PDP Crisis Latest: How the game changed for the ‘Game Changer’

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Ohia Israel

 

Last Wednesday, Adamu Mu’azu, the national chairman of Nigeria’s once-ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), resigned; however, Muazu’s resignation didn’t come as a surprise as many bitter party members had asked Mu’azu and others to resign after the PDP was unseated in the general elections following 16 years of majority rule.

Following suit also was PDP Board of Trustees Chairman, Chief Tony Anenih, as it was gathered that outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan asked Anenih to step down.
However, Muazu has before his resignation hinted that his party had a redefining moment after suffering defeat at the polls. “Nigeria is bigger than any political party, individual or group, and her overall interest must be our priority at all times. Rather than demoralize us, this election has afforded us great lessons and we are now more than ever before reinvigorated for the race ahead.”

The question remains how did Muazu, who is regarded as a game changer, fail? He was touted to be the messiah by the Governors who pushed former PDP Bamanga Tukur out from the seat and brought in the game changer who didn’t change the game but failed.

But the coming of Muazu to the PDP was it a marriage made in hell? How did things fall apart between Jonathan and Muazu? However, an online news platform, The Cable, has said in its recent report on the issue, that to close watchers of the relationship between President Goodluck Jonathan and Adamu Mu’azu, it was a marriage “made in hell”. It was like the case of a young man who brought his preferred fiancée home, but his parents forced him to marry another girl. And sooner than later, the forced marriage began to crack and crumble. When the Peoples Democratic Party began to fall apart in 2013 following the rebellion of the party’s governors against Bamanga Tukur, who was then the national chairman, the undertone was the 2015 presidential election. Some northern governors were interested in running and for as long as Tukur, Jonathan’s right-hand man, was party chairman, the presidential ticket would only go one way: to Jonathan.

The new medium further said that they needed the party machinery to actualise their dream. Tukur, apparently doing Jonathan’s bidding, began to ostracise many governors — even to the extent of suspending some of them from the party. This led to the exit of five governors — Aliyu Wammako (Sokoto), Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara), Murtala Nyako (Adamawa) and Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso (Kano) from the party. Babangida Aliyu (Niger) and Sule Lamido (Jigawa) chose to remain behind, more in hope that Jonathan could still be persuaded to drop his re-election ambition.

Throwing in the towel To settle the rancour in the party and re-position it for the general election, Tukur was persuaded by Jonathan to quit. It was a particularly difficult task to achieve, as Tukur dragged his foot for days despite reaching an agreement to step down. Eventually, he threw in the towel in January 2014. And that was the beginning of another problem for Jonathan.

The president wanted Idris Umar, minister of transport, as the new chairman of the party, but the governors from the north-east — where the chairmanship was zoned — were not in support. Senate President David Mark and a few governors from the south implored the president not to go against the wish of the north-east governors. Their wish was Mu’azu, former governor of Bauchi state. Other aspirants were former party spokesperson, Ahmed Rufai Alkali; former FCT minister, Ibrahim Bunu; former minister of commerce, Idris Waziri; and former acting national secretary of the party, Musa Babayo. Experienced choice Mu’azu was marketed to Jonathan as experienced, urbane and well regarded by the governors – having been one of them from 1999 to 2007. He would easily relate with them, it was argued, and he could even persuade some of the governors who defected to the APC to return.

But Jonathan was not told that Mu’azu himself had always wanted to be president, and had hoped in vain that Obasanjo was going to pick him as successor in 2007, only for the former president to pick Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, then governor of Katsina state. Mu’azu was a never a friend or associate of Jonathan and he was not about to become one. PDP governors of the class of 1999-2007 did not have much regard for Jonathan, whom they only saw as their junior, having only served as a deputy governor in Bayelsa state until DSP Alamieyeseigha was impeached in 2005. Bukola Saraki and James Ibori, two former governors, were particularly not impressed with Jonathan and never had much regard for him when he emerged as Yar’Adua’s deputy. “Mu’azu also never really had any regard for Jonathan, but his desire to be rehabilitated politically, after going on self-exile in 2007, played a key role in his PDP chairmanship bid. The report goes further to say that
Muazu had his eyes more on the presidency,” an associate said.
Mutual suspicion

Although Jonathan was persuaded to install Mu’azu as the PDP chairman in January 2014, he had never fully leaned on the former Bauchi governor. It was a relationship built on mutual suspicion, and Mu’azu had also been suspected of not working for Jonathan’s interest all along. A senior member of the PDP also said that the primary elections nationwide “exposed Mu’azu as someone who did not have any genuine interest in the progress of the party”.

