The late BBC commentator, Alistair Cook, once transformed the famous dictum about power corrupts. In his own rendition, “power corrupts and absolute power is absolutely delicious.” For those of us who are students of power, watching Nigeria’s ruling party, the PDP is a rolling semester on how to use power because you have the power to use and using the power is delicious.
The ultimate way to use power for a political party is to sack all your members, after all, why should a party need members. That was exactly what a former PDP Chairman, Col Ahmadu Ali did in 2005 when he went on NTA news to declare that the “People’s Democratic Party (PDP) is full of members who fraudulently obtained their party membership cards” – (Tribune, 23/11/2005). The party therefore dismissed all its members in November 2005 and requested that they all apply for new membership. For weeks, the PDP enjoyed the distinction of being the only ruling political party in world history without a single member. Subsequently, after a thorough process of screening, the right type of people were re-admitted back into the party.
Among those refused re-entry visa were the Vice President of the country and numerous state governors elected under the platform of the ruling party. An alarmed Vice President Atiku Abubakar led protestors in a national campaign insisting he was a foundation member of the party and must be re-registered. In a rare moment of magnanimity, President Olusegun Obasanjo ordered the party to register the Vice President. They obeyed.
Power is often defined as the ability to cause or prevent an action and the PDP has certainly not been shy in using its power. The newspapers today are full of reports on how the PDP suspended, can you imagine, only suspended, Governors Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers Sate and Aliyu Wammako of Sokoto State. These cheeky Governors only got what they deserved and they will no doubt get more. If a powerful vice president can be sacked from the party, who do they think they are to do what they did and expect to get away with it.
What they did was incredible. We all recall the little embarrassment of two beautiful brides fighting to be close to President Jonathan – Yuguda versus Sherma. The party which is always alert on such issues deployed its vast conflict resolution mechanism and forged out a compromise, the two stepped down for Governor Jonah Jang. The party obtained signatures that all targeted members will go to the Governors Forum and elect Governor Jang. To Anenih’s shock, they went to the meeting and voted Amaechi as Chairman and he had the temerity to accept. It was incredible rudeness to the bosses that had power. The fact of the matter is that the PDP is forced to use its power.
The other rebels such as Murtala Nyako of Adamawa, Babangida Aliyu of Niger, Sule Lamido of Jigawa, Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano and Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara States will all get the punishment they deserve. They must know that the PDP has 23 Governors so after getting rid of the bad eggs; it will still have enough left to continue exercising power.
It is well known in political science that the concept of the party whip was invented to force party members vote according to instructions and NOT according to their conscience. Moving forward, special punishment is being designed for Aminu Waziri Tanbuwal who in a moment of senseless belief in democracy convinced honorable members of the House of Representatives to vote for him rather than the candidate the party had chosen. To add insult to injury, he has been caught on camera on numerous occasions chatting and smiling with enemies of the party.
Of course all these people are in the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party which by the party Constitution must meet at least every quarter. The last time NEC met was July 2012. Contrary to rumours circulating, there is no effort to stop NEC meeting. According to my sources, the only reason for the delay is the shortage of hotel rooms in Abuja. As soon as the situation improves, I believe NEC will be called. Of course the meeting will be orderly, obedient and productive because by then anti party elements would have been flushed out and the wonderful proposition from the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Tony Anenih that there would be an automatic ticket for all well behaved leaders seeking a second term will sail smoothly. With all democrats flushed out of the party, victory in the 2015 elections will be assured.
Some people feel that political power could be used differently. For example, it can be used to channel resources to produce electric power. I believe that the PDP leadership is thinking along similar lines. Indeed, Vice President Namadi Sambo has just assured the Nation that the PDP Government will be producing 20,000 megawatts of electricity by December 2014. The Minister of Power, Pastor Nebo has assured us that we will have 10,000 megawatts produced daily by December this year which is very comforting. I was however disturbed by two statements from the junior minister for power, Hajiya Zainab Kuchi. She claimed that only 40,000 million Nigerians are connected to the national grid which means the other 120 million are not connected. Her second statement was that the 40 million connected have not been enjoying electricity because the power companies were supposed to have been sold in 2012 so no provisions were made for maintenance in 2013 which accounts for the total breakdown of electricity supply in the country. I checked the electricity production figures for last Monday it was 3,869 megawatts. In 1999, we were producing 2,000 megawatts and we have not doubled production in fourteen years. This does not mean that we cannot have 20,000 next year after all a promise is a promise.
We all remember that on 19th February 2008, the late President Yar’Adua had launched the Presidential Committee on the Accelerated Expansion of Power. He promised Nigeria that 18-months from that date, Nigeria would be producing at least 6,000 MW of power – i.e. by August 2009 (Leadership, 20/2/2008). Indeed, during the 2007 election campaigns, Obasanjo’s promise to Nigerians was that by December 2007, his NIPP projects would be producing the 6,000 megawatts. Later, President Yar’Adua explained that President Obasanjo forgot to give contracts for the gas to fire the plants which he promised will be done by August 2009. As these promises show, we are certainly on course as Nigerians to enjoy 20,000 megawatts of electricity be December next year. Was it not the late Bola Ige who promised us in June 1999 that by 2001, there will be so much electricity produced in Nigeria that those with private generators will be sorry for themselves as they will not need it and it will have no second hand value as no one else will need it. Yes indeed, a promise is a promise.