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, November 15, 2022 WIB

PDP’s Split, Faction Everywhere


PDP’s Split, Faction Everywhere

This week, I intended to cite PDP chieftains’ history of self-sabotaging in-fighting in preparing for past presidential elections to contextualise their current dilemma, but then it dawned on me that I wrote on this strange tradition of the party over nine years ago. I’ve reproduced my piece of September 6, 2013, here verbatim, as first published in my Friday column for the Blueprint newspaper, to draw a parallel between the leading opposition party’s logjam as aggrieved governors tackled their presidential flag-bearer, Vice President Atiku Abubakar, and the antecedents they seem to take for granted. 

Like their predecessors, PDP leaders in power today seem more interested in appeasing their personal egos than actually devising realistic strategies to retake power next year. Unfortunately, none cares about the implication of such an internal crisis, which, without a doubt, cost them the 2015 presidential election. Most of these political actors partaking in the conspiracy to undermine their party’s electoral fortune this time around don’t stand any chance of remaining relevant outside power, or as the opposition, if they lose the election. They know they are bound for certain oblivion if PDP loses the presidential election, and so their alternative route to power is what I find even more curious.  

Political actors with similar and even bigger profiles and clout were cut to their sizes because of an ill-timed crisis, and not much was heard from them after leaving office. Even in Rivers State, Governor Nyesom Wike wasn’t the first to attempt to lord over the party. There was Governor Peter Odili before him. He was, between 1999 and 2007, what Wike probably thinks he is today, but where’s Odili now? The answer to this question perhaps is the inspiration the warring governors and their presidential flagbearer need to answer to know the stake ahead of them.  

Nigeria is a country moving in cycles, and the repetitions of these events don’t seem to guide the actors to exploit the knowledge at their disposal to gain the upper hand. Or maybe those of us watching from the sidelines are too detached from the sentimentalities of our politics that we don’t get the overwhelmingness of the emotions that prevent our politicians from learning from their past, even the ones that stare them in the face. I’ll yield this space now to what I wrote almost a decade ago. Enjoy — Kakanda 

The ongoing internal chaos in the Peoples Democratic Party, which was actually a predictable twist following the rate at which key members were being ostracised with the obvious cooperation of President Goodluck Jonathan, is a repetition of a drama witnessed under the chairmanship of Ahmadu Ali in 2006, when a group, led by the founding chairman of the party, Solomon Lar, set up a parallel faction to purportedly take over the running of the party from Ahmadu Ali.  

Declaring its position known at the time, the splinter group announced through a past Deputy National Chairman of the party, Shuaib Oyedokun, that it had ceased to recognise the Ali-led leadership, as its faction was the authentic. The faction also boasted of support from 17 governors and notable chieftains of the party. This split was in the middle of a war over the then Vice President Atiku Abubakar’s fallout with his boss. And thus it was considered a move sponsored by Atiku.  

That major split was triggered by alleged political victimisations in which then Plateau State’s governor, Joshua Dariye and Anambra State’s Chris Ngige, were suspended and expelled respectively. The ostracised members, Oyedokun told journalists, were “chased out by those elements that were mere beneficiaries of the struggles of the G34. Most of them in the hierarchy of the party and government today are known Abacha foot soldiers and they are at it again. Indeed, the PDP has been hijacked by night guards.” Oyedokun added that his group was taking over the party because “the existing national officers led by Ali were purportedly elected by affirmation in a method that was strange to the party’s constitution.” 

PDP has always been mired in crises over the legitimacy of its national exco. The recent crisis was sparked by the nullification of the election of 12 of the 16 members of its National Working Committee by INEC on April 8, 2013; a crisis that did not end until a panel led by Anyim Pius Anyim was set up to intervene, hence a recommendation for the sack of some members of the party’s national executive committee- an imbroglio narrowly escaped by the embattled and controversial party chairman. 

The long-awaited special convention of the party last Saturday brought to the fore a foreseen split, which had frustrated the unity of the party chieftains ever since the infamous election of Nigerian Governors’ Forum in which River State’s governor, Rotimi Amaechi and the Presidency-backed Governor Jonah Jang were both “winners”. While the division was along a deepening conflict between President Goodluck Jonathan and various state governors, it became a repetition of an old drama with the involvement of Atiku who had never had it easy, and who had also always been a political outcast and on the opposite side of incumbent leadership. 

As the current Atiku-led faction battles to chart the way for an already threatened party in its desperate campaign for relevance and sympathy come 2015, the memories of a similar act seven years ago continue to torment the psyche of the nation. Is PDP going to survive this very split? Is the Tukur-led leadership ready for this rise of an aggrieved faction? Is this the beginning of the end of the self-acclaimed biggest party in Africa? 

This second split is likely to deal a heavy blow to the ruling party as it’s not only ill-timed but happening at a time the oppositions merged to form a strong and attractive force. It is however evident that PDP is again exhibiting its failure to coordinate its internal affairs, tasking us with asking: is this finally the end of the road for PDP