PDP: Rebranding With Olisa  Metuh


Muhammad Al-Ghazali




Last week, the erstwhile behemoth commonly referred to as the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) made a startling revelation: Nigerians were informed that a 53-member Committee had been set-up to rebrand the sordid image of the party and to refocus it into a more vibrant platform to successfully contest future elections in the country beginning with 2016.  

It was a startling admission of what millions of Nigerians already knew, which is that the PDP, in its current form, is incapable of winning any decent election anywhere in the country outside the Southeast and the South-South. The party no longer has the same national appeal it had between 1999 and 2011.

The major catalyst for the PDPs accelerated degeneration into the de-facto regional party it has become today occurred in 2010, when the party reneged on its own principle concerning the zoning of political offices at the national level. It became a fait-accompli when seven of its governors renounced their membership in 2013! The fact that two, of the seven PDP governors, later retraced their steps soon after for whatever reasons, did little to reverse the trend as the 2015 elections devastatingly proved.

Still, the PDP must be commended for one thing at least. The constitution of its Rebranding Committee suggests that the party is vividly aware that its image, as currently projected, has become hard-sale! Due largely to the incredible work of the opposition, led by the All Progressive Congress (APC), and the ‘presence’ of its candidate now President Muhammadu Buhari; the PDP was always destined to struggle for relevance and acceptability on the platforms of integrity, good governance, and the promise of a better tomorrow, especially among Nigerian’s who had become increasingly weary of its 16 years of misrule.

Those where the issues I expected the acting PDP Chairman Uche Secondus to address at the inauguration of its Rebranding Committee last week. After all, to “rebrand” suggests an inclination for the PDP to change its unpalatable public outlook, at least. And to do that should naturally call for some form of self-introspection or admission that all is not well with the party.

The next logical step should, ordinarily, have involved a synthesis of the totality of the critical things that are urgently required to correct the alarming defects in the party. You don’t rebrand in a vacuum. The sordid image of the PDP is itself a sad reflection of the rot inside the party beginning from Wadata House which is now a mere shell of its former self.

The situation clearly called for sober reflection on the part of the topmost hierarchy of the party, but what occurred last week at the inauguration of the rebranding Committee fell short of that. Rather than address the obvious facts of the party’s self-inflicted wounds and internal deficiencies, the PDP Acting National Chairman launched into a tirade against the new APC administration. He claimed that the move to ‘rebrand’ became necessary “as the events of the last six months of the APC administration indicate a palpable fear that the gains of democracy achieved by his party are seriously under threat.” And therein lay the contradiction in the exercise.

The notion that the PDP is rebranding merely to curtail APCs purported assault on the hard-won democracy the former nurtured in its 16 years of leadership at the center is blatant lie which will not wash with many discerning Nigerians. The illusion is also why the project will fail for as long the party remains inclined to mock reality.

If truth is required here; the PDP leadership should be among the first to admit that the party self-destructed in spectacular fashion when it enthroned a culture of arrogance and impunity in the conduct of its affairs nationwide. Such acts have already resulted in the reversal of the party’s illicit electoral gains across the country, with the latest incident reflected on the reasons the Taraba Electoral Tribunal upheld to overturn the victory of Darius Ishaku as the duly elected Governor of the state.

If truth must also be told; the PDP should first accept the fact that it made a fundamental erred in the appointment of Olisa Metuh to manage its media affairs from day one. From his ill-conceived utterances and poor reading of his terrain; no single individual has done as more to de-market the PDP than Metuh.

His uncultured reaction to the merger of the legacy parties which dissolved into the APC was one thing; when the party later released its manifesto, Metuh promptly dismissed it and claimed it reflected what he ignorantly referred to as “Janjaweed” ideology. It was a poorly timed attempt to dismiss the APC as a mainly northern and Muslim party.

If that seemed far-fetched, Metuh removed all doubts when he suggested that the leadership of the APC was in a hot romance with the leadership of the Boko Haram group. Sneering at the APCs promise to defeat Boko Haram which occupied several Local Governments at the time, Metuh, that the promise was “…tacit acknowledgment that the APC may be benefiting from the mayhem and knows more than meets the eyes about the spate of terror attacks in the country….when last year in its first official outing, the leaders of the APC said terrorism in Nigeria would disappear within 100 days of APC leadership, Nigerians did ask if they knew the characters in crime and their sponsors, APC gave silence as an answer while Nigerians kept wondering.”

How can a party with such monumental deficit in the knowledge of Nigerians effectively rebrand? How can it achieve the goal when it has not reformed its core values? How can it expect to be taken seriously with people like Metuh at the helm of affairs? A brand is the mere reflection of the inner workings of a product. It hardly tells the whole story!