The PDP should put its house in order
With the conclusion of the 2023 general election cycle, there are expectations that the nation will have a credible opposition platform that can effectively proffer alternative views on the policies and programmes of the current All Progressives Congress (APC) administration at the centre. This is important because the ability of the opposition to challenge President Bola Tinubu and his government is integral to representative democracy. Unfortunately, with many loyalists unwilling to subsume their personal interests for the greater good of the party, grounds for optimism that the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will put its act together are diminishing every day. Yet, what the party leaders need at this demanding moment of our democracy is unity of purpose.
That the PDP seems incapable of learning lessons from its own experience is clear for all to see. Less than a decade ago, the party controlled more than 60 per cent of the National Assembly membership as well as no fewer than 23 of the 36 states of the federation. Unfortunately, the PDP got enmeshed in a self-inflicted crisis arising from the virtual overthrow of its constitution by a cult of former and serving governors. That habitual impunity is evident in the current crisis. But it is in the interest of our democracy that critical stakeholders who still command respect within the party move in and resolve whatever the differences are so that the PDP can become a strong opposition platform with ideas on how to reposition the country for peace and prosperity.
For us and many Nigerians, there is no better time than now for a resilient opposition that can help to galvanise and mobilise the people around alternative views. But the PDP leaders need deliberate and sustained efforts in image and perception management, to regain the confidence of the people, following their not-so-edifying record of 16 years in power. In the present circumstance, the PDP has a responsibility to ensure that the Tinubu administration is always answerable to the public by putting the spotlight on serious issues and making public officials more accountable to the people. But to do that effectively, the party must reinvent itself by learning from the mistakes of the past. Those entails answering questions about how and why it continues to lose elections in many of the states and at the federal level.
Meanwhile, aside from the soundbites and empty slogans, there is nothing to differentiate between political parties in Nigeria and that explains why members criss-cross from one to the other. But if the PDP is to regain power at the centre, it must begin to play the politics of ideas, platforms and programmes. It must redefine itself as a counterpoise to all that the APC promised before the 2015 general election that brought it to power but cannot deliver.
As things stand today, it is important for the PDP to reflect and appreciate when the rains began to beat it and take concrete steps to change the narrative. First, the party must reinstate its Constitution with a commitment by the leadership and rank and file to submit to its supremacy. With everyone given its due, the possibility exists for a common ground for a sense of purpose that could promote unity within the party. The second arises from the first. With everyone onboard, the party must demonstrate to the weary public that it’s penitent and now renewed.
Using its paltry governors, the PDP must begin to implement, even within the sorry state of the national economy, people-oriented policies and programmes that would not only mark it as different from the ruling APC but also that it is a viable alternative.