The idea of Democracy
Democracy is universally celebrated as the best form of government regardless of its many drawbacks. Democracy allows for freedom of expression and association, amongst many other freedoms. It allows citizens to freely choose their leaders at specified intervals in a constitutional ritual that is called elections. This system of choosing leaders periodically is premised on the notion of accountability and choice. In this sense, we can infer that democracy is really about ideas and platforms. Politicians and political parties present and sell their ideas and platforms to citizens in a process traditionally baptised as political campaigns. At the end of which, citizens, acting in their capacity as voters or the electorate, evaluate those ideas and platforms and deliver a verdict of approval or rejection via, the most powerful weapon known to mankind, predominantly referred to as a ballot.

Tale of Two Elections
General elections have just held in Nigeria and in Nigeria’s former colonial master, the United Kingdom. In the 2015 Nigeria elections, the ruling PDP campaigned on the platform of continuity of its economic transformation agenda. The Opposition APC campaigned on the idea of change. At the end of that constitutional ritual called elections, Nigerians resoundingly voted for the APC at all levels: Presidential. National Assembly, Gubernatorial and State Houses of Assembly. Nigerians gave the APC control on all these levels of governance. In other words, the ruling PDP lost the Presidency. Lost its majorities in the Senate and the Federal House of Representatives. Lost its control of the Governors Forum and finally lost its majority control of state Houses of Assemblies. It was a ‘shellacking’ for the PDP - Apologies to President Barack Obama.

Move over to the United Kingdom. And it was an election of huge surprises. All the pre-election polls had predicted a too close to call election between the Tories and Labour. But on the day after election, Prime Minister Cameron and his Conservative Party confounded the pollsters by winning an unexpected majority in parliament. This means that the Tories will form government without the messy business of doing a coalition deal with another party. Another surprise was the SNP which previously held 6 seats in Westminster but won an astonishing 56 seats, a net gain of 50 seats, to become the third largest party in the UK. Labour, led by Ed Milliband lost 25 sets and now holds a total of 232 seats. Tory coalition partner, Liberal Democrats led by Nick Clegg lost 49 seats and is down to a total of just 8 seats. And the UKIP dropped 1 of its 2 previously held seats. All in all, there were no ‘shellackings’ but as can be seen there were major upsets.

Missed Opportunity for Glory
Defeat in an election means many things. But there is one thing that it almost always means. If we adopt our earlier treatise that elections are a referendum on the ideas and platforms of a political party and its governments, then we can logically and reasonably deduce that defeat in an election represents voters’ rejection of a party’s platform and ideas. Which is why in civilized democracies all over the world, the leadership of the Party that just lost an election almost always resigns. Particularly, if the loss is overwhelming. Why? Simple! If the ideas, programs and policies of your party have been overwhelmingly rejected by voters, it means that voters believe that you are taking the country in a wrong direction. It will be self defeatist and arrogant for the same people who are the faces and champions of the old ideas and platforms that citizens rejected to continue in office. The honorable and right thing to do, as a matter of leadership and integrity, is to resign and give opportunity for a new leadership with fresh ideas to emerge and begin the process of addressing the issues raised by voters.

So how did the losing party leaders in the two elections in our two focus countries fare? Well in the UK, immediately after the results of the lections became known, Ed Miliband of Labour, Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats and the leader of the of UKIP all resigned their positions as party leaders. That is leadership. That is integrity. That is putting the party and the nation first. So, how did it go back home in Nigeria? It is a bit difficult to describe. The PDP National Working Committee (NWC) under the leadership of Alhaji Adamu Muazu has been playing a rather curious blame game selfishly designed to justify the need for them to stay put in their jobs rather than taking responsibility and falling on their swords.

