ANALYSIS: PDP And Its Historic ImpunityFeatured, Latest News, News Features/Analysis, Tajudeen Balogun Saturday, August 20th, 2016
By Tajudeen Balogun, Head, African Examiner, Nigeria Bureau
It is very unfortunate that impunity, which is one of the well-known features of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has failed to cease even, as an opposition. Pitiably, the same peculiarity is running the former ruling party aground (not my wish) as its stalwarts and leadership have failed and still failing, to reason with one another deeply and objectively, so as to contain the raging headship tussle and put the house in order.
Except the 1999 general elections in which PDP benefitted immensely to have won with its Presidential candidate (former President Olusegun Obasanjo), the subsequent general elections conducted in the last 14 years by the party have been linked with various degrees and forms of lawlessness. Even the parallel polls that have held at different times in various States of the Federation up till August 2014, never failed to portray PDP as a party with reckless inclination for power. Every right-thinking Nigerian will agree to the fact that PDP had deployed anarchy to win elections and remain in power in the past.
Again, I recall except the 2011 and 2015 general elections, which their Presidential contests to a large extent, were generally adjudged to be free and fair, others, including the National Assembly (NASS) and Governorship with the States House of Assemblies were sad stories. The polls in question have left ugly memory with us as a nation.
For instance, the 2007 Presidential and other polls were so violent, anarchistic and unfair, to the extent that the winner at the Presidential level, late Umaru Musa Yar’ Ardua admitted that the poll which elected him was an apology; an error and unacceptable by every standard. Which was the reason why he resolved to constitute and inaugurate in August 2007, a 22 – man Electoral Reform Committee, which was headed by the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mohammed Uwais.
Despite the fact that the report of the committee was deliberated upon by the Council of State and Federal Executive Council (FEC) then, its key recommendations throughout the last eight years of the PDP remained unattended to. The report till date, is still lying fallow in the archive.
Painfully, instead of improvement in the conduct of our elections, the 2014 Ekiti and Osun Governorship polls were war and show of impunity to the fullest. Again, the crude and unruly crave for power by the PDP again were repeated in build up to 2015 general polls and very unfortunately, thrived to the unbearable level in some States. The miserable stories of last polls in Akwa Ibom; Rivers; Imo; Delta and few other South East and South South States explained this better.
Unfortunately, the 16 years of PDP in power has turned out to become a big burden and seemingly insurmountable trial for the party which acclaimed to be the biggest in Africa. The party stalwarts have so romanced with the power and so used to lopsided and very crude manner of doing virtually everything, such that they appear to have forgotten their party has ceased to be in power. The barbaric approach up till now, still reflects in PDP members utterances and actions. All of these account for the leadership tussle ongoing within the party.
Given his background, especially his alleged link to Nigerian Boko Haram terrorists’ group, who in this world could have imagined that someone who meant well in the first place, could have deemed it fit to influence the like of Ali Modu-Sheriff, a former Governor of Borno State’s appointment as the National Head of a supposedly National party, which is now re-positioning and strategizing to stage a comeback to power? More on this later.
It is like a Yoruba idiomatic expression that ‘there is no way; no how one takes care of a bastard to remain in the cot, he will still find his way to the bare floor’, Modu-Sheriff, who appears refused to be used and dumped by his (handful) benefactors, soon fell apart (with them), and since, he and them have remained at each other’s throat.
On the current wrangling, it is the PDP historic impunity that resulted to the process in which Ahmed Makarfi was appointed as the Chairman, National Caretaker Committee, at its May 20, 2016 non-elective National Convention which held in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital. The desperation and development subsequently led to the existing two factions of the party. It also sparked up the endless and unfolding legal tussle as Modu-Sheriff immediately approached court and eventually obtained judgment that he remained the legally recognized National Chairman of the party.
Despite the ruling, PDP disregard for law played out as Makarfi’s faction insisted that the party’s authority belongs to it. To this end, the faction pronounced its resolve to organize the elective National Convention and went ahead with the planning.
Out of desperation, the faction on July 4, 2016 obtained judgment from a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, which purportedly superseded any ex-parte order or interlocutory injunctions of another court. Regardless of the latest argument (on the former and latest court ruling), it is very important to note that the so called Port Harcourt ruling came after another court of the same jurisdiction in Abuja, has ruled to validate Modu-Sheriff Chairmanship.
Not relenting, Modu-Sheriff dragged his rival faction to another court and again succeeded in obtaining another ruling on July 28, also validating his headship of the party. Sheriff went ahead to file an application for an interlocutory injunction, in which he joined some factional members as co-defendants. The hearing and ruling on this was still pending while Makarfi’s faction approached a Federal High Court also in Port Harcourt mid June. Of course, the ruling approved the proposed factional National Convention, despite that the same faction has earlier been knocked by a court ruling.
The impunity raged when on Monday August 15, 2016 Justice Ibrahim Watila, in his ruling on an interlocutory injunction directed the security agencies to provide adequate security as well as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to send its officials for monitoring of the election. Trouble continued when an Abuja High Court ruled in direct contrary, the same day (Monday, August 15) and Tuesday, August 16, 2016.