There were several allegations against the national chairman by aspirants who accused him of being more interest in “business” than electoral victory. Things only got worse. During the presidential campaign, the convoy of Jonathan was stoned in Bauchi. Although this was attributed to the rivalry between Isa Yuguda, the governor, and Bala Mohammed, the FCT minister who is also from the state, the signal the president got was that he was going to do poorly not only in Bauchi but in the entire north-east. At the time, the president was still hoping to make up for that potential loss with a good showing in the north-central and some states in the north-west. This never materialised. Sources said security reports soon threw up a rather alarming revelation: that Mu’azu was actually more disposed to having the opposition candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, as president. He was under pressure from several parts of the north to stop working against the ambition of
the region to produce the next president. He was getting isolated by prominent northern power brokers and religious leaders for associating with Jonathan. This was going to injure his future political ambitions.

However, as it is, will the party be a credible opposition, and things were the hunter became the hunted, and the role reversal of sort was occasioned by the merger of the splinter opposition platforms it had been using or abusing to entrench itself in power for the past 16 years.
And having succeeded in coming together in a marriage of convenience or co-habitation, the legacy political parties that produced the hybrid called All Progressives Congress (APC), left PDP with its harems notably the Labour Party, the splintered All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and of late, Social Democratic Party (SDP).
So, would this fringe political parties fuse into PDP and assist it to wage a principled opposition to the incoming ruling APC? That could as yet be a remote possibility, but the shape of PDP to berth on the polity come May 29, is the centre of this report.

It will be recalled that at the presidential campaign flag off of the party in Lagos, the National Chairman, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu, had to cut the president short in a very abstruse manner, which seemed to suggest lack of proper planning and indifference from the chairman.
By that action, Mu’azu gave a hint that the president was either wasting words or not making sense. Blame Game despite the paucity of workable strategy, absence of cohesion and monumental lack of discipline within the party, party leaders did not feel any scruples to apportion blames and make excuses for the failure that befell it.
And the PDP national Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh, who failed to prove his mettle while his APC counterpart, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, pummeled his party and the Federal Government, had the boldness to lead in the blame game.

Apart from the fact that he had never won election into office either as Deputy National Chairman, South East zone or National Publicity Secretary, Metuh’s specialty was only in deal making.
Though, he lacked proficiency in his official capacity, his bargaining power is prodigious. But it dawned on the party that underhand deals do not win elections. It is to the shame of Metuh’s weakness that PDP could not have a Research and Documentation department, such that when the Presidential campaign committee was set up, each flew off the tangent.

It could be on account of this that the NWC blamed hate speech and overbearing influence of the President’s wife for the defeat at the poll. In doing that, the NWC forgot that it was in the absence of a template that the shortcomings or excesses they complained about ensued.
Interestingly, calls for the resignation of the NWC have continued from virtually all sections of the country. Apart from Governors Ayo Fayose, Sule Lamido and Babangida Aliu, Senator Abubakar Girei is one PDP chieftains that believes that the National Chairman, Alhaji Adamu Muazu and other members of the PDP NWC should bow out to create the enabling environment for the healing and “repositioning of the party.”
Girei contended that though the “loss suffered by the party in the last elections was an act of God, the national leadership of the party must accept full responsibility for the humiliating defeat.”

His words: “For this loss to be only a temporary setback, the party need to reinvent, re-engineer and re-brand itself earliest possible in order to bounce back in the next round of elections in 2019.
The party remains the largest and the best structured with the most experienced, dedicated and committed members, who will not sit down and watch greedy, corrupt and inept leadership send their party to its early grave.”
And alluding to the lack of internal democracy that proved the party’s greatest undoing, the Senator maintained that “those who claim that they have tenure to serve should be reminded that the party members and indeed Nigerians know how each and every one of them came on board.”

