By Hassan Gimba
It’s worth noting that this article was originally published on December 3, 2017, yet its relevance persists to this day.
The Peoples Democratic Party
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is not seriously planning to return to power. It is more focused on the inordinate ambitions of its stakeholders and how much money they can make from each. If Nigeria is on the minds of some of its members, it is regarding what can be made out of it with the party as the vessel. Even at that, they are not ready or desirous of reinventing, re-positioning, and strengthening the vessel. It is not taking the path to recovering its influence in national politics.
Allow me to tell you one or two stories about reinvention and re-positioning.
Before September 2006, Ford Motor Company was broke. By 2008, its stock price had fallen to as low as $1.01 a share. It was neck deep in debt, as in 2006 alone it incurred losses to the tune of $12.7 billion. Everybody expected the company to file for bankruptcy.
Then it brought in Alan Mulally from Boeing as its CEO. Ford had achieved remarkable, history-making revitalisation by 2014 when he retired; Mulally had achieved a remarkable turnaround for the Ford Motor Company.
In 2005, Ericsson had around 47,000 employees, down from a peak of around 107,000. It had lost billions of dollars – including $3.7 billion between March 2001 and March 31 2002 – and had asked its shareholders for $3 billion.
Then it brought in Carl-Henric Svanberg, who was leading another Swedish company, Assa Abloy, in 2003. By the time he was through with it in 2009, he had managed to build the Swedish vendor into the undisputed leading network equipment vendor in the world.
There is also the story of Sanjay Jha of Motorola and many others in the business world.
Helmut Kohl served as the Christian Democratic Union’s (CDU) Prime Minister for a long time and he presided over German unification. However, when he became embroiled in a party funding scandal that was threatening to cost the CDU the election of 2005, Angela Merkel, an unassuming politician untainted by past party sleaze and who represented the fresh face of the party, was drafted in.
She is the first Chancellor from Eastern Germany and someone described her as “lacking the attributes long associated with political success… she did not work through the ranks as a political foot soldier, had no support network of troops in key positions, and little eloquence or media charisma.”
Political parties–just like businesses–that are keen on reinventing themselves always ‘recruit’, from among themselves or outside their cocoon, people they believe would give them the necessary fillip for a resurgence. But they have to be parties that are populated with selfless members and elders who have a love for and the interest of their parties and the nation at heart.
The PDP has potential presidential candidates who are capable of challenging any opponent, but they must prioritize credibility. Despite Jonathan’s control over the nation’s resources, Buhari’s perceived integrity outshined him in 2015.
The PDP should follow the example of international businesses and credible political parties in developed countries. Their leaders prioritize the revival of their organizations instead of personal ambitions and egos. It is hoped that Nigeria shall remain until the end of time and likewise, political parties as conduits or platforms through or on which the nation will be catapulted to the top.
The PDP gladiators or stakeholders warming up to vie for its presidential ticket would do well to sit down and ‘recruit’ someone from among its rank and file, the academia or business class. Someone who the people do not consider a thief, someone younger than Buhari and better educated. This would give the electorate an option when it comes to perceived credibility and integrity, while the other qualities would give him the upper hand.
This is the only way it can hope to sanitise our politics, deepen democracy, give hope to the nation and be a real and formidable opposition. It is not about the tons of money an aspirant or a party has. While money is necessary for logistics, the masses should not see the PDP as a party that thinks money is everything.
As long as the party continues in its ways, it will remain outside the gates of power until it atrophies, dies and comes a cropper.
Some may say that there have been a few ‘comeback wizards’ who, like Apple’s Steve Jobs, rejuvenated their businesses or some political leaders who returned to power and made great developmental strides. But it must be noted that such people were not encumbered by intellectual or moral misconceptions.
The All Progressives Congress
The All Progressives Congress (APC) needs to be honest and stop being hypocritical. You cannot claim to be a saintly party, accuse a man of being corrupt and then turn around to call him “reputable” when he joins you. For God’s sake, you cannot accuse a party of “ruining” the country yet continue to work with its members that people know are corrupt. It is either you are lying or you want to continue ruining the country. You cannot run with the hares and hunt with the wolves; you cannot eat your cake and have it.
What is the difference between the APC and the PDP when its members are crying that they worked for it and therefore need to be “compensated”? None of them ever talk of Nigeria, it is always “We pushed the car, and it has left us in the dust.”
Nigeria is seen as little more than a cash cow by the generality of its citizens–the followers, the leaders and those aspiring to lead.
President Muhammadu Buhari
He missed every chance to redefine Nigerian politics and position himself among outstanding leaders like Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Lee Kuan Yew, etc.
He had two very great opportunities to change Nigeria’s politics forever and also have his name etched in the country’s history as “the founder of modern Nigeria”, along with many lesser ones, which I will highlight presently.
The first opportunity missed (probably in a bid to tell Nigerians he had no money) was when he said that he took a bank loan to buy his nomination form. It was a sad day. In the first place, he knew, just as everybody knew, that many party stalwarts could have bought the form for him, assuming he didn’t have the money. After all, they were sponsoring him with their money, however they made it, so what was the difference?
Nigeria at that time and the APC in particular were ripe to be owned by the people. Had it been told that he could not pay for the form, contributions from the masses alone would have bought it many times over. From then, he should have made it known that members should contribute periodically, no matter how little, towards the upkeep of the party and we would have by now achieved a real people’s Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU). An opportunity missed.
But as it is, APC, the party of “Change”, is being financed the way the PDP was–from government coffers, in the states at least. No difference!
The second opportunity missed was the day he was sworn in as president. He famously said he “was for everybody but belonged to nobody”. Laudable. And that was what everybody expected because, in the political history of Nigeria, no campaign was ever as intense and nationally engaging as his. The election that saw him emerge as president was unlike any other before it. It was not like Obasanjo’s, certainly not like Yar’Adua’s, and not like Jonathan’s.
Nigerians elected Buhari, not APC members alone, not northerners alone, not Muslims alone. He was elected across the board, if you may.
Therefore, the election was an opportunity to unify Nigerians for Nigeria, irrespective of political leanings, tribal roots or religious beliefs. Buhari could have been the ‘father of the nation’ if he had picked the best from among the various ‘tendencies’ that abound in the country. There are patriots in ALL political parties, tribes and religions, just as there are also crooks.
Please forget the notion of winner takes all; Nigeria’s case is unique and was especially so. Nigeria would have been united and the better for it by now.
They don’t do that in America, you say? Well, they don’t budget for feeding and utensils for the President in America either. The President of America feeds his family from his salary. The President there buys his family’s needs from his pocket. Let’s not be choosy.
While Nigeria continues the search for a genuine leader who may be the long-awaited messiah, those in positions of power should know they will one day give account to a higher authority.
Hassan Gimba is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Neptune Prime.
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