patience Jonathan over $31 million, $15 million etc., which she has been flexing about in the courts? Pray, was she not just a Director in the Bayelsa civil service before her husband became the VP and then President? How did she so quickly land such parvenu fortune of becoming millionaire in even hard currency?
Or have we forgotten the Femi Fani-Kayode’s battle of N740 million fraud allegations yet going on in the court? Or is it Olisa Metuh’s N400million (which has been refunded)?
Is Mrs Nenadi Usman not yet struggling in the courts to extricate herself from the N3.5 Billion she was accused of stealing? Or shall we talk about the Ayo Fayose’s alleged N3 billion fraud? What about the N4 billion Musliu Obanikoro was also accused of stealing? Let’s not even bother about the “little” N100 million that got to Olu Falae, Jim Nwobodo, Peter Odili etc., or Tony Anenih’s N400million, or even Raymond Dokpesi’sN2.1 billion supposedly meant for publicity.

Was it not under the PDP government that former Air Chief stole and buried N2 billion in a fresh soak-away pit? Was it not under the PDP that a certain fellow called Tompolo was paid N13 Billion for a so-called Maritime University land? That same untrained fellow was handed the security of our oil pipeline at billions of dollars, and that was when crude oil was stolen most. Still wondering where all the private jets came from? What are we really talking about? The list is simply endless, including the conversion of N10 billion (to hard currency) that was used as gift to PDP delegates at the party’s convention, not forgetting the N4.6 billion collected by former Sokoto State governor, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa, to consult and “settle” marabouts so the election would favour the PDP. These are no fiction. They are documented facts. Little wonder somebody described Jonathan as “a Blessed ATM with no secret PIN”, albeit at the expense of our collective good and comfort. Let’s not bother touching on the vexatious pillaging that went on in the NNPC under the watch of Mr Jonathan and Mrs Diezani Allison-Madueke, the petroleum minister. That is a whole ‘borrow-pit’ of fraud and a matter for another day, believing you are following the messy developments on the sleaze associated with her and her allies even from far away America. Or are the Americans also persecuting Diezani as the PDP champions claim here?
Is it a surprise that not long after the PDP lost power, Nigeria slipped into recession? In no mistaken terms, the truth is that Nigeria was looted into recession. How could any nation ever survive such rapacious rape of its treasury?

Let me not be misunderstood, I do not rule out the return of PDP to power at the centre forever, depending on what the APC does with its given opportunity, which seems to be suffering mismanagement. It may not be in 2019, but more importantly, at whatever time it ever makes it back to Aso Rock, it must purge itself of the political miasma and smelly rubbish it splashed on Nigerians. It must rejig and up its integrity quotient. That is its river between.

Lawmakers and the 2017 Budget

Do you know that with just five months to the end of the year, the 2017 budget has not become operational?
But it has been signed by the acting President.

But ask yourself if the budget is being operated now?
Don’t you know there is a strong objection to the content of the budget passed by the National Assembly? That it is verily different from the one the executive sent to it? Did you not follow the argument and fireworks exchanged between Mr Babatunde Fashola and the National Assembly? How the lawbreakers, sorry, lawmakers, virtually reframed and reworked his entire budget so much that he did not quite recognise his ministry’s budget again?
But the lawmakers insist they have the right to alter and rewrite budgets… and that is the power of appropriation which the constitution gives them.

Is that why they would so radically change a budget both in project outlay and even the figures? Is the budget their own? Who appropriates for them the budget of the National Assembly? How can they appropriate and reprobate at the same time?
Let us not argue about that. The court also ruled that they have the powers to modify a budget proposal by the executive.

Did the court also say they must seek gratification before passing the budget? Do you know the real quarrel between the executive and the legislature over budgetary issues is in the huge financial and project demand the lawmakers make from the ministers? Do you know that as we speak many MDAs have not had their budgets passed by the National Assembly just because they (MDAs) are not willing to play ball with the lawmakers? That is why there are many budget defence sessions by the same parastatals. They use their privileges to blackmail the executive. Do you know the demand for $31 million alleged dredging contract by a senator is behind the harassment of the NPA, for instance? Look, this budget defence thing is a mere procedural euphemism for ‘settlement’. Trust me!
No, I cannot trust you. I don’t think the distinguished senators are that mercantile. I believe they insist on thoroughness and ensuring that proposed projects have a fair spread across the country.
I think you have a programmed mindset against our lawmakers such that you cannot even notice and applaud the good works they are doing?

Ehn? Did you say good works? Good works like what?
Did you not hear they recently passed the Whistle-Blower protection Bill in furtherance of the anti-corruption war of the federal government?

Hmmmm, that one? So you don’t know it is a payback for letting the senate president, Dr Bukola Saraki out of the noose around his neck, at the CCT? Or did you not hear that the Senate has reversed itself over the clearance of REC nominees? Or when suddenly Saraki says the CG of Customs can even wear jeans and T-Shirt to work, against the insistence on wearing Customs uniform….You think it is for nothing?
What a talk? Are you implying that the discharge and acquittal of Saraki was an arrangee work?

You said so!
We have to be fair to the system.

Really? Is the system fair to us? Do you know how many civil servants and pensioners are being owed their salaries and pensions? Have you ever heard that the lawmakers are being owed? Fairness my foot!
Ok, why is the Senate in strong defence and support of Senator Dino Melaye over the recall process? Are they saying the constituents do not have the constitution-granted powers to recall any lawmaker?
Don’t mix up issues. Melaye is a different kettle of fish? He is a survivalist. He may survive this, I cannot swear. But we are talking about the National Assembly and the 2017 budget.

All I am telling you is that the National Assembly is an inevitable evil in the governance process in a democracy. Imagine a budget just getting operated on the 7th month of a year. And with three full months of rain yet expected, it means that many projects like road and drainage constructions will have to wait. Perhaps forever! All we need to pray is enough wisdom in knowing how to manage and appease the evil called National Assembly.
Pix: Saraki.jpg