By Dirisu Yakubu
President Muhammadu Buhari’s hope of continuing in office beyond 2019 would be put to test in the months ahead following the imminent defection of former members of the PDP, which teamed up with the All Progressives Congress, APC to effect a change in government in 2015. The group popularly called the nPDP was more or less the fifth force whose defection fetched the hurriedly-assembled APC a resounding victory that left PDP in pain and anguish. Would the ruling APC remain the same without these figures?
Kabiru Turaki, former Minister of Special Duties and a Presidential aspirant on the platform of the PDP says his party’s record of performance would convince the electorate to vote rationally in 2019. Has this ever been the case? Would things change this time?
Aware of the herculean task in wrestling power from the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led government in the 2019 general elections, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is walking the whole hog to ensure the defeat of incumbent President, Muhammadu Buhari who is expected to fly the ticket of his party once again.Abubakar Kawu Baraje’s nPDP
Following the decision of members of the new Peoples Democratic Party, nPDP to put on hold further deliberations with the Presidency over their protracted relationship, the crisis assumed a new dimension on Tuesday as the PDP said it was waiting in the wings to woo back its members by taking “advantage of the situation.”
The former PDP members recently bemoaned what they called their marginalization in the scheme of things after helping President Muhammadu Buhari to win the 2015 Presidential election on the platform of the APC following their defection from the PDP in the build up to the 2015 polls.
But in what appeared an official response from the Presidency to resolve the rift, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo alongside the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami were scheduled to meet with the aggrieved party members led by Abubakar Kawu Baraje on Monday, only for the latter to decide otherwise, citing the misrepresentation of some of its views and what he termed the ongoing “persecution” of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki.
Saturday Vanguard gathered that as a result of the festering rift, the PDP has charged its Contact and Integration Committee chaired by former Cross River State governor, Senator Liyel Imoke to intensify consultation with the group in a bid to have them formally return to the party as quickly as possible.
In a telephone conversation with our reporter on the issue, National Publicity Secretary of the party, Kola Ologbondiyan said the PDP was not unaware of the growing frustrations of its ex-members, saying Imoke and his team were doing the needful to take advantage of the situation.
“They know what to do and they are doing just that. We have said it before that the PDP is their home and I think this is the time for them to rejoin the party fold once again. Ours is a re-positioned and re-branded platform and as such, what they would meet on ground upon their return is a democratic platform not just in name but in deed and commitment.
“We keep reminding Nigerians that this government has nothing to offer and our former members (nPDP) have now realized the truth in what we have been saying that the APC-led government has nothing to offer Nigerians and democracy. The concern of the ruling party is the harassment of not just the opposition but its members who have demonstrated courage to speak truth to power. I don’t want to say more than this for now,” he said.
This medium further gathered that the Imoke Committee has specifically been directed to inform the nPDP members that no barrier whatsoever would be imposed on their way in the pursuit of their political ambition on the PDP platform provided they rejoin the party at least a month to the party’s Presidential primaries in line with the provisions of the party constitution.
Anxiety as mass defection looms
The camp of President Buhari, this medium gathered, is worried over the increasing possibility of mass defection of party members to rival political platforms. In the build up to 2015 and a few months after his victory at the polls, Buhari enjoyed solidarity of leaders such as Senate President, Bukola Saraki, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, Senators Shehu Sani, Dino Melaye and a host of others.
However, the ordeal of Saraki, Dogara, Melaye and scores of others in both chambers of the federal parliament has alerted the opposition, who would only be too excited to swell their support base as these political figures are expected to dump the APC in the coming weeks or even months.
Apart from the duo of Saraki and Dogara, former Kano State governor and Senator representing Kano Central District at the National Assembly, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso is being targeted for a possible return to the PDP but the Social Democratic Party (SDP) is said to be looking in the direction of the politician as well. With a frosty relationship with his State governor, Abdullahi Ganduje made worse by his craving for the exalted office of the President; Kwankwaso’s defection appears a matter of when not if. Not left out is Senator Aliyu Wammako, the former Sokoto State governor who is also a target for the PDP, SDP and the new bride, the African Democratic Congress (ADC). But what would defection mean for these elements considering the closeness to the polls?
Despite his current ordeal, the two-time governor of Kwara State boasts of massive support back home in the North-Central State as well as the Senate where he emerged President in controversial circumstance, against the permutation of the APC three years ago.
Saraki’s His return to the PDP in the opinion of pundits would only make the contest more intense. He is not without a good number of loyalists both in the PDP and the ruling party, including the publicity scribe of the ruling party, Bolaji Abdullahi. Should he decide to cross the carpet, his State governor, Abdulfatai Ahmed and Abdullahi would spare no time in following suit.
