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PDP: Charting A New Course

Posted: May 20, 2015 at 1:25 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Austin Oboh, Lagos

 

May 29 will soon be here and Nigeria’s political behemoth will roll down the aisle of power. This much has become a reality known and accepted by even the combat-fatigued ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). One of the indications of this is that the party has since begun to remap its path to recovery very early, as reified by media reports. One of these reports indicated last week that top shots in the PDP have started discussing possible alliance with other parties, beside the victorious All Progressives Congress (APC) which will soon displace the PDP in Abuja. Whereas reports claim that the party was considering merger plans, clarifications emanating from the party’s head office point otherwise. At present, the PDP’s position is that it is indeed not averse to alliance talks with other parties, but it is not ever going to drop its name.

 

Coming from the Cold

What brought the PDP to this humble pass was the recent humiliation of the party at the poll by its major rival, the APC – a development which has continued to grate at the party’s innards ever since.

The party also lost its majority position in the two chambers of the National Assembly as well as the Nigeria Governors Forum where it will shrink to a minority on account of losing governorship election in the South-West and the entire North, except Gombe and Taraba states.

Moreover, the party’s victory in Rivers State is under threat with the APC seeking legal means of overturning the PDP’s governorship victory.

Involved in the scheme to reverse the situation are party pillars in the North such as former Minister of Defence, Theophilus Danjuma, and former Minister of Finance, Adamu Ciroma.

It is also believed that with the exit of Goodluck Jonathan whose reelection bid unsettled the party and hindered a cohesive confrontation with the APC – even giving rise to large-scale betrayal of the party by party stalwarts – there is likelihood that people like ex-military president, Ibrahim Babangida, will return fully to the party and join the fresh effort to reposition the party.

In the South, former president Olusegun Obasanjo – who has denied ever tearing his party membership card – would possibly return with his supporters, though half their number has since joined the APC.

Very likely, the PDP would be eyeing returnees and defectors from APC.

 

Plot against PDP NWC

But by far the most tumultuous event being expected in the party in the months ahead, which definitely will determine its future direction, is the ongoing move against the party National Working Committee (NWC) which has Adamu Muazu as head.

The moves purportedly involve big shots in the party, mainly outgoing governors and some PDP senators.

Not long ago, the NWC was accused of collecting N300 million towards the presidential campaign effort but failed to deliver.

However, the NWC denied the accusation and shifted the blame for the party loss instead to the presidential campaign committee for purportedly using hate speech against candidate of APC, Muhammadu Buhari.

Two weeks ago, Metuh addressed journalists on the matter. He said the money given to NWC members were the backlog of allowances that had not been paid for two years. He disclosed that instead of embezzling campaign funds, the party spent the over N9 billion it generated on the sale of nomination forms on the presidential as well as governorship and assembly campaigns.

Mr. Metuh also pointed out that the NWC was side-lined during the campaign and that no money was given to it and could not therefore, have embezzled what was not given in the first place.

Regardless, PDP leaders who have remained recalcitrant over their call for the resignation of Chairman, Adamu Muazu, and other members of the NWC are not holding back.

Their eyes are set on the PDP convention scheduled for May 15, 2016.

The alliance talk is being touted as preliminary steps to addressing the wide-ranging issues that have become the burden of the party.

According to inside information, the party considers that it would be able to improve its present reputation by absorbing other political groups into its fold despite retaining its name.

 

Unlikely Alliance

Regardless, some political observers hold the view that alliance talks with small parties such as APGA, LP, Hope Party, and others may take place but will likely not see the light of day. Reason: the PDP – even at this point of kissing the dust – may not easily wean itself of its long accustomed arrogance of power which has inhibited cooperation with other parties in the past.

Besides, some critics note that APGA, which has remained a regional party, dominating in Anambra, has since the last elections publicly expressed regrets over its co-operation with the PDP and getting hurt in the process. The critics maintain that it would be difficult for APGA to trust PDP again.

PDP would also be considering the electoral value of the other parties before they agree to go on any partnership with them.

