…The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) commenced its campaign with a zonal rally in Sokoto state, North-west, on December 3, 2018. However, after the successes recorded in the northern region the campaign, which only touched the South-west zone is yet to get to the South-east and South-south despite having been scheduled twice. With the state rallies already underway ABDULRAHMAN ZAKARIYAU takes a critical look at issues impeding the party’s campaign in the South.
Few days after being nominated the PDP flag bearer in the 2019 presidential election, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar named former Governor of Anambra state, Peter Obi, as his running mate.
The former governor was said to have emerged as the preferred choice of both the party and the candidate after series of consultations by stakeholders in the party and outside it.
Contrary to this claim, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekeweremadu, some PDP governors in the South-east and some party stakeholders kicked against the selection of Obi as running mate, on the account that they were not consulted. Though some of them denied allegation of being against Obi indication is that they appear to be less concerned about the success of the party in the presidential election. A claim, the party has severally denied.
However, a reliable source told Blueprint Weekend that, “the trouble in PDP South-east and South-south started since the party and its candidate selected former Anambara state governor, Peter Obi.
“Though the party and its candidate, Atiku Abubakar, has tried to quench the fire, it is still persists. That was why the party haven’t been able to hold its zonal rally in South-south and South-east,” the source said.
Choice of Obi set party back
Confirming the development, another source, who did not what the name mentioned, told Blueprint Weekend that the party is going through crisis in the South-east and South-south since the party and its presidential candidate decided to pick Obi as it vice presidential candidate.
The source, who is in the know of happenings in the party said that,” there has been serious trouble among the PDP members and stakeholders in the South-east and South-south.”
According to the source, “Many people are angry that Peter Obi, who is not a core PDP member, was selected ahead of those of them who have always been members of the party. What also compounded the problem was that they were not consulted before the choice was made.
“In fact most of the governors from these zones and some members of the national assembly are still very bitter about it. That is why many are not so committed to the party’s presidential campaign and the zonal rallies scheduled to take place in these zones have been cancelled rescheduled and cancelled again.”
Speaking further the party chieftain said, “The party and its candidate had made effort in the past to settle these issues, but it meant deaf ears. This is because no definite statement was made about how many terms Atiku/Obi will spend. So, is it a single term? If yes, which zone will take over? So, these are part of the issues that has been fuelling the crisis though the party leadership has continued to intervene and play down the situation.”
Continuing, he said: “Aslo, the party and its candidate have not made any commitment to those who are aggrieved. Some of these individuals want the party and its candidate to tell them what they will get if the party eventually wins the February 16 presidential election. To these people they still want to be relevant politically and they feel that with the coming of Obi their political relevance may be truncated their political career ended.”
Blueprint Weekend investigation also revealed that since the party presidential primary election a new set of individuals seem to have taken charge of the party in the two regions. Similarly, the seeming in deference on the part of the party’s national leadership is said to have made some critical stakeholders to stay away from party affairs for the time being.
Critical stakeholders like former governors as well as serving key officials are said not to be consulted on the party activities, this is said to be one of the reasons most of them have not been consistent on the party campaign trail.
It has also been alleged that, the Deputy Senate President, Like Ekweremadu, who is supposed to be the leader of the party in the South-east, unhappy with developments, allegedly leading the aggrieved members from the two zones. The deputy senate president is also alleged to be working, in consort with some other governors, for the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) and its presidential candidate, Buhari, in the February 16 election.
However, attempt to get responds from the deputy senate president proved abortive as the number of his Media Adviser, Uche Anichukwu, could not be reached at the time of going to press.
Blueprint Weekend also gathered that former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan had stepped in to the reconcile mode. According to a source, he recently conveyed an important meeting to reconcile all the aggrieved. However, our correspondent could not get details of the meeting could at the time of filling this report, however, one of the high ranking party member who attended the meeting hinted the it was an on-going process, even as the chieftain maintained that the issues would be resolved soon and amicably too.
Crisis creeps to South-west
Interestingly, the party held a successful zonal rally in the South-west, however, signs of more trouble have started to manifested as the party in South-west may have caught the bug as two separate campaign councils were inaugurated for Atiku/Obi presidential campaign.
Ordinarily, one would have considered it as insignificant because it is within the state but it appears to be threatening the success of the party in the region.
Finance is their problem-APC
The All Progressives Congress (APC) claimed that what was causing the setback was that, Atiku and PDP faced serious difficulties raising funds for campaigns.
APC’s Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena, recently alleged that due to the stringent measures put in place by the present administration, the PDP is in a dilemma on how to source funds to run the Atiku Presidential Campaign.
Nabena claimed that information available to him showed that the PDP’s hope of sourcing campaign funds from public coffers has been dashed.
He said, “The presidential candidate (Atiku) expects the party to provide funds for his campaign. This is the Buhari era, an era of strict accountability and transparency in the use and application of public funds and not the Jonathan era in 2015 when the national treasury was open to PDP leaders to prosecute the presidential campaign.
The party leaders are therefore in serious difficulties and dilemma on how to source funds to run the Atiku Presidential Campaign.
“Some financiers of the party expect that the candidate, having bought the ticket with millions of dollars, should have the financial capacity to run his campaign. With the candidate’s expectation that it is the party that will fund his campaign, it is now clear that they are at a crossroads and the chickens have come home to roost, he added.
There is no crisis in our party – Ologbondiyan
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has debunked that there are setbacks for the party’s campaign in the South-east and South-south that the party is at peace in all party of the country.
PDP National Publicity Secretary and the Presidential Campaign Organization, Director Media and Publicity, Kola Ologbondiyan disclosed to Blueprint Weekend that “we are at peace everywhere.
When asked why the party couldn’t hold its zonal rally in South-south and South-east, Ologbondiyan said, “there is no problem, we didn’t go to these zones because we changed our strategy.
“Now we are going to state by state, we have started with North Central and so we will cover all the north central state before we go to other zones.”
We’re saving the best for last
Reacting to the insinuation that it was the crisis rocking the party in the South-south and South-east zones that had prevented it from holding its presidential campaign rallies in these zones as earlier scheduled Ologbondiyan said, “The truth is our party is at peace everywhere. Don’t forget the Shakespare in his book Julius Ceaser once said what touches us ourselves shall be last served. South-east and South-south are ours to grab and the world will testify to this when we go there.
He also added that, “even the south west, the Yoruba people are all behind the PDP. So when we go there for rally the National Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who is benefiting from the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, will certainly be shocked. February 16 election is ours.