Party’s popularity far below 2019 level – Investigation
Atiku/Wike impasse is ‘salt upon injury’ – Stakeholders
Rivers Gov should give peace a chance – PDP chieftains
‘It’ll be historical calamity for APC to rule beyond 2023’
BY BENEDICT NWACHUKWU, TIMOTHY AGBOR, MAYOWA SAMUEL AND BRIGHT JACOB
Except immediate, intentional and wide-ranging efforts are made to halt the drift in the leading opposition Peoples Democratic Party, the party may be in for a rude shock come next year, The Point has learnt.
The gulf of disagreement in the PDP is getting wider by the day following the unending squabbles between former Vice President and party’s standard bearer, Atiku Abubakar and Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike. They were the main contestants at the May 28-29 presidential primary which was eventually won by Atiku.
As a result, it does not take the services of soothsayers to know that things have truly fallen apart in the PDP and the centre is no longer holding. Wike has not hidden his anger and disdain for how things have turned out in the past few months.
His public romance with chieftains of the ruling All Progressives Congress whom he has airlifted to his state to commission projects in quick succession speaks volumes of the level of his contempt towards the PDP.
SCENARIO IN PDP SCARY
The Executive Director, Adopt a Goal Initiative, Ariyo Dare Atoye, described the scenario in the PDP as scary and that it could definitely truncate the party’s ambition to return to power after being out in the cold as opposition for eight years.
“I think the PDP is in a serious situation in trying to find its bearing after the primaries. As a leading opposition party, it cannot be business as usual in terms of how post primaries are conducted where people just go into campaigns looking for victory here and there.
This time around, one thing which in reality PDP must accept is that there must be intense negotiations. Globally, power is not given a la carte. Sometimes, when you don’t even have the strength as a party, what you have to do is negotiate with other parties for numbers.
“Now within the PDP, the party is extremely threatened because those who have won, the candidacy would not want to thread on with the Wike group and there’s no way they won’t do it if they really want to win elections. Already as we speak the Obi Movement is still there. Every day it’s eating into the numbers of the PDP and the 2023 election is going to be about numbers. Unfortunately, the main opposition party cannot quickly resolve its internal crisis, they will realise that they would have lost the election they would have won. And I don’t think the PDP is looking at these numbers; they have just 13 governors and they have less number of members of the National Assembly. They are not looking at the numbers, they are not looking at the facts available. Their candidate is a Fulani man who wants to succeed another Fulani man. What that means is that PDP does not have to be flippant with time, PDP must brace up with the challenges ahead and quickly negotiate with Wike and even for psychological reasons convene and not to grandstand.
“For PDP to face the reality of the moment and to accept that all dynamics have changed globally that you must negotiate for power. You must negotiate in terms of consensus, in terms of appointment, in terms of all other benefits that accrue as a result of victory in an election. So, if Wike group is demanding the national chairman, of what benefit is the national chairman position to Ayu? People have forgotten that once the Wike group gets the national chairman position, the party will get so much from Wike as the biggest spender in the PDP but I don’t know why they are being flippant, why they are not being strategic enough in resolving with Wike. I don’t know anybody in the PDP today who can commit resources like Wike, they are just full of themselves.
“Secondly, the issue of power shifts to the South. After the death of Yar’Adua a Fulani man, you want to have Atiku, already Peter Obi is eating into the numbers, the only way that can strategically assuage the South is for Atiku to commit to the Nelson Mandela option whereby he will want to come and unify and run the government of national unity.”
Atoye insisted that the PDP is fast arming its opponents ahead of the very crucial elections and added that the party would definitely realise its mistakes when it’s too late except if it falls back and reads the handwriting on the political walls. He maintained that the party cannot get it right without negotiating with everybody they need to.
