The Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) has sounded an alarm to Nigerians and friends of Nigerian democracy that the just-concluded national convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) flagrantly flouted the best traditions of democracy and is a terrible omen for the 2015 general elections.
“The world mirrors Nigeria from the actions and inactions of the PDP, the party has defined the bad image of the country for the worst; having been in control of the Federal Government of Nigeria in the past 13 years and in government in 23 out of 36 states of our dear country without commensurate results,” CNPP said in a statement signed by its Publicity Secretary, Osita Okechukwu.
It said that under the leadership of President Goodluck Jonathan, it had expected fresh air and that the era of “do or die garrison politics” was over, only to witness the retention of rigging at the convention in the form of a guided election.
“For the avoidance of doubt can any reasonable person expect the PDP which rigged and bastardized internal democracy, grossly manipulated its intra-party elections from ward congress, intimidated, coerced and arm twisted aspirants; stop vote rigging, all manner of manipulation and intimidation of the opposition during the general elections?” the statement asked.
CNPP cited three examples:
• The statement made ahead of the convention by Alhaji Murtala Nyako, the governor of Adamawa State, following a meeting of the governors of the North East with President Jonathan and Alhaji Bamanga Tukur concerning the party chairmanship which had been zoned to the North East, about which Nyako told the press, “I am a small boy, I came here to ask President Jonathan the leader of our party what he wants.”
• The statement by Dr Shettima Mustapha on behalf of other chairmanship aspirants when he said, “Having discussed the issues and having been invited by the leadership of the party, we were requested to cooperate. On behalf of the aspirants, we concede, I am mandated to concede this office to the candidate Chosen for the position.”
• The angry statement by Ebenezer Babatope, former spokesman of the former Unity Party of Nigeria, who asserted about his withdrawal from the chairmanship race, “I am withdrawing not for any person, but for the party, the PDP and honour for Mr President.”
Following the “election” of the National Chairman, President Jonathan said, “We must eschew bickering and remain united in the pursuit of our goals. As members of a great party, we must resist the temptation to allow inordinate ambition and what appears to be a growing obsession in 2015 to cause disaffection within our ranks.”
In response, CNPP cautioned that to aspire to be president in 2015 is not inordinate ambition, and that bickering and bitterness there must be as long as the people are covertly or overtly denied their inalienable right to choose their leaders” as was seen in the PDP national convention.
“It is our considered view that unlike governor Nyako, Nigerians are not going to ask President Jonathan who to vote for in 2015 nor concede; more so when he had said he is not running and indeed the Supreme Court latest judgment on tenure had foreclosed him from running, by stating that no person shall be governor or president for more than eight years,” it warned.