In this piece SAMUEL OGIDAN takes a critical look at the crises in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) occasioned by the fallout of the just concluded primaries and the implication of the crises to the survival of the party
The prediction by Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) stakeholders that the party would rule for more than 60 years is at the moment being put to test, as individuals from sections of the country were not only saying that the party should give way for Nigerians to have a taste of another political party at the seat of government after 14 years in power, but they are already expressing disdain and apathy for ruling party as the cause of the problems in the country.
All is not well with the party itself, as one crisis after the other have continued to trail it, the latest being the fallout of the just-concluded primaries organised by the party across the country.
The primaries have witnessed severe criticism from all quarters and this has not only led to members decamping to other parties to achieve their political ambition, but others have projected that the crises in the party occasioned by irregularities in the primaries’ elections and the highhandedness of some party leaders to ensure that their loyalists emerge as flag bearers at all levels would help to destroy PDP.
Some political watchers have begun to compare the smooth primaries in the All Progressives Congress (APC) and that of the crisis ridden primaries of the PDP without bordering to analyse the gimmick that played out in the primaries conducted by the APC.
The blind eye to the undercurrent maneuvering in the APC primaries goes to show how much some section of Nigerians want PDP out of power by all means, but unfortunately most people who shout their voice hoarse do not vote during elections as many of them do not have voters’ card.
However, not only has PDP developed thick skin to the fallout of the primaries, but it was gathered that the final list by the leadership of PDP and which the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) would work with was also full of inconsistencies and that some persons names have been removed to pave way for loyalists.
From the ward congress to House of Assembly to House of Representatives to Senate and to governorship is the same story across the states. This public outcry against the conduct of the primaries by the ruling PDP, political analysts have noted would be the driving force that would dissipate the party if care is not taken by the leadership of PDP.
In Sokoto state for instance, the present deputy governor, Muktar Shagari, who has been loyal to the party and who refused to dump the party when the incumbent governor, Aliyu Wamakko decamp to APC could not win primary. This was attributed to sabotage and selfishness in the party.
Another aspirant in the state, Senator Senator Abubakar Umar Gada, had described the primary conducted in the state as illegal, shameless and fraudulent.In a petition to PDP National Chairman, Adamu Mu’azu, Senator Gada, through his campaign director, Nasiru Garba Kalanbaina, Gada called for fresh primary as a way of addressing the situation.Senator Gada further described the primary as massive rigging, electoral fraud and contravention of PDP electoral guideline.
In the petition, Gada said, “It is with heavy heart full of consternation, that I write to you in respect of the aforementioned subject matter. Following the shameless and regrettable conduct of the gubernatorial primaries of the PDP in Sokoto State by an electoral panel which compromised itself even before the beginning of the Gubernatorial Elections.
“Following the gross irregularity, massive rigging, flouting of PDP electoral guideline, the electoral act and the fraud attendant on the Gubernatorial primaries in Sokoto State, I hereby reject the results and call for total cancellation of the results and rescheduling of a fresh Gubernatorial primaries in the State this.”
Explaining his reasons for rejecting the exercise, Gada said that entire gubernatorial primaries in Sokoto State was marred by electoral malpractices, illegality and fraud. He called on the party leadership to take note as fraudulent electorate acts were capable of destroying the democratic fabrics of the PDP as an institution.
According to him, “the only way to redress the situation and ensure justice and fair-play to all the aspirants and the teeming supporters of the party in Sokoto State, who are averse with the result of the primaries is to cancel it and inaugurate a fresh panel to conduct new primaries.”
As if that was not enough, Forum of Akwa Ibom state PDP Governorship Aspirants, in a letter to President Goodluck Jonathan, PDP National Chairman, Adamu Mu’azu, PDP National Organising Secretary, Alhaji Abubakar Mustapha, PDP National Legal Adviser, Victor Kwon, the Director of State Security Service (SSS) in Uyo, the Commissioner of Police, Akwa Ibom state command and the Resident Electoral Commissioner (INEC) in Uyo, lamented the fundamental anomalies affecting the governorship primary’s election held in the state.
