By Ochereome Nnanna
THE three major parties – All Progressives Congress, APC; Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and Labour Party, LP – are important to our democracy because the next president of Nigeria will emerge from one of them next year. In Nigeria, after God, the president is next in terms of power, authority and influence.
The PDP, being the official, foremost opposition party, is spectacularly important, for better or worse. Almost everything we have done in the past 23 years is an invention of the PDP. Before “Hurricane” Peter Obi transformed the LP from obscurity to a serious contender within the past four months, PDP was the sole party Nigerians expected to rescue them from the rubble of the incompetent and terror-riddled APC rule.
PDP fell into a crisis in May 2022 after Atiku Abubakar defeated Nyesom Wike and other presidential contenders to pick the party’s ticket. I am in shock that an experienced and serial presidential aspirant like Atiku, who calls himself “the unifier”, has been unable to bring Wike back on board. Does Atiku realise that if he fails again in 2023, it would be the SIXTH time – 1993, 2007, 2011, 2015, 2019 and 2023? He can only mount another meaningful challenge in 2031 after the next president has exhausted his putative eight years. At that time Atiku will be 84!
This is his last chance to attempt to win the presidency. Why is he sleepwalking over it? Instead of flying down to Port Harcourt to duke it out diplomatically with Wike, he prefers to send people while enjoying the comforts of other people’s country, Dubai, UAE. This is not how a serious person looking for power behaves.
In Wike, Atiku has a difficult customer; a loose caboose. The Governor of Rivers State does not seem to realise that in just nine months, his days of power and glory will be over. Looking at Wike’s personal carriage, especially since he lost his presidential bid, you can’t but be glad he did. Imagine this “gentleman” in Aso Rock! Someone who vowed that he would never settle for anything less than president wants to bring down his party because he failed to be nominated as VP! Wike has gone to the extent of openly flirting with APC leaders and reportedly removing PDP symbols from the Government House, though this was denied.
His overacting notwithstanding Wike is, however, a rebel with a cause. That the PDP is still alive, attractive and viable to challenge for power is due to his sustenance of it. Wike helped the party to survive every devilish effort the APC government made to kill the party and rule unchallenged. They sent Jimoh Ibrahim and Ali Sheriff as undertakers masquerading as PDP National Chairmen. The plot failed because Wike was there for the party.
While the PDP was suffering, switch master Atiku, along with other destroyers of the party in the guise of “New PDP”, was wining and dining with Buhari in APC. He only returned to the PDP because he could not wait for Buhari to finish his two terms. Even if he had waited, there was no guarantee that Buhari would give him the power when it was the South’s turn.
Since they returned from their futile missionary journey, the same selfish motive that took the Atiku men there is still at play. They planted Iyorchia Ayu as National Chairman with the undertaking that if a Northerner emerged as the presidential candidate, Ayu would step down. Ayu has not only refused to honour his word, he is now claiming he has four years to occupy the post. Is Ayu staying to spend the billions of naira extorted from the presidential aspirants?
If PDP wins the presidency and Ayu stays as National Chairman, the party would have a Northern President and Northern National Chairman. With this scenario, what would be their moral locus in criticising the APC’s Muslim-Muslim ticket? The same way the M-M denied the Northern Christians of their right to produce a Vice President in the APC is re-enacted in the denial of the South to produce the National Chairman in the PDP.
PDP was once a party known for the equitable sharing of its offices and other goodies. This helped keep it in power for 16 years. Atiku and his men went to the APC and imported APC’s selfish nepotism. APC denied the Christians because they believed the Northern Muslims’ block votes were enough to give then victory. Atiku’s men are foolish enough to deny the South, which has nine of their 13 states, its right to produce the National Chairman. And this was after denying the South-East its turn to produce the President or VP.
Atiku should bury his ego and strongly court Wike whose own ego is pushing him to the edge of political suicide. Should Wike ever take the disastrous decision of joining the APC, what a déjà vu that would be! When Lagos, Port Harcourt and Kano join hands with their voting numbers and cash, who can beat them? It would be a re-enactment of 2015 when Governor Chibuike Amaechi (Rivers) joined Bola Tinubu (Lagos) and Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano) to side Buhari and defeat President Goodluck Jonathan.
If this déjà vu replays itself, it will produce a bigger déjà vu. We may be forced to remain in the clutches of the APC whose presidential candidate is just like Buhari in terms of old age, physical and mental vitality. Old men in power surrender their authority to cabals who exploit the situation for their selfish ends. It is such people that Nigerian politicians love to have in power. Smart leaders scare them.
Thankfully, we now have a mouthwatering third choice!