By Ifeanyi Ottah
Since the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, suffered defeat in the March 8 Presidential and National Assembly elections things appears to have fallen apart and the centre refused to hold again in the Party.
The ruling Party also lost in its traditional states of Benue, Kaduna, Bauch, Niger, Plateau and Jigawa which will make it become an opposition party in both the senate and the House of Representatives after the inauguration of the National Assembly on June 4.
It is an open secret that there is no love lost between the PDP Governors’ Forum under the chairmanship of the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Godswill Akpabio and the Party’s National Working Committee (NWC) over the Party’s defeat in the last general elections. The naked truth is that the former has been pushing for the removal of the Party’s National Chairman, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu as well as the dissolution of the NWC for leading the Party into what they described as a disastrous electoral performance in the 2015 elections.
It could be recalled that Mu’azu, in January 2014, replaced the former National chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, who was forced out of the Party over an allegation of highhandedness.
Also calling for Mu’azu’s resignation is a group under the aegis of the PDP National Renaissance Movement, the 9,000 support Group and some organizations that supported, the aspiration of Jonathan for second term in office, just as they call for fresh minds, fresh ideas, fresh vision and fresh strategies in the Party leadership.
The PDP National Renaissance Movement, in a Communiqué signed by Dr. Ayakeme Whisky and Dr. Ifedi Okwenna, chairman, Steering Committee and secretary, respectively noted that the party needs rebuilding to bounce back in 2019 and the beginning of the rebuilding process was for the present NWC to throw in the towel, adding “that in order to effectively rebuild and reposition the party as a credible opposition with intent to win back power in 2019 at the centre, is urgent need for immediate injection of fresh minds, fresh ideas, fresh vision and fresh strategies at all levels of the Party. To effect this changes in peaceful, orderly manner, the current leadership of the party should stand out to make a necessary, but inevitable sacrifice for the re-emergence of the party in the shortest possible time.”
On the other hand, Mu’azu has also warned the PDP governors, leaders, stakeholders, elders and members that the party cannot continue with the culture of changing National chairmen and members of the NWC, adding that the infighting and mudslinging in the party, after losing the 2015 presidential election, was uncalled for.
He however, told those calling for his sack to desist from the attitude of ‘use and dump’ politics in PDP.
The National chairman who reminded those calling for his resignation that the present leadership of the party has until next year to run its course, stressed that PDP would, in 2016, decide how to deal with the zoning of the next leadership and strategies for winning the 2019 elections.
He said: “It is also time to end the spate of in-fighting and blame games currently dominating the Political discourse among our membership and the leadership. It will do no one any good. The present leadership has until next year to run their course. The zoning of the next leadership and strategies for winning the 2019 elections.
“The developing culture of using and dumping has reached fratricidal proportions in the PDP and it must end. You cannot be changing chairman and NWC every year and still have cohesion which is a vital ingredient of winning. A good example occurred when we changed five Senate Presidents in eight years and produced calamity in the process. But for eight years we have had one Senate President and produced harmony between the presidency and parliament.
“Great lessons to be learned from the outcome of the 2015 Elections are many and I have already mentioned this in earlier interactions with the media. Lessons of candidate imposition, deepening of internal democracy in our party and other obvious lessons we need to learn for future guidance. It is so important for us to learn from what has happened.
We must note that when the going gets tough, only the tough like the PDP can get going.
“Therefore, what I consider the most stupid thing going on within our party at the moment is the gale of defections. Personally it does not worry me but I shudder at the wedge placed by the new ruling party banning the incoming troupes. It shows sign of how they will run the country from May 29 2015. It shows how they will not regard non APC Nigerians as party of their responsibility which will be a shame.”
In a statement titled, “Time to Reinvent the PDP and signed by his Chief Press Secretary Chief Tony Amadi, Mu’azu said: “The result of the 2015 presidential election is the elixir the Peoples Democratic Party needs to reinvent itself and retake power in 2019 instead of wasting time and energy mudslinging and blame gaming over the party’s failed bid to win a fourth consecutive presidential election victory.
