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For PDP, a silver lining on the horizon – Part 2

By Tunde Olusunle 
29 June 2022   |   4:04 am
Conversely, for over seven years now, the APC has run without a Board of Trustees, (BOT), as provided for in its operating manual. For nearly two years after the ouster of the Adams Oshiomhole national leadership ...

A front view of Nigeria’s opposition party (Peoples Democratic Party) is seen at the Central Area, Abuja before its National Convetion in Abuja, Nigeria. (Photo by Kola Sulaimon / AFP)

Conversely, for over seven years now, the APC has run without a Board of Trustees, (BOT), as provided for in its operating manual. For nearly two years after the ouster of the Adams Oshiomhole national leadership of the party in 2020, the APC was run by a caretaker chairman, Mai Mala Buni, governor of Yobe State. Within the period, the party was administered like a parastatal of the State House, with press statements and rebuttals on behalf of the party, emanating from The Presidency. In its apparent unpreparedness, the APC kept rescheduling the dates of its national convention and the presidential primary, respectively, ever looking over its shoulders for inspiration from the PDP. 

At every turn, the APC has privileged the PDP with appropriate “cooking oil” with which to make tasty barbecue, of its brazen ineptitude and incapacity. Unfortunately, the PDP has always balked when it should have grabbed such opportunities, freely dropped on its laps. The PDP has repeatedly allowed the APC to get away with virtual blue murder. It has not held up the barometer of grinding interrogation, against its principal opponent. Where is good governance, for instance, when the president himself is in perpetual motion hovering between hospital beds and foreign engagements? Many of such external engagements can be delegated to other officials of state. With notable figures like the president himself, and party leaders like Olusegun Osoba, Abdul Yari and so on, preferring medical facilities in Europe and America, who will fix our degenerate healthcare system? 

Who is in-charge when criminal novelties like yet-to-be tamed “unknown gunmen,” kidnappers, cannibals, ritualists and bandits among others, ride roughshod across the land? Who is in-charge of an economy where bales of currency notes, are barely able to guarantee a plastic bag of household items from the market? Who should query the central bank governor when he abdicates his responsibility and sets up shop to vie for the nation’s presidency? Who should Nigerians hold responsible where the nation’s electricity grid has broken down almost irreparably for the fifth time within the first six months of the year? Who should we ask when the exchange rate of the naira to the United States Dollar, (USD), is a mind-boggling N610 to One USD? Who will explain to us why the cost of the poor man’s kerosene has leapfrogged the price of diesel, which has crossed well over N800 per litre? 

Who is asking questions when the president predominantly populates important government positions and offices with his kinsmen and members of his faith? Who demands answers to the neo-colonisation and subtle subjugation we have allowed to blossom under the incumbent administration? Who is investigating the recent purchase of Toyota landcruiser jeeps for Niger Republic, at the cost of N1.2 billion? Each public university whose teachers have been on strike for two months now, needs just about N1 billion, to offset their immediate needs. 

The PDP must move beyond its stereotypical, predictably boring and toothless press releases in response to issues and developments. It must proceed outfield, and not ever remain in the dressing room, to robustly engage with the ruling party, in the marketplace of issues and ideas. A party in opposition must not, and cannot adopt a ‘siddon look’ approach, when its head is practically being shaven in its absence, to borrow from the repertoire of the immutable Moshood Kasimawo Olawale, (MKO) Abiola. 

Irrespective of the poor showing of the PDP in the just concluded Ekiti State gubernatorial election, a number of recent developments seem to inspire a degree of optimism in party faithful and Nigerians. People have this deep-seated positive outlook, about the capacity of the PDP to reinvent itself. Something points in the direction of a party that can bolster its resources as rugged opposition, and real contender for Aso Rock, ahead of May 29, 2023.

Principal amongst these is the fact that the PDP controls 13 states in the country. The figure was higher before the installation of Hope Uzodinma of the APC as governor of Imo State, in place of an Emeka Ihedioha-led PDP government in the state, ostensibly by a Supreme Court ruling. Three erstwhile PDP governors, Bello Matawalle of Zamfara; Dave Umahi of Ebonyi, and Ben Ayade of Cross River, defected at various times from the PDP, to the APC. But for these developments, the PDP had narrowed the pre-2019 difference between it and APC, to an almost par 17 states vs 18, the 36th state being the All Peoples’ Grand Alliance, (APGA) ruled Anambra. The PDP, therefore is battle-tested and can put up a good fight. 

The recent elections in the six area councils of the federal capital territory, (FCT), posted results suggesting an even contest between the PDP and the APC. Both parties won three area councils apiece. Instructively, the PDP edged out the APC, in the Abuja Municipal Area Council, (AMAC), host of the federal bureaucracy, including the presidency. PDP is in court, challenging the results of the election in at least one area council, with credible evidence, which may yet tilt the scales in favour of the party.

Equally noteworthy is the quality of contenders for the presidential ticket at the last primary. True, the old war horse and veteran of many debacles, Atiku Abubakar, Nigeria’s former vice president triumphed at the primary. The aggregate depth of human political capital which contested at that presidential primary, gives a hint about a party capable of rebound and resurgence. Notable national figures like Bukola Saraki, former governor and senate president respectively and Anyim Pius Anyim, also a former president of the upper parliament and secretary to the government of the federation, (SGF), contested the presidential ticket.

Nyesom Wike, of Rivers State who was once a minister; Udom Emmanuel, governor of Akwa Ibom State and his Bauchi State counterpart, Bala Mohammed, also demonstrated interest in flying the presidential flag of the PDP. Despite Atiku’s victory at the primary, these PDP greats have variously restated their commitment to the broad vision and pursuit of the PDP, in the run up to the 2023 general polls. Individually and collectively, they have capacity to add value and fresh vistas to the rediscovery of the PDP. 

On the sidelines of the APC presidential primary, there was a remarkable development from the north western state of Kebbi, which has potential to buoy the fortunes of the PDP, in the coming weeks and months. Senate majority leader, Yahaya Abdullahi and his counterpart from the same state who is also a ranking senator, Adamu Aliero, both decamped to the PDP. Both senators representing Kebbi North and Kebbi Central respectively, cited lack of internal democracy, “incompetence, imposition and the violation of democratic norms, principles and practices,” in the running of the APC, as reasons for defecting. That such high profile political figures could defect to the PDP at a time like this, presupposes their belief in the mechanisms and operations of the prime opposition party. 

Nigerians eagerly anticipate the redoubtable resurgence of the PDP, to provide desired alternative to the stifling, suffocating rulership of the APC, as witnessed these seven long years. Many have dubbed Nigeria’s pitiable experiences a modern day regime of “King Pharaoh.” The PDP must dispense with its penchant for inertia and sloppiness to seize this moment with every seriousness, commitment and resourcefulness, to bestow upon Nigeria, a long desired new dawn. Public sentiment is on the side of the PDP, the oldest and most rooted of present day political vehicles, to lead the march to the proverbial Canaan.
Concluded
Olusunle, PhD, poet, journalist, author and scholar, is a Member of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, (NGE.)