“People have forgotten that once the Wike group gets the national chairman position, the party will get so much from Wike as the biggest spender in the PDP but I don’t know why they are being flippant, why they are not being strategic enough in resolving with Wike. I don’t know anybody in the PDP today who can commit resources like Wike, they are just full of themselves”
“PDP must have to understand that it must negotiate with everybody, Atiku must be willing to concede and there is no time to gamble. APC is a very strong party, it has the numbers, it has resources, and we shouldn’t make the mistake of allowing a party that has performed so badly to return to power. It’s not good for our nation. It’s going to be a historical calamity for us to watch and see that in 2023 we are going to continue with APC and unfortunately the PDP is behaving so arrogantly and unable to put their house together and this is not good for the only way out.
Also reacting to the developments in the PDP, a social critic, Abdullahi Abdullahi, said the simple truth about what is happening in the PDP is a calamity befalling not only the party but the country also.
He said the party is the hope of downtrodden Nigerians who have been crying for a rescue from the ruling APC but it seems they will cry longer before a solution will arrive.
“Look, the PDP is dampening the hope of numerous Nigerians who see them as the party that can rescue the country, but from what they are exhibiting, they are not ready. From all indices the PDP is not ready for the 2023 elections. Maybe they don’t believe that Nigerians’ votes will count in the forthcoming election. A party that should have capitalized on the maladministration of the APC is even shakier than the APC.
“From their preparations for the choice of candidate, I mean Presidential candidate, till the conduct of the primaries and even till date, the PDP has yet to show sign that the party is ready to take over the Aso Rock Villa from the APC. It is rather the APC that are forging ahead, so if I say the party cannot get its acts together before the forthcoming elections; it’s not an indictment but the reality on ground. How long has it taken the party to reconcile its aggrieved party faithful since May they held their Special Presidential Primary that produced Atiku Abubakar as the standard bearer of the party? They have more questions than answers to their problems.
“One thing I found out is that rather than the PDP feasting on the numerous mistakes of the APC, they commit more blunders and begin to battle with it without a solution. Look back to the removal of Uche Secondus as the National Chairman, the zoning of national offices, and then the presidential candidacy. None of these problems has been solved. People are talking about Governor Wike. They have forgotten that former governor Peter Obi left the party a few days to its primaries, after paying for the nomination forms and so also, many others. Today, love him or hate him, Obi is making serious waves in the build-up to the election.
“Everybody knows that the voice of PDP is Wike. Since he did not pick the presidential ticket, why not meet him and find a common ground for the benefit of the party? Today we will read Wike has dumped the PDP, tomorrow it will be a different story. But we all know that all is not well between the Atiku group and Wike group. It just gives some and takes some or gains some and loses some which is the order of the game of politics. But it seems those of them in PDP are playing “winner takes it all” politics and the result will definitely be a colossal defeat at the polls.
“I don’t want to believe the PDP does not know that the Obi Movement is gaining serious grounds all over the country. People are joining on a daily basis. It’s no longer the social media thing, it’s now real because the PDP has failed the people in their prayer and desire to have them go for a rescue mission from the terrible APC government. Until they put their house in order, they will not convince the suffering Nigerians to trust them. Peter Obi will cash in on their inability to resolve their internal problem and cause upset in 2023.
“Where is PDP’s stronghold? Where do they have confidence in block votes? Simple, the South East and South South. But the party cannot claim that in the forthcoming elections. If Atiku loses the South East and South South votes, where will he get block votes? The North will be free for all contests because votes will be shared in the north. So, I believe that the PDP is seriously arming its opponents, particularly the Labour Party and I will not be surprised in the end with any eventuality.”
Abdullahi further noted that the PDP is toying with its chances in 2023 by allowing the face-off between Atiku, Ayu and Wike to linger. He said the reason is that the party erroneously believes or it seems to believe that the election pattern is the same as in old times.
“I heard governor Wike blasting on a television programme that his people will not vote for someone who does not have respect and regard for them. He emphatically said he is in charge and that they are going to vote for their friend. Yes he did not mention who they will vote for or who they will not vote for. Definitely, they cannot vote for a party where he feels he was ill-treated. Recently he has been inviting chieftains from the APC for projects commissioning in his state. Also, a high-powered delegation comprising governors from the South West visited him. Does one need the services of a soothsayer to know that PDP is fast losing grips in the South East and South South, the answer is no.”
