By HENRY UMORU
When the former Governor of Bauchi State for eight years, Chairman, Governing Board of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Alhaji Ahmed Adamu Muazu took over from his predecessor, Ambassador Bamanga Tukur, January 20, 2014 at the 64th National Executive Committee, NEC meeting at Wadata Plaza, PDP National Secretariat to become the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, he had boasted that he would restore the lost glory of the party.
Muazu, a member of NEC of the party and an aspirant to the position of National Chairman prior to the March 2012 National Convention, came on board as head of the National Working Committee at a time the PDP was fractured and factionalised, with so many tendencies struggling for control of the party machinery as if the party was near total eclipse.
Knowing the very serious assignment, Alhaji Adamu Mu‘azu kicked- started the task of building a new PDP that would be embraced by all, and it has been all about trying to recover grounds and goodwill lost to the opposition during the traumatic Tukur years.
His guiding principle has always been what he told party leaders, stakeholders, elders, members at Wadata plaza the day he took over that “those without work should stay off PDP secretariat, I am here to work, there is no doubt that all has not been well with our party. I will restore the lost glory of the PDP, with your total support”
As a man ready to deliver especially ahead of 2015 general elections, Muazu at every event will always express his desire to consult with party stakeholders, leaders and members and would always express his desire to work with others especially giving assignments to elders and leaders of the party, knowing that no one has a monopoly of knowledge and if you must succeed, others must be brought on board to contribute, an expression which smacked of humility and inclusiveness.
Muazu has also made no pretences in his desire to grow the membership base of the party with plans to admit everybody including ‘Scorpions’ especially with the All Progressives Congress, APC lurking in the corner ahead of 2015.
With Muazu as PDP chairman, Wadata Plaza, PDP National secretariat which was hitherto deserted by party leaders especially the Governors, immediately came to life as Governors Sule Lamido of Jigawa, Ibrahim Shema of Katsina; Ramallan Yero of Kaduna; Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta; Theodore Orji of Abia; Gabriel Suswam of Benue; Sullivan Chime of Enugu; Idris Wada of Kogi; Martin Elechi of Ebonyi and Aliyu Babangida of Niger led delegations to the Party’s national Secretariat to see the new National Chairman at the party office, not his house.
Others who also visited the Wadata Plaza national secretariat were the BoT led by the chairman, Chief Tony Anenih, PDP Governors Forum led by the chairman and governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio.
It is not only in the area of party leaders visiting that Mu‘azu has succeeded, but he has proved to be adept in winning some former governors in the opposition to the PDP. With his dynamism, doggedness, openness, he has got the name, the game changer as President Goodluck Jonathan, Vice President Namadi Sambo, Senate President David Mark, Chief Tony Anenih, the Governors, Stakeholders, Elders, leaders, members of the party have repeatedly called him at different fora.
For him, he has so far won over former Governors Attahiru Bafarawa of Sokoto; Ibrahim Shekarau of Kano, former Borno State Governor, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff and erstwhile military governor of Lagos and Borno, Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa. Also this year, February 22, 2014 the national chairman won back former Governor Achike Udenwa of Imo State back to the PDP. Udenwa returned to the PDP alongside former Senator Ifeanyi Ararume; Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation, Senator Christy Anyanwu; former lawyer to General Muhammadu Buhari, Chief Mike Ahamba; former Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and the 2011 Presidential candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, among others.
In another development, under the watch of Muazu, member, representing Anaocha/Njikoka/Dunukofia Federal Constituency of Anambra State in Federal House of Representatives and Chairman, House Committee on Environment, Uche Ekwunife, dumped the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, for the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. In the Anambra governorship election of 2013, she lost in the controversial primaries of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, part of which may be her dissatisfaction to leave APGA.
She was not left alone in the movement from APGA to PDP as four out of the five APGA House of Representatives members followed, they were Cyril Egwuatu of Onitsha North and South, Afam Ogene of Ogbaru, Chris Azubogu of Nnewi North/South and Ekwusigo.
Also recently, the festival of defection from the opposition, All Progressives Party, APC to PDP played out in the domain of Edo State PDP Chairman, Chief Dan Orbih, Edo State, when the Senator representing Edo South, Senator Ehigie Edoboh Uzamere dumped the APC for PDP and a member representing Estako Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Abubakar Momoh. Also in Edo state, some APC chieftains, including four House of Assembly members defected to PDP. The lawmakers were : Patrick Osayimwen, Oredo East; Friday Ogierhiakhi, Orhionmwon South; Jude Idehen, Ikpoba-okha; and Rasaq Momoh, Etsako Constituency 1.
Those who also dumped the APC for PDP in Edo State were Osagie Ize-Iyamu, a former vice chairman of defunct ACN in the South-South zone; Mr Tony Omoaghe, ACN former state chairman, and his vice, Alhaji Usman Shagadi; Osaretin Edosanwan, a former speaker of Edo House of Assembly and Isaiah Osifoh, a former Chief of Staff to former Gov. Oserheimen Osunbor; Chief Amos Osunbor, Mr Nosa Adams, Mr Bright Omokhodion, Osaretin Ogbewie, among others.
