The unveiling of the new political party, Advanced Peoples Democratic Alliance, APDA, to the public last Monday came with much apprehension from members of the new party and some other interested political stakeholders.
By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
APDA has for some weeks been rumoured to be the alternative platform canvassed by some members of the former ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP who would not contemplate having Senator Ali Modu Sheriff as their national chairman.
It is remarkable that the PDP had in the past also distanced itself from the new political party. However, believing that was difficult especially for those who had followed the PDP’s recent dance of death. However, the deep connection of PDP chieftains in the new party could not be hidden despite the overt effort to portray the party as a convergence of political stakeholders from different persuasions but sharing the same political philosophy of social democracy.
Among the fronts presented to show off the party as being distinct from the PDP was the appointment of the veteran party organiser, Alhaji Shittu Mohammed as interim national chairman of the party. Mohammed was before now, chairman of the Republican Party, one of the fringe parties that had not made much impact on the political landscape.
However, more crucially, he was not too long ago, chairman of the Inter-Party Advisory Council, IPAC, an outfit formed by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC for political parties to interact among themselves.
Another face projected to distinct the party from the PDP was the very visible presence of Chief Dan Nwanyanwu, a former national chairman of Labour Party, LP.. After his exit from Labour Party, about two years ago, Nwanyanwu had remained seemingly partyless until now.
The most visible PDP stakeholder at the unveiling which took place at the Ritz Continental Hotel in Abuja was the broadcast mogul, Chief Raymond Dokpesi who had vied for the office of national chairman of the PDP last year. Dokpesi, who stayed at the back of the hall when challenged on his presence at the non-PDP event shied away from the newsmen saying only that “it is not my show.”
Many other PDP bigwigs Vanguard learnt, however, preferred to remain in the shadows and monitored the event from their homes which was broadcast live on the AIT network owned by Dokpesi.
However, the emergence of the new party Vanguard learnt is only one of the options for the Senator Ahmed Makarfi led tendency in the PDP.
Other options reportedly being canvassed include a merger into the Social Democratic Party, SDP one of the many parties that the Makarfi group had been negotiating with.
Other parties that have been in talks with the Makarfi faction Vanguard learnt include Labour Party, the Advanced Democratic Party, ADP which had initially styled itself as the mega party that political commentators had for the past months been predicting would birth in the polity.
Sources said that the Makarfi faction in the PDP which is presently the only major critical political group to the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC has in a bid to strengthen itself ahead of the 2019 general elections had mandated the Gana committee to negotiate with new and old political groups.
“The idea is to see which of them has enough social democratic credentials so that even if the Supreme Court judgment is favourable,” the party would know how to go a source close to the development disclosed yesterday.
A leading stakeholder and former journalist said that the emergence of APDA would remove the controversies that normally shadow the nomination of candidates. “A situation in which governors and some bigwigs determine who is the party’s candidate for president or governor cannot obtain in APDA,” the former journalist told Vanguard as under the new dispensation voting for nomination of candidates would be done electronically from the wards.
“Party members would not need to come to Abuja to elect a presidential candidate as they would do it from the wards and no one can influence them as it is the practise when they come to Abuja,” the stalwart said.
The crave for internal democracy has understandably shaken some PDP governors who were believed to have been in support of the new party at the beginning. Whether the governors turn against the APDA would depend on whether or not they are able to find an alternative platform to project their political aspirations. Understandably, even before the unveiling ended last Monday, the PDP was again denying any association with the new political party.
Spokesman of the Makarfi faction, Prince Dayo Adeyeye in a statement said: “For the avoidance of doubt, we reiterate once again that we are not in any way associated with the new party in any form or guise. The APDA is neither an offshoot of the PDP nor its alter ego as some are speculating.”
“This statement is made purely to set the records straight and to avoid unnecessary innuendos, speculations and ambiguity that may threaten the continued unity and solidarity of our party members. “We thank millions of well meaning Nigerians for their concern and commitment to the defence of our nascent democracy. In the end this democracy cannot survive without a strong and vibrant opposition,” the statement read.