For the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, the year 2015 was a dark and bitter one that would not be forgotten given the electoral reverses it suffered and the topsy-turvy paths it threaded.
By Henry Umoru
THE PDP started 2015 with campaigns for the presidential and general elections and toured all the states of the federation. However, the tours did not yield the usual electoral dividends as had been observed in the last 16 years.
Buhari beats Jonathan: The former ruling party did not only lose the presidency, it also lost the majority in both chambers of the National Assembly and most of the states. It suffered on March 28 what could be described as a crushing defeat by the then opposition All Progressives Congress, APC. APC’s Presidential Candidate, Muhammadu Buhari defeated PDP’s Preisdent Goodluck Jonathan.
It was the first time such would happen in our nation’s political history. While the PDP was formed in 1998, the APC, with the merger of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, and later aggrieved PDP members known as NPDP, officially came into existence on February 6, 2013 and was registered by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC on July 31, 2013.
In the Presidential Election released April 1 by the former Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega, Buhari, 72, a retired General and former Military Head of State defeated the incumbent President, Jonathan by more than 2.5 million votes.
Handwriting on the wall
The APC won with 15,424,921 votes while Jonathan of the PDP polled 12,853,162 votes.
PDP, before it crashed in the March 28 election, was in control of 23 states and the National Assembly. The PDP could not manage its success. At the Senate, it had 87 seats in 2007, 71 in 2011 and crashed to all time low of 49 in 2015. The party should have also seen the handwriting on the wall when it lost 16 senatorial seats in 2011.
For the House of Representatives, in 1999, the PDP had a comfortable majority with 214 seats; in 2007, the number rose to 263, but dropped to 208 and 137 in 2011 and 2015 respectively.
The bandwagon effect that hit PDP was not only at the legislative arm, but also in its control of governors as PDP governors dropped from 28 in 2003 to 2007 and then to 23 in 2011. After the 2015 elections there were only 13 PDP governors.
PDP retains some, lose most states
In 2015, the PDP retained some of its traditional states like Gombe, Cross River, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Enugu, Ebonyi, Abia, Taraba, others and lost its traditional states like Jigawa, Sokoto, Benue, Niger and Plateau among others to the opposition.
Obasanjo tears membership card
One major thing that happened to PDP in 2015 was when a former president who served on the platform of the party for eight years, former Chairman, Board of Trustees, BoT of the party, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, in February, asked the chairman of his ward, Ward 2, Abeokuta North Local Government, Ogun State, Usman Oladunjoye, to tear his membership card.
Mu’azu, Anenih resign: Following the abysmal performance of the party at the polls, the former National Chairman, Alhaji Adamu Muazu who replaced former National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur resigned. Also, the former Chairman of BoT, Chief Tony Anenih resigned same day with Muazu and the then Deputy National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus stepped in in acting capacity and former acting National Chairman and ex- Minister of Defence, Dr. Mohammed Haliru Bello stepped in as Acting BoT Chairman.
NWC raises election review committee
The PDP National Working Committee, NWC, as part of moves to heal the wounds inflicted on the party and its members at the polls, on May 5, inaugurated the PDP-Post Election Review Committee with Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu as chairman and after months of brainstorming, the committee, in October, submitted its, which has been endorsed by the National Executive Committee, NEC.
Ekweremadu makes history, retains deputy senate presidency
One unique thing happened in 2015 was how Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu retained his position even though he belongs to the minority party in the Senate.
The PDP taking advantage of the in house political intrigues in the APC and its unreadiness to resolve its internal crisis, snatched the position from the ruling party on June 9.
Mimiko emerges PDP governors’ forum chairman
Another major event in the life of the PDP was the election of Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State as Chairman, PDP Governors’ Forum on June 17. He took over from the pioneer chairman, former governor of Akwa Ibom State and now the Senate Minority leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio.
PDP zones 2019 presidency to the North
In line with the recommendation of the Ekweremadu-led Committee and to learn from its past mistakes, the PDP zoned the 2019 Presidency to the North and this was approved by its NEC.
Holds national conference: To re-examine its self after the 2015 loss, the PDP in November held a National Conference in Abuja with the theme” Sustenance of Democratic Ideals in Nigeria” where the former Chairman, DAAR Communication, Chief Raymond Dokpesi was the the arrow head. It was a gathering of who is who in PDP leadership, governors, lawmakers, both Federal and State; stakeholders, elders, members and it was the first of its kind since the defeat.