Crucifying Accountability and Responsibility
As at the last count, the only one the PDP NWC has not blamed for their party’s all round defeat is themselves. They apparently missed or failed the leadership class 101 on Accountability and Responsibility. First, the PDP NWC assailed the INEC chairman for allegedly being in cahoots with the APC. Then they zeroed in on the card readers and PVC’s. But that still didn’t cut it. So they latched onto allegations of under aged voting in parts of the north. In short order, they took on the Jonathan/Sambo Presidential Campaign Council and blamed the Council’s lack luster performance for the defeat. That still was not good enough, so they blamed the PDP Governors and the President’s wife. More press releases and a few off the cuff remarks later, they pinned their defeat on APC’s hate and fear mongering campaign that was premised on religious and ethnic bigotry.

No, No, they exclaimed, we now have it right, “we lost because of the hate campaign messages from the President’s men and the insults they spewed against northerners”. But still not satisfied, so the PDP Chairman himself comes out and puts the blame squarely where it should be: on hapless citizens who they just could not compel to vote PDP. Alas! finally, the PDP publicity Secretary, proclaims with great joy, that the brick-bats and embarrassing blame game which has been playing out in the PDP NWC like a poorly scripted Nollywood movie is as a result of Election Defeat Trauma (ELD) - the latest virus in Nigeria.

Chorus of PDP Voices
Not surprisingly, President Jonathan, Senate President Mark and other concerned PDP leaders have sued for peace and common sense in other to save the party from total collapse. Some other stunned party leaders who are not buying the ELD story are still trying to make sense of the post elections macabre dance of shame orchestrated by the PDP NWC. They have thus far adduced various reasons. Some have suggested that the PDP NWC members’ dishonorable posture might simply be due to the predictable sit-tight African leaders syndrome; others believe that it is a ploy to stay in office long enough to cover their tracks and perfect plans on how to loot the billions of naira left from the party’s flawed primaries; yet another school of thought argues that their refusal to resign is part of an orchestrated plan to utterly destroy the PDP from within; but some maintain that the PDP NWC are locked in an epic battle for the control of the soul of the PDP, in this sense, they are only playing the politics of survival and relevance and are thus determined to continue to defy President Jonathan and other party leaders until they prevail. Whatever the case, most well meaning PDP elders seem to be unanimous in their believe that the refusal of the PDP NWC to resign portends a bad omen and more losses for the party.

Flying Without Wings
After 16 years in power and without any history or knowledge of opposition politics, it certainly is a major test for the PDP to adapt to the rigours of opposition politics. Perhaps that is why Lai Mohammed of the APC satirically offered his counterpart in the PDP the opportunity of a free 6 weeks course on how to be an effective opposition Publicity Secretary. Most Nigerians, like me, laughed off the offer at the time as just an attempt at good humour. But recent developments in the PDP have made some to have a rethink. Consider for instance that the Publicity Secretary of the opposition PDP recently issued a press statement demanding that its party leader and Nigeria’s President MUST account to Nigerians how he spent every kobo of Nigeria’s money. Did I hear you say SHOCKING and UNBELIEVABLE! And as if that was not bad enough, he followed up with another barb on some leaders of the party, (specifically, governors) who the NWC believes are trying to hijack the party. In fact, since the PDP became an opposition party in April 2015, it has invested more energy in criticizing itself, its members and its leaders in government at all levels than it has criticized the APC. Perhaps if the PDP Publicity Secretary had accepted the offer of Lai Mohammed for free training, he would have at least learnt that as an opposition party, the focus of your attack should be the APC, its governments and policies; certainly NOT your own party, the President and Governors it produced. By vilifying the President, Governors and members of its own party, the PDP has started its journey in opposition on a very wrong foot. Surely this cannibalistic craving cannot augur well.

Way Forward
President Jonathan, Vice President Sambo, Senate President Mark, Deputy Senate President Ekweremadu and the Chairman of the PDP Governors Forum have a solemn responsibility to go beyond palliative public posturings and take proactive steps to activate critical party organs such as the Caucus, BOT and NEC. This will avail the party leadership the opportunity and fora to elevate the conversation beyond the banality of blame games and take bold decisions which will include but not limited to demanding the PDP NWC’s IMMEDIATE RESIGNATION with a view to saving the party any further public embarrassment and humiliation.

