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COLUMNIST, Scruples

Babatope and PDP’s 2019 gamble

Posted: May 5, 2015 at 12:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

scuples

If what Mr. Ebenezer Babatope, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Board of Trustees, said in his recent interview with PUNCH newspaper (Monday, April 27, 2015) represents the PDP’s official strategy for winning the 2019 general elections, then the party should better brace up for an even more devastating defeat.

Dismissing the 2015 presidential election as something “computed by some diabolical forces to re-enact a Hausa/Fulani oligarchy in Nigeria,” Babatope expressed the hope that the PDP was “returning to power in 2019.”

Then he threw the bomb that must have left many of his readers devastated: “…luckily for us, we are going to bring out a candidate from the North to face Buhari. Some in the APC have been deceiving themselves that Buhari is not going to run for a second term… he is going to run for a second term and we will pitch a Hausa/Fulani against him.”

Unfortunately, Babatope and his like-minds in the PDP seem to take it for granted that those who are now described as PDP’s “natural base” would always be there for them and would need no persuading. All that would be required for victory to fall on PDP’s lap like an overripe fruit would be to just secure the “precious” Hausa/Fulani votes by fielding one of their own as presidential candidate. What a very defeatist strategy! And so patronizing to the supporters in the zones whose votes saved the PDP from vanishing from the political landscape.

Only those who derive peculiar animation from self-deception peddle the myth that the PDP lost in the North because President Jonathan “did not perform.” Marketers of this view prefer to forget that the North rejected Jonathan even before he had the opportunity to draw up a single policy or programme.

In the eye-opening interview he granted the PUNCH (published Sunday, May 3, 2015), the Chairman of the Northern Elders Council (NEC), Tanko Yakasai, underlined the reasons for the Northern Elders Forum (NEF)’s vehement opposition to Jonathan’s candidacy. He said: “in their interviews, they (NEF) stated clearly that the North would not vote for Jonathan and clearly the North did not vote for Jonathan. It was clear that it was a premeditated action, it was not natural. It was a collaboration between various actors, including some officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission, some traditional rulers, some religious leaders and some politicians that incited the people.”

And because Jonathan was aware of this rejection, he made the grave mistake of spending almost the entire resources of his presidency trying to woo the people that would never accept him simply because of who he is and nothing else. And as he deployed humongous resources transforming the North, he insufferably neglected the South East and the South South which eventually voted massively for the PDP.  Federal roads in the South East remain in horrible states; there has been a deliberate policy not to facilitate the use by other international airlines (aside Ethiopian Airlines) of the so-called International Airport in Enugu to boost business in the zone; most importantly, the dredging of the River Niger (I also heard there is coastal community in Abia State where a little dredging can open access to the sea) to fast-track industrialization in the South East appears to have become a never-never dream. It is, therefore, amazing that with this dismal record behind it, the PDP is boldly offering the presidency to the North with the hope that the South East and South South votes are always there for it to take away.

Indeed, the APC may be the darling of the North today, but if  Tinubu and his group had refused to concede the presidency to the North, the APC would never have come to be. How long this clearly bad marriage (held together by self-interests) would last remains to be seen. But if the APC survives the stage of sharing the spoils later this May, it may never survive any attempt at implementing a power shift.

The PDP must therefore evolve a more creative approach to 2019. Why not a (Christian) Middle-Belter as a presidential candidate? Why not a candidate from the South West whose votes gave Buhari the victory? Why not from the South East or South South? By the way, who are the likely PDP candidates in the North? The Babangida Aliyus, Isa Yugudas and Sule Lamidos whom the PDP now wants to reward for their clannish, double-faced politics that sank the party in the North? That would be unpardonable. If the PDP cannot find any other strategy for dislodging the APC (that is, if the APC does not implode before 2019), except it fields a Hausa/Fulani presidential candidate, it should wind up and disperse. Already, APGA is warming up to reap from the ashes of its gross indiscretion.