PEOPLES Democratic Party (PDP) is bleeding. The exit, in droves, of stalwarts of the main opposition party to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is forcing the party to hobble.
Sure, nobody is surprised that PDP members are biding goodbye and embracing the ruling party. It is in tandem with the political character of politicians in Nigeria. The party calling the shot , either at the centre or state is always the darling of political players. The culture has been in place since 1999.
What is, perhaps strange in the current situation is that a plethora of untoward happenings are taking place in the PDP and are fast threatening its continued existence. In fact the prevailing condition of the party is pushing up a hail of predictions from different circles regarding the party’s fate.
Apart from large scale defection of members to APC in the last couple of weeks, the unending leadership crisis rocking the party is draining its blood and strength .
The battle over whose shoulder the party should rest on has been raging between the acting National Chairman Uche Secondus and former Special Adviser to former President Goodluck Jonathan on Political Matters, Alhaji Ahmed Gulak. Only last week, Gulak announced that he was now in charge . He cancelled all arrangements so far made for the forthcoming congress by the Uche Secondus led PDP.
Gulak in a statement by his media aide, Ochuba Emmanuel, hinged his claim on the recent judgment by the High Court in Abuja, on December 16, 2015, which ordered Prince Secondus to vacate office as the Acting Chairman of PDP, not later than December 29, 2015. The judgment had specifically asked Secondus to hand over to Gulak or any other person from the North-east zone of the country.
Gulak’s statement read , “The Court went further to make an Order of perpetual injunction against Prince Uche Secondus, restraining him from continuing to act in the office of the National Chairman of PDP. In disobedience to the court Order, Prince Uche Secondus did not vacate office, nor hand over to the plaintiff, or any other person from the North-east zone of Nigeria.”
The statement further former submitted that a detailed letter by his counsel to INEC and BoT of PDP also specified that he is now the ‘authentic National Chairman’ of the PDP, pending the election of a national chairman.
“Alhaji Gulak has also cancelled the congresses already scheduled by Prince Secondus, declaring it illegal as the National Executive Committee (NEC) did not meet to ratify the dates. He said new dates shall be announced in due course after a NEC meeting”.
Secondus camp didnt allow the claim slip off without a counterpoise. The National Publicity Secretary of the party, Chief Olisa Metuh shrugged off the Gulak’s claim insisting that power has not changed hands . According to him , it was impossible for Gulak to emerge as PDP national chairman without the Appeal Court delivering on the stay of execution filed by the party over the issue.
He said , “We don’t have a new political party. What we have is the PDP and the acting national chairman is Prince Uche Secondus. So it is not true, it is not possible and nobody can be rewarded for saying that Gulak is the new PDP national chairman. We have filed a stay of execution at the appeal court.
“There is no judgment that Gulak should be made the national chairman of the PDP. We don’t expect a new PDP national chairman without NEC. With the stay of execution filed at the appeal court, you can’t expect a new national chairman of the PDP now until this season is over”.
While the power tussle was taking a toll on the fortunes of the party , the clampdown on some chieftains of the party by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and officials of the Department of State Service(DSS) meant that attention shifted from how to relaunch the party to how the individuals can save their heads .
Some of the chieftains are either arraigned in court or arrested in connection with the $2.1bn Arms Contract scandal involving the former National Security Adviser, Col Sambo Dasuki(retd). They include Chairman of Daar Communication, Raymond Dokpesi, former governor of Sokoto State, Attahiru Bafarawa, Acting Chairman PDP Board of Trustees Haliru Bello, Olisa Metu. While Bello was arraigned on Tuesday, Metuh was arrested by EFCC.
The effect of their arrest on the party is better imagined. Not only that they no longer have time to strategise on how to reinvent the party several other prominent members of PDP are no longer publicly identifying with the party.
Even meetings called to chart a new path for the party are hardly honoured by the people involved. For instance, the meeting summoned last month by BoT members at Transcorp Hilton to elect a new chairman could not hold because of lack of quorum.
“We are going through our worst moment. We dont know where the party is headed , the party is going down every minute”, a BoT member told Daily Sun.
Although PDP has some governors , the latter are not showing much interest in how to refocus the party. The reason is clear: they are fighting for their survival. Most of them are in courts over their election. Sone have even had their elections cancelled by the Court of Appeal and are waiting for the Supreme Court to know if they would remain in the office or not.
In a bid to survive the legal onslaught on them, some of them have turned their back on PDP and instead are romancing APC, the ruling party.
“Our Governors are not concerned about what is happening in PDP because they are concentrating on how to overcome legal challenge “, the BoT member said.
Former Senate President, Ken Nnamani, saw the current situation of the party coming and warned members last October to stop playing to the gallery and work hard for the relaunching of the party. According to him, the only way PDP can wrest power from the All Progressives Congress (APC) is to go beyond mere castigating of the ruling party and think out new ways of running the party . He recommended that party leaders must obey and abide by the rules of the party even as he advocated the abolition of delegate system in the conduct of primaries for the selection of candidates.
Nnamani in a paper he was scheduled to deliver at the PDP Rebrand Forum held in Abuja urged members to stop the blame game over the party’s loss of last election.
He said: “Many of the people who are very pained that we lost the presidential election have needlessly been blaming ourselves. This blame game should not continue. We lost the election because we deserved to lose. We had run out of policy gas. We worked hard to lose the election.”
“Now it is time for renewal and renewal requires strategic thinking and bold actions. Many years ago, I worked with some of my colleagues in the PDP and we foresaw this moment. We predicted that the PDP needed to keep faith with its cardinal principles and values to sustain its leadership of Nigerian politics. How I wished our other colleagues listened to us in those days. We would have averted the disaster of the 2015 electoral defeat. Some of those who contributed immensely to the PDP electoral defeat shouted us down and refused to hear our voice of wisdom. This is past now. There is no time for recrimination and self-adulation. It is time for clarity and effective action.
“It is time for genuine embrace of internal democracy. The new PDP should become the symbol of internal democracy. Our rebranding should first start with a real commitment to internal democracy. I suggest that before we go further on this journey let all those who desire to lead PDP in formal or informal positions of authority publicly declare a new code of conduct. The heart of this code of conduct will be an oath to always promote and protect internal democracy.
“Beyond the code, the new PDP must put in its constitution expulsion for any party official at all levels who deliberately subverts the process of internal democracy. Impunity must end now. Impunity does not end with mere words or declarations. It includes clear sanctions for violation of core tenets of party systems. It is common knowledge that we lost many states to the APC because we deliberately refused to conduct primaries that allow our party members to vote for the candidate of their choice. If we have been less reckless in management of party politics we would have gained at least four more states and perhaps won the presidential election. But we shot ourselves on the foot.”
Before now, the position of many is that PDP will wrest power from APC in not too distant time if it organises its house very well. What is on ground right now does not foresee that happening albeit nothing is impossible in politics. The continuous slide of PDP means that the party may go into extinction . That, certainly , will not help the country. But it cannot be checked if the party leaders could brush aside their self serving goals and ambitions and think out ways of saving the dying soul of the once ‘largest party in the black race’.