In a season of political knives and daggers where the war is raging and fierce, it is difficult to know whether there is anything that is not fair or whether there is anything that would be interpreted as going too far.
Those in the political boxing ring know these only too well. They know that in politics, especially in Nigerian politics, the only thing that matters at the end of the day is victory no matter how ugly. Many of them would not even care if the victory is only pyrrhic.
With the 2023 general elections well and truly a hair`s breadth away, Nigerians are again seeing all the intrigues they have become accustomed to during elections some of which have unfortunately marked the Nigerian political narrative as one that is dirty.
In 2015 after sixteen years during which it had claimed the status of Africa`s largest political party and boasted that it was in power to stay for at least sixty uninterrupted years, the Peoples Democratic Party ran into a brickwall erected both by the then opposition All Progressives Congress and the sheer will of the Nigerian people. Unexpectedly, the party slumped to a historic defeat marking the first time an incumbent had lost elections at that level in Nigeria, and marking a milestone in Nigeria`s democracy which at sixteen years was still very young.
The PDP may not have expected its defeat. Many Nigerians may not have predicted it either. But it was a defeat dished by Nigerians themselves who were desperate for a change having watched the country lurch from darkness to darkness under a party that was big on propaganda but small on effective policies.
As the PDP stuttered and ran out of breath with the finish line in sight, the All Progressives Congress coasted to victory. In spite of its outlandish propaganda and outrageous attempts to whitewash Muhammadu Buhari, its then candidate, Nigerians knew that the party had little to offer. But Nigerians still preferred change of any kind to what was in place then. That message was clearly sent when the votes were counted.
With the PDP suddenly finding itself in the role of the opposition with the tables and tide firmly turned against it, its struggle to play the role of a fitting opposition has been painful to watch.
The PDP`s struggles in this wise have been brutally highlighted by the sheer ineptitude and incompetence of the APC-led administration. Because in over seven years the APC-led government in Nigeria has been such a catastrophic failure, a yawning gap has emerged which needed filling by a vigorous opposition. Alas, Africa`s largest opposition party has been nowhere to be found.
Whirlwind politics and the tale of the Wendigo
At the primary elections that threw up Atiku Abubakar as the presidential candidate of the PDP in May, intrigue followed intrigue as surely as wads of foreign currencies followed wads of foreign currencies for the delegates. Initially, when Atiku won as many expected him to, his main opponents at the primaries, one of which was Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike, offered their congratulations. It would seem that it was a bit premature.
With the slot of the Vice President having bypassed him, the Rivers Governor has thrown up an almighty tantrum which culminated in the decision of the governor and his loyalists to pull out of the party`s presidential campaign which is due to start by the end of the month.
For all his loquacity and eccentricities he remains one of the party`s major financiers in Nigeria. Of course, that he has the oil wealth of Rivers State to dip into helps his seemingly bottomless pockets.
Now, shortly before critical national elections slated for next year, the PDP has a Wike-size problem to solve. If he was isolated, he would not have been such a problem. But he has succeeded in bringing some of the party`s loyalists to hop into his boat and together they are threatening to severely affect the chances of the party at the general elections next year.
If politics was not so complicated, it would have been a simple case of asking the party to kowtow to Wike and accede to his demands to improve its chances at next year`s elections. But given what is known of him, those demands must be exorbitant, and because politics is a game of interest, there are many within the party who may not be willing to so readily give up their positions to give in to his demands, and would not be so easy to push out of the way.
It is indeed and awkward moment for the PDP. In 2015, it was a strong united showing from the APC that swatted the PDP off its lofty perch. Today, with a similar show of strength needed to dislodge the ruling APC that has proven to be such a disastrous failure, the PDP is instead cascading into disarray.
Of course, it is propitious and even providential that unlike in previous elections in Nigeria which traditionally had two leading candidates, Nigerians now have a viable option in the Labour Party and especially in Peter Obi who many argue has more to offer than the candidates of the PDP and the APC put together.
However, for the PDP, it remains a shame that the friction threatening to fracture it irreparably is being generated by ferrets and foxes from within the party who may well be working with opposition parties. What a story it is proving to be.