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Published On: Fri, May 18th, 2018

2019: nPDP’s threat and way forward

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Police deny death of kidnapped SyrianExpectedly, intrigues preluding any general election in the country have begun to play out. History has a way of repeating itself and only those with capacity to deploy experience can prevent the repetition of unpleasant outcomes.
In August 2013, at the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) special delegates congress held at Eagles Square Abuja, history was made when seven serving governors on the platform of the then ruling party, led by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and ex-Acting National Chairman of the party, Alhaji Abubakar Baraje, staged a walk-out to protest the planned imposition of former President Goodluck Jonathan as the flagbearer of the party for the 2015 Presidential election.
Governors who staged the walk-out included those of Jigawa, Alhaji Sule Lamido; Niger, Babangida Aliyu; Sokoto, Magatarda Wamakko; Adamawa, Murtala Nyako; Rivers, Rotimi Amaechi; Kwara, Abdulfatah Ahmed and Kano, Rabiu Kwankwaso.
Of the seven, the governors of Jigawa and Niger reconsidered their position and returned to the party while the remaining five pitched their tents with the then emerging All Progressive Congress (APC), which later won the 2015 Presidential election.
Although several efforts were made to lure the dissenting governors and their supporters back into the party with its then National Chairman and former governor of Bauchi state, Adamu Mu’azu, leading a reconciliation committee to reconcile the aggrieved members, nothing much was achieved.
With the dumping of the PDP and the formation of the New PDP by the decampees, the stage was set for the failure of the then ruling party which was overrun by the newly formed political amalgam called APC.
The APC was formed by the defunct Action Congress if Nigeria (ACN), Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP), and a fraction of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). The mega party was later to be buoyed by the hordes of decampees from the PDP.
But the failure of the ruling APC leadership to bond all its members after the 2015 victory at the polls is about taking its toll as the same members of the nPDP have regrouped to protest their alleged marginalization in the ruling party.
Led by same old Baraje, the group has given the leadership of the APC seven day ultimatum to redress their grievances failure which they would have to take another plunge. The group called on President Muhammadu Buhari, currently out of the country, to address the issue of marginalization and alleged victimization of their members.
They alleged that their members have been schemed out of political relevance in the last three years with just one slot in the federal cabinet given to one of their own. The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi was a member of the nPDP. It is however not clear whether he subscribes to the latest agitation of the group.
Reminded that the leadership of both chambers at the National Assembly: Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, are prominent members of the nPDP occupying number three and four positions in the nation’s political hierarchy, the group maintained that they never got the positions by consensus.
It would be recalled that both positions were reserved for lawmakers known to belong to the legacy parties that formed the APC. For instance, by the calculation of the ruling party, the seat of the Senate President was supposed to be taken by the Ahmed Lawan, incumbent Senate Majority leader while that of the Speaker was originally zoned to the South-West and reserved for Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila who is the current Majority Leader of the House of Representatives.
Resorting to deft political maneuverings and self help, Saraki and Dogara emerged leaders of both chambers in defiance to the wishes of the party’s leadership. The nPDP argued that but for the popularity of the two leaders, the leadership of the National Assembly would have been taken away from them. They therefore insisted that it was wrong for the party to pretend as if the positions were willingly accorded the nPDP.
The group also raised the allegation that their members are being constantly hounded, subjected to public ridicule and ignominy by those in authority. According to the group, they have always been treated like outsiders in a party they helped built and installed.
They alleged that the ceaseless trial of the Senate President at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) and constant harassment of their members by the anti-corruption agencies amounted to nothing but witch-hunting.
Recently, Senator Dino Melaye, a member of the nPDP, was arraigned and remanded in police custody in a wheel chair even when he claimed he was sick and unfit to face trial.
While not discountenancing the police right to arrest and try anyone suspected to have committed an offense, members of the nPDP, who are fast turning to internal opposition within the ruling APC, argue that he ought to have been given a benefit of doubt. They frowned at the humiliation meted to him by the police by arraigning him on a wheel-chair like a common criminal.
The frosty relationship between the legislature headed by an nPDP members and the President from the defunct CPC was also cited as a manifestation of the disdain with which they were being held.
According to the group, the evil that led to their dumping of the PDP, where they alleged that they were marginalized and denied the required political space to realize their ambition, has stealthily crept into the ruling APC and as such, something needed to be done for there to be cohesion and sense of belonging ahead of the 2019 general election.
But the timing of the protest of the defunct nPDP members at a time like this when the President had declared his intention to run for second term made their intention suspicious.
One may be tempted to reason that these politicians may have colluded with external forces to make Buhari’s return a Herculean task more so when their revolt was coming few months to the 2019 general election.
It would be recalled that ex-Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Ibrahim Babangida had counseled Buhari not to seek reelection. They both canvassed for the emergence of a ‘Third Force’ which would wrestle power from Buhari as he insisted on contesting in 2019.
Though the nPDP has yet to announce that it would join forces with the ‘Third Force’ as canvassed, there are indications that the group may eventually opt out of the ruling party.
Former governor of Osun state and an arrowhead of the nPDP, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, recently turned in his resignation letter as the Chairman of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) saying he had greater political assignments.
Oyinlola is a known die hard follower of Obasanjo and the leader of his National Intervention Movement (NIM) which is poised to diffuse into a political party for a probable grand alliance with other parties ahead of 2019. Suffice to say that Oyinlola, a former National Secretary of the PDP, has formerly dumped the APC.
It stands to reason that the Baraje led group may be working towards joining forces with other groups to form another alliance against the ruling party to wrestle power from the incumbent.
Apart from the nPDP challenge, there are so many divisions in the APC that may affect the fortunes of the party in the oncoming elections if not well addressed. The current leadership of the party under Chief John Odigie-Oyegun obviously has not demonstrated any capacity to remold the party for the task ahead.
APC’s leadership has been unable to reconcile its members in several states of the federation and going to an election of 2019 magnitude as a fragmented party will produce nothing but abysmal failure.
The defeat of the PDP in 2015 has proven that the incumbent could be defeated by an organised opposition. Therefore, the APC must work harder to put its house in order.
It has become imperative for the President, who is the ultimate leader of the party, to immediately move to salvage the remains of the ruling party. President Buhari must call the aggrieved members and assuage their fears. Since politics is give and take, Presidential intervention may still save the day for the ruling party.
Should the APC desire to continue in power, it’s leadership must work hard not to allow history repeat itself as its consequence would be calamitous not only to the party but to the country at large.

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