Pray! Can anyone explain by what measure of logic does a party’s NWC inherit a President, majorities in the Senate and House of Representatives, 28 Governors and majority of the state Houses of Assembly and in less than three years squander so much goodwill and political capital that they lose the Presidency, the Senate, the House of Representatives, about 17 Governors and majority of the State Houses of Assembly and still brazenly aver that they are entitled to remain in office? Only in Nigeria. Only in the PDP.

The Heart of the Matter
While the PDP leadership refuses to take responsibility and continue to live in denial of the reasons for its unprecedented election loss, Nigerians are almost unanimous on the raison d’être for their defeat: arrogance of power, impunity, insensitivity to the feelings and welfare of Nigerians, shameful security response to the terrorist challenge in the northeast which has cost thousands of Nigerian lives plus the unresolved Chibok girls saga, brazen corruption, total leadership failure and lack of a coherent and sustainable economic plan to move Nigeria forward are the more common reasons for the PDP’s historic defeat. Delta State Governor, Emmanuel Uduaghan, in a recent interview, lamented that it is unfortunate that nothing seems to have been learnt from the election loss because the PDP leadership is still exhibiting the same arrogance of power that facilitated the party’s comprehensive defeat.

Consider the response of Ed Miliband, the opposition Labour party leader, moments after the results were announced in the UK, “I take absolute and total responsibility for this result and our party’s loss in this election. Now it’s time for someone else to take forward the leadership of the party. So I am tendering my resignation.” Now compare that with PDP NWC’s response, telling the world that President Goodluck Jonathan is the architect of his own misfortune and that no one should hold them accountable for the loss of the Presidency. Ok. So, who should be held for the loss of the National Assembly elections, the gubernatorial elections and the state House of Assembly elections? Rather than answer these questions, the PDP party Chairman had this to say ”I could not force my people to vote for Jonathan” So much for leadership and accountability or is it lack of leadership and the continuing arrogance of power.

At the heart of the matter and indeed the conclusion of the matter is that, one way or the other, the PDP NWC MUST RESIGN. It is the honorable thing to do. It is the right thing to do. It is the only thing to do because they have lost the moral authority to lead and the legitimacy to remain in office. Their resignation will give room for a fresh leadership with a fresh perspective and fresh ideas to emerge and commence the solemn process of rebuilding and repositioning the party as an effective opposition to the ruling APC that can also proffer alternative platforms for project Nigeria. It is critically important for our democracy that the PDP survives and functions productively as an opposition party. The PDP NWC should therefore be encouraged to end the unhelpful rhethoric, stop the blame game and lame reference to a 2016 terminal date. A resignation NOW will give the PDP a better chance of survival, give opposition politics a chance to flourish and strengthen Nigeria’s democracy. It is indeed a golden opportunity for the PDP to model good leadership values, put an end to this regime of impunity and arrogance and demonstrate to Nigerians that it is capable of rising beyond its pecuniary politics and act decisively in the interest of Nigeria, democracy and good governance.

Anthony Ubani, a former Director General of the Peoples Democratic Institute (PDI) and a Leadership Development Advisor, writes from Abuja


Chris Kehinde Nwandu is the Editor In Chief of CKNNEWS || He is a Law graduate and an Alumnus of Lagos State University, Lead City University Ibadan and Nigerian Institute Of Journalism || With over 2 decades practice in Journalism, PR and Advertising, he is a member of several Professional bodies within and outside Nigeria || Member: Institute Of Chartered Arbitrators ( UK ) || Member : Institute of Chartered Mediators And Conciliation || Member : Nigerian Institute Of Public Relations || Member : Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria || Fellow : Institute of Personality Development And Customer Relationship Management || Member and Chairman Board Of Trustees: Guild Of Professional Bloggers of Nigeria

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