“It is therefore time for our great party to reinvent ourselves, show great maturity and map out a strategy that will return us to power in 2019. Despite losing our dominance in the National Assembly, our party has the largest number of experienced legislators in both chambers and will surely be calling the shots there. We will however help to reduce the imminent issue of learning process occasioned by the horde of inexperienced APC members in both houses because of National interest.”
However, even as PDP is not new to crisis the crisis which polarized the PDP started in 2010 when President Jonathan declared his intention to contest the 2011 presidential election. Then he perceived some serving governors as not being supportive of his ambition. The matter was later resolved in a family way and President Jonathan emerged as candidate based on agreement with the northern governors that he would not run in 2015.
Even as the chairman PDP Board of Trustees, Chief Anthony Anenih announced during the occasion of his birthday anniversary the endorsement of Jonathan as the Party’s Presidential candidate in 2015, Governor Babangida Aliyu of Niger State who is also chairman of the Northern Governors’ forum said that Jonathan had signed an agreement with the North that he would not re-contest in 2015 and that the party’s presidential candidate would come from North. Although Jonathan denied signing any agreement with any group concerning 2015, some governors and members of the National Working Committee (NWC) were not impressed with the leadership style of Alhaji Bamanga Tukur whom they alleged of running the party as a private enterprise.
While some party members were canvassing for internal democracy introduced by the Former National Chairman, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo in the Party, Tukur in a bid to demystify the “stubborn governors and take over the party structures ahead of 2015, dissolved the state executive committee of Kano and Adamawa States, among others and appointed a care taker committee members without consulting the governors.
The high handedness of the party leadership led to the pull out of seven governors together and they formed what was known as G7. They were Governors Aliyu (Niger), Rabiu Kwankwanso (Kano), Wamako (Sokoto). Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), Amaech (Rivers) Abdufattah Ahmed (Kwara) and Lamido (Jigawa).
At the special convention of the party held in August, a group of Party members including the governors stormed out of the Eagle Square, venue of the convention. It was discovered that the delegate lists from the states of the governors opposed to Bamanga Tukur’s leadership were substituted to humble them. The aggrieved members immediately regrouped at a location and held a parallel convention with former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Senator Bukola Saraki, and the seven governors in attendance. They announced the formation of new PDP under the chairmanship of Alhaji Abubakar Kawu.
Baraje and Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola as National Secretary.
Five out of seven aggrieved governors joined the new All Progressives Congress (APC) but through the intervention of former Head of State General Ibrahim Babangida (rtd) Aliyu and Lamido stayed back in PDP.
When Tukur was forced out as National chairman, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu assumed office with the promise of engaging a sweeping reforms to bring the party to the standard of best practices.
The move by the PDP to unravel why it performed woefully in the just concluded general elections suffered a setback as some of the outgoing governors and party chieftains stayed away from the venue of the inauguration of the PDP post-election Review Committee. Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu and Secretary of the Board of Trustees, Senator Walid Jubrin were expected to serve as chairman and secretary of the committee.
The three governors expected to serve on the 15-man committee stayed away. The governors are chairman, PDP Governors’ Forum, Godswill Akpabio; his Gombe State counterpart, Ibrahim Dankwambo and Abia State Governor, Theodore Orji. Only River State Governor-elect, Chief Nyeson Wike, came for the inauguration. The party’s national Working Committee, the Presidency and the party’s governors’ Forum have been trading blames over which organ of the party was responsible for the Party’s dismal performance.
Senator Walid Jibril, who was earlier named as Secretary of the committee was replaced with Maina Waziri, who would act as secretary till Jubril recovers from the surgery he undertook.
The absence of the governors at the inauguration may not be unconnected with the lingering crisis between them and members of the NWC.
Inaugurating the committee, PDP National Secretary, Professor Adewale Oladipo, who gave the committee three weeks to submit its report, rolled out the term of reference as follows:
To identify the remote and immediate causes of the relatively poor performance of the PDP in the 2015 general elections; trace the origin and process of the seeming decline of the party in its electoral performance; take a critical look at the preparations and build-up of the PDP to the general elections and determine its adequacies and lapses; review and determine the adequacy of the structures for the 2015 general elections and how those structures functioned; ascertain the degree of anti-party activities, compromises and outright sabotage that may have contributed to the misfortunes of our party at the elections; look at the funding of the elections to determine whether or not the funds meant for the campaigns were adequate and whether disbursements were properly done.
