Although the general elections have come and gone, but the dust it raised in some political parties is yet to settle, reports Peterclaver Egbochue
Perhaps, in a bid to address some of the noticeable challenges, which probably resulted in their abysmal performance in the last outing, the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) have taken steps to reposition their parties in order to provide a virile opposition to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). At its National Convention, which held last Saturday in Awka, the Anambra State capital, Dr. Victor Ikechukwu, emerged National Chairman of the party.
He took over from Chief Victor Umeh, who led the party for over a decade but lost to Hon. (Mrs.) Uche Ekwunife, in the Anambra Central senatorial seat in the last election. Other elected officers at the convention ratified the appointment of Anambra State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano, as Leader and Chairman of the Party’s Board of Trustees (BoT) and other members of the Board. Governor Obiano called on the new APGA Exco to work had to improve the party’s popularity saying, “Fellow party faithful, let me say, and boldly too, that we are in a historic moment.
Our country is on the threshold of a new beginning. Fellow party men and women, with this convention, we have a golden chance to lay a great foundation for the emergence of a viable opposition that will enrich democracy in our country. So, this is a rare moment. And we must seize it, define it and turn it into a milestone in the history of our nascent democracy”.
In a paper titled, “Rising to the Demands of our Times”, Governor Obiano further observed that “after years of playing at the margins of our country’s political history, the time has come to take a bold step out of the shadows and mount the centre-stage of Nigeria’s political theatre. The recent general elections gave us a chance to test our own strength and gauge our overall appeal across the country.
We came back from the polls with the realization that this great party has not lost its basic appeal; that the alternative model of governance we offer is still the clear preference of the larger spectrum of Nigerians. “Fellow party folks, the ebb and tide of our nation’s history has swept aside the old political arrangement and opened a door for a new political order. If my reading of Nigeria’s political temperature is right, there is no better time for our party to attain its manifest destiny and fulfill its age-old promise than now. Our dear country needs the light of inspiring leadership and the rays of a wise opposition. This generation has a responsibility to provide both in equal measure.
“So, as we settle down to the business of the day, let us bear in mind that Nigeria expects great things from us. Let us remember that we are gathered here today for the greater good of Nigeria. Let us remember that our country comes first. “Under my watch, we shall always strive to lay down the right fundamentals and ensure a strict adherence to the rules.
We shall pull the levers of purposeful leadership with a view to ensuring the emergence of a robust internal democracy. There will always be a fair attempt to ensure that no stakeholder is left behind and that no political wound is left to fester for too long. We shall build a strong political family where petty grievances will not be allowed to shape our overall approach to the weighty issues of the state.”
On his part, the new chairman commended Umeh’s leadership for its steadfastness and pledged that his leadership would reconcile all genuine aggrieved members of the party so as to reposition it to play the role of the most formidable opposition party in the country. Ikechukwu, pledged that in the next four years, that the party would take over the nation’s Presidential power and urged members of the party to give the new leadership all the necessary support to achieve the ambition, adding that in addition to entrenching internal democracy in the party, “every member would be availed equal opportunity to realize his or her political ambition.”
For the PDP, reposition the party to recapture power in 2019 at the centre and in most of the states it lost as well as play the role of opposition is sacrosanct. To this end, its former national chairman, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu, was forced to resign followed by its former Chairman, Board of Trustees (BoT), Chief Tony Anenih. In their place, the party nominated former Acting National Chairman of the party, Dr. Haliru Bello Mohammed, and Chief Uche Secondus, as acting national chairman and BoT chairman respectively.
In his response, Mohammed expressed gratitude to the party for finding him worthy for the responsibility of repositioning the party towards the 2019 general elections. He said the executive powers of the party still resided with the National Working Committee (NWC) while the BoT would act as the conscience of the party and advice the NWC on how to move the party forward. “We are sending this party back to the people and with what we have seen in the last 16 years, our relationship with the people of Nigeria we are confident that the PDP will still remain the largest party in Africa and certainly the party of choice in Nigeria,” he noted.
Secondus, in his contribution said the acting officials would collaborate with the party to take the party back to the grassroots. “By so doing we are going to reinvent and reposition ourselves for the new position of PDP to provide vibrant, robust and constructive opposition,” he stated. The National Secretary of the BoT, Sen. Walid Jubrin, said the acting officials would be in office for about three months as the appointments were a temporary measure to reposition the party.
Similarly, the PPA has taken steps to deal with what it described as leadership failure in the last election, which saw it losing in virtually all the positions it entered for in all the states. The party, which also accused them of incompetence and misconduct, has dissolved its executive committees in Niger, Ekiti, Sokoto and Plateau States respectively and has set up a 12-man caretaker committee to take responsibility, pending the conduct of a fresh congress.
According to the National Working Committee of the PPA, its Niger State chapter was dissolved “after series of investigation which found members culpable of gross misconduct contrary to Article 12(2) a, b, c, d and refusal to appear before its disciplinary committee”. The NWC also accused them of allegedly “causing disaffection within the party and unruly behaviour” to the leadership of the PPA.
The National Chairman of PPA, Chief Peter Ameh, in a letter to the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Attahiru Jega, said the action “became imperative in order to strengthen and reposition the party for enhanced performance, vibrancy and improve our chances as we start early preparation for future elections”. His words, “Apart from the offence listed in their official letters, including gross misconduct, the affected states failed grossly to enhance the chances of the party at the last polls, where some of them failed to file in candidates for the election.
We see such actions as high level of incompetence because there was enough time to prepare, promote, and sell the manifesto of the party to aspirants. “They could not state clearly what distinguished our party from other political parties, including our commitment to fairness and due process in our party’s selection process and respect for internal party democracy. “We are going to sit down with INEC and discuss.
We are going to look at how to improve the voting system and make it right because the Option A4 of 1999 is still greater and more transparent than what we have today. “We are still going to look at better ways to improve the electoral process. If we are going for full-blown electoral voting system, we should go for it to protect the interest of all registered political parties.
In doing that, the mandate of parties, which won election, will not be lost. “Also for parties which lost election, they will see it as a transparent process that will encourage acceptance of the results and include participation in the electoral process.” With the actions of these political parties, it is hoped that the APC would certainly contend with formidable opposition in the days to come.