 

Early Signs of Bottleneck

In any case, the Labour Party, named among the parties being considered for alliance by PDP, hastily reacted last week, insisting that it was not involved and might not be interested in any merger talks with the PDP.

Speaking with journalists on Saturday, the National Secretary of the Labour Party, Barrister Kayode Ajulo, debunked the rumours of an impending merger as “false and diversionary”.

Ajulo stated that at no time whatsoever did the leadership of the party enter into merger talks with any other party.

His words: “The rumoured talk of a merger between the Labour Party and other parties such as the PDP is a figment of the fevered imagination of some mischievous peoples. Such an issue has not been raised within the party exco at all, and neither has anyone or, any party has any agreement on the issue with us.

“It is highly irresponsible for anyone to drag the esteemed name of the Labour Party into rumours of an impending merger. If at all anyone has entered into any such talks, he is doing it strictly on his own, not in the name of the Labour Party.”

The Labour Party National Secretary affirmed that “political power or relevance for its own sake is not the goal of the Labour Party,” and stressed that the party was committed only to the cause of the Nigerian workers and the masses in general.

Said he: “Our goal is not just to seek power or relevance; we are committed to alleviating the sufferings of all Nigerians. We are therefore prepared to work with anyone who will put the Nigerian people first, and seek to bring succor to the homes of Nigerians everywhere across the nation.

We will cooperate with any government, group, and individual that show, with its policies and actions, that it truly seeks to bring relief to Nigerians, that is also our desire, so it is only reasonable to cooperate with such groups, if any.”

 

PDP Denies Merger talk

As though to substantiate the position of the Labour Party, the PDP followed immediately with a statement denying any plans to change its name and ideology in favour of any merger plans with other opposition political parties.

The party in denying the news item that its leaders are well disposed to merger with other political parties, however, added that its doors are open to any other political parties that want to fuse with it, but insisted that it will never lose its identity or ideology in the name of such merger.

The now opposition party insisted that the fact that it lost the last general elections and thereby lost control of the Federal Government and some of its states in the last general elections, does not mean it has stopped being what it used to be.

In a statement issued and signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh, the PDP insisted that “it is still the truly national political party with strength and spread enough to regain pre-eminence.”

The party therefore stated that it is not contemplating a change of identity, noting that the unassailable vision of its founding fathers remains timeless in building a Nigeria of the collective wish and aspirations of all citizens.

Metuh in the statement insisted that PDP “having been the guardian of Nigerian democracy for sixteen years during which it nurtured and blossomed democratic governance as well as etched its name in the pantheon of good governance, the PDP will not in the circumstance of ephemeral loss of power change its identity or its time-honoured characteristic values.”

The party said though it is resolutely committed to its present structures, it would not close its doors to other political parties wishing to be assimilated into its fold as the best vehicle for the fulfillment of political aspirations of all Nigerians regardless of tribe and religion.

Hear him: “We have a name, tradition and values. Sixteen fruitful years as the guardian of Nigerian democracy cannot be nullified by the reason of temporary setback. We shall rise beyond all and regain our rhythm. Our colour remains green, white and red and power still belongs to the people. And to assert that we are proud of the successes of our successive leaders in taking Nigeria to its present height is an understatement, which the passage of the next four years under the APC will certainly prove.”

It added that the fact that the PDP is going into opposition would not mitigate its ability as the flagship of democracy, maintaining that it will soar higher in proving credible alternative as a constructive opposition, “far removed from the wrathful destruction that the APC lived thus far.”

He said: “We have no doubt lifted the banner of democracy very high and only wish that the APC will move beyond excuses when it takes over in weeks’ time to reconcile mouthful promises with the reality of fulfillment. We have not only laid a solid foundation, we have built to a height that no denial can wish away. We therefore call on all our members to ensure that they are not in any way distracted but remain focused as the unity, cohesion and regenerative capacity of the PDP is very much intact, election loss notwithstanding.”

The picture would probably get clearer when Muazu returns from medical trip overseas and the PDP begins house cleaning in earnest.