Identify different groups in the party who were to play critical roles before and during the elections and determine the effectiveness or otherwise, determine any other matter that may be considered necessary and in the interest of the party, and propose a road map for the party to recover its past glory and definitely win the general elections in 2019.”
Responding, the chairman of the PDP Post-Election Assessment Committee, Ekweremadu, who urged PDP members to learn from their failure and stop what he termed self pity, said blame trading will not solve PDP problems. “I thank the national leadership of our great party for deeming it imperative to assess PDP’s performance in the 2015 general elections and finding us worthy of prosecuting the task,” he said.
“First, let me empathize with party faithful across the country over what has been generally accepted as the poorest outing of the PDP in any general elections since its birth in 1998. Our pains and disappointments are well founded, especially given the enormous hopes and prospects the party holds as a pan-Nigerian movement for social, economic, and political transformations.
“Thus, it is not a loss for the PDP only, but a loss to the great people of this country that the party lost the steering at the time, it had laid a solid foundation through the Transformation Agenda of the present administration.
“However, we must appreciate the fact that change is the only constant thing in life. Much as we are pained by the sad turn of events, we must come to terms with the fact that anger, recriminations, self-pity, and blame trading will not take us even an inch away from the harsh outcomes of the 2015 general elections.
“Let me emphasize that the worst tragedy that could befall the PDP is not to have lost the 2015 presidential election or our majority status at the National Assembly or some PDP controlled states to the opposition. All through human history, even the greatest and strongest empires have suffered one set back or the other at certain points of their existence. Instead the greatest tragedy would be our failure to draw from the lessons embedded in the out come of the elections…”
In a bid to avert more crisis that may consume the party, President Jonathan warned members of the NWC, stakeholders and elders of the party to put an end to all internal bickering and media hostility as they were capable of further deepening the challenges the party is facing.
Oladipo, who gave such message of the President, said “Let me use this opportunity to relay President Jonathan’s message to all PDP leaders and members. He has given definite instruction that all acts of unwarranted attacks and counter-attacks on members and leadership of the party should stop immediately.”
Observers are of the view that the problem of the ruling party is not about setting up Committees but implementing the report.
Meanwhile the 1999 Presidential election that brought in former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the late chairman of the party and former governor of Plateau State, Chief Solomon Lari set up a reconciliation committee headed by former Vice President Alex Ekwueme.
The committee had a former Kano State Governor, the late Abubakar Rimi, a former governor of old Anambra State, Senator Jim Nwobodo; Chief Richard Akinjide; a former governor of old Kaduna State, Alhaji Lawal Kaita, among others as members.
The term of reference was for Lar, to unite all in the party, following issues before the 1999 election that saw Ekwueme stepping down for Obasanjo because it was clear then that colleagues of the latter in the Military were backing him to win the PDP’s ticket. Ekwueme was pressurized to settle for the senate where he would be the senate President but he refused.
Moreover, under the administration of late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua a committee headed by Ekwueme was set up to bring back members who were forced out of the party.
The Ekwueme Committee, at the end of the exercise, discovered to its chagrin that only six of the 34 founding members were still in the party. The committee recommended that those who left be allowed to come back while there must be rule of law, internal democracy, among others.
Rather than implement the recommendations of the committee’s report, soon after he came in as the PDP National chairman in 2008, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor set up another 18 member committee to review the report with his then deputy and former Minister of Defence, Mohammed Haliru Bello as chairman.
Soon after Bamanga Tukur came in and with the determination to implement his agenda of Reconciliation, Reformation and Re-building the party, he set up an eight-man committee with Chief Alabo Graham Douglas as chairman to reconcile members in Kano State.
Now that PDP is out of power, it is hoped that the party would either adjust to its new status