By Dirisu Yakubu
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has in the past one month demonstrated a unique ability to pull through difficult times. Following quickly on the heels of a Supreme Court verdict which affirmed the legitimacy of the National Caretaker Committee led by Senator Ahmed Makarfi was another success story: The spectacular special non-elective national convention in Abuja which held on August 12, 2017.
That convention was held against the background of the fact that the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC has itself been unable to hold a convention since it came to power more than two years ago.
As a former chieftain of the APC now turned PDP chieftain, Chief Tom Ikimi said at that convention.
“PDP has a Board of Trustees (BoT), but APC has no Board of Trustees, cannot hold NEC meeting nor convention,” Ikimi taunted his former party.
Another party chieftain, Ambassador Wilberforce Juta, the former governor of Adamawa State also speaking said:
“It’s our duty now to try to reshape the party and form a new PDP in a way by trying to do away with some of the shortcomings that brought our downfall and to make sure we have a party for a good future so that we recapture government again and that’s what we are doing.”
Since that historic gathering at the Eagles Square, it has been one tail of success after another for a party which despite losing the Presidential election in 2015, still parades arguably the most tested breed of politicians and technocrats today.
Difficult as it is to hazard a guess on its electoral chances in 2019, the PDP, given recent developments, has proven to be the most organized and well-run political party since the return to democratic governance in 1999.
Of the many factors responsible for its smooth sailing at the moment, Makarfi’s declaration of ‘No Victor, No Vanquished’ is fingered by many as the unique magic wand that is fast repositioning the party ahead of the 2019 general elections.
In what appears a big statement of intent, the PDP has succeeded in bringing hitherto warring factions under a single umbrella in Anambra State, ahead of the November 18 gubernatorial election. For a state notorious for having difficulty in arriving at a consensus especially in electioneering times, the Makarfi-led NCC’s ability to bring home the likes of Senator Joy Emodi, Chief Chris Uba, Senator Annie Okonkwo, Senator Ukachukwu Uba, Linus Ukachukwu, Chief Obiora Okonkwo and Iyom Josephine Anenih to work for the party in the State is to put it mildly, a rare feat.
The successful screening of all governorship candidates in compliance with the PDP Constitution has shown that the party is prepared to keep faith with its promise that never again would impunity and lawlessness be allowed to play out in the affairs of the party. And so potent is the PDP factor in the Anambra election today that the sitting governor, Willie Obiano was recently alleged to have infiltrated the ranks of the party in a bid to sow seeds of discord among its leaders.
Away from Anambra, the story is no different from the South-West where foundation members who at one point or the other left the party are now returning in droves. Only last Wednesday, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, former Ogun State Governor and Chairman, Ogun State Reconciliation Committee was present at the PDP national secretariat for the inauguration of a caretaker committee for Ogun.
Besides Otuba Daniel, former chieftains of the party in Oyo State including the immediate two past former governors, Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala and Senator Rasheed Ladoja have also shown interest in returning to the party. Representatives of the two men were present at a reconciliation meeting hosted by the Makarfi led NCC at the National Secretariat.
The import of a reconciliation of Ladoja and Alao-Akala is not lost on the APC in Oyo State given the well-grounded fact that the exit of the two men and the polarisation of their supporters helped the APC to win the elections in 2011 and 2015 simply on the plurality of votes and not through a majority.
In the North-West, a caretaker committee chaired by Senator Abdallah Wali was inaugurated with a charge to go all hog to make the PDP the party to beat. For Borno State, the caretaker committee inaugurated on Wednesday wasted no time in signaling its readiness to hit the ground running as the Chairman, Abdullahi Mahmud, a former Deputy Governor of Bauchi State pledged justice and fairness and a level playing field for all and sundry.
Speaking with Vanguard exclusively on the positive turn of events for the party, Senator Makarfi attributed the development to the need to have a viable and credible opposition.
“Well, it (the change of fortune of the PDP) is good for democracy as the opposition is now more vibrant. People now have an alternative platform, and if they give us another chance, we will not let them down,” Makarfi said in a telephone conversation yesterday.
Is PDP set for yet another dominant era in the political history of Nigeria? Well, 2019 is not next year but suffice to state here that no time since the formation of the party in 1998 has there been a display of this variant of selflessness, sacrifice, and togetherness on the part of members in the overall interest of the party.