PDP’s Automatic Tickets for NASS Members: Looking at the two Sides of a Coin —by Kelvin Obambon

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L-R: Senators Gershom Bassey, John Owan-Enoh and Rose Oko
13 September 2018 
The People’s Democratic Party, PDP, last week, announced it’s giving automatic tickets to incumbent members of the National Assembly who belong to the party.
The announcement was quickly received with mixed feelings across the nation, as there were pockets of protest and counter protest in some states.
Ever since news of the automatic tickets for incumbent members of the National Assembly broke out, there have been pool of opinions and analyses to underpin the rationale behind such a pre-emptive strike coming from a party that was once seen as the owner of political power in Nigeria. Many political pundits have come up with various theories to explain what is now appearing to be a paradigm shift in Nigeria’s political process.
Looking at both sides of the automatic ticket brouhaha from my own point of view, I kinda liken it to a man embarking on suicide mission to save planet earth from imminent annihilation. Yea. It sounds like one of those scenes in Hollywood’s sci-fiction movies, innit? Unlike those movies, politics in Nigeria is a big game where you gamble with monstrous odds, pulling all the stunts you could, not just in the surreal, but in reality. Should you miss your card, the hangman’s noose is an inch away from your head!
Okay. On the automatic ticket jamboree, lets beam the light on Sir Herbert Maculey’s side of the coin as it keeps spinning toward the ground. As you and I know it better, politics in Nigeria is about survival of the actors(politicians) and their costumes(parties). To ensure this, they can throw up any weapon, gimmick and strategy in a bid to outsmart opponents.
For being out of power for three horrible years, especially for a party that was born with power, could be as uncomfortable as a fish ashore, gasping desperately for survival water. What the PDP is aiming at with automatic tickets for NASS members is to weaken APC’s defence line and create a buffer zone for itself ahead of 2019 general elections. While the ruling party looks toward the elite class, the PDP is all going for the grassroot- the masses. And in democracy the grassroot comes directly under the influence of the National Assembly. The executive is not favourably dispose to people at the grassroot. Even though there are ministers from across all divides, they lack the natural connection a senator or a house of representative member has with the communes. In other words, a parliamentarian is more of a grassrooter than a federal minister. Also, a federal legislator commands more followership than a minister or any other federal government appointee. The bond between NASS members and their constituents is like that of a mother and a child- it’s pretty difficult to break no matter how poor the lawmaker may perform.
Again, members of the National Assembly are even more closer to the engine room of government(the civil service), through their stooges whom they supplant by recommendations for employment while chairing and serving as members of several committees for MDAs in their oversight duties.
Another plus here is financial capacity. The PDP may have envisioned 2019 elections to be something more of the highest bidder, after the experience in Ekiti governorship election.
While Comrade Adams Oshomole-led APC’s effort at deepening internal democracy by opting for direct primaries would see many APC federal lawmakers flung out centrifugally, leaving them with no choice than to eat the humble pie and embrace the survival straw the PDP extends to them. When more and more APC lawmakers who may fall victim to the direct primary inclination that is already brewing crisis in the party defect to the PDP, the balance of power in the NASS would certainly be affected and the PDP may assume obvious majority, thereby consolidating its hold on the grassroot, where the majority votes usually come from in presidential elections. PDP strategically deploys this move to ultimately seize the most exalted office in the land- the presidency.

Kelvin Obambon is a guest blogger with NegroidHaven