Why PDP shifts focus to SouthWest
THE meeting of the Peoples Democratic Party Governor’s Forum (PDPGF), which was held in Lagos on Tuesday, has again reinforced the importance of the South West geo-political zone in the strategic plan of the ruling party to win the March 28 presidential elections.
In the last three weeks, the PDP and its flag bearer, President Goodluck Jonathan, seemed to have woken up to a new realisation of the importance of the South West to winning the elections, with the president visiting traditional rulers and his zonal anchorman, governor Olusegun Mimiko, seeking the support of various political groups using the yet-to-be-implemented National Conference recommendations as instrument.
The fact that the meeting, for the first time, was held in a non-PDP-controlled state and at Eko Hotels, a facility owned by the opposition Lagos State government, also showed that the governors and by extension, the PDP powerhouse, were determined to take the fight to the doorstep of the adversary.
All these and the issues bordering on the forthcoming polls, especially the state of preparedness of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the candidature of the main challenger, Major-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) and his All Progressives Party (APC) platform dominating the agenda of the meeting, portrayed the PDP as an apprehensive party.
Indeed, PDP has every reason to be jittery about the 2015 general elections. For the first time since the commencement of the current democratic dispensation, the ruling party is facing an opposition that had the spread, the base and the muscle to wrest power from it.
The APC challenge and the stiff resistance of the PDP, which the Lagos meeting forcefully highlighted more than before, has heightened tensions among Nigerians making the coming elections the first of its kind in terms of the amount of heat it has generated in the polity.
Apart from attempting to set an electoral agenda for the Nigerian people, which, of course, would be favourable to the PDP, the governors expressed fears about the elections and fell short of passing a vote of no confidence on the leadership of INEC under Prof. Attahiru Jega whom they accused of being economical with the truth about the state of preparedness of the electoral body.
Coming a day after Imo State’s APC Governor, Rochas Okorocha, announced that seven PDP governors were already holding meetings with the opposition and that they were going to jump ship before the elections, the meeting provided the opportunity for the PDP governors to debunk the allegations.
Niger State Governor, Babangida Aliyu who was speculated to be among the governors planning to leave the PDP, told a gathering of journalists and representatives of civil organisations who took part in an interactive session that followed the meeting that there was no reason for any governor to leave the party.
He said: “I woke up this morning to read about one of the lies of the APC where one of the governors of the party, Rochas Okorocha said that seven governors of the PDP are on their way to negotiating to join the APC but many of you who know about the history of the G7 governors understand what happened.
“The effort of the G7 governors was to correct the anomalies and problems in the procedure of the PDP. We are not there to destroy the party, but we understand that some of us have their ambitions and were looking for reasons to leave but those of us who were genuinely fighting for the correction of the anomalies stayed and I don’t see any reason we should leave now since we have been able to win the battle.”
The position was strengthened by the Jigawa State governor, Sule Lamido, who described himself as “the last man standing” among the initial founders of the PDP.
According to Lamido, APC is not an alternative to Nigerians and not an alternative to any politicians particularly those in the PDP.
He said: “In the APC, if you remove two of their leaders, the party would perish. But PDP belongs to us as Nigerians while APC is a party of those who believe in propaganda. Remove all of us here from the PDP; the party would continue to wax stronger and stronger because it belongs to the Nigerian people. Nigerians should wake up and see the face of deceit of the APC.”
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