Francis Moses examines the internal crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), after its abysmal outing in the just concluded general elections.
After its poor showing in the just concluded general elections, in which the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC), won, the PDP is going through serious internal crisis which has seen most of its members leaving the umbrella party to the APC rather than stay back and rebuild the party for 2019 general elections.
For some, PDP’s loss came as a surprise given the assertion in 2008 by Chief Vincent Ogbulafor, its then national Chairman that the PDP would rule the country for sixty unbroken years.
Things eventually fell apart between the Abia State born politician and President Goodluck Jonathan, when a statement credited to him before 2011 general elections that power must remain in the north before 2015, was made public.
Ogbulafor was later forced to resign and later faced the court for several years over charges of financial embezzlement. The court eventually quashed the case on October 2, 2014 and freed him .
Since then Ogbulafor who had also been National Secretary of PDP, Minister in the government of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, had remained silent, almost politically idle and out of news until recently when he visited APC leadership.
Political watchers argue that the PDP should start now to strategize on how to bounce back in the shortest time possible instead of blaming the party bigwigs of their failure in the polls.
Only recently some members of the party have said that President Goodluck Jonathan should not hold the National Working Committee, (NWC), responsible for losing the presidential election. Addressing Journalists recently in Abuja, the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, while exonerating the party from Jonathan’s failure, stressed that the defeat was because the party and its leadership were not carried along and their advice was ignored.
“We did not lead the party to failure, we were not involved in the campaigns and our advice was ignored. If we had handled the campaign, Mr. President would have won the election. We cannot be held responsible when our advice was ignored,” he stated.
He added that if the party’s presidential campaign in 2003 and 2007 had ran hate campaign against Odimegwu Ojukwu, who contested the presidency with former President Olusegun Obasanjo, and late Musa Yar`Adua, respectively, the South-East would have voted against it.
He disclosed that the NWC did not play any significant role in the party’s 2015 presidential campaign.
He added that members of NWC did not share part of the presidential campaign funds as was being speculated, nor were they involved in the disbursement of funds.
The party’s spokesman maintains that the committee members had no knowledge of how the money voted for the campaign was spent.
He explained that the N30 million allegedly paid to NWC members, with President Jonathan`s approval, was meant for furniture, medical and other backlog of allowances.
This, he said, was accruable to the members of the NWC in the last three years. According to Metuh, the PDP generated about N9 billion from the sales of Expression of Interest and Nomination Forms to aspirants to various elective offices on the platform of the party in 2014.
Based on this, he said, the party donated N500 million to Prof. Jerry Gana-led National Presidential Campaign Fund Raising dinner in December, 2014. He also said the NWC gave out N100 million to each of the 29 governorship candidates of the party for the April 11 governorship election.
“We sponsored our House of Assembly candidates. The money was passed through the governors or through ministers and gubernatorial candidates in states where PDP had no sitting governor,” he said.
Metuh added that the NWC, however, got approval from Jonathan for all its spending and expressed readiness of the committee to make its account public.
“For the avoidance of doubt, we wish to state categorically that this national leadership has remained very transparent in all its dealing since coming into office. No member of the NWC has ever been accused of embezzlement of funds in any ministry, department or agencies of government at any level whatsoever.
“We state clearly that we have not been given any money, rather this NWC generated billions of naira from the sales of forms from where we funded our candidates for governorship and State Assembly elections in all the states of the federation,’’ he said.
This, Metuh added, was in addition to funds released to key leaders, including NWC and Board of Trustee members, to prosecute the campaigns in their various areas.
He further maintained that the NWC was willing and ready to make its account public in line with the Freedom of Information Law. He, however, said the party had resolved its differences following the intervention of Jonathan, the PDP governors and other key stakeholders of the party, including governors-elect and legislators-elect.
The party has set up a committee to review and evaluate the performance of the party in the last elections. The committee, known as the Post-election Assessment Committee, is expected to make recommendations for the repositioning of the party.
The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, heads the committee. Other members of the committee are Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio; Governor of Abia State, Theodore Orji; Governor of Gombe State, Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo; Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha; Governor-elect of Rivers State, Nyeson Wike; Minister of Education, Ibrahim Shekarau, and Minister of Internal Affairs, Abba Moro.
Others are former Niger State Governor, Abdulkadir Kure, Adamu Waziri, Sen. Ahmed Makarfi, Makanjuola Ogundipe, Pegba Otemolu and Funmi Ayoola. The committee would be inaugurated at the party’s national secretariat, Abuja.
However, a Chieftain of the party, Alhaji Yinka Ajia, has called on the national chairman of the party, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu to resign with immediate effect.
He added that President Jonathan’s defeat in the North-Western and North-Eastern states proved Mu’azu’s incompetence.
However, there are reports that the National Chairman of the PDP, Muazu, who before now was addressed as “the game changer”, may have jetted out of the country to evade being forced to convene a meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party, where he may be asked to resign. Muazu has been under intense pressure to quit his position as the party Chairman following the PDP’s poor showing in the March 28- April 11 general election.
The party’s leadership had blamed the state governors elected on the platform of the PDP and some other leaders, for its electoral failure.
At the moment, it is not clear where the National Chairman has travelled to, but there are indications that he may have informed President Jonathan before embarking on the trip.
A Legal Practitioner and observer during the elections, Ikechukwu Ikeji, noted that the just concluded election was one of the most rigged elections he had ever witnessed in Nigeria, despite being considered free and fair.
Mr. Ikeji accused the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officials of being compromised, stressing further that the politicians themselves were out to rig and those who won simply outwitted those who lost.
“Just about every politician I came across was in the game of rigging. Nothing can be farther from the truth than that these elections were fair and free. In fact I have to be honest; this is one of the most rigged elections I have witnessed. I was in the field and I can tell you that electoral offences were rampant,” he stated.
He reacted to the statement by the (INEC) that it had commenced the compilation of all electoral offences recorded in the 2015 general elections with a view to prosecuting those found wanting.
The legal practitioner said it was a good statement by INEC that they would prosecute electoral offenders, but noted that the solution does not just lie in advocacy, pronouncement or trying to put technology in place to obviate the need for politicians to rig.
He advised that the attraction in elective and political public positions be reduced to discourage politicians wanting to get to position by all means.