PDP’s intolerance of criticism

Some of our highly esteemed readers have raised issues about what they term ‘fixation of this column with PDP’; incessant criticism of President Jonathan administration in spite of his acclaimed achievements and ‘arrogance and disdain of the Yoruba political elite for political parties and political leaders’ that did not take root from the South-west. Let me first remind our readers who are eminently entitled to their views that a newspaper is a market place of ideas and are therefore free to send in their rejoinders instead of name-calling. But let us start first from the last. Our experience since 1999 does not support such a thesis. Political tendencies in the Yoruba nation stress from extreme left to the extreme right. Yoruba can therefore lay claim to joint ownership of PDP. Indeed ex- President Obasanjo defined whatever the coloration of PDP is today. He is the very personification of the party’s anti-democratic tendencies, its lack of internal democracy, ‘do or die election’, rule of gangs, and disdain for the judiciary and the legislature. Among the PDP leaders, Ahmadu Alli and Bamanga Tukur, the past and the current chairman of PDP have their parallel in the South-west. If Ahmadu Alli once nominated his son and wife for board positions, Obasanjo and his buddy, the late Lamidi Adedibu ensured their children became senators. If Tukur’s son was fingered for alleged involvement on the fuel subsidy scam, so was Arisekola’s son. Akala, Oyinlola, Daniel, former speaker Dimeji Bankole Fayose are as vicious as their other PDP young Turks from the north or elsewhere in the country. The point is that PDP is PDP, whether from the north, east or west. They all suffer from a common affliction-greed. If PDP has become a national malaise, its criticism where ever it is coming from will appear to me a patriotic act. And as for the president’s outstanding performance, I think it is not the duty of the press to give awards to institutions it is expected to keep on their toes as it has done with disastrous consequences in recent years. If the president has wares to sell, he has many paid through the public purse already doing that. They had an outstanding outing on May 29 when every minister that spoke praised the president for his outstanding performance. We saw then during the PDP family carnival that followed when professional praise-singers earnestly pleaded with the president not to abandon grateful Nigerians in 2015. Their outpour of emotion was only comparable to that of North Korean Generals who often weep publicly in show of support and love for their leader. Besides there is the president’s minister for information and the duo of highly competent and gifted, Abati, the author of ‘The president they don’t know’ and Okupe, who expressed preference for the nomenclature ‘attack lion’ as against ‘attack dog’ which his critics said he was during Obasanjo’s presidency. But perhaps what those who are complaining about fixation with PDP have failed to realise is that PDP apart from the military has been the most important institution in our society since independence. It has since 1999 defined our present and future. It has ruled for 14 years and has sworn to rule for the next 60 years. Only last week, the Political Adviser to the President, Ahmed Gulak demonstrated PDP’s desperation when he said “As long as the people who are gathered at the banquet hall of the presidential Villa are alive, we will not let governance slip out of our hand in our life time”. In pursuit of this dream, this is a party ready to exploit all the divisive issues in our polity, from ethnic differences, opposition political parties and even religion. Governor’s forum is polarized with government supporting losers of an election. A faction of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) is today seen as a spiritual arm of PDP. PDP has also been alleged to be sponsors of both the Niger Delta militants and North East Boko Haram insurgents. Government has integrated the leadership of the former with mouth-watering contracts while government is on the verge of granting amnesty to the later. Besides political intrigue, there are other reasons why closer attention must be paid to PDP. In the last 14 years, most of the items under the exclusive list have been abused. The federal government controls education, yet unlike the political parties of the first republic that built public schools, PDP government is under-funding public schools while its leading members are busy building private schools charging outrageous fees that drive our children to move in droves to neighbouring countries in search of university education. Insurance is on the exclusive list, the party sold NICON, a national asset to their member. Airline is on the list, leading members of the party became airline operators. Construction, alteration, and maintenance of federal roads, are on the exclusive list, budgets on roads were allegedly diverted to fighting elections, while the nation’s network of federal roads have collapsed. Railways is on the list, yet after Babangida’s fraudulent railway revolution, promoted more on the pages of newspapers, successive PDP administrations have been awarding contracts after contracts that are often derailed by members of the party because of greed. Monitoring of quality of local produce and imported goods are the responsibilities of the federal government, yet, substandard goods and fake drugs flood our markets. The federal government controls the police, the police not only remain poorly paid, ill-equipped and ill-motivated, their pensions funds were stolen by civil servants right inside the of the Head of Service in Abuja. Prison is on the exclusive list. That perhaps explains why it is relatively easy for Boko Haram insurgents to move around unchallenged, liberating prisoners in the North-east of the country. Annulment and dissolution of all marriages are the exclusive preserve of the federal government. Even if the president and his PDP escape the charges of being responsible for increase in the rate at which old marriages are collapsing, they cannot escape responsibility for the failure of our youths to get married. Marriage is perhaps the last thing in the mind of a jobless youth. These are serious issues to be addressed by President Jonathan who is instead seeking protection from his Ijaw ethnic nationality. But the president must know he is as much a captive of the Yoruba. Obasanjo imposed him. The Ijaws were nowhere to be found during the constitutional battle over the rights of Jonathan who himself went into hiding while the Yoruba fought to secure for him the position of Acting president. Besides, the Yoruba, except Ogbeni Aregbesola and his Osun people who probably consulted Ifa divination before the 2011 election massively voted for Jonathan. If no one else, the Yoruba owe the nation a duty of preventing the president from escaping with false claim of being the most criticized president in the world over socio-political and economic problems that predate his ascendancy. He must be reminded that in similar circumstances, Barack Obama, his counterpart in America who inherited a suffocating $16 trillion dollar external debt piled up on two senseless wars by his Republican predecessor, unprecedented level of unemployment, accepted criticism with philosophical calmness claiming he understood the frustration and anguish of the unemployed. He was humble enough to admit it was in fact because of those problems he was elected by American people. President Jonathan already has too many professional praise-singers massaging his ego. While they continue with their highly rewarding enterprise, critics of government must not be discouraged by name-calling. The press has contributed more to our national development and stability of our nation than any other institution. It survived the colonial masters and their draconian laws, as it did the military with its obnoxious laws and will survive PDP current attempt to exploit divisive issues of religion and ethnicity to undermine the integrity of its critics.

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