The letter with the title, “fundamental irregularities affecting the substance of the gubernatorial primaries in Akwa Ibom state,” was signed by HE Nsima Ekere, Senator Helen Esuene, Amb. Assam Assam (SAN) and 19 others.
Part of the letter reads: “We note the multiplicity of the lists of purportedly elected delegates in Akwa Ibom state freely published in the various news media. Notably is the first list that emanated from Akwa Ibom Consolidated Alliance (ACA) and signed by Obong Paul Ekpo, the state Chairman of PDP which was denounced by both the Akwa Ibom state government and the state Chairman of PDP, Obong Paul Ekpo, claiming same to be fake.
“Ironically, the list that was earlier denied is the same list that is used in inviting delegates to this congress as announced on Akwa Ibom Broadcasting Corporation (AKBC) media.
“Recently, another list emerged carrying the imprimatur of the National Organising Secretary of PDP and which list is totally at variance with both the lists earlier signed by the state Chairman PDP and the one announced on radio inviting delegates to this congress.
“Notably, all the lists are contrived in that no ward congresses took place in any of the wards in the state to our knowledge and that of the national headquarters of the party.
“It should also be noted that all the purported delegates from the entire state were invited to the government house where they were addressed, threatened, intimidated and induced with the sum of one million naira (1,000,000.00) each to ensure compliance by voting for the governor’s preferred aspirant, Mr. Udom Gabriel Emmanuel.
“It is curious and unconscionable that in a clear violation of the guidelines of the party for primary elections and the electoral Act, the contrived list of ad hoc delegates is populated by political appointees of government and civil servants. This impunity and disregard for the electoral process and the law cannot be ignores.”
In Imo state, the eleven governorship aspirants, which include Chief Mike Ahamba (SAN), Sen. Chris Anyanwu, Hon. Bethel Amadi, Sen. Bright Nwanne and others called for the cancellation of the ward congress.
In Adamawa and other states, the story is the same, this has not only given some PDP stakeholders concern, but this alleged impunity has led to the party bigwig leaving in drove.
With all the pleading from President Jonathan that aggrieved members should not leave the party, some still left with the excuse that there was no point staying in PDP that has deprived them of their opportunity to serve the nation in another dimension.
President Jonathan had recently appealed to aspirants of PDP, who lost at the primaries to remain in the party in the interest of democracy.
Speaking at the PDP fund raising dinner held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, President Jonathan had said that the leadership of the party was working to resolve all outstanding issues in the congresses and primaries.
“We all appreciate that throughout the congresses where primary elections were conducted there have been some outstanding issues. The party is working to resolve these issues; definitely, in such situation all may not be resolved to the satisfaction of everybody. But my plea to party members is to remain committed to the party; stay with the party.
“If out of anger or frustration, you leave the party because you didn’t get what you wanted, then you are not contributing to the growth of democracy.
“I know other parties are wooing some of you to contest elections on their platforms, but if you believe in democracy then you will contribute to strengthen it. The only way you can strengthen democracy is for you to stay in your party,” he added.
Some prominent leaders of the party have either left, expressed intention to leave, or expressed their dissatisfaction at the manner of conduct of primaries in their states.
In Benue for instance, a former PDP National Chairman, Bernabas Gemade, has already joined the All Progressives Congress, APC, after expressing anger at how Governor Gabriel Suswam picked the PDP senatorial ticket of his zone to displace the former who is the incumbent.
In Oyo, former governor Alao Akala and his supporters have joined the Labour Party after expressing their dissatisfaction at the PDP governorship primaries that produced Teslim Folarin as candidate.
In Lagos, the immediate past Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro, has rejected the primaries that produced Jimi Agbaje as the PDP governorship candidate. A similar situation is playing out in Nasarawa where immediate past Information Minister, Labaran Maku, has rejected the PDP governorship primaries.
“If out of anger or frustration, you leave the party because you didn’t get what you wanted, then you are not contributing to the growth of democracy,” President Jonathan had said.
With key stakeholders leaving the party in anger and Nigerians expressing dissatisfaction with PDP led government, 2015 elections will be a hard nut for the party to crack. And with the rate at which the opposition APC is putting its house in order for the 2015, the forthcoming elections would actually determine the survival of the ruling party.