For Nigerians who love a good deception, the PDP put up a show last Tuesday in Ibadan. It was billed as the South-West campaign of President Jonathan.
It was quite a show as Jonathan’s unveiled his manifesto.
The PDP, he said, would “take over” the states of the South-West “very soon” because they are simply too important to be left in the hands of "rascals."
"What we can promise the South-West people is that our government will be transparent. We will treat everybody equally. Every citizen, regardless of their tribe, religion or other inclinations, will be taken care of.”
If you screamed “How?” into your television set, Jonathan had a few clichés ready. “Two things are very important in any country and for any government,” he said, “respect for law and order is important. The next thing is a sound economy. You must stimulate the economy to turn it around. We are committed to this and we have discovered that we must stabilise power to achieve this…”
To listen to Jonathan is so much punishment. “Take over”? “Rascals”? All citizens “will be taken care of”? Who wrote these things on a piece of paper for him? Twelve years after his party began to molest children and market women it has “discovered” the importance of electricity?
Jonathan could not enunciate a coherent—let alone persuasive—policy position. He spoke vaguely about his plan to devise a five-year programme, suggesting he has no intention of serving a meager four years. Of the insecurity in the country, he offered even more smoke, saying only that all those causing or promoting violence will “not be spared.”
But it was a PDP event, and every masochist and every party faithful had more coming. The master manipulator, Olusegun Obasanjo, a former president, stood at the microphone and announced that the party decided to support Jonathan in order “to give the minority tribes a sense of belonging and strengthen the unity of the country.”
A sense of belonging to what? Unity as defined by whom? If it is a sense of belonging to Nigeria, what did Obasanjo do for the minorities in his eight troubled years in charge? What is unity if all it achieves is provide perpetual poverty and bad governance?
Jonathan was part of a terrible political combo personally inflicted on Nigeria by Obasanjo in 2007 to express his contempt for his own country, the other half being a man he knew to have been too sick to work for longer than a couple of hours per day. And Jonathan, who for three years was found fit only to walk the office parties of Aso Rock is a gargantuan patriotic “decision,” as Obasanjo implies?
When we talk about Jonathan, we are talking about the office holder, not an outsider. Why does Obasanjo not point out what Jonathan is currently doing that identifies him as an achiever or even as the PDP’s best?
Still, Obasanjo rubbed it in as he showcased his hollow messages: “Nothing should be taken for granted; we know that we have a lot of work to do. A lot of areas are still crying for our attention; economy, power, reduction of corruption, youth unemployment and infrastructure. These areas must not be neglected.
But I take solace in the fact that our president is a person who has passed through a period of tutelage. There are many capable men and women. All that needs to be done is for all hands to be on deck."
Notice, by the way, that the former Transparency International bigwig slyly slid in “reduction of corruption.” No eradication. No battle. No joke.
Such is the depth of the depravity and vacuum that is the PDP. But let us look at what others said at Tuesday’s event as they sought hyperboles with which to flatter a party that legitimizes looting and glorifies its best looters and destroyers.
The host governor, Adebayo Alao-Akala, told Jonathan that he had already won an election that is still two months away. "Shehu Shagari was here on this historic Mapo Hill in 1979 and he won his election,” Alao-Akala pronounced. “Obasanjo was here and he won his election. Umaru Yar'Adua came here and he won. As you are here today, you have won.”
Dimeji Bankole, the alleged Speaker of the House of Representatives, picked up the microphone in what must have felt like years after his political career was almost buried in the PDP house of horrors in Abeokuta. Worshipping Obasanjo from his heart and his knees as the man who can do all things he wishes, Bankole announced that anyone who votes for a party other than the PDP would have wasted that vote.
Mr. Ahmadu Ali, the party’s former chairman, echoed Jonathan’s “rascals,” saying that Lagos should not be allowed to be ruled by "liars."
As is the procedure in these cases, Jonathan also visited the pro-PDP Olubadan, Oba Samuel Odulana, who assured the candidate that he has been ordained by God to lead Nigeria. The Oba did not say when God gave him this guarantee, or whether God told him He is a card-carrying member of the PDP.
But there was a PDP person of note that Jonathan did not see during his visit: his very Coordinator for the zone, Governor Gbenga Daniel of Ogun State. Mr. Daniel did not make it to Mapo Hall, which is just one or two mukulu-mukele songs away by taxi. The governor explained that his supporters had a different opinion.
"I was about setting out [for the rally] when my supporters blocked the way that I should not attend the rally,” the governor lied, later. "When I asked them why, their responses were that I could not attend because they had been cheated over recent happenings in the party and, as a faithful leader, I agreed with them."
Among those “happenings,” Governor Daniel has found himself outflanked and pushed into the sidelines in both the state and the party by a ruthless, vengeful adversary: Obasanjo.
With the PDP’s usual contempt for the rules, the party primaries in the state became two parallel events, but after first obtaining the support of the Independent National Electoral Commission for himself and his candidates, the governor found himself a big fish in a waterless river on account of a court ruling compelling INEC to adopt Obasanjo’s list of candidates instead.
The fowl-tempered relationship between both men is symptomatic of the menace that the party represents, with no middle ground and no compromise, and each man has now vowed to destroy the other.
As last week drew to a close, Mr. Daniel’s troubles mounted. Obasanjo opened up his old playbook, filing a petition of looting state resources against the governor before the Economic and Financial Commission. He was calling on the well-known attack dog to bite Daniel very hard in the rump. The governor may even be prosecuted for the unsolved January 2010 murder of Dipo Dina, his former political opponent. This would confirm that Obasanjo knew all along what had happened to Mr. Dina and to the resources of the people of Ogun State, which would raise further questions as to how much he knows about the nation’s unsolved political murders and vanishing resources since 1999.
What last week’s events in Ogun State remind us is the danger of the uncompromising and selfish brand of politics championed by the PDP.
The party’s one-day performance in Ibadan reminds us not only of where we are, but of how we got here. Most of all, it alerts us of where the ice on which we dance will lead us.
Is there anyone who really thinks that Obasanjo is all over Jonathan for love of country? Of course not! Obasanjo knows Jonathan’s shortcomings more than anyone else. But Jonathan in office means Obasanjo has nothing and nobody to fear.
Jonathan, for his part, is worshiping at every little shrine, from Okrika to Kaura Namoda, if someone says it can help him keep up his “lucky” streak. His strategy is not the hard-headed job of programmes and policies, but of the forging of alliances and deployment of blackmail. That is why his game is loaded with cants and clichés, and devoid of content and conviction. His convoy is traveling into the past because it is incapable of charging into the future.
I would like to be able to give the PDP a slice of the doubt, but nothing has changed. This is the same old menace of shadowy figures and moving targets. It has proved capable only of decay, disillusionment and death.
What does the future hold? That is pretty clear to me. An orange tree will not yield apples. That is why the PDP may cling to the present, but it will not write the future.