Is there really an electoral contest in Nigeria next February?
Yes, the electoral commission, fulfilling its constitutional duty, has listed an election on its calendar for that month, but it is really a referendum on 15 years of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in charge of Nigeria.
The event should be re-cast as a festival, a celebration of the opportunity for Nigerians to regain their dignity by inflicting on the PDP the most lopsided defeat in modern democratic warfare.
I do not mean that 2015 should be seen as the coronation of another party simply because it claims to be in opposition, but that it is an opportunity for Nigerians to reaffirm their dignity and express their indignation at the polls.
The PDP should be easy pickings, but anyone seeking to replace it should show imagination. The PDP has already shown cause.
Everyone, including the PDP, knows that Nigeria has become the butt of jokes around the world on account of its character as a looting gallery.
If you do not know they are laughing at Nigeria, that is probably because you lack literacy skills, not because you are in the PDP. There is no reason on earth why a party that is held in such contempt for various reasons ought not to be humiliated out of relevance with at least 80% of the popular vote.
This is the report card it has earned in 15 years of malice and malfeasance. This is the precinct not even of politics, but of common sense: if someone hurts you, you seek vengeance, or avoidance. If someone loots your family, you want your heirlooms back, and you want the thieves in prison.
If someone insults your mother, or rapes your wife, or kills your sons, or abducts your daughters, you do not give him the keys to your heart: you want him dead and his carcass thrown to the hyenas. You do not give drink with him. You do not give him a bed in your home. You do not let him gloat about his exploits.
There is no other way to describe what the PDP has accomplished in Nigeria. Under its watch, Nigeria has moved from a nation of hope to one of doubt; from one which enjoyed the respect—sometimes admiration—of other countries to one that is now routinely called names.
Under its watch, Nigeria has moved from a nation which labored under gross mismanagement and overwhelming corruption to one where they are now merely an opinion.
Under the watch of the PDP, reports are merely to be written, not implemented; a budget just a speech to be read, not an obligation to be fulfilled; and good governance is just a concept, not a principle. Was there ever a report by a Presidential Projects Assessment Committee about at least 11,886 projects? Do the many reports about the rot at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation have any relevance to the quality of life of the people?
Did anyone ever debate former Minister Oby Ezekwesili over her allegation that that $67 billion left by the President Olusegun Obasanjo’s government has been squandered by the current one? Yes, the government removed Central Bank governor Lamido Sanusi, but did anyone ever establish whether the NNPC actually failed to remit to the federation account from 2012 to 2013 the sum of $50 billion? $21? $10?
If nothing is clear, that is exactly what is intended by the PDP because in no enquiry can the party and its practices face the facts.
Under the watch of the PDP, Nigeria has ground to a halt, even to a fraction of its size. In full view of the PDP government, intrepid militants are taking over Nigeria, village by village, child by child and town by town, chasing Nigerians out of their homes and out of their country.
Under the PDP, Nigeria is giving away everything: self-respect, territory, refugees, children, dreams.
Under the PDP, propaganda is the only mission in order that it might look immensely better than it has accomplished.
A transformation was promised four years ago, but in its place, Nigerians got a Tantalization Agenda. Fifteen years ago, the Nigerian president and his wife enjoyed their healthcare in European hospitals; today, the Nigerian president and his wife enjoy healthcare in European hospitals.
But perhaps what is worse is what no longer exists: 15 years ago, Nigerians could travel around their country in relative safety; today, they are told to travel by air.
The country is in disrepair and in division, but what may be called the future is considerably worse unless the PDP is crushed by Nigerians so that it may be re-invented by those who care.
I do not know who will contest against the PDP, but it is an easy, almost unfair, battle. Between the popular disenchantment and the divisions within the PDP, there is no reason why it should not now lose more than 70% of the electoral gains it held in 2007.
What is exciting about 2015 is that many of the parties outside power can exploit the PDP’s scorched-earth incompetence, lootocracy and abysmal arrogance over the years. The challenge is to go where the PDP does not, and will not go: directly to the voters whom they have betrayed
The choice could be no clearer: the offer of hope where only despair exists, and where the only other choice is hopelessness. This is the time for the Nigerian voter to invest in his own dignity and future. The PDP has had 15 years, and Nigerians who are not dipping their hands into its soup pot know they are considerably worse-off than they were 15 years ago.
The one thing the PDP cannot tolerate, but the only language it understands, is electoral defeat. There is no better time than the present to inflict it.
One approach is to write up 774 reports, each no longer than half a page, on the last four or 15 years. That is the number of local government areas in the country, and they will make clear the depth of the government’s irresponsibility so far. Consolidate them into manageable sectoral campaign research. Contending political parties can take a look at the national budgets for those years here or here. At the local levels, it is easy to demonstrate how suddenly-wealthy legislators are in dissonance with mounting poverty.
What parties need to do is to campaign intensively at the grassroots: village to village, house to house. Not on social media, as tempting as that is, or on television. Encourage voters to accept PDP money and food, but to vote it out. Drag the PDP into running on its record, at the same time demonstrating a clearer commitment to serving the people.
The PDP may well be the most scandalous party in modern political history. It is not the only sinner in the world, but it is the only one that advertises its sins, and pays itself for them.
The PDP is a pushover right now, and it should be pushed. Because there was a country.