Following the ruling of the Supreme Court on Wednesday which sacked Ali Modu Sheriff and recognized the Ahmed Makarfi-led caretaker committee as valid under the law, thereby confirming his status as the only recognized chairman under that arrangement, enthusiastic reactions have been pouring in from far and wide.
Ranking members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), many of whom were at the premises of the court for the landmark judgment, have expressed their relief and excitement, and even gone ahead to make definite predictions about the prospects of the party going forward.
Makarfi, who had been at the centre of the dispute, had on the premises of the Supreme Court following the delivery of the judgment, expressed his relief and satisfaction, and talked up the chances of the party in 2019.
Governor Ayodele of Ekiti State who led the fight against Sheriff and has been a frontline critic of the APC and the Buhari administration, stated in his reaction that, “With today’s judgment, PDP can now play its role as an opposition party and prepare to take over power in 2019”.
Governor Wike of Rivers State who also vigorously opposed Sheriff, viewed the development as a signal of good fortunes for the party and the country’s democracy, stating that, “This judgment shows that there will be opposition in Nigeria.”
Former President Goodluck Jonathan in his own reaction, called on “all those who left the party because of leadership issues to return to their natural home and build the PDP’’, adding that “The party that gave Nigeria the largest economy in Africa is a party with large heart enough to find a place for all Nigerians.”
Femi Fani-Kayode who was one of the prominent voices against Sheriff, and who is a non-stop vigorous critic of the APC, attributed the victory to God and expressed his satisfaction that finally Sheriff and APC, whom he said were in alliance against the PDP, had been defeated, paving the way for the triumph of the PDP over the APC in the future.
These reactions were not restricted to only PDP party leaders and prominent members. Many Nigerians who were sympathetic to the cause of the PDP or who simply wanted a more vibrant opposition also expressed their satisfaction and optimism.
The wild jubilations and boastful declarations following the judgment however raise serious questions about whether or not there is a full appreciation of the journey still ahead for the party if it must rise to a place of credible and effective opposition.
Here are five reasons why it is too soon for the PDP to celebrate.
Makarfi is not an elected chairman!
Amidst the jubilation, it is easy to forget that Ahmed Makarfi is only Chairman of the PDP National Caretaker Committee, a position which came into being via a motion at the party’s convention in Port Harcourt and one which was only originally supposed to last for 90 days.
For the PDP leadership to enjoy a complete mandate, effort must be made to speedily hold a convention where elections into all available offices will be held, with full participation of all national delegates. This democratic process will go a long in strengthening the party’s internal democratic culture, while also deepening a sense of belonging among its members.
The caretaker arrangement is temporary for a reason!
Legal resolution does not mean political resolution!
Even though the legal aspect of the leadership tussle has finally been laid to rest by the Supreme Court, there remains a pending political resolution. An immediate reconciliation process needs to be activated to resolve all disputes between the warring factions of the party.
Delays might complicate matters further and possibly lead to continued opposition from within or eventual exits from the party. It is promising that some of the leaders of the party struck a tone of reconciliation and unity in their reactions yesterday; however, reconciliation is hard work and must be approached with sincerity and commitment.
Right words are but a first step!
The party’s woes pre-date Sheriff!
With the collective sighs and jubilations, and the interesting comments about the landmark judgment signaling a return to a competitive and successful path, one would think the PDP had been in utopia before the emergence of Sheriff on the scene.
It helps to remember that Sheriff was invited into the PDP by party members as they struggled to cope with the unfamiliar life of an opposition, and even enjoyed temporary support from his later frontline challengers. Sheriff was indeed a consequence of a party challenged and bruised.
The PDP must not forget so soon that it was rejected by a majority of the Nigerian people during the 2015 elections for a variety of reasons, and must be true to its pledge to assiduously pursue the implementation of its election loss postmortem; although many have argued it reflected the party’s continued self-absorbed delusion, barely focused on the real issues, and where it did, didn’t go far enough.
Far-reaching actual reality-based reform is essential!
Baby steps in opposition!
Since being kicked out of power in 2015 after 16 years, the PDP has been struggling to articulate and execute a strategic and coordinated opposition plan. Some leading party figures like Fayose, Wike and Fani-Kayode have been vocal in challenging the APC but there has not been any clear party strategy or coordinated effort.
Two years is enough to learn the ropes of opposition especially given the stakes, for a party so desperate to return to power. Nigeria needs a vibrant and intelligent opposition and the PDP, given its size and capacity, should play that role.
The PDP must fully accept its now not-so-new status as opposition and get to work!
Ill-advised power rush!
The PDP’s desperate rush to return to power remains ill-advised. Rather than institutionalize reforms that will help it undergo a rebirth and shed its damaging reputation, positioning it not only for electoral success in the future but for governing success as well, the desperation to return to power will only lead to half-measures and makeshift arrangements.
Nigeria deserves more!