By Ibraheem Abdullateef

Over the weekend, Chairmen of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Ora ward, Ifelodun Local Government Saheed Adebisi Adeyemi and Balogun Gambari ward 1, Ilorin East Local Government Lateef Aremu dumped the party to join the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kwara. Adeyemi and Aremu join the long list of longstanding members of the opposition party who have crosscarpeted to the ruling party in less than a year. It included former lawmakers, ranking party leaders, and party flagbearers in the last general elections. While speaking to the press, Adeyemi, like thousands of others before him, said he was inspired to defect by the leadership style of Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq and the emerging growth and development of the state. Meanwhile, these were the reasons PDP said it was rebuilding its party to reclaim and rescue the state.

Since the inauguration of some new executive members supposedly to redeem and strengthen the party in October 2023, no single major stakeholder has joined up from another party. Also, the party has not been able to hold a retreat which it planned to address some of the intra-party issues affecting it, or harmonise the structures under its hotly divided house. The party is much worse than it was a year ago. Without direction, focus, and sincerity, it continues to bleed and it looks like it would get even worse in the coming days.

PDP’s spokesperson Olusegun Olusola Adewara’s frustration is telling. Tired of having to defend the constant defection of top members of his party to ruling party under the leadership of Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, he would just ram into their integrity and worth as politicians in a bid to conceal the effect of their apparent loss. He would query, “ask if had won his ward for PDP?” Or some other times he might also bluff thus: “These N50k decampee have no impact on our party.” The list of these half-hearted defence is long, and the more the funnier. But of much importance is how this signposts the party’s disrespectful culture of communication, belief, and disregard for people — even as it makes a claim to rebirth.

PDP considers members of their party as hangers-on (of you know who) and do not see any Kwaran less. This eerie belief must be central to the capricious way its leadership reportedly treated the people for many years. Out of power and without money to shove in their faces, it is unable to understand their quest for respect and freedom, and goes to slap them with more demeaning labels like it does with saying they are hunting for food or have been no-goods for its success. We have seen it over and over again. Yet, none of the people attempts have been made to have their worth run down has proven less valuable in their space as much as the PDP has been worthless in the last two elections. It goes to show that the more people leave the party the weaker it gets after all — and the truth is they are the real deal, not hangers–on. Seeing how they are less valued in and dismissed on their way out of the party, this might have also triggered more and more people to find solace in the waiting hands of the APC and assert themselves as stakeholders, leaders, people — something more than numbers.

With an unchanged mode of communication, party belief system, and culture of politics, talks about redemption have been mere slogan and will remain vague. In reality, PDP winks in the dark, and the ruling All Progressives Congress is the one rebuilding and strengthening its base. Not only has it been gaining PDP’s followers, it gets from other parties too. Run by a dynamic leadership, it continues to explore collaborations for its current and future governance agenda, boosted by the performance and goodwill of its elected representatives at the state and federal levels.

The credits for how APC emerged from crisis in the run-up to the 2023 elections can rightly be shared by everyone who stood by the party and its core belief in politics of inclusion and rounded development for all. In the same vein, there is a message in how temperate analysts and bookmakers who would not give him a chance in early 2021 have come to see AbdulRazaq back in office for second term with more clout and national prominence as Kwara Governor and Chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF). He came out of the disagreement between him and his former allies unscathed, shored up his political base, and decimated the ranks of the major opposition with efficient political strategies and outstanding performance as a first term governor. With many strides under his belt now and several infrastructural projects lined up for commissioning in the coming months, the performance of Kwara State Governor would again be central to future political decisions in favour of the APC in the state. Week in week out, this is what PDP hopes to water down with either misinformation or clear denial, to no success.

Let’s take the list together now: Education? Check. Potable Water? Check. Health? Check. Youth and women engagement? Check. IGR and economy? Check. Social investment? Check. So white as snow and pure like velvet is the truth that Kwara has made significant improvement on all the above development indices and now ranks up there as one of the top well-governed states in Nigeria. Another valid truth is that this is to the misfortune of the opposition PDP which has had more job of saving itself rather than having to “rescue” the people as a result, and may now be well on its way to dustbin of politics in Kwara in the next three years.

Abdullateef is Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Communications