Yet to recover from this, the APC in Edo state was shocked when one of its national leaders and former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chief Tom Ikimi, dumped the APC and went back to his root, the PDP.
Soon after the endorsement of President Goodluck Jonathan as the party’s sole Presidential candidate for 2015 Presidential election ahead of his formal declaration for his return bid and the Party’s National Convention fixed for December 6, at the 66th NEC meeting held at Wadata Plaza, National Secretariat of the Party, and still desirous to bring permanent peace and reconciliation, Muazu on September 12 inaugurated Zonal Integration Committees for the six geo- political zones to reconcile and integrate old members back to the party as well as swell the support base of PDP ahead if 2015 general elections.
The North East zone has former Senate President Ken Nnamani as Chairman; North Central, former Kebbi State Governor, Adamu Aliero as Chairman; North West has the Chairman, Board of Trustees, Chief Tony Anenih as Chairman; South South, Senator Iya Abubakar; South East, former PDP National Chairman, Dr. Ahmadu Ali as Chairman and South West, Senate President David Mark as Chairman.
The Committees have started work with three weeks to submit reports. Few days into the commencement of proceedings by the Committees, clear indications have emerged that while there will be genuine and close to total reconciliation in some states, that will not be achieved in some states especially with the scenario and tension playing out at PDP presidential Campaign office, Legacy House, venue of the South South meeting. While very high success will be recorded by the Senator Iya Abubakar led Committee in Edo, Cross River, same may not be said for Rivers, Delta and Akwa Ibom.
Before now, Committees of this nature were set up by Muazu’s predecessors like the one set up by Prince Vincent Ogbulafor which had former Vice President Alex Ekwueme as Chairman, the Alabo Graham Douglas Committee for Kano; Shuaib Oyedokun Committee for Kano; Ike Nwachukwu national reconciliation Committee, among others. Yet the problems of lack of internal democracy, imposition of candidates, hijack of party structure by state Governors, among others persisted which led to many members dumping the party.
With feelers, Muazu’s Committee would make a difference following defections taking place barely few days after the Committee was inaugurated especially that of Senate President David Mark for the South West.
One major headache and challenge for Muazu is his inability to bring back to the family of PDP, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar; Governors Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers; Rabiu Musa Kwankwanso of Kano; Ahmed Abdulfatih of Kwara; Aliyu Wamakko of Sokoto; former governor Murtala Nyako of Adamawa and others who dumped the PDP for APC.
In the wake of the problems in the party arising from irreconcilable differences during Bamanga Tukur, Governors Aliyu Wamakko of Sokoto; Ahmed Abdulfatih of Kwara, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of Kano, Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers and former Governor Murtala Nyako of Adamawa States left the PDP for APC. It will be recalled that the crisis in the PDP under Tukur got to a climax when the party split into two parallel NWCs, with former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and six northern governors staging a walk out at the convention ground during the Special National Convention held last August.
It would also be recalled that when he received Governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa State, who was at the National Secretariat on a solidarity visit, January this year, Alhaji Ahmed Muazu, had apologised publicly to the five governors, lawmakers and other stakeholders who dumped the party for APC, saying the party was sorry over what happened. He also pleaded with the G5 governors to return to PDP in the spirit of patriotism, against the backdrop that the party had helped them get to where they are. Muazu stressed that the doors were open for the former party members in the PDP.
Though the PDP National Chairman has not been able to get these Governors back which may not be possible, but only last week, former Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, dumped his party, APGA for PDP.
In a similar vein, Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State along side two members of the National Assembly from the state, all the 26 members of the state House of Assembly, all members of the State Executive Council and his supporters, dumped the Labour Party, LP and returned to his former party. The Governor made the formal declaration at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Thursday, 2 October, 2014 at an event presided over by Vice President Namadi Sambo.
It is also being rumoured that the LP National Chairman, Chief Dan Nwanyanwu would follow, though he had denied it.
Soon after Mimiko, former governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel and his supporters were on Wednesday received by Muazu, Senate President David Mark and members of the National Working Committee, NWC to the PDP at the party’s national secretariat.
While some of the defections have to do with old members returning to PDP with humiliations received then over, others are joining the party for the first time like Shekarau, Peter Obi, Ali Modu Sheriff of Borno, among others.
With these defections, the family of PDP is swelling, thereby creating holes in the opposition parties. The PDP, with this developing, could be said to be coasting to victory in the 2015 elections. It is already clear that these foot soldiers, former Governors are still very strong in their respective states where they would earn victory for the PDP.
While PDP could be coasting to victory with this season of defection, it has become an eye opener for the APC, as it is now left with the option of whether to put its house in order or allow it scatter as it prepares to get its Presidential candidate. It should be clear to APC now that PDP is concentrating on how to sell its candidate and not how to get its candidate or who becomes its presidential candidate for the 2015 presidential election.