Yet, despite the moral suasion contained in Senator Girei’s call, some overzealous members of the party have dragged the party to court with a view to obstructing any attempt to force the NWC members out.
In a suit CV/1831/15, dated May 14, 2015, Tasiu Iliyasu Hussaini and Waziri Amadu are asking Federal High Court, Abuja to restrain PDP from dissolving the NWC or compelling its members to resign their positions without following the set down procedures in the party’s Constitution.

Whether the two persons have locus standi to institute the case is a matter for the court to settle, but what the plaintiffs failed to reflect on is that the defendants including PDP, its national chairman and other members of the NWC are products of the violation of rules in the guise of being a family affair.

Meanwhile following the defeat of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the last general elections, indications emerged last week, about how President Goodluck Jonathan plans to reposition the party.
According to a report by Leadership newspaper, exclusively gathered that the last Wednesday resignations of its national chairman, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu and chairman, Board of Trustees (BoT), Chief Tony Anenih, were not unconnected with the plot.
Although Mu’azu, in a letter tendered during the PDP National Working Committee (NWC) meeting on Wednesday in Abuja, cited ‘health grounds’ as the reason for his resignation, credible sources within and outside the Presidential Villa disclosed that the two resignations were orchestrated by President Goodluck Jonathan.

What came as a surprise package for the political watchers was how the former governor of Bauchi State, who had only last week dismissed calls for his resignation and warned that the PDP would be buried if he succumbed to the pressure, threw in the proverbial towel on health grounds.
But unlike him, Anenih, in a one-page letter to Jonathan, hinged his own action on the current state of affairs in the party. He made references to some encounters he had had with Jonathan after the loss of the Presidency where he had asked the outgoing president to take over as BoT chairman. The paper said that it has it on a good authority that it was Jonathan who asked the two leaders to resign so that he would reorganise the party after becoming BoT chairman.

According to a Presidency source, Anenih had been asking Jonathan to take over from him because, as the president, no one had a higher responsibility than him, but that Jonathan had declined.
“Shortly after the final announcement of the presidential election result, Chief Anenih in several meetings had been asking Jonathan to take over as chairman, Board of Trustees of the party but each time he was given excuses why he (Jonathan) was not prepared for that,” the source disclosed. “Each time the Leader (Anenih) raised the issue with President Jonathan of the need for him to take over the leadership mantle of the party by becoming the chairman, Board of Trustees, he (Jonathan) always hinged his excuse on his plan to go outside the country to rest for at least one year.
“But three days ago, some NWC members went to Chief Anenih to tell him that the president wanted him to resign as the BoT chairman to enable him take over the office. One of them, however, told us that Chief Anenih said he was ready to do so and that he had been telling President Jonathan to let him go but that he was the one saying no. He expressed surprise that the same president was asking NWC members to tell him to resign.”

Another source explained that it was last weekend before Jonathan left for the ECOWAS meeting in Ghana that some of his close allies mounted pressure on him to take over from Anenih if he wanted to remain relevant in the party.
“In fairness to President Jonathan, he caved in to the pressure coming from his close aides telling him not to travel out of the country without taking over the BoT chairman if he wanted to remain relevant in post-2015 politics. That was how the idea of asking Chief Anenih to resign came out.”
On Muazu, another source explained that it was the same Jonathan who mandated him to resign or get ready to be sacked.

“You remember Muazu was boasting that his resignation would put an end to the party; that was the last straw. That was the same thing Alhaji Bamanga Tukur did that led to his sack. It was President Jonathan who asked him to do the right thing last weekend.”
On the fate of other NWC members, one of our sources explained that they would all be given a soft landing through the Ike Ekweremadu-led panel set up by Muazu.
“Their days are numbered, but they would be given a soft landing treatment by asking them to give way to a caretaker committee which would midwife a new convention after the party has overcome the shock of the defeat. Those who are ready to go would be allowed to do so,” the source said.

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