To Emeka Anuruodor, a lawyer, the PDP cannot get its acts back on course for 2023.
“My answer is no. The PDP cannot get its acts back on course for 2023 the way it is going. A party that was the ruling party lost it to APC in 2015 and became the opposition party, now that Nigerians are tired of the APC, the PDP is yet to find its bearings. The party is one week one trouble and the pitiable thing about the party is that it believes it has structures but does not know that the structures have gradually collapsed with the coming of Peter Obi and the Labour Party. I’m saying this because the Party’s block votes come from the zone Obi is now controlling, so how can the PDP win the forthcoming elections? It’s not possible.
“The infighting between Atiku’s group and Wike’s group will leave the party in skeleton going into the 2023 elections. Remember Atiku already has something working against his candidature. If he plays the ostrich and allows himself to be pushed into the election next year, he will not be happy with the outcome. The best thing for him now is to call the bluff of those advising him against reconciliation with Wike, and go ahead to bring every member of the party together so that they will go into the election a united force, anything short of this will leave him licking his wounds at the end of the polls.
“And let me tell you, suffering Nigerians will not forgive him and the PDP if, through their mistakes, APC returns to power in 2023.”
WE ARE THE PARTY TO BEAT – PDP STALWARTS
Other chieftains of the PDP, however, have expressed optimism that the crisis plaguing the party would soon be over.
They urged Wike and other aggrieved leaders of the party to consider the plights of Nigerians which were brought upon them by the ruling APC and make way for lasting peace.
A stalwart of the PDP, Niyi Owolade, called on Wike to allow “common sense” to prevail by allowing peace, adding that it would be more disastrous if the crisis caused PDP to victory in the 2023 general elections.
Owolade, a former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Osun State, said there were moves for peace talks and declared that the crisis in the party would be resolved in September.
He said, “We should continue to jaw-jaw, politics itself is a game of management of different ideas, different permutations, and different concepts. And a party that is as large as the PDP, the largest party in Africa, of course, there is bound to be people with different ideas, we will just continue to jaw jaw and believe that common sense will eventually prevail.
“There are arguments on both sides. The people on one side are of the view that all the major positions in the party seem to come from one part of Nigeria, the other side too will try to reconsider and see which of the positions will have to go to the south to template the south. I believe that we will eventually resolve the matter. The party will eventually solidify. We are in the month of August and the election is in February, I believe that we will resolve it in the next one month because no one would want this APC that has taken the country 50 years backward to continue to rule this country again, that would be terrible for us.
“So, nobody can afford that and that’s why I feel that common sense will eventually prevail in PDP. We cannot afford to give APC another chance to govern this country again. They have ruined us; I can’t see any aspect of human endeavour that APC has not destroyed. Almost seven and half years ago, we have gone backward and enough is enough with the APC. APC is crooked and they don’t mean well for this country. They are too desperate and they want to get to power at all costs.
“So, Governor Wike and others who are aggrieved should consider that it would be disastrous if PDP allows APC to take over governance again. They should make way for peace. What I think will happen is that eventually, politics is about you winning some, you lose some because you can’t have everything you want. But I know common sense will eventually prevail,” Owolade said.
For the caretaker chairman of the Osun State chapter of PDP, Akindele Adekunle, the party would eventually get its acts together and take over the reins of governance in the country.
He said efforts were currently on to achieve peace and bring aggrieved members back to the fold for the PDP to be victorious in the forthcoming polls.
“If Atiku loses the South East and South South votes, where will he get block votes? The North will be free for all contests because votes will be shared in the north. So, I believe that the PDP is seriously arming its opponents, particularly the Labour Party and I will not be surprised in the end with any eventuality”
“Don’t say we cannot get our acts together, democracy is not easy and you should expect fallout from the primary. Governor Wike is a party man and you will agree with me that most of the things you are hearing from the news, internet, and social media are the creation of the opposition, especially in APC.