There is no other point or way to explain as well as factor to identify a political party reputed for anarchy than this. For sure, the conflicting court rulings are avoidable, but they came up because the main actors involved have concluded that the only way to go is the flagrant disobedience to court orders.
Some folks blame the judiciary for joining the PDP in creating confusion; aiding disrespect to courts’ rulings and act of desperation. I agree with this position. Still, I hold that PDP is the arrowhead of the nonsense, for if the party’s members are not so mischievous; the dubious among the jurists would not have had field days.
As we speak, there are so many other conflicting rulings purporting the sack of Modu-Sheriff faction of PDP. What a mess; what a party!
I was amused Wednesday, August 17, 2016, while listening to the Chairman planning Committee of the aborted National elective Convention of the PDP and Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike. The frustrated Governor kept indicting himself and his colleague in Ekiti – the State’s Governor, rambling Ayodele Fayose over their choice to have influenced Modu-Sheriff’s appointment as the acting National Chairman. In his response, Wike belittle the seemingly imposing factional PDP Chairman, when he declared that he was not qualified to be a member of the party in the first place, not talk of being the Party’s leader. What an expression!
So, Wike is now corroborating the (former) opposition’s condemnation of former President Goodluck Jonathan’s suspicious relationship with Modu-Sheriff while still in power. Is Wike now faulting his political godfather’s action then? The Governor claimed Sheriff lacked integrity and remarkable political history. But when the former opposition described him as a “mole” when pitched tent with the PDP, the same PDP behaved as if to say ‘Aja lo ngo’ (dog is barking). The then, was called names and ignored. Is Wike now saying he and his counterpart, lacked the knowledge of Sheriff’s ignominious past and character or what he could up be to?
Governor Wike, whose so called electoral victory lacked dignity and fairness, was talking, and sounding like the ‘righteous’ one. He threatened he would not be a party to any negotiation with Modu-Sheriff if his party called him for a round table talk. If I may ask, when did Wike suddenly realize his former ally is not a good man? The PDP members and their wonders.
Again, in his many replies, Wike managed to caution himself when faced with ‘ruling procurement’ question. He replied that he would not say judgments were procured (imagine the smart man), on the ongoing crises, yet, maintained that something was fundamentally wrong somewhere. It is now the same man, who benefitted from the Nigerian judiciary ‘wonders’ is singing something was not in order. But when the Supreme Court disappointed not only teeming Nigerians in its rulings on his appeal and Akwa Ibom State, everything was perfectly in order then, and the judiciary was the last hope of common man. Desperate and reckless jocker!
I heard Wike claiming his faction of PDP did not receive Justice Okon Abang Tuesday, August 16, 2016 copy of ruling. Questions; did the same faction was served about the hearing? Did Wike faction’s Counsel (s) present at the court? At what point or what constitute the factors for a party to obey or disobey a court ruling? Unfortunately, as much as Mr. Wike struggled to defend his faction’s actions, he ended up making mockery of himself; indicting himself and his party and most unfortunately, justified the position that PDP members still behave as if their party is still in power – thus all the shenanigans and absurdity the party and its members are known for must flow.
Nigerians must note the long history of PDP mischief and the difference now. If it were to be in the PDP era, the rescheduling of elections in Bayelsa and Rivers States would not have been the option. Rather, the violence and victimization would have thrived and poll results would have been declared, without minding what the public opinion might be.
Therefore, those who are “wailing” for the “wailers” and the wailers themselves, who are desperately seeking for public sympathy, must reflect seriously and be very careful of the type of kite they want fly this time. I have heard them wailing as usual, that the ruling party and President Muhammadu Buhari are stifling and suffocating the opposition. That when they (PDP) were in power, all that is going on now, did not take place. I ask, what are those disgusting developments please? That, there is no more harassment and intimidation of the opposition before and during elections? That courts are ruling against the ruling party, when otherwise was expected even by members of the public? Won’t PDP show appreciation for still having field days even when still not in power? This party should offer Nigerians another meaningful and reasonable narration, if they have any at all.
Perhaps the wailers and their ardent supporters would soon indict the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and President Buhari that they together with Wike and Fayose masterminded the choice of their old friend – Modu-Sheriff as the party National head.
Personally, I won’t be surprised if the PDP foul cry and drama get to this level. This is because I know that it has historical lawlessness and desperation which also involve provoking troubles and later twist the entire saga. It is a party known for calling black, white. No wonder, its successive administrations recorded heavy spending, but regrettably, has little to show for it.
Finally, as for me, I have no sympathy for this troubled opposition. My reason is simply because its leaders have wasted ample opportunities to turn around Nigeria’s fortune for good. The party in its 16 years in power, lost focus and toyed with the country’s future. If Nigerians forgive the party at all, successive generations will never forget their misgivings. So, if the PDP survived its present self-inflicted trouble and ordeals – the effects of impunity it has used against others in the past, I say congratulations to it and its gladiators. But if not, it is perhaps suffering for many of their antics and pranks against millions of Nigerians and the country in general, whom they have over the decade taken for a ride. This is the position of many folks. I share similar view without any apology.
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