At an event in Abuja on Wednesday, former Ogun state governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel declared his aspiration to contest for the chairmanship of the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
In his declaration speech, Daniel said he is offering himself to be party chairman because he believes that the problems facing the party “could be rectified through a careful deployment of resources, the willpower and ability to work through difficult situations, concession and compromises if need be, and ability to move all our people into one disciplined accord on all matters.”
Below are ten takeaways from the speech:
1. PDP was not voted out in 2015 for” want of performance”: In Daniel’s view, the 2015 loss was because the party “miscalculated on certain aspects of our politics; outside the management of the nation’s economic resources.” He said the party failed to ask some critical questions needed for planning. “Asking the right questions is what the new leadership of the PDP under my watch will focus on,” Daniel said.
2. A large number of people neither trusted nor wanted Pres. Buhari and a large number still neither trust or want him: “For instance, for every 4 persons that voted for President Muhammadu Buhari in the North, he got only 1 vote in the South. Muhammadu Buhari polled 12,374,890 votes from the North and only 3,050,031 from the South. In 2015, during the presidential election, Candidate Muhammadu Buhari received the least number of votes from the South Eastern region. He got less than 200,000 votes in an election that had a turn out of more than 2.7 Million people. That was a referendum.”
To Daniel, the various agitations for restructuring in different parts of the country and in isolated cases, of calls for secession were not about secession, “but a referendum on ‘leadership trust’. That is President’s leadership litmus test.”
3. The solution to a national problem cannot just be in fighting corruption; the solution is to first fight ‘national disunity”: This is a theory which Daniel firmly aligned with in his speech and which we expect a lot more PDP members to take in the buildup to 2019 if the country remains as divided as it is. He said the priority and fight of the winner of the 2015 poll ought to have been “national acceptance” before fighting “national corruption.” Daniel aligned himself with the conclusion of a research by Prof. Ricardo Hausman of the Harvard Kennedy School that “Fighting Corruption will not end Poverty”.
“His research showed that improving Government effectiveness played a significant role in fighting poverty, and that fighting corruption had an insignificant role in ending poverty,” Daniel said.
4. The difference between PDP and APC: He said: “The difference between the PDP and APC is in two words ‘Vision’ and ‘Mission’. The PDP has a ‘Vision’ for Nigeria, while the APC only has a ‘Mission'”
5. F9 for APC: Daniel gave APC an F9 for the economy, saying GDP grew by 91% under the PDP administration of Obasanjo and 24% under Yaradua and Jonathan, however since 2015 Nigeria is yet to have an appreciable 12 months of economic growth under the APC. He also gave APC an F9 on fighting corruption. “About two months ago, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Nigeria’s number 1 repository of facts and data, revealed that more than N402 Billion was paid as bribes within the last 12 months. What is N402 Billion? – It is more than the Federal Government’s capital budget for Defense, Education and Health combined together,” he said.
6. Transparency and internal democracy: Not a lot of people will associate the PDP now or previously with those values but Daniel said those were the guiding principles which defined the essence and character of the party. “Our party slogan ‘Power to the People’ was not just another political catchphrase but one that portrays our socio-democratic ideology that, beyond the distractions of public offices and class differences, the ultimate authority of governance does not rest in the hands of the rulers but the ruled; that the welfare and indeed wellbeing of Nigerian citizens, including that of our party members come first before that of any party or political office holders.
7. Nigeria needs PDP: “The fate of Nigeria seems intertwined with that of PDP, Nigeria needs us, the citizens are looking up to us, and we cannot afford to fail them. I am also proud to say that our Peoples Democratic Party was and still remains the greatest political party, not only in Nigeria, but in the entire continent of Africa. We were one big happy family, representing the greatest hopes and aspirations of most Nigerians.”
8. APC robs the PDP: “As at today, the APC has 44 senators from the North, but more than half have been PDP members. What do all these mean? The APC is picketing the PDP. It clearly shows that APC is not building leaders. The PDP built leaders and will continue to do that.”
9. A New PDP is Possible: “The new PDP leadership is going to fight Poverty like never before. The judiciary, legislative or several unhappy people are not our enemies. We have a common enemy in ‘failed promises’. A common enemy in ‘poverty’. A common enemy in ‘high interest and inflation rates; which by the way is not interesting.”
10. On restructuring: “Restructuring means different things to different people in Nigeria. To make it simple, I say we need to “Rethink Nigeria”. Rethinking Nigeria means our new PDP will focus on what works and less on what is failing. Added to that is what ought to work that is failing. In practical terms, we are already in a ‘State of emergency’ in Poverty. The APC blames the PDP without cross checking the facts; stopping the policeman from collecting bribe is a good achievement, but does that improve his policing skills?”