“So, we are on top of it and efforts are being made by all stakeholders and leaders across the country to resolve the issue once and for all. Definitely, very soon, there will be peace in the party and all issues will be resolved amicably. The crisis won’t affect our victory. We are the party to beat.”
For Rahman Akanni Owokoniran, two-time past Lagos State Commissioner under the tenure of Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu and current PDP South West Zonal Secretary, “This is a hard ball that Governor Wike is making and for me, I don’t have any fears about Governor Wike. He has invested so much in the party, and he made it clear right from the onset that he has no interest in any other party but the PDP and he will never cross. I will take him for his words but I believe the situation we have found ourselves in PDP is that there is no mechanism in place after the primaries to address the fundamental issues that might have arisen from post-primary elections. Governor Wike is not alone; I’ve spoken with so many of these presidential aspirants, a number of them. They feel remotely connected to the candidate of the party right now. They love the party, they don’t want to go but they also have the fear that should they do all the work, what are the guarantees that they would get recognition? They want the candidate to assure them, so what I see is that they want assurance that we still have a team, we can still deliver this team and we will be part of the sharing of the gains after the victory.
“So, I don’t think Governor Wike has the intention of crossing to any other party. I think we are doing fine considerably as against the party in government. A lot of good work is going on in the North now, and other parts of the country. This one that is hunting us has to do with the aftermath of the primaries. It is now incumbent on the party and the leadership to see to it that these mechanisms have to be put in place against the next elections. So, this one has to be urgently addressed, too much weight is being given to a candidate that has won an election but is not looking to ensure that we don’t win the election. Instead he’s chasing a few people that we need their votes.
He’s also chasing people from other parties that want to come around and give him his support.
“At the same time, he will expect that, internally, other people should be taking care of business. If you study the American system of primaries, it does not end at the convention, of course not. Representatives of each state will come around to confirm the process. Apart from that, there are structures that address some of those complaints. That’s why election after election, they are guided by regulations.
These are the things that assure people internally and allow us to move the party in the right direction. But as of now, our own system is still new, we are still getting our hands on it. That’s why the whole thing is looking rocky but I’m sure we’ll get it right.
“For now, some of us are concerned, and it has become a general public concern. He has put in time, money, energy and everything and nobody wants to do anything for nothing. But he’s allocating the blame in the wrong channel.”
Another chieftain of the party in Edo State, Anselm Ojezua, said the PDP was handling the crisis “correctly”.
However, Ojezua said party supremacy should always precede personal interest and should always reflect when members make decisions.
“I think the PDP is handling it (crisis) correctly. I also think the proper question to ask is what the members (those who are aggrieved) should do (to address the crisis).
“I believe that is what you should concern yourself about because the truth about it is that the reason why people say the party is supreme is because party interest is always more than personal interests.
“So, in all the decisions we (members) take, we have to understand that the party’s interest is more than our interest,” he said.
Citing the presidency as an instance where he believes party interest should come first, Ojezua said if the PDP lost the presidency because of personal interest, it would not favour anyone, including Wike.
He stated that it was in Wike’s interest to ensure that the party clinches the presidency so that “he would be accommodated one way or the other.” Further commenting, Ojezua said if Wike worked against the party, he would still lose in the end and be more vulnerable than anyone else.
He said, “If we lose the presidency, how would it favour Wike? It is in Wike’s interest to ensure that we win the presidency so that he can be accommodated one way of the other.
“But if he works in a manner that will favour an opposing interest, he will still lose, and he is more vulnerable than anybody else with regards to his own activities,” Ojezua added.
Ojezua, who was a former chairman of the APC in Edo State, also said that Wike would be “doomed” if he did anything to favour another party, and the only way he would find success was if Atiku were to emerge victorious in the poll. He said that way, party members would be in a position to convince the President that “Wike’s issue should not be a priority for now since he’s one of us.”
Ojezua noted that anything short of an Atiku victory means that the enemy “would treat Wike like an enemy, regardless.”
Whether he had any fears the PDP could be arming its enemies because of the crisis, Ojezua disagreed and reminded Nigerians that “the ‘enemies’ have enough problems” of their own.