For the answer as to why Nigeria is where it is today and what presently troubles it, we need not look any further. How can they claim to run a successful country when they cannot even run a political party successfully? The party in power wants to teach Nigerians lessons about leadership, yet they have failed the elementary test of leadership. Saddled with a shoeless presidency, we are now burdened by a clueless ruling party, PDP. This is the cross Nigerians have to bear, unfortunately. A political party ridden by political vindictiveness, petty squabbles and inordinate power grab can only implode. It can’t run a country. It has since been predicted that the implosion of any party glued together by avarice, greed and inordinate ambition is only a matter of time. Today, we are seeing the manifestation of such.
President Jonathan has recorded many firsts. He will go down in the books perhaps as the first President under whose leadership the party he leads has exploded. The party monks, the rabid Jonathan supporters, the scavengers in the corridor of power and the bootlickers who all form the Jonathan Choir may shout for all I care. But the truth remains that the present crisis rocking the ruling party is a ringing indictment of President Jonathan’s leadership ability. More depressing is the validation of our fears that this was a weakling of a President whose recourse to the abusive use of power and brutal tactics at times of crisis or disagreement simply to have is way is reminiscent of the days of military jackboots and guns.
With due respect, no leader can earn respect from the people he leads if his capacity for crisis management is suspect, if he resorts to the crude mentality of wielding the power stick he holds to beat perceived opponents into line and if he succumbs very easily to the advice of the ethnic irredentists that surround him who tell him at every turn that an attack on him is an attack on the people from his region. This is not the way of a strong leader. It is the way of a no-leader. The actions, the body language, the words that ooze out are so unbefitting of a Presidency seeking to offer national leadership. It is the way of a provincial one. There are too many task masters around Jonathan. Too many “small minded mini-presidents” who speak as if they were ever elected to decide for us.
The PDP crisis we now see in the open to be honest did not start with the Jonathan Presidency. It started with Obasanjo. The seed for the crisis now manifest was sown and watered in the days of Obasanjo. A party given to power bravado, brigandage and sometimes unpardonable violation of the rights of its members is a house of dishonor. Jonathan unfortunately inherited a “patch-patch” party. And in an attempt to invent his own rule book, he over-plagiarized Obasanjo’s rule book in dealing with party matters. Jonathan wasted no time in kicking any member of the party who disobeys him in the butt. Ditto for elected governors, who must be thought a lesson or two each time they go against the President’s interests.
The same way he runs the party is the same way he has been running the country. Where is the country today? Nowhere. But lost at sea. Contrary to the beautiful sermons being preached about our economy and politics, the evidence on ground is to the contrary. Just as the New PDP has emerged, let us pray that a new Nigeria will not soon emerge that will seek to separate itself from the delusionary country of the Jonathans, Aninehs, Edwins, Tukurs, Metuhs and their likes. The developments within the PDP are the vengeance of the Nigerian people against a party that has failed woefully to improve their lives.
But there is a strong lesson to be learnt. Leadership must be about the people and not about personal ambition. The mentality of seeking to grab power at all costs can only result in more confusion, political suspicion and total distraction from governance. In the face of the bad leadership Nigeria is currently experiencing, the leadership of the APC must offer themselves as the alternative. They must practice power with responsibility. They must lay no claim to sainthood. They possess no miracle wand, so they should pretend not to. The claim they have and which no one can fault is their love for Nigeria and a professed allegiance to its indivisibility and commitment to champion change. Having seen the ways of the ruling party they must pledge to Nigerians not to thread that path.
The argument holds that the same similar elements and tendencies that have led PDP to Golgotha exist in the new APC coalition. What APC has going for it now, however, is the historic opportunity to right the wrong of the PDP years and learn from the mistakes made? As evident as the mistakes are, they are not easy to overcome for any party. Corruption, greed, ethnicity, lack of focus and capacity, politics devoid of principles, abuse of the rule of law and a vindictiveness that seeks to obliterate political opponents. Nigeria is left comatose because of clueless people holding key positions. PDP was held together all this while by the glue money generates and its ability to dispense favor and cash because it controls power. Well, time is running out. The clock is ticking and we need not search for any sign because the disintegration of the party signpost the coming defeat of PDP at the polls.
But all of these will amount to nothing unless, other parties, Nigerians and the pro-democracy groups seize this opportunity to generate awareness and galvanize the people to action. It will be merely shuffling the feet without any movement if the APC fails to strategize towards positioning itself for the battle of all political battles.
Before APC can lay claim to being different, it must start to distinguish itself now from the ruling PDP. All it needs do is to stir clear of the many foibles of the PDP. The Nigerian people know what they want or are looking for in a party. They know the kind of leadership they need to change things for the better. They are in search of a formidable platform that can deliver for them. APC is the vehicle. It has a greater historical responsibility to change the face of our politics.
The imminence of radical change has never come this close to our doors. The vision for a new country has never being clearer. Victory on behalf of millions of Nigerians has never been more within reach. Hope for a better country has never been brighter than now. Nigeria is salvageable, but only if we act and work together. That should be the battle cry of the All Progressives Congress. Leaders of the APC must be willing to make whatever sacrifices are necessary, climb any mountain, trudge any valley, surmount every rugged terrain and brave any storm that may come their way on this journey to salvage Nigeria.
After 14 years of PDP mis-rule, Nigeria deserves a change for the better. APC is in a position to offer that alternative option. An alternative of power with responsibility and vision. Nigerians call on all APC leaders to ensure that what they have begun is not aborted. To put nation above self and not disappoint millions of Nigerians who have come to pin their hopes on them. APC must leave its doors open because it is on a national rescue mission. To salvage Nigeria is a collective task and APC has built a platform that can help launch that salvage mission. The road towards 2015 is short, but long. The processes, the decisions, the campaigns will test the resolve of APC- its leadership and followers. But APC must not buckle.
Not in 2014 or 2015, but now is when we should start to work earnestly for the change we so much desire. APC must campaign vigorously, create awareness, educate, mobilize, organize and join the ranks of the army for change. Nigeria is currently in the vice grip of people who wield power simply for its sake and have turned it into a personal and regional property. However, the change we demand must begin with One, One vote. The adoption of full biometric system for free and fair elections must top the agenda of the system overhaul that we seek. Strict adherence to the rule of law remains a cardinal goal. But there is hope yet. Nigerians must use their 2014 and 2015 votes to usher in change by voting out the ruling party, PDP. APC has within its membership individuals committed to Nigeria and capable of bringing sanity and light to our overwhelming political suffocation and darkness. The house of PDP has fallen. With APC Nigeria has a chance, but only if APC does things a bit differently.
All patriotic Nigerians must team up to give a final push that will exit the current political arrangement and usher in a people oriented government and constitutional democracy.
Sunday Dare is Special Adviser on Media to former Lagos Governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu