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The Shape Of PDP To Come After May 29

By Ikenna Onyekwelu
17 May 2015   |   4:10 am
BY May 29, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), must have completed its transformation. Whether the transformation began on March 28 or 31 is immaterial to the fact. But within the intervening two months period, the erstwhile largest political grouping in black Africa has undergone some sobering transformation.
PDP Secretariat

PDP’s nationa secretariat, Wadata House

BY May 29, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), must have completed its transformation. Whether the transformation began on March 28 or 31 is immaterial to the fact.

But within the intervening two months period, the erstwhile largest political grouping in black Africa has undergone some sobering transformation. And so come May 29, PDP would reluctantly transit to the position of being the major opposition political party in the country.

Again, whether the party could boast itself as the biggest opposition party is yet to be seen. The 2015 general elections played a curious trick on PDP, because during the election, the hunter became the hunted, and the role reversal of sort was occasioned by the merger of the splinter opposition platforms it had been using or abusing to entrench itself in power for the past 16 years.

And having succeeded in coming together in a marriage of convenience or co-habitation, the legacy political parties that produced the hybrid called All Progressives Congress (APC), left PDP with its harems notably the Labour Party, the splintered All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and of late, Social Democratic Party (SDP).

So, would these fringe political parties fuse into PDP and assist it to wage a principled opposition to the incoming ruling APC? That could as yet be a remote possibility, but the shape of PDP to berth on the polity come May 29, is the centre of this report.

Before looking at the nature of PDP to come into the opposition corner, it would be appropriate to look at the party’s capability and capacity to play opposition to the ruling party as well as the effects of its fall from grace to disgrace.

Fall From Pinnacle of Power THE trauma of its first major loss in the general election after 16 years unbeaten record revealed the underbelly of PDP chieftains as birds of fair weather and plenty.

Furthermore, what became of the ruling party after the exit of some of the founding members, including second republic Vice President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, was a far cry from what it was intended to be: a mass movement.

The party seemed to have been taken over by those whose grasp for social engineering and party politics were limited by their desire for fame and fortune.

The impunity that set in during the Jos convention of 1998 took a wider dimension as strangers took charge. Outsiders decided who should fly the party’s flags at election, especially, the 1999 presidential election.

After that rape, PDP lost its concern for rules and decorum. The damage done to the party was slow in gaining momentum, stray politicians were admitted into the party overnight and the next day, they ran for elective offices.

Decisions and issues relating to the running of the party were taken in Abuja. State chapters became extensions of Government Houses. Gradually PDP lost cohesion and traction as a political party.

The garrison ideas introduced by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, through membership revalidation, imposition of candidates and use of the anti-graft agencies to hound recalcitrant members worsened the state of the party.

As this political militancy gained acceptability within the party, election rigging took over because in the inherent lack of competition, men of means and muscle became frontrunners.

Consequent upon the foregoing, the seed for the eventual self-destruct of the PDP was sown. The loss of the 2015 election became the fructification of that seed, which had germinated and grown into a giant political evil tree.

It is evident that PDP fall from the pinnacle of power was slow, but sure in coming. The party lost the election from the right flank of party leadership.

Despite what could be judged the modest achievements of the third Federal Government it formed, PDP could not market its candidate or organise the party on the path of reason and unity of purpose. This failure was also obvious from the way the party managed its electioneering campaigns.

The National Working Committee, (NWC) did not have a work plan and if it did, it could not canvass it. Worse still, the office of the publicity secretary exposed a serious lack of capacity and focus that underscored its ineptitude.

At the presidential campaign flag off of the party in Lagos, the National Chairman, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu had to cut the president short in a very abstruse manner, which seemed to suggest lack of proper planning and indifference from the chairman.

By that action, Mu’azu gave a hint that the president was either wasting words or not making sense. Blame Game DESPITE the paucity of workable strategy, absence of cohesion and monumental lack of discipline within the party, party leaders did not feel any scruples to apportion blames and make excuses for the failure that befell it.

And the PDP national Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh, who failed to prove his mettle while his APC counterpart, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, pummeled his party and the Federal Government, had the boldness to lead in the blame game.

Apart from the fact that he had never won election into office either as Deputy National Chairman, South East zone or National Publicity Secretary, Metuh’s specialty was only in deal making.

Though, he lacked proficiency in his official capacity, his bargaining power is prodigious. But it dawned on the party that underhand deals do not win elections. It is to the shame of Metuh’s weakness that PDP could not have a Research and Documentation department, such that when the Presidential campaign committee was set up, each flew off the tangent.

It could be on account of this that the NWC blamed hate speech and overbearing influence of the President’s wife for the defeat at the poll. In doing that, the NWC forgot that it was in the absence of a template that the shortcomings or excesses they complained about ensued.

Interestingly, calls for the resignation of the NWC have continued from virtually all sections of the country. Apart from Governors Ayo Fayose, Sule Lamido and Babangida Aliu, Senator Abubakar Girei is one PDP chieftains that believes that the National Chairman, Alhaji Adamu Muazu and other members of the PDP NWC should bow out to create the enabling environment for the healing and “repositioning of the party.”

Girei contended that though the “loss suffered by the party in the last elections was an act of God, the national leadership of the party must accept full responsibility for the humiliating defeat.”

His words: “For this loss to be only a temporary setback, the party need to reinvent, re-engineer and re-brand itself earliest possible in order to bounce back in the next round of elections in 2019.

The party remains the largest and the best structured with the most experienced, dedicated and committed members, who will not sit down and watch greedy, corrupt and inept leadership send their party to its early grave.”

And alluding to the lack of internal democracy that proved the party’s greatest undoing, the Senator maintained that “those who claim that they have a tenure to serve should be reminded that the party members and indeed Nigerians know how each and every one of them came on board.”

Yet, despite the moral suasion contained in Senator Girei’s call, some overzealous members of the party have dragged the party to court with a view to obstructing any attempt to force the NWC members out.

In a suit CV/1831/15, dated May 14, 2015, Tasiu Iliyasu Hussaini and Waziri Amadu are asking Federal High Court, Abuja to restrain PDP from dissolving the NWC or compelling its members to resign their positions without following the set down procedures in the party’s Constitution.

Whether the two persons have locus standi to institute the case is a matter for the court to settle, but what the plaintiffs failed to reflect on is that the defendants including PDP, its national chairman and other members of the NWC are products of the violation of rules in the guise of being a family affair.

Could this litigation pave the way for the eventual disintegration of PDP? How far would the finger pointing and blame game go to affect its ability to stay in one piece to act as a check to the ruling APC?

So far, has the PDP shown evidence of a party prepared to prove that its loss to APC was a political accident and mischance? National President and Convener of Movement for the Voice of Democracy, (MOVERS) Mr. Ifeanyichukwu Okonkwo, told The Guardian that “from May 29, I don’t see PDP coming back as a political party.”

Okonkwo argues that given the voices of dissent trailing the party’s loss of the 2015 election, the party would not come back as a formidable political force.

He said: “I see a new party fragmenting out of PDP. The human elements I see in PDP are not builders. They cannot build anything.

PDP was an opportunity that was used to exploit Nigerians. It has no philosophy, it has no dream, and it has no architects.

You can see the way they have jettisoned those people who were the flag-bearers. It would never come back, the same thing with APC.

All these parties will crash because there is no ideology, or any philosophy driving them other than sharing offices. We are still going to see a formation of new political parties.

I wish I would be proved wrong…” The Environmental rights activist said he does not see how PDP as a political party will ever be rebuilt since, according to him, the human element that can build it is missing. “There is no philosophy that brought them together, so, you build on philosophy.

The only thing that kept APC was the clannish and what I might call the parochial interest of the west with which they have delivered APC. And after that, Nigeria will see a new (set of) political issues because, if this government fails in arresting the drift, everybody would be on his own,” he added. Security Expert and former Special Adviser to Anambra State Government on Security, Mr. Bonaventure Maduafokwa however tends to disagree with Okonkwo that PDP could not be rebuilt.

Taking a swipe at the NWC, Maduafokwa said, “it was generally observed that the national chairman, over time, tended to have created the impression within PDP as an undertaker invited to supervise the burial of the party. “Mu’azu woefully failed to instill discipline and by this encouraged the crisis that rocked the party nationwide.

And his observed penchant for chasing the rats, while the party burned in a true Nero fashion completely and illegitimately destroyed the party.”

He stated that the only way forward is to “weed out all the Abuja political contractors and ensure internal democracy and that the body and soul of the party are returned to the people at the grassroots.”

He added that the PDP faithful at the grassroots had since 2003 been emasculated from the affairs of the party “thereby destroying the very foundation that would have generated the momentum to drive the party to power”.

However, in a belated attempt at halting the wrangling and finger pointing, President Jonathan in a recent meeting with PDP leaders assured that he would get involved in the rebuilding of the party after observing a short vacation outside the country.

Alluding to the collective guilt in the party’s loss, the President pleaded with the party faithful to put the bitter loss behind them warning the leadership against further bickering that could lead to the party’s disintegration.

President Jonathan also expressed optimism that PDP would bounce back into reckoning and power. But from May 29, 2015 it would be obvious to Nigerians that the emergent opposition PDP would simulate a weak giant traumatised by loss of its past glory and rendered clueless by its internal schisms.

Yet, should the party go back to the resolutions of the Alex Ekwueme and General Ike Nwachukwu committees’ reports, something good could still come out of the wreckage of the crashed most powerful party in black Africa!