Many in the party saw the meeting coming particularly after some notable leaders started looking for scape goats to blame for the loss of the presidency and some key states in the North central and core North. So when the Governors Forum of the PDP met in Abuja on Tuesday there was no doubting the agenda of the meeting: Appraisal of the March 28 and April 11 elections and the way forward. After being in power for the 16 years since the beginning of the new dispensation the People’s Democratic Party PDP is suddenly faced with the reality of being in the opposition from May 29th 2015 to the All Progressive Congress APC which controlled 22 states, leaving the PDP with 13 states and APGA in one. For a party whose former National Chairman, Vincent Ogbulafor once boosted would rule for the nest 60 years, a prediction that was reechoed by first lady Dame Patience Jonathan during electioneer.
However with the resounding defeat at the just concluded polls, there were calls by PDP members that the party should be overhauled. Some have even demanded the resignation of the leadership, notably the National Chairman, Adamu Mu’azu and the NEC members. The Tuesday meeting which was chaired by outgoing Governor Goodswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State resolved to rejig the with the intention of laying aside the members of the party National Executive Committee, NEC and also mete out punishment to all those who contributed in one way or the order to the loss of the presidency and many states. As a sign of what may be in the offing, many of the NEC members present, including the Chairman, Mua’zu, were asked to walk out.
But in a swift reaction Thursday, Olisah Metuh, National Publicity Secretary issued a release, stating that no members of the NEC has been asked to resign as that was not the intention of the meeting. At any rate, he could not deny the fact that the governors have chosen to take effective control of the management of the party and the findings of the possible caretaker committee to be set up may determine the way forward for the party. Meanwhile for PDP to be able to challenge the APC in 2019 the following are influential party chieftains who have the charm, the resources and the staying power to rally party members across the country and transform the party into a viable opposition capable of dethroning the APC from power in subsequent elections. The outgoing President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan: debatably, Jonathan is the greatest beneficiary of the party since its formation in 1998.
Though little known before he joined politics, Jonathan, 58, has been a deputy governor in his home state, Bayelsa and later governor between 1999 and 2007. He was elected vice president in 2007, became acting president in 2010 and president from 2010 till date. He leaves office on May 29, 2015. As president, Jonathan has been the leader of the PDP since 2010. Jonathan is expected to play a key function in restructuring the party into a formidable opposition force.
However, playing this role may be difficult for the president as he might be busy with international engagements. Perhaps in the absence of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo from the party, Jonathan will definitely become the number one personality in the party. He is likely to assume the position of chairman of the party’s Board of Trustees in the months ahead. Senate President David Mark is another strong factor that will help to revive the party in other for the PDP to come in 2019; meanwhile he is the outgoing Senate President. Mark is another beneficiary of the PDP structure. Before the return of democracy, Mr. Mark, a retired army brigadier-general, had been military governor of Niger State and communications minister. He has been in the Senate on the platform of the party since 1999. He chaired the Committee on Banking and Currency in the Senate. It could be recall that Senate President David Mark says he will remain a member of PDP even if it means he is the only one standing. In a statement he released to mark his 67th birthday on April 8th, the Senate President said all those who are currently defecting from the party are fair weather friends.
His words “If I will be the last man standing, I will remain in PDP, defectors are fair weather friends.” Clearly, Mark has enormous resources that he could deploy in helping the party get back on its feet. He has the charisma and is regarded as one of the wisest men in the party told. He has in the recent past helped in the resolving intra-party crisis and reconciling party members across the country. On his part, Governor Godswill Akpabio: He is the outgoing governor of the oil-rich Akwa Ibom, a state he “uncommonly transformed”. However became a force to reckon with when he became Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum in 2013. He recently won election to the Senate to represent Akwa Ibom North West. Although he will be in the opposition in the upper legislative chamber, Akpabio will certainly play a key role in repositioning the PDP, especially the huge financial war chest he is believed to have amassed over the years. Governor Sule Lamido is the outgoing governor of Jigawa State; he was a founding member of PDP.
He was a member of the G18 and 34, which fought the self-succession plot of former Head of State, Sani Abacha. He contested the governorship election on the party’s platform but lost. He was to serve as foreign minister in the Olusegun Obasanjo administration between 1999 and 20003. He assumed power as governor in 2007 after staying four years out of political office. However, his party lost the state to the opposition APC both in the recent presidential, governorship and legislative elections. It is believed that Lamido, will be one of the rallying points of the PDP in the post-Jonathan era.
Adamu Mu’azu: He is a former governor of Bauchi State. He assumed duties as national chairman of the ruling party in January 2014 when the party was in turbulence. Popularly called the “game changer,” the fortunes of the party appear to have further dimmed under him. For the first time in 16 years, the PDP lost gallantly in a general election. Under Mu’azu’s watch, the party lost the presidential power to the APC in the March 28 election as well as several PDP states in the north.
It is on record that despite his boast that the PDP would win 24 states in the governorship election, the party lost its earlier strongholds, namely Jigawa, Katsina, Kebbi, Bauchi (his home state), Benue, Plateau, Niger, and Adamawa. Although, there are calls for his resignation, Mu’azu instead has been assuring that the PDP would bounce back. Liyel Imoke: Imoke, is the outgoing governor of Cross River. He was a senator in the botched Third Republic. He has also benefited hugely from the PDP in this dispensation. He had served as power minister in the Obasanjo administration before becoming governor in 2007. Although many expect he would remain relevant in the rebuilding process of the party, there are those who believe his below average performance as governor may rob him of the moral foundation to be a credible PDP salesperson.
Olusegun Mimiko is the Ondo State governor who started out on the platform of the Alliance for Democracy. He served as health commissioner in the state. He later moved to the PDP and became SSG before he moved to the centre where he served in the Obasanjo administration as Housing minister. However, he defected to the Labour Party on whose platform he ran for governor in 2007. Although the PDP was declared winner of the election, the Court of Appeal later ruled that it was Mimiko that won the election, meanwhile the governor’s tenure is ending next year, has since returned to the PDP.
It is believed that his return to the PDP was in anticipation of getting a federal appointment if the party returned to power. Although, the APC won the presidential election in Ondo State, Mimiko is likely to stick with the PDP and might play a key role in reforming the party. He might be one of the key figures around which party members in the Southwest could rally and seek direction. Ken Nnamani was Senate President from 2005 to 2007, from Enugu state; Nnamani is currently the Chairman of the Governing Board of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission. He is a respected PDP member and could be the rallying point of the party, particularly in the South East.
Mean while the presidency has stated that the (PDP) defeat in March and April polls is only a temporary setback and not the end of the road. Meanwhile it could be recalled that Governor Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, believes the (PDP) is not dead despite losing the presidency, majority in the Senate and state governors to the APC, he expressed optimism that the acclaimed largest party in Africa will bounce back in 2019. The governor stated this while receiving the Umar Nasko Campaign Organisation led by Alhaji Aminu Yusuf at the Government House, Minna recently. His words “Our party is not dead. When all these cool down, we will properly reorganise to bring PDP back to its formidable political strength. Many things have happened and this is not the time for us to apportion blames”. “I therefore hope that during the time we will have to reorganise our party, we would add more ideologies to what we have. Let me urge you to stop thinking you have failed; it went beyond the limits of individual efforts.”