Redress over elections outcome now, internal healing later — PDP
Despite the existence of apparent cracks within its fold that may have contributed to its poor performance in the just concluded Presidential and National Assembly elections, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has ruled out immediate resort to internal healing.
Instead, it prefers to seek redress from the law courts on what it called massive irregularities that change the outcome of the elections. It would be recalled that in 2015, the party was quick to set up a committee that investigated its loss. Flowing from that, some far-reaching decisions were taken that later assisted in resolving its internal crisis.
The popular Ike Ekweremadu-led committee that made far-reaching recommendations on power shift in PDP immediately after the party lost power in 2015, among others, easily comes to mind.
But even as he admitted that the current crisis caused the party the loss of many useful and outstanding members including the Presidential Candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, has insisted that challenging the outcome of the election in court is the immediate step to take at the moment.
The crisis also affected the PDP’s chances of producing Senators from South East to the extent that in that election, no senator was elected on its platform from the zone.
It failed to win in any of the five states in the zone just as it also performed woefully in the South South. Five of its 14 governors refused to campaign or mobilise votes for its Presidential candidate. Three of the five governors who contested election to the Senate lost.
A few weeks to the elections, no less than 10 state chapters of the PDP were in crises. The affected states include Edo, Ebonyi, Kano, Delta, Abia, Anambra, Enugu, Ekiti, Imo, Akwa Ibom, Ogun and Lagos.
The wranglings are traceable to the dispute that arose in the PDP in the aftermath of the nomination of candidates for the 2023 polls, as well as battle for control of party structure among party leaders.
In January, PDP’s National Working Committee (NWC) dissolved the executive of the party in Ekiti State and replaced it with a caretaker committee. The NWC also suspended some members of the Ekiti PDP for alleged anti-party activities. Among those suspended are supporters of the former governor of the state, Ayo Fayose.
In Imo, the battle of supremacy between the PDP National Secretary, Samuel Anyanwu and former governor of the state, Emeka Ihedioha, ahead of the November governorship poll in the state, caused a big division in the chapter.
In Edo State, the battle of supremacy between Governor Godwin Obaseki and the PDP National Vice Chairman, South-south, Dan Orbih, made the opposition party to lose Presidential and National Assembly elections.
Nevertheless, the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, had said that the party made serious efforts to resolve all the issues. Ologunagba noted that, for instance, “in Lagos, there have been so much improvement in the area of crossing the gaps.”
He added that, “in politics, 24 hours is a lifetime. In 24 hours, anything can happen, including reconciliation of very divergent views. And we are on that course working, believing that we will be able to solve the problems. In any event, reconciliation is not a 100 meters dash. It is a marathon.
“We acknowledge and recognise the anxiety and interest of Nigerians, because they look unto the PDP. And so they want to see PDP settled substantially. We acknowledge that and we appreciate Nigerians’ interest in PDP.”
According to him, peace talks were going on at different levels – from NWC level to BoT, to governors to leaders and even statesmen that are not even party members. “I believe not too far from now, we will get ourselves together,” he said.
The party has, however, shifted attention from these crises to challenging the outcome of the election in court. Ologunagba said on Thursday that the National Working Committee (NWC) rose from an emergency meeting and resolved that it has become very urgent for the PDP to reject in its entirety the declaration and return of the Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, as President-elect by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
According to Ologunagba, the party believes that INEC, in declaring the APC Presidential candidate as winner, acted contrary to the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), the Electoral Act 2022 and the INEC Guidelines and Regulations for the conduct of the 2023 Presidential election.
“The PDP holds that its Presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar clearly won the February 25, 2023 Presidential election having evidently scored the majority of lawful votes cast by Nigerians at the Polling Units.
He continued: “Sadly, the election was marred by deliberate malpractices including the non-use of the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) and INEC’s refusal/failure to transmit directly the results from Polling Units to its Server/Website in flagrant violation of Section 60 (4)(b) of the Electoral Act 2022.
“This violation of the Electoral Act by INEC as attested to by political parties, voters, Nigerians of all walks of life as well as local and international observers, paved the way for the alteration, falsification, switching of results and allocation of figures in favour of the APC.”