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Sunday, 15 September 2013

Division in PDP, good development for Nigerian democracy – Prof. Dunmoye

by Isa Sa’idu
Prof. Ayo Rauf Dunmoye
Ayo Rauf Dunmoye is a professor of Political Science and the Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences in the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria. In this interview with Sunday Trust, he said division in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) would improve Nigerian democracy by bringing the dominance of the party to an end. Excerpts:
As a professor of Political Science, how do you see the crisis rocking the PDP?
The PDP is just like what we call Branch Party, which is made up of communal leaders, champions and political heavyweights who have diverse interests. The only thing that brought them together is the desire for power at the centre. They don’t actually have the interest of the nation at heart, only very few.
When you have diverse interests like that and a political party that is very big, there is a tendency for division and inflation. There are two issues that are bringing this division. One, the federal posts cannot go round, especially the top and powerful positions.
Second, the issue has to do with the constitution of the party, which is more of unitary type because it gives enormous powers to the Board of Trustees and the National Executive Committee (NEC), contrary to the Nigerian constitution, which is federal.
From here, you can see that there is contradiction there. This is why every president produced by the PDP did everything to control the apparatus of the party.
The issue of the Governors’ Forum is also very important in this division because the forum serves as an interest group irrespective of the political lineage of the governors.
When Saraki was the chairman of the forum, he wielded enormous power on the presidency. This forum provides direction to the polity, and this is what Jonathan wants to check by using the security apparatus, the police especially; and the political party apparatus by using Tukur.
The other issue that is fueling the division is the issue of Jonathan’s 2015 ambition; though he has not publicly stated it.
But I think he is determined to contest, especially because of the pressure from his own constituency, where they want him to contest. All these things are happening because of the enormous power vested at the centre. These are the issues.
All these disagreements are being advanced by the fact that Yar’adua did not finish his tenure and the agreement the governors said they had with Jonathan, that he would only serve for one term, and power would shift to the North.
Are you disturbed that this division in the party can affect the unity of the country?
Honestly, I am not disturbed about the division because it is part of democracy. It will make Nigerian democracy more interesting. Where you have diverse interests, there must be division. At the end of the day, deception will give way to reality.
Do you think this disagreement would affect the 2015 elections?
In my view, this will make 2015 very interesting because the more division we have and more political parties, the better for our election system and its credibility. There must be alliances and defections at the end of all these disagreements; and in my view, it will make the political process more interesting.
The only thing politicians need to be advised on is that they should not allow their divisions to affect the unity of the country by bringing North-South or Muslims-Christians divide. All these disagreements should be based on issues like what the G7 are advancing - that they had an agreement with the president following the death of Yar’adua.
All the parties, not only those within the PDP, should emphasise on what they can do for the country, not ethnicity, religion or regionalism. They should give emphasis to their programmes.
Can this division bring an end to the PDP?
No, I don’t think so. The PDP will not die; but it will never be the same again even if they are able to reconcile all the aggrieved factions. This is very interesting. A party like the PDP cannot die easily because of the forces behind it.
Do you see the PDP winning elections without the aggrieved seven governors?
In Political Science, we don’t directly say that certain things would happen; we look at the scenario. The scenario is that it depends on how the seven governors align with other political parties, may be the All Progressives Congress (APC) or the People’s Democratic Movement (PDM). But the APC may provide a stronger platform.
Second is how Jonathan is able to soak the pressure from the oppositions and organise himself if he eventually decides to contest. Whatever happens, even if the PDP would win, it would be with a very small margin; and this will be good for the country.
This will bring a change to the present arrangement where a single party dominates everywhere. However, anything is possible in 2015, including the PDP losing the centre.

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