Getting the Presidential ticket of the PDP is difficult to predict at this stage but there is no denying the possibility that Saraki could be up there with the frontrunners. If he chooses to return to the Senate, Saraki is not likely to taste defeat for the first time in his political career considering his stronghold on Kwara politics. Should he make it back to the Senate, Saraki is likely to retain the confidence of his colleagues to preside over the affairs of the red chamber for yet another four years.
Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso
Unlike Saraki, Kwankwaso could be walking a tight rope in his bid to return to the Senate. His home state of Kano has become too hot for him in recent times. Kwankwasiyya, the movement he created while serving as governor of the North-West State, has been replaced by Gandujiyya, that of his successor.
However, there could be a silver lining for the engineer-turned politician if as expected; he launches his presidential ambition on the platform of a new party. In the 2014 APC Presidential convention, Kwankwaso stunned millions of Nigeria when he emerged the first runner-up behind Buhari, leaving ex-Vice President, Atiku Abubakar third on the log. That decent outing could once again count in favour of the red cap-wearing politician having once tested his popularity at the bigger stage and won applause for his effort.
His worsening relationship with the Presidency hit new heights in the past two weeks. He is seen as a confident leader who is sure of his chances on any platform.
In his home State of Bauchi, Dogara has managed to hold his own against Governor Mohammed Abubakar, who on all counts, is struggling to match the Speaker’s aura and grassroots popularity.
He has not masked his distaste of Buhari’s handling of the mindless killings going on in some parts of the country and spoken in condemnation of the refusal of Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris to honour the Senate invitation. Today, Dogara is being courted by the PDP and aware that his party had preferred his colleague, Femi Gbajabiamila for the exalted office way back in 2015; soft-spoken Dogara may team up with his fellow aggrieved party faithful to seek an alternative platform for the 2019 contest? Will he retain the confidence of fellow lawmakers for the speakership position? That, to a great extent would be determined by the number of lawmakers loyal to his cause who would successfully make it back to the green chambers.
Senator Aliyu Wamakko
He has the eyes and ears of the Sokoto State governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, his political godson and confidante. Sokoto is his to lose as the governor; always handy to do his bidding has not seen reason to ditch his predecessor for another. Thus, PDP or APC, Wamakko would be home and dry, pundits say.
People want service, not statistics – Turaki
Former Minister of Special Duties and 2019 Presidential aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Barrister Kabiru Tanimu Turaki has said capacity for service delivery, rather than statistics, would play a key role in the emergence of the winner of the Presidential election slated for next year.
Turaki who stated this on Tuesday added that the impressive statistics churned out by the ruling All Progressives Congress to mark the three years of President Muhammadu Buhari administration recently were yet to translate to improved standards of living of Nigerians. According to him, statistics and figures mean little or nothing to the common man on the street whose cravings are no more than the basic necessities of food, clothing and shelter.
While noting that the PDP administration made mistakes in the course of its 16 years administration; the Presidential hopeful said but for the commitment of the party to service delivery, President Buhari would have had nothing to build upon when he assumed office in 2015.
“When figures are churned out by those in power, we should be quick to ask these vital questions: Where were we before and where are we now? Are we better off today than we were a few years ago? The federal government claimed it has made millionaires through its agricultural policies and programmes. How many of these millionaires have you seen and more importantly, how have they improved farming outputs reduce the cost of food items?
“Truth must be told that this government has not lived up to the promises it made to the people. Three years ago, millions of jobs were promised; the economy we were told would be revamped and criminals and terrorists would no longer have a place to dwell in Nigeria. Have they delivered on these promises?” he asked.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) tasked Nigerians to repose confidence in the PDP, adding that unlike the past era fraught with the reign of impunity and imposition, the National Working Committee under the leadership of Prince Uche Secondus is committed to play by the rules of fairness, equity and justice in the days leading to 2019 and beyond.
“In the days ahead, Nigerians would appreciate the fact that our re-position platform is set to give them back their country. The PDP has a record of performance but another chance at Aso Rock would make us do more in terms of growing our democracy and making impact in the lives of the people. Nigerians are tired of excuses, blame game and non-performance. They are yearning for a return of the party that gave them so much and which is ready to better its performance,” he added.
Turaki’s hope that an informed electorate would make rational assessment of the capacity of political parties to deliver on promises made would be tested in 2019. As it were, the era of money politics which saw to the election of questionable characters left hideous scars on the nation’s development effort. Whether this would change in 2019 is unclear.