An Open Letter To The PDP National Chairman, Prince Secondus.
The past few weeks have been nothing but what could be considered the best of times for your party (PDP). While I will like extend my best wishes, I am however concerned about the extent to which you have put structures in place to address the inevitable concomitants.
Leading to 2015, some key personalities left your party. Their exit largely contributed to your loss at the polls. To them it was sweet victory as they became part of the ruling party.
Those left behind were subjected to the pains and political consequences of failure. Even after the elections, some more left, and yet, some against all odds, the faithful held on and remained true to the party.
Today, some of those that left are returning.
There is no doubt that their return will definitely impact positively on the fortunes of the party at the polls in 2019. However, you have the unenviable task of balancing between celebrating their return in the light of the anticipated good fortunes of the party, without such celebration being to the detriment of those that remained faithful.
Bottom line, how do you celebrate the returnees while appreciating the faithfulness and loyalty of those that kept faith with the party?
As challenging as the above balancing act may appear, my greater concern is knowing to what extent you appreciate the real dynamics that will determine the voting pattern for 2019 general elections. The password for 2019 will be: THE PEOPLE.
Several things have changed in Nigeria. The integrity and capacity of INEC to conduct credible elections is getting higher with every election. If INEC continues with the established reforms, chances are that we will have relatively credible elections in 2019. This fear of Possible credible elections, to established politicians, has led them to the new crime of VOTE BUYING (See and pay).
If, again, the new proposed game plan of INEC to counter the vote buying menace is carried through as proposed, this evil act will very likely be eliminated in 2019.
With the prospects of credible elections, the masses are likely to turn to assessing the quality of the persons on the ballot, and the ideological stance of the parties.
Statistics have shown that less than 35% of registered voters are active members of all the political parties combined. It is therefore incumbent on any discerning party chairman to undertake a strategic analysis of the needs, expectations, desires and demands of this independent group that constitutes over 60% of potential voters.
PDP has been branded as the party of criminals, crooks and looters by the ruling party. This branding will not hurt the party as much as the lack of a convincing counter-narrative as a rebranded party (name-change notwithstanding), -a repositioned party with focus and vision.
As at today, for me as an individual, I am yet to get such sound-bites from your office.
All I hear is the usual political talk and show of power. Very soon it will become clear that taking the people for granted could be another costly mistake that your party could possibly make.
In the Second Republic, there was a party called NPN and we know that HOUSING was high on their agenda and thus the Shagari Housing Estates.
There was another party called the UPN and we know that FREE EDUCATION was high on their agenda.
In the 16years of PDP and the years after losing the center, I doubt that I can put my finger on what the focus and governance policy thrust of PDP is.
Consequently, as we move towards 2019 elections, what will sway me as an independent voter to look in the direction of the PDP?
To think that 2019 Presidential Elections -to start with-, will be an exclusive choice between PDP and APC candidates, and that a ‘better’ candidate of the PDP than that of the APC will suffice, is to be simplistic and myopic. Nigerians are not impressed with alliances, capacity and power as those have clearly, so far, failed Nigerians.
Change The Music
My humble advice is that you CHANGE THE MUSIC. There is a certain sound that the people want to hear. You must be extremely responsive and sensitive to such sound that captures and encapsulates the real needs of the people. Considering that “security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government”, what is the policy of your proposed rebranded PDP to the above National Vision?
Can your party have a national poverty reduction target of say 2-5% annually or within election cycle? As a national chairman, you can, as a covenant with the people, set this target, leaving each governorship and presidential aspirant to convince the party on their game plan to achieve such target. This will compel every aspirant to work along the lines of party manifesto, and do proper good governance research thus setting the party out as one with candidates that are ready to hit the ground running having campaigned with real issues based on researched facts.
Government is expected to address every facet of our lives.
What should distinguish your PDP would be the specific music they intend to play. Should it be:
-Job creation through industrialization, particularly with small and medium scale industries,
-Wellbeing of the citizens through UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE COVERAGE and HOUSING
– or Youth “cultivation” through I.T.
Any party known for everything ends up being known for nothing.
What is your idea of rebranding or ideological repositioning of your party?
Can the party have as a policy, corporate governance template which all state governors must abide by that:
– Puts time of work and party activities at not later than 6pm (except on rare cases) so as to allow families to stay together in the evenings, and besides, allow decent women to participate in politics
– Adopt LOW PROFILE governance philosophy where governors cut the excesses of long fleet of vehicles on convoy,
– ELIMINATE the lavish feedings in government house and insist that every governor be fed by his family with approved decent number of aides that will be made public, thus literally cutting the extravagant feeding in the midst of citizens that can barely afford one square meal a day
– Insist that no governor must maintain any private jet on state resources
– Institute a party performance assessment template for the three tiers of government
– Institute similar template to profile and institute transparency and accountability.
Before I end, let me believe that you have a very sound strategy to accommodate the needs and expectations of the returnees, -and those already on ground-, with respect to the quest for the presidential ticket. The earlier an acceptable template is evolved, the better and relatively easier it will be to manage expectations. The “when we get to that bridge” answer will most likely spell doom for the party. Even before the primaries, agreements should have been reached. I believe in internal party democracy, but I also believe that challenging situations and peculiar circumstances will call for out-of-the-box solutions.
Let me make this observation: if you intend to change anything about your party by way of name or logo, or slogan, you may wish to reconsider the “Power To The People” slogan which, in my opinion shows a poor understanding of democracy and governance. Power resides in the people in a democracy. What the people need is SERVICE and not POWER.
Let me end on a probably not too pleasant note. Except PDP rebrands in ideology while taking advantage of its new numbers and strengths, should there arise an ALTERNATE FORCE (a proper Third Force), with an ideology of low profile, Service as essence for seeking public office, with Recruitment Ideals the 3Cs ( Character, Competence, Capacity), and sound bites that resonate with the people, PDP and APC will be in for a rude shock come 2019.
Have you heard of SOTA?
I wish you well sir.
Arc Nya-Etok Ezekiel
(DG, Nigeria First Project)