Fixs National convention for March 19, 2016
The NWC on December 4 fixed its National Convention for Saturday , March 19 where new leadership of the party would be elected .
According to the National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh said that the ward congresses would hold Saturday, February 27, 2016; local government congresses to hold on Saturday, March 5 and State congresses, Saturday, March 12; while zonal congresses would hold on Wednesday, March 16, 2016. The tenure of the present NWC would expire next March.
Setbacks at election tribunals, courts
Some the victories recorded by the PDP in 2015 were reversed by the the Election Petition Tribunals and Appeal Court, which sacked some PDP Governors and lawmakers at both national and state levels.
Certificate of return
The election of the PDP senator representing Taraba Central, Senator Bashir Marafa was nullified and the INEC was ordered to issue certificate of return to APC candidate, Yusuf Abubakar; Governor Darius Ishaku of Taraba State was sacked by the Tribunal and Senator Aisha Alhassan, now the Minister of Women Affairs was declared the winner. The governor has appealed.
Senator Buruji Kashamu, Ogun East was also sacked by the Tribunal, but the Appeal Court upheld his victory. Vincent Bulus of Plateau State representing Langtang South was sacked by the Tribunal and Matthew Ire representing Oju 2 Constituency in Benue State House of Assembly was sacked by the court.
Court sacks Secondus, Wike, Udom, Mark, Ekwunife, Amori, Sekibo, others
It was also a very big blow for PDP as Justice Hussein Baba-Yusuf of the High Court, Maitama, Abuja sacked Prince Uche Secondus as Acting National Chairman in a suit by former political adviser to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Ahmed Gulak who noted that Secondus was occupying the party’s chairmanship seat illegally.
Justice Baba-Yusuf, who noted that Secondus was from Rivers State and not North-East geo-political zone to which the PDP zoned the position, gave Secondus 14 days within which to vacate the office and directed that the plaintiff or any other party member worthy of that position should take Secondus’ place. Secondus and the PDP appealed against the judgement.
Another setback for PDP in 2015 was the sack of Governors Nyesom Wike of Rivers and Emmanuel Udom of Akwa Ibom with elections to conducted within 90 days. Also former Senate President David Mark; Senators Uche Ekwunife, PDP, Anambra Central; Mao Ohuabunwa, PDP Abia North; and Ighoyota Amori, PDP, Delta Central were sacked by the Appeal. While Senators Mark; Ekwunife; Ohuabunwa would engage in a re-run, Amori was asked to vacant the seat for Obairisi Omo- Agege as the rightful winner.
Loses Kogi gov polls
Not yet recovered from the defeat trauma in March, the PDP suffered yet another defeat, as the APC defeated its candidate and incumbent governor, Captain Idris Wada in the governorship election. INEC had declared Yahaya Bello of the APC as the governor-elect of Kogi State, after the conclusion of the governorship election declared inconclusive November 22. A Supplementary election was held on December 5, in 91 polling units across 18 local government areas.
The election which had earlier been declared inconclusive by Professor Emamnuel Kucha, Vice Chancellor, University of Agriculture, Makurdi,after the margin of win between PDP and APC was less than the number of registered voters in the 91 polling units where election was cancelled.
Bayelsa inconclusive election
In the year 2015, the election of Bayelsa State, a strong hold of PDP and home state of former President Jonathan was declared inconclusive, leaving Southern Ijaw as the battle field as the supplementary election holds next year.
Investigation of Dasuki, Dokpesi, others
2015 is also not the best year for former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki; Chief Raymond Dokpesi; Minister of State for Finance, Bashir Yuguda, others were being investigated and arraigned by the Economic and Finan¬cial Crimes Commission, EFCC over alleged mismanagement of Arms fund.
PDP leaders like Haliru Bello, a source said was also being investigated over alleged diversion of fund meant for arm purchase into the party presidential campaign fund, even as Yuguda had listed Bode George (South- West); Ambassador Yerima Abdullahi (North- East); Peter Odili (South-South); Attahiru Bafarawa (North-West); Jim Nwobodo (South -East); and Ahmadu Ali, North Central, among others as major beneficiaries, even though most of them have denied being part of the said money.