PDP Crisis: Party Leaders Plot Change of Name, Merger With Smaller Parties
By Premium Times
Top shots of the Peoples Democratic Party have set plans in motion to dissolve the party and merge with other parties with “similar ideology” to form a stronger and fresher coalition after the handover of power on May 29.
The PDP, which has ruled Nigeria since 1999, lost the March 28 presidential election to the opposition All Progressives Congress.
The party also lost its majority position in the two houses of the National Assembly, as well as governorship elections in many states especially in the north where it could only retain Gombe and Taraba states.
The party’s victory in Rivers and Akwa Ibom state is also being threatened by a strong set of evidence of rigging in the April 11 governorship election in the two states.
PREMIUM TIMES investigations revealed that Governors Sule Lamido, Godswill Akpabio, Muazu Aliyu and a few other governors are pushing towards forming an alliance with other parties.
Top PDP members of the party, such former defence chief, Theophilus Danjuma, former finance minister, Adamu Ciroma, and others, are in the lead.
A source, familiar with the moves, informed PREMIUM TIMES that the PDP is planning to merge with the All Progressive Grand Alliance, Labour Party, Kowa, Hope Party and others to form a mega opposition party to challenge the APC.
“There will be a special convention after the handover on May 29 where a formal merger process will start,” he said.
The spokesperson to Governor Muazu Aliyu of Niger state, Israel Ebije, confirmed to PREMIUM TIMES that Mr. Aliyu is working alongside other colleagues to “take over” the party.
“You are right,” Mr. Ebije said. “There are moves going on along this direction and the plan is to transform the party into a very formidable opposition. Many individuals and of course political parties of like minds would be invited to be on board.”
He also said Governors Lamido and Aliyu decided to stay in the PDP as a matter of principle.
“They cannot leave a house they built to tenants to take over,” he said.
Mr. Ebije said the plan for a new, stronger party may not come as soon as power is handed over.
“The PDP convention will take place on May 15, 2016 and the plan is to take over the leadership with people who can deliver,” he said.
He also said that those pushing for the agenda have concluded that the word PDP has become toxic to Nigerians and that it will be counterproductive to continue to use it as a viable opposition party.
“PDP may go and a new party may emerge, that is the way to go,” he said.
Our source added that the new party would engage in aggressive membership drive as soon as it comes on board. He said the new party will monitor events in the APC and is hoping that after the President elect, Muhammadu Buhari, forms his cabinet, a few people who have no place will feel disappointed and would join the opposition.
The APC was formed through the merger of three main opposition parties, the Action Congress of Nigeria, the All Nigeria Peoples Party, and the Congress for Progressive Change, as well as a faction of APGA in 2013.
The formation of the APC brought about a strong challenge to the PDP, which had been in power since the return to democratic rule in 1998.
The new party’s efforts were helped by the defection of five governors and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar from the PDP after they staged a walkout at the national convention of the party in Abuja in 2013.
Speaking on Saturday, our source said the new party, when formed, also plans to court as many retired Nigerians as possible, particularly those seen as “apolitical”, to swell its ranks and put it on a strong pedestal to challenge the APC.
The latest move to dissolve the PDP appears not to have the backing of the party’s National Working Committee.
The spokesperson of the party, Olisa Metuh who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES over the telephone on Saturday accused those “who are refusing to see that the party leadership is in charge” of trying yet again to create crisis in the party.
“I can tell you authoritatively that there is no such thing on the card,” he said
Mr. Metuh said the problems of the party are over and that the NWC is focused on repositioning the party.
He said the NWC is presently engaged in ensuring that the PDP does not lose more states to the APC through election petition tribunals.
“What is occupying our minds now is to make sure that APC propaganda does not work in states that we have won to affect our efforts at the tribunals,” Mr. Metuh said.
He also denied talks of any merger with other political parties.
“What is happening is that people don’t seem to appreciate that we are the administrators of this party and we have the capacity and competence to lead the PDP back to power,” he said.
The PDP had been embroiled in controversy since losing the presidential election. Many top members of the party including governors elected under the platform of the party accused the National Working Committee of leading the party to its most disastrous outing and therefore asked the NWC members to resign their positions.
Those pushing for the sack of the leadership of the party also accused the leaders of siphoning campaign funds. The NWC members were accused of collecting N300 million each but failed to do anything for the victory of its candidate, Goodluck Jonathan.
The NWC on the other hand accused the presidential campaign organisation of causing the defeat of Mr. Jonathan by carrying out hate speech against the APC candidate, Mr. Buhari and the people of the north.
Mr. Metuh had penultimate week addressed a press conference in his office and said the money given to NWC members were the backlog of allowances that had not been paid for two years.
He also said instead of embezzling campaign funds, the party spent the over N9 billion it generated on the sale of nomination forms on the presidential as well as governorship and assembly campaigns.
Mr. Metuh also said the NWC was side-lined during the campaign and that no money was given to it and could not therefore, have embezzled what was not given in the first place.