Friday, 30 March 2012

Nigeria: PDP Convention highlights lack of internal democracy

The ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) held a national convention to elect members of its national executive on 24 March. As expected – following the much talked-about horse-trading that saw President Goodluck Jonathan's apparent favourite, Bamanga Tukur, emerge as a 'consensus' candidate – Tukur was “elected" unopposed as the party's National Chairman.

In a bid to avoid legal wrangling that could arise out of merely “crowning” Tukur as the National Chairman, the PDP decided to put Tukur's chairmanship to a ballot. Delegates were asked to indicate either “Yes” or “No” beside Tukur's name in order to endorse him as the head of the party. Even though Tukur was the only candidate on the ballot paper, some members remained resolutely defiant, registering their displeasure by voting “No” beside Tukur's name. Of the 3,248 delegates who registered for the vote, 3185 voted “Yes” for Tukur, 12 voted “No” and 51 votes were invalid.

Intrigue at the convention was not limited to the election of the National Chairman. Several other positions were the focus of similar horse-trading and political wrangling. Ebenezer Babatope – a visibly upset candidate for the position of National Secretary (some say he was actually on the brink of tears) – gave an angry speech about being “forced” to step down so that former Governor of Osun State Olagunsoye Oyinlola could emerge as the National Secretary. Oyinlola was a late entrant into the race for the position, and sources say his emergence was the result of a trade between the State Governors and the Presidency, with the latter accepting Oyinlola in return for gubernatorial support for Tukur as National Chariman.

Others affected by similar political wrangling include National Publicity Secretary Uche Secondus, who was given up in favour of Olisa Metuh. National Auditor Remi Adikuwu-Bakare also claims that she was asked to stand down in favour of Bode Mustapha and complains that the party is marginalising women. In the aftermath of the convention, common criticism has pointed to the lack of internal democracy within the PDP, with some criticising the party and President Jonathan (who is regarded as the party's national leader) for not practising what it preaches. Other critical observers allege that the lack of internal party democracy is cause and effect of a wider failure to democratise Nigeria.

For more news and expert analysis about Nigeria, please see Nigeria Focus and Nigeria Politics & Security.

© 2012 Menas Associates

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