By Segun Showunmi
Without mincing words, the election management manual of the Peoples Democratic Party of (South-West)Nigeria is broken, and must be entirely rewritten with a reviewed philosophy, attitude and grit!
For sometime now, I have wondered a lot as to why it seems the party cannot win the trust of the electorate, notwithstanding the embarrassingly poor performance of the ruling All Progressives Congress.
From the 2019 elections, right down to the stand-alone elections, there have been pointers to the fact that the PDP cannot win on Election Day what excessive gyrations on social media ignorantly make them believe.
I have tried to take a more in-depth look at the issues. I honestly do not buy the idea that the election umpire is the problem. The rules are the same for all parties; this is without prejudice to my firm opinion that we must continually improve the election process in such a way that it gets easier, cheaper and less dramatic, logistics-wise.
Beyond the childish rant of “we were rigged”, the truth is “we no longer know how to win” might be a proper eureka to admit to ourselves.
The following areas may need more than a passing attention, but the list is by no means exhaustive.
1. Party Register.
Who are the signed-up members of PDP? To answer this question, we need to look at the quality and integrity of the membership register. Right now, what we have is an embarrassing joke; a proper biometric sensitive register is now overdue. Itwill help us to know our members and the planning can start from there as a first step.
What exactly is our message to the people, and what is the believability quotient of what we are saying?
3. Campaign Management Structure
I have agonised much on the silliness of our show-up on the days of rallies where we say nothing meaningful at significant cost and call that a campaign. It is so useless that we need to snap out of this nonsense. We spend FaceTime resources on prime time television at a colossal cost to say absolute rubbish, screaming PDP, power to the people, Buhari this, Buhari that, Bola Tinubu this. We must be told in clear terms, and I am saying it to us openly, this approach is kindergarten stuff.
There is no overemphasising the point that elections are residual decision-making events, and without adequate research, it’s like a medical doctor not doing a proper diagnosis before commencing treatment. Nothing can be more dangerous than that to the patient, and in this case, nothing can be more self-deceiving.
5. Temporary Loyalty Purchase
The patent of this phrase belongs to my friend, Toks Modupe of Tpt. Money that goes into the day of the vote activities. How do we determine what is decent and how do we ensure we don’t scamper about on this score? Clearly, while we should be at the forefront of a massive campaign advocacy against vote-buying, we must prepare adequate logistics and determine how to deploy and who to deploy to.
This business of so-called party leaders stealing campaign money is not only unfortunate, it is disgraceful. If we had a proper party register, we could, via electronic transfer, give whatever to party loyalists to help with their logistics.
6. Party Agents
Can we honestly say we train our agents well enough to know why they are there on the field and what their duties and responsibilities are? Surely we joke about it too much, if our idea of election management is to hurriedly put together a list a few days to the polls, throw our hands in the air pretending to train our so-called agents. How brilliant does that even sound to us? Well, it is the way of a dullard not to prepare on time for an examination.
7. Our Candidates
Indeed, what do we ought to look out for in picking candidates to fly our flags? Shall the electorate not compare and make informed choices?
Those who manage our party at the national level need to ask themselves one question: what have you been up and doing relative to the responsibility of an opposition party in an environment like ours?
Our NWC has been reduced to a gang of tax-collectors who cause more problems that they solve. You only need to look through our state chapters, and you will see clearly that they have overstayed their shelf life and go they must.
How do you explain the enunciations, monotonous, uninspiring press releases we call opposition work? Or is it the fiefdom of those who have been in NWC since 2003 that does not offend? Truly, they have stayed too long for any good they can do. We need fresh ideas.
9. In-Party Fightings
Granted, all human engagements are prone to challenges. One must say firmly and clearly that ours is a bit too much, and oftentimes, you see PDP-made individuals throwing tantrums like juvenile delinquents that you sometimes wonder what sane people fight over. Oyo, the only place we managed to win via a joint venture and collaboration of other parties, is not spared; need I say Ekiti, where an infantile ex-governor plays the spoiler because of his excessively garrulous ways. Is it Ogun where protracted crisis still persists till today with nothing more than six groups notwithstanding the death of Kashamu? Everywhere you look, you see the tax collecting tendencies that Wike talks about at play.
10 Leadership Culture
We have built a fairly well accepted principle and culture where a sitting President of our party is leader of the party nationally and a sitting Governor of our party is leader at the state ditto A local government Chiarman of our party being the leader in the local government. This tradition has served us well and has also been copied by our rival the APC, it is strange that while we have just one Governor in the southwest in person of Gov Seyi Makinde who in my opinion is well received across the country akin to a sort of brand champion for our party we have now found ourselves in an awkward situation where the leadership of our party at the National are allowing elements within the party to injure our collective brand under some contrived leadership struggle that our over 20years tradition has settled.
We cannot defeat the APC in an election until we fix our house. It is tiresome for those of us that have never left this party since it was founded, but certainly, I, like so many others, will not feed a dead child.
Right now, the child is ill, I will fast and pray, but once we don’t reform, certainly, it will be appropriate to move on. We have not been rejected by the people, no. We have simply refused to improve on all fronts. A stitch in time saves Nine, the wise English saying goes.