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PDP: The unmaking of nPDP series 2.0

By Leo Sobechi, Deputy Politics Editor, Abuja
24 September 2022   |   2:37 am
The Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP) befits every adjective that anyone can find in its contest between morals and money. Nobody knows how the fad caught on, but when certain persons began raising

PDP Presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar

The Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) befits every adjective that anyone can find in its contest between morals and money. Nobody knows how the fad caught on, but when certain persons began raising the catchphrase, PDP-share the money, it effectively displaced the party’s slogan, power to the people.

By choosing to place money above the people, the party made its politics-and by extension, political power- revolve around money. Unwittingly, the party succeeded in completing the circle by turning itself into a people divided by power, as opposed to a democratic political party built on people.

PDP’s fall from grace and the pinnacle of political power commenced in 2014 when it committed a grave act of political adultery by conjugating with a strange entity to affront itself. Ever since PDP committed that infernal act, which amounted to cutting off its nose to spite its face, it has continued to suffer the pangs of self-inflicted damage. 

The mass defection of eminent stakeholders from PDP to the then emerging All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2014, came as the highest form of political treason against the party. It was as if the Director, Abuja School of Political and Social Thoughts, Dr Sam Amadi, had PDP in mind when he observed recently that “the evolution of Nigerian political parties seems to have stagnated.”

Amadi noted that political parties of 1990 and 2000 are better organized than those of today, stressing, “In fact, Nigerian parties have been deteriorating in terms of policy articulation and internal management. These parties have been reduced to Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) for the political career of some of the rich and powerful members.”

In the current wrangling within PDP, two major characters are noticeable: Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike (NEW) and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar (Wazirin Adamawa). Between the two strong men are the party’s constitution and fidelity to its membership.

Wike


Many PDP faithful have continued to rue Atiku’s involvement in the mass defection that shook the party in 2014, which led to its first-ever electoral loss after 16 years of dominance.

Chapter 1. (2) of the party’s constitution, states that “Subject to the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and any other law in force, this Constitution shall be supreme and its provisions shall have binding force on all members and organs of the Party.”

Also, in the preamble to its constitution, PDP regretted that “many years of military dictatorship in Nigeria resulted in the gross erosion of fundamental human rights and rule of law.” The party, therefore, saw “the need to raise the nation to the highest level of moral and intellectual dignity.”

But, after years of garrison politics, when elections were won and lost at the Wadata Plaza national headquarters of the party, PDP became unmindful of the necessity of confronting and remedying the social decay that exists in the moral, social and political condition of the country.

The most evident sign of its loss of direction was the way strong men in the party trampled on the parts © and (d) of its resolutions, which stated as follows: “(c) to create socio-political conditions conducive to national peace and unity, by ensuring fair and equitable distribution of resources and opportunities; (d) to conform with the principles of power shift and power sharing by rotating key political offices amongst the diverse peoples of the country.”

It was perhaps in allusion to the serial breaches of the PDP constitution that one stakeholder, Odo Ijere, contended that the holder of the party’s 2023 presidential ticket acquired it illegally by virtue of the provisions of chapter 1 section 7(3) (C) of the constitution.

Also, a former PDP governorship aspirant in Plateau State, Chief Jonathan Sunday Akuns, observed that Ijere’s citation presents the real-life death knell on the presidential ambition of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. He stated: “It seems three persons are alleged to be the undertakers of the illegality, namely, Alegho Raymond Dokpesi, Dr. Iyorcha Ayu and Governor Aminu Tambuwal.

“Obviously, the Ayu-led National Working Committee (NWC) became illegal upon the emergence of a northerner in Atiku as the presidential flag bearer of PDP for 2023 elections.  A flag bearer from Southern Nigeria would have been in sync with the cited constitutional requirements of the PDP.

“The historical observance of the cited constitutional requirement was contravened upon the emergence of a candidate from the North, thus making the Exco that produced Atiku Abubakar an illegal one upon which nothing can be placed.”

Akuns maintained that the “stormy and torrential rain began to beat Atiku, the self-ascribed rooster of Nigerian politics when the stalwarts of PDP were misled into ignoring the constitutional requirements of C1.S7(3)(c) for an open presidential ticket for the 2023 election.”

He said that it was that breach that triggered a constitutional crisis that should have been corrected by convening an extraordinary convention to rezone elective party offices to the South as was done for the 2019 election.

“(In 2019), the Party office of national chairman was zoned to the South, while the presidential ticket was zoned to the North in which Atiku emerged and delivered an impressive performance. Secondly, tactics deployed at the presidential primary election, especially the role of Tambuwal, and subsequent comments of Ayu in hailing Tambuwal as the hero, as well as reneging on the promise of VP slot to Wike, the second best in the exercise, inflamed the crisis.

