MasterwebNews 23/2/16 - Who Stole PDP`s Thinking Cap?

[ Masterweb Reports: Olalekan Waheed Adigun reports ] -When many thought the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) is ticking the right boxes for 2019, the party leadership came up with something unique. There appear to be a drama series which never in want of Acts and Scenes with its peculiar dramatis personae as professional politicians or “garrison commanders”. When one is left to think that one event is at anti-climax, another event within same plot is in ‘raising action’. The question on the minds of the audience is: When will this film come to an end?


Since its shock defeat in the presidential election in March, 2015 the party is still licking its wounds. Will the party ever be able to play the role of the opposition? Will it just self-destruct or seek a merger with other political parties to challenge its bitter rival, the All Progressives Congress (APC)? Should it change its name to a more acceptable name that Nigerians will easily identify with? All these are the questions bothering the post-Presidency PDP.


Sometimes in January, a former political adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan, Ali Gulak stormed the Wadata Plaza (also known as PDP secretariat) and openly declared himself as the chairman of the party. Many thought things can only get messier as a court declared that any politician from the North East geo-political zone could take over the office of national chairman meaning that that Uche Secondus was occupying the position illegally. No one then needed to tell Mr. Secondus that his romance with the title “acting national chairman” is over and a substantive national chairman will soon be appointed!


On Tuesday 17th February, we received the much-awaited news of whom to occupy the exalted position. It was not to be Mallam Nuhu Ribadu neither was it to be Gulak. But to our greatest surprise it was to be the ex-Borno Governor, Ali Modu Sheriff. I had to run multiple tests just to be sure of the authenticity of the news!


On the same day, the blogosphere was filled with information of a man “accused of sponsoring Boko Haram” as being “unanimously nominated as the substantive national chairman” of Nigeria’s largest opposition party. I came across a post on Twitter by a known PDP supporter who maintains that Modu’s appointment is a “Good strategic decision”. My first instinct on reading his tweet was to know if this man knows what constitutes a “Good strategic decision” at all in relation to Sheriff’s appointment.


My best guess about the “Good strategic decision” PDP made about Modu Sheriff is probably based on the assumption of his political and financial prowess. Some of Modu’s supporters recall his experience as two term Borno state Governor and his understanding of the politics of the North East as an important advantage the party may capitalize on in 2019. These people also maintain that considering the financial challenges the party may be facing, Modu appears to be the “game changer”.


While on the surface, these two positions may look potent, let us be quick to register our reservations. First, the PDP looks to be making the same mistake again. The case of Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, a former Governor of Kano in 2014 should be instructive in this regard. With the way the party leadership celebrated (including President Jonathan’s famous “Azonto” dance) when he defected from APC one will think the state was already in the bag. Second, one also recalls how the party overestimated the political prowess of people like Musiliu Obanikoro, who promised to “deliver Lagos” and groups like Afenifere which promised to deliver Yoruba votes in 2015 to the party. If the result of the recent Borno elections are anything to go by, we may not too far from correct to think the party is still overrating some politicians. The rest, as they say, is history!


For the records, the situation the party found itself today is not new. The party will not be the first to lose its “priced possession”; neither will it be the last. So no one should continue weeping for, or lose sleep over that for the party. The party has to be able to weather the storms, so it must work extra hard, if not harder; fight tooth and nail; and go the extra mile to maintain its only one thing left – its brand.


For the purpose of this piece, we will look at a brand as an image or feature that suddenly comes to mind when a product, service or idea is mentioned. We may also try to see it – in the traditional sense – as a name, design, symbol or distinguishing feature that sets a product or service apart. Giving these two definitions, can we say the PDP needs a brand?


If the party’s brand must be worked on, then whatever the party strategists were thinking about before appointing Modu Sheriff as national chairman needs some thorough analyses.


It was Mr. Olisa Metuh, incidentally the same man who accused the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2014 of housing sponsors of Boko Haram, was the man who reportedly made the much-awaited announcement. Metuh said. “However, the peculiar trend of the Nigerian version… summarizes a well-considered agenda of national destabilization for a purely selfish political cause. We pointedly finger the opposition.” And the evidence for that pointed fingering is: “we recall statements by some politicians, vowing to make the country ungovernable for President Jonathan on the eve of the 2011 general election.” At the time he made this statement, Modu Sheriff was still in APC. The question Metuh will struggle hard to answer is, “What has suddenly changed?”


For those who do not know, Modu Sheriff has been at several times been linked with the notorious insurgent group in the North East- the Boko Haram. In fact, some sources claim he was the principal financier of the group since its inception before his fallout with Muhammed Yusuf, the group’s leader who was murdered in 2009. Associating the party’s brand with this man-bad enough as it is- cannot be regarded as a “Good strategic decision” as my friend will want us to believe.


Now, I will not like to act like a deaf man who only sings the last song he heard before becoming deaf. Rather, I believe the politician should be made to come out and clear his own name. I recently ran into a transcript of his interview with BBC Hausa Service in a frantic attempt to clear his name. He said, “Therefore, I am more concerned than anybody in this country, because what Borno State did for me has not been done to any other indigene. You know, in Borno State, a governor has never been re-elected apart from me; in Borno State, no senator has ever been elected thrice apart from me. So, Borno people have done everything

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