The October 6th and 7th, 2018, Presidential primaries of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), will remain a reference material for the definition and explanation of the importance of internal democracy in any democratic society. For democracy to thrive and be sustained, political parties must internalise internal democracy. The PDP 2018 presidential primaries demonstrated the principle of internal democracy. All rational minds, Nigerians and non-Nigerians commended the peaceful and transparent conduct of the presidential primaries.
The choice of Atiku Abubakar by the delegates explains the political consciousness of Nigerians. Nigerians are politically informed and they have always demonstrated their knowledge and tendencies for participant political culture whenever the electoral system is responsible and transparent. In addition, the election of Atiku as the presidential candidate of the PDP is a reward for his continuous struggle for the enthronement of democracy in Nigeria and his consistent stand on internal democracy.
The leadership of PDP deserves commendation and the conduct of the delegates deserves special appreciation for making Nigerians proud. Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State and the electoral committee have again proved to the world that Nigerians are capable of conducting free and fair election. The delegates in their conduct and choice have equally assisted in the affirmation of the ability of Nigerians to make a peaceful choice in any electoral contest. The PDP 2018 Presidential Primaries is a lesson for the Independent Electoral Commission of Nigeria (INEC) and an encouragement for the Nigerian electorates.
While the choice of Atiku Abubakar is a reward for his contributions to the internalisation of internal democracy in political parties and the enthronement of democracy in Nigeria, it is equally a challenge to him and a high expectation that his election would guarantee internal democracy and sustainable democracy in Nigeria.
Human nature and societies are usually confronted with different problems. Nigeria expectedly has its numerous socio-economic and political problems, but the basic problems of Nigeria can be solved, all that is required as a foundation to tackle the numerous problems of Nigeria is good leadership. The choice of Atiku as the PDP presidential candidate is the recognition of the requirement of good leadership as a foundation to address the numerous socio-economic and political problems of Nigeria.
Atiku Abubakar has credentials that objectively classify him as a social democrat. His strong political association and loyalty to the political philosophy of late Shehu Yar’Adua testifies to his sincerity with re-structuring and devolution of political powers. Shehu Yar’Adua’s 1976 Local Government Reforms remain a fundamental recognition of the importance of re-structuring and devolution of powers.
The leadership qualities and the political philosophy of Atiku will predictably reward the PDP internal democracy that led to his choice of PDP presidential candidate. The internal democracy of PDP and any other political party will be sustained by the focus of Atiku to consolidate democracy in Nigeria. Atiku’s re-structuring is a guarantee and it will be anchored on true democratisation of Nigeria.
Atiku’s leadership and true democracy in Nigeria is the foundational requirement to address and solve the basic and numerous socio-economic and political problems of Nigeria. Democracy is a resilient guide for sustainable development and its consequence is the Rule of Law. The Rule of Law has inherent capacity to prevent, minimise and fight corruption.
The PDP presidential primary has demonstrated internal democracy because a nation cannot be said to be democratic without the internalisation of internal democracy by political parties. It is impossible and it should not be expected that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) would promote democracy in Nigeria. A political party that cannot conduct free and fair party congresses and primaries has no capacity or willingness to promote democracy in the country.
PDP’s choice of Atiku is a choice of internal democracy and the choice of democracy in Nigeria. It demonstrates the eagerness of Nigerians to choose democracy in 2019 presidential and other elections. I believe Atiku will pursue the enthronement of democracy in Nigeria and this will be a solid path to sustainable development and the rule of law. All modern nations situate their policies to solve problems and pursue development on democracy and the rule of law. This is what the choice of Atiku by the PDP represents.
Conclusively, I believe INEC and the security agencies in Nigeria have many lessons to learn from the 2018 PDP presidential primaries. I also believe INEC can conduct free and fair elections if devoid of partisanship. The leadership should show to Nigerians that they are as competent (if not more competent) as the governor of Delta State, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa-led electoral team. Also, the security agencies must demonstrate professionalism and provide security for Nigerians to peacefully elect the president of their choice come 2019.
Osifo writes from Department of Political Science and Public Administration, Igbinedion University, Okada.