March 3, 2018

PDP crises, 1999 – 2003

* February1999:  Presidential primaries in Jos, Plateau State:  Olusegun Obasanjo’s victory as the presidential candidate shakes the party.

* Between May and June 1999:  Obasanjo rejects the choice of Chuba Okadigbo as senate president and instead forces Evan(s) Enewerem on the senate – this creates ripples in the party

* Mild crisis in the PDP over the forced resignation of Imam Salisu Buari as Speaker – a resignation which Obasanjo attempted to wad off because he saw Buari as malleable.

* Another confrontation on the installation of Okadigbo as Enwerem’s successor in a palace coup on the floor of the senate – an extension of the brewing crisis in the presidency between Obasanjo and Atiku Abubakar, his deputy.

*Late 1999: Katakata over choice of Bernabas Gemade over Chief Sunday Awoniyi as PDP chairman – Gemade wins at national convention.  To date, that has been the only keenly contested chairmanship tussle in the PDP.

*Crisis over amendment of party constitution to extend tenure of national executive committee of the party by one year but this leads to crisis over whether the incumbent exco members should benefit.

*Emmanuel Ibeshi and Gbenga Olawepo (publicity secretaries of the party) insist and push for reforms in the party.  This leads to another round of crisis.

* 2001: Gemade announces the suspension of Chief Anthony Anenih but this immediately backfires as the former was to recant the following day.  He is forced out of office but makes a prophesy, that the fate that would befall his successors would be worse than his own in the coming years.

* Audu Ogbeh, long-forgotten Second Republic Minister of Communications, is exhumed and made PDP chairman but this also creates its own ripples

* April 2002: Brouhaha over presidential ambition of Obasanjo for second term.  Crisis erupts again as associates of Vice President Atiku Abubakar talks of a MANDELA OPTION which Obasanjo was expected to adopt.  This creates bad blood between Obasanjo and Atiku but they both try to manage the crisis and keep it under the table.  Even the public declaration of Obasanjo for second term at the International Conference Centre, ICC, saw a president not mentioning the name of his running mate at all as he assesses his administration and prepares for a possible second term.  Just before then, Atiku, too, had played footsy by not making himself available for the public declaration but had to be compelled to attend to allow peace reign.

* Mid 2002:  An attempt to impeach Obasanjo as president by the national assembly polarizes the party.  Whereas the senate was able to sheath its sword, the Ghali Umar Na’Abba-led House of Representatives goes ahead, prompting many influential personalities to wade into the crisis – the attempt was dropped eventually.

* Battle of wits between Obasanjo and Na’Abba spills into the party.  It deepens and weakens the party in December 2002 just before its presidential primaries.

* January 2003: Atiku eyeballs Obasanjo over presidential primaries

January 2003: State governors insist that Obasanjo would not be marketable for the 2003 elections; urges Atiku on; Atiku turns down the offer at the last minute.  Alex Ekwueme contests against Obasanjo again but loses.