With the resolution of its internal crises, the return to its fold of former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar and the conduct of its elective national convention, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP seems to have reinvented itself. The PDP now wants to ‘change the change’ in 2019. Should this be of grave concern to the APC?
The Chief John Odigie-Oyegun led, All Progressives Congress, APC believes that the PDP is dead and only awaiting its burial in 2019, but there are those within the ruling party who fear that the APC could suffer a shocking defeat in the forthcoming general elections; that it could fall with an even greater intensity than its dramatic rise to power. Its “suspended” Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Comrade Timi Frank, a long-time ally of Atiku and a consistent political enemy of Chief Odigie-Oyegun belongs in this category.
Frank has continued to sound the alarm, alleging that many party stalwarts have complained about several infractions that could work in the electoral favour of the PDP. The complaints, according to him are that primary elections under the APC were won by higher bidders while the party constitution has been suspended or serially observed in the breach; display of impunity, inability to put in place a Board of Trustees BoT or the long-proposed Elders Advisory Council, lack of capacity to organise the midterm non-elective national convention and other important meetings.
While maintaining that he has not followed his political mentor, Atiku to the PDP, Frank however warned that if the situation persists, he would be left with no option than to defect. And very instructive is the fact that in spite of denials by some governors and other appointees of speculations that they could dump the APC for the PDP, Frank has continued to insist that some serving governors, members of the National Assembly and other party leaders across the country would in the weeks or months to come, decide their political future elsewhere, a threat Chief Odigie-Oyegun views as complete baloney.
The general mood within the leadership of the APC, however, is that the PDP is not a threat.
Allaying fears of a mass defection from his party, the APC national chairman is of the strong belief that if anybody wants to defect, such person would not need to start flying a kite, but would make up his mind and take a decisive action without having to announce the threats for long.
Perhaps, the most virulent attack has come from the National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi who not only described the PDP convention as a sham, but that it has reduced it to a regional party, an attack interpreted by the PDP as a sign of desperation on the part of the APC which it said is now jittery and clinging to the last straw. But is the ruling party jittery? Well, its actions and inactions in the nearest future would reveal its true state of affairs to Nigerians.
Evaluating the convention, Abdullahi had said revelations of how money-for-votes and systematic rigging was brazenly perpetuated during the exercise was a pointer to the axiom that the PDP as a leopard, can never change its spots.
Mocking the PDP for having reduced itself to a regional party, APC urged aggrieved members of the opposition party who are capable of passing the “integrity test” to join it in salvaging the ruins that the PDP left of Nigeria.
It said it was tragic that the PDP which used to pride itself as “the biggest political Party in Africa” has now been reduced to a regional party, especially because it frustrated South West Chairmanship candidates.
It is, however, instructive to note that the APC national chairman has pledged to meaningfully engage the PDP leadership by resetting the tone of political conversation in the country in an atmosphere devoid of acrimony and rancour.
In a move to show that it is not jittery, Odigie-Oyegun expressed willingness to robustly engage the new PDP national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, saying working together, they can both elevate the language and temper of politics in Nigeria, thereby providing the enabling environment for democracy to thrive.
In the same vein, National Organizing Secretary of the APC, Sen. Osita Izunaso said as of today, the PDP is no longer a national party as people would think because it does not control one-third of the states in Nigeria. Out of 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory FCT, the APC is controlling 24 states, plus the FCT, while the PDP has 11 states, even though some analysts have argued that the APGA-controlled Anambra state is technically part of the PDP.
The fact also is that the PDP does not have any governmental presence in two geo-political zones, the North West and the North Central which both have 13 states.
Having resolved its problems, should the PDP be taken more serious now? The APC said it would not be tempted to rest on its oars given that only few years ago, the ACN only had one state from where it spread its tentacles to engage other smaller parties who combined to humble the PDP in 2015.