by Smith Kemmer
The news of the defection of my friend Moses Siloko Siasia from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to a yet to be announced political party broke my heart for many reasons. Moses, like the Biblical account of the deliverer of God’s people from Egyptian bondage, inspired freshness in the politics of Bayelsa State, and indeed Nigeria, and I was eager to see how he would play the party politics within the PDP and emerge as its flagbearer. That came to a crashing halt when I stumbled on an online news report on Vanguard Newspaper announcing his defection from the PDP.
In the brief report, the youngest guber hopeful of Bayelsa State castigated the PDP for excluding him and young people in the affairs of the party, alleging that the party was ‘not ready to change its old ways of imposition, godfatherism and gangsterism’. As valid as these allegations would appear, they fall flat on their faces for want of substance.
Let me begin by saying, I’m a great advocate for youth inclusion in politics and government. I also agree with him that after the party’s loss at the last general elections, it was necessary to inject fresh minds into it to regenerate it based on what he termed as its rejection by Nigerians.
Where I differ from my friend Moses is on his allegation that the PDP excludes young people from its affairs. Moses, who affirmed that he had supported the PDP federal governments of the late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and that of Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, cannot deny that he was given the opportunity to participate and benefit from the politics and governments of the PDP due to its favourable youth policy. My dear friend and brother, Moses, can also not deny that those governments remarkably enhanced his capacity as an individual and a businessperson.
That today he is being referred to as ‘the 35 year old chairman of multi-billion naira empire,’ couldn’t have been but for the liberality and inclusivity within the PDP that he benefited from. To deny this would mean that he enjoyed preferential treatment from the PDP governments, which makes the matter worse. If that is the case, on what basis is he promoting the change mantra if he himself benefited from the same system he queries today? If he claims not to have had preferential treatment from the PDP governments, then it can be reasoned that the PDP must be commended for remarkably transforming and enhancing the life of a Nigerian youth like him through its favourable youth policy, given that the party was evidently instrumental to his joining the billionaires club. It therefore follows, that either way, my friend Moses, himself, cannot validly establish a case against the PDP, a party he has many reasons to be thankful to.
His attack of the PDP is unnecessary. The relevance of party politics cannot be relegated to the background and the rules of engagement are as stipulated by the party. Moses knows, or ought to reasonably know, that just as the PDP has a youth friendly policy that he benefited from, it also has the policy of reserving the right of first refusal to its incumbent governors vying for office as obtains in advanced democracies.
The incumbent governor of Bayelsa State has effectively sustained the party machinery for years. He is the longest serving PDP governor in Nigeria. He has stood firm for, by and with Dr. Jonathan to his last days in office. He has performed in office. He has accepted to rerun for office. What would then be the reason the PDP would deny him his right of first refusal? Is that why the party should be blackmailed?
My brother Moses needs to know that an attack by him of the PDP is an attack on all who identify with the party and particularly, the statesmanship that Dr. Jonathan demonstrated in conceding to President Buhari after the last general elections. It is that party and its values that have been brought to the crucible by my friend Moses. He may not yet comprehend that an attack on the PDP is an attack on Dr. Jonathan and it is important to remind him that that is the authentic reality. The PDP as a party changed when Dr. Jonathan conceded to Buhari and the shockwaves of that decision are still reverberating around the world.
If the PDP is acquiescent to a Dickson ticket, just as the Democratic Party of the United States in 2012 was to a Barack Obama ticket it is more productive and honourable for Moses to collapse his structure to support the party than to fight it. There’s too much at stake for the Niger Delta currently that Moses can sacrifice for today.
I am not a professor of politics but I know by my reading of the politics that with the diverse and divergent efforts to wrestle power from the incumbent governor by the many competing forces especially by those with pro-northern rather than national interests, it is easier for him to take a slim lead given his reach and the electoral value of his associates in government.
Moses’ defection, while being his right, inalienable and guaranteed, is a needless attrition of the fortunes of young politicians often misunderstood and accused of vaunting ambitions even when they may pursue genuine causes. It is also a direct affront and an attempt to humiliate President Jonathan in his home State of Bayelsa. How my friend’s action would pan out to sustain the legacy of Dr. Jonathan or enhance the fortunes of young politicians in the future is unfathomable. He needs to give this thing another thought.
Smith Pereowei Kemmer writes from Brass, Bayelsa State.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.