“In addition, Ayu also reneged on his vow to step down if the presidential ticket was clinched by an aspirant from the North. As a good party man, Wike raised his voice about the eminently lurking crisis but was snubbed, ignored and chastised. Atiku became spokesman cum defender of Ayu by calling for a review of PDP constitution;

“Now, when the covering provided by the combined effects of S.45(2) and S.46(7) of the PDP constitution proved futile, same Atiku vows the decision to resign as national chairman was a personal matter for Ayu to make. This claim is too late. The Wike camp has already injected Atiku with the lethal dose of the nPDP of 2014 akin to the wisdom of the sages that what goes around has come around to Atiku.

“A prominent party stalwart incubated the constitutional crisis that is now rocking the PDP. He leveraged on his media platforms and frontline standing to advocate for open presidential tickets to favour Atiku. The Guardian newspaper carried a story to caution PDP against ignoring its rules of engagement vide C1.S7(3)(c) of its constitution.

“Atiku is now at crossroads with an umbrella that is torn to shreds under a torrential night downpour or scourging heat of the day. PDP series 2.0 has a better future with their kids than with their granny.”

But, while many stakeholders blame the crisis on the fact of throwing open the contest for the PDP presidential ticket, a former Kaduna State governor, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, noted that it was a collective party decision. Makarfi however pointed out that the breach of PDP’s zoning arrangement, which began in 2014 gave rise to subsequent alterations.

The former PDP national caretaker chairman also blamed those who influenced party decisions to favour their political aspirations for the current hullabaloo over the position of Dr Ayu as the national chairman. Nonetheless, even as no two wrongs can make a right, Governor Wike insists that leaders must be people of character and honour.

The Rivers State governor maintains that Dr. Ayu must be made to honour his promise to quit in the event that a northern aspirant clinches the party’s presidential ticket. Further, the former Deputy National Chairman of the party, Chief Bode George, also argues that since the constitution was suspended to throw the presidential contest open, the same PDP constitution should be put in abeyance to ensure that the North/South balance is achieved by ensuring the spread of opportunities and positions.

In the present circumstances, particularly with the general elections merely five months away, is a mini-convention feasible? Those who believe that such a step could be taken to save the party from heedless friction and division allude to the 2014 remedial convention undertaken by the party to remedy the defects in the election of some NWC members.

But, as if allaying the fears of some stakeholders, particularly Atiku’s loyalists that such a move could dispose of the party of another electoral defeat, Wike declared that none of those standing with him on the matter was contemplating defection.

Wike told Rivers State stakeholders that instead of repeating the mischief of 2014, he would rather stay back in PDP and “fight from within against injustice in the party.”

His words: “I  have always told people, if anybody is thinking we will leave PDP, foul. We will do fight in the party. We are not like them, when 2014 they walked out from Eagle Square, they’d forgotten. They walked out and joined APC.

“Did they remain to fight inside the party? But we remained; they ran away. Now, there is a fight at the party, we will not run. We will fight it at this party. Those who run away from the fight are weak people. We will not. So, everybody should know this is the state we are.”

While restating that the PDP constitution, which expressly provided that elective and party offices must be zoned, should be respected, the governor expressed surprise that the immediate past PDP Board of Trustee (BOT) Chairman, Senator Walid Jibrin, could be pressured to resign, while the same rule should not apply to the national chairman, Dr Ayu.

Decrying the double standards and deception, Wike remarked: “You have taken presidential candidate, you have taken party chairman, you have also taken the D.G (Director General) of the campaign. We are talking about party politics, where decisions are made by the presidential candidate, chairman of the party and the DG of the campaign,”

It appears that instead of fighting together to win the 2023 presidential poll, PDP stalwarts are more interested in which tendency controls the party structure. That could explain why a chieftain of the governing APC, Mr Osita Okechukwu, held that PDP must have conceded the 2023 elections.

Also, some close allies of the party’s presidential candidate believe that win or lose, the PDP structure should be kept beyond some hegemons like Wike, even as Tambuwal, Ayu and Dokpesi are fingered as the troika dissuading Atiku from adopting far-reaching pacifist gestures to placate the Wike group.

Unless PDP heals the rift within its structure, this ailment that has led to its protruding stomach could degenerate to the elephantiasis of the scrotum. A third straight loss of the Presidency could prove the party’s final extinction from Nigeria’s political space. The protagonists should reckon that a fall is the lot of any kingdom divided against itself.