nPDP: Possibilities Of Upsetting 2019 Calculations
Based on that pedigree, it could therefore be perilous for any conscientious political actor to dismiss the clout and capacity of the famed new Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP), to cause political mischief or electoral upset.
Part of the strengths of the nPDP is that the members spread over the six geopolitical zones, but one, although that factor was reduced by the fallout of the 2015 Presidential election.
Yet, when recently the group met as a follow up to the warning letter or petition it sent to the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC), there was no doubt that they remain a squadron to be reckoned with.
Not minding the fact that few hotheads in APC, like the Kaduna State small man, tried to dismiss the nPDP petition, the roll call at the gathering of penultimate week brought back memories of 2015 poll.
It also underscored the politics and motions within the ruling party and Federal Government in the past three years.
Coming barely nine months to another general election, the development elicited some somber queries: Has they been served a quit notice by the landlords of APC?
Are these political voyagers or hard to please actors in constant expression of grievances?
Are they preparing for another peregrination? How far could they enact a similar slam-dunk in the forthcoming general election? What could be their beef this time?
The Beef This Time
Even prior to the letter announcing their dissatisfaction with the way things were going in APC, it was public knowledge that the nPDP bloc was left with the short end of the stick in the government.
The fact that the protest letter, which was addressed to the national chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, was copied to President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, underscored the seriousness of the issues involved.
“Request for redressing the grievances of former New PDP bloc within the APC.” That was the lengthy title of the letter, yet the former chairman of nPDP, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, explained that it was meant to strengthen the party.
Baraje said the letter came at the time it did, because APC “had commenced congresses across the country and other electoral activities ahead of the 2019 general election.”
Recalling that when they fused into APC members of the nPDP envisioned a united, inclusive and progressive party, devoid of the division, factions, cleavages and tendencies,” Baraje said those ideals could not be attained without ensuring justice for party faithful and citizens.
Going by Baraje’s anecdotes, it could be deduced that the nPDP’s beef this time around was two-fold, namely, politics and governance. The bloc wanted to ensure justice for party men and justice for citizens.
Unless the party leadership decide to pretend about it, the concerns raised by nPDP about the organsiation and structure were real and align with the general perception of most Nigerians who are neither sentimental nor partisan.
The second leg of the nPDP’s grouse, has to do with the undemocratic tactics of the Federal Government, particularly disdain for the rule of law and respect for institutional authorities.
It is possible also that the nPDP bloc felt that after helping the APC to its first electoral victory, it was not prepared to facilitate another victory in 2019 except through proper negotiations of positions and strategies.
Baraje underscored that point when he stressed, “victory may not be achieved in the party if it failed to address fundamental issues confronting it, especially the crisis that characterized the recent congresses.”
At the onset of the current administration most Nigerians noticed how the nPDP bloc was sidetracked in the governance structure at the federal level.
President Buhari carried on as if he was a sole administrator, holding aloof as if the party and its members do not factor in the job at hand.
The evidence of that aloof style was that appointment of cabinet members took time, when it happened the input of party leadership was missing.
Although to a great extent, APC built its electioneering around the perceived integrity of Buhari, the President misappropriated that sentiment and demonstrated paranoia in the approach to governance, especially personnel quality and selection.
As every major decision was ceded to the President, he went back in time to his days as a military head of state and neglected the centrality of the legislature in democratic governance.
With such disposition, it did not take long before former members of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), which was the President’s party, began to carry on with arrogant swagger, making subtle plans to push out other party faithful and go it alone in the belief that power of incumbency confers absolute authority to electoral success.
Baraje in his interaction with journalists alluded to that fact when he said that his bloc “was concerned that President Muhammadu Buhari had not acknowledged its efforts, (despite) clear evidence that the total votes scored by APC in states where leaders and members of the bloc held sway, made the difference.”
It is therefore clear that having endured the indignities of isolation and mistreatment as inconsequential appendages in the ruling party, the nPDP waited for this crucial juncture to assert its well-heeled political sagacity.
On The March Again
GOING by the timing and tone of the protest letter and shared nasty experiences of its members, the immediate perception of analysts was that the nPDP was set to embark on another political peregrination.
From the President of Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, through the Speaker of House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, to former Kano State governor and Senator representing Kano Central, Alhaji Rabiu Kwankwaso, it was obvious that the nPDP had endured ‘an unwelcome visitor’ status within the ruling party.
The allegation of marginalization proved a potent weapon with which the bloc drove its point home, because no sooner was that mentioned than APC hawks pointed to the positions held by Saraki and Dogara as evidence of accommodation (not assimilation) in the government.
Embattled deputy spokesman of the party, Comrade Timi Frank, who is on record as voicing calamitous fate awaiting the party due to its warped leadership style, explained that the two positions held by both the Speaker and President of Senate, were by dint of their political clout and networking instead of a concerted action plan to humour the bloc.
The compound reading of the entire word play and body language points inexorably to the possibility of the nPDP bloc taking a different path towards the next crucial election, having waited for the dangerous juncture on the road to 2019.
But, as a greater number of the players in the nPDP bloc are most likely to prefer a movement away from the APC fold, the question that follows is, do the still possess the bounce and superior electoral balance sheet to influence the trajectory of 2019 presidential election?
How Far Can They Go
DESPITE the fact that the nPDP bloc could not boast of as many state governors as it did prior to the 2015 election, there is no doubt that it can still engineer some significant shift in the power calculus, more so when the performance of party and President is subject to debate.
Moreover with the recent motion in the polity regarding the need for paradigm shift in the leadership of the country, nPDP bloc could actually tip the balance or even become the much talked about third force by adopting any of the available political platforms in the country.
Added to the fact that former Vice President Atiku Abubakar became the first fruit of the new exodus, should the nPDP choose to join forces with Waziri Adamawa, there is no way APC would not catch cold no matter how some of its state governors want to pretend otherwise.
And knowing that restructuring, issue of national security and economic downturn would constitute the major talking points in the forthcoming Presidential poll; those are none of the strong forte of the ruling party.
Added to the foregoing, the power of incumbency having been demystified, the movement of nPDP could help to engineer massive citizens objection to the President’s second term in office. Standing merely on President’s integrity and power of incumbency, APC could be most vulnerable without the support of such caliber of politicians in the nPDP bloc.
It all boils down to the need for political clear thinking to handle the nPDP complaints with care, knowing that what begins by division would continue to divide.
Unless a good regime of give and take happens at the end of the day, nPDP seems to possess the ace as far as APC and 2019 are involved.
Left with his jaded army of CPC apologists, President Buhari stands the risk of ending his presidential run the same way he began, with 12 million votes from a section of the country.
nPDP knows that between 2015 and 2019 much water has passed under the bridge and the breeze of past three years has exposed the rump of the ruling party.
Faced with the current nPDP challenge, APC is definitely at crossroads.
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