The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, is one of the two major contemporary political parties in Nigeria along with its main rival, the rulling All Progressives Congress, APC. Its policies are the centred right of the political spectrum. The party won every presidential election between 1999 and 2011 but lost the 2015 elections to the immediate past President Muhammadu Buhari of the APC.
PDP has a neo-liberal stance in its economic policies and maintains a conservative stance on certain social issues, such as same-sex relations. The PDP favours free market policies which support economic liberalism and limited government regulation. In 2003, the then President Olusegun Obasanjo and then Finance Minister and now Managing Director of the World Trade Organization Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala embarked on an economic reform programme which reduced government’s spending through conservative fiscal policies.
This saw the deregulation and privatisation of numerous industries in Nigerian services sector, notably, the Nigerian Telecommunications (NITEL) Despite the criticisms and shortcomings of PDP, it must be applauded for laying the foundation for the return of democracy in 1999. The democracy we enjoy today as Nigerians is as a result of the outstanding sacrifices of the PDP.
The major reason for its defeat in 2015 was internal conflict between the northern and southern PDP bigwigs regarding which zone should have produced the president. It is not different in the just-concluded presidential election that featured former Vice President Atiku Abubakar as the party’s presidential candidate. He went to the election in a disarray with five PDP governors protesting and it is clear that they worked against their own party.
Although, the Presidential Petition Tribunal is ongoing but PDP’s loss was predicted owing to fact that it contested against the rulling APC that enjoys the incumbency, 22 governors, leaders of the National Assembly and 42 ministers all working for the victory of their political party and its presidential candidate.
The PDP knew that it was up against a difficult task, contesting against the Jagaban and now President of Nigeria Bola Ahmed Tinubu, one of the finest breeds of Nigeria’s politicians alive. PDP needed more of its members like the immediate past governor of Rivers state Nyesom Wike who led the G-5 Governors against Atiku Abubakar. Until Wike’s late decision to support Tinubu’s presidential ambition, the PDP conflicts were given ethnic connotation. It is now sounding louder, the party is in serious trauma and it is in its last breathe for survival.
The G-5 are enjoying a closed political romance with both President Tinubu and the leadership of the National Assembly, including the current and former governors of the rulling APC. Barring any last minute change, their political gang leader is rumoured to be in Tinubu’s ministerial list and he has taken the leadership of the Minority Caucus of the 10th National Assembly.
The choice of Senator Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed (Kauran Bauchi) as the chairman PDP Governors Forum is viewed as the best and last option of the party at this challenging time. There is this confidence that people have in his natural instincts to turn things around in difficult political circumstances. His experience and understanding of the dynamism of Nigeria’s politics as a former senator, minister of the FCT and now second term governor of Bauchi state will be an added advantage in reuniting the party before the next elections.
The fact that he is the most qualified among his contemporary PDP governors cannot be overemphasised and all eyes are on him to reposition the party for victory. The president in his wisdom has coopted some main opposition members into his pocket with his idea to replicate late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s appointment of ministers from the leading opposition. Should he succeed in doing that, then his government will be without an opposition and the entire democracy of Nigeria will be sliding towards a one party system.
It is expected that Kauran Bauchi as a team player that is connected across the length and breadth of Nigeria will restore the lost glory of the PDP. As someone who contested for the PDP presidential ticket in the just-concluded elections, he will certainly do his best to bring the party and warring factions together. He has proved to be a loyal party man by delivering Bauchi state at the presidential level, winning two of the three senatorial seats, seven of 12 House of Representatives, majority members of the Bauchi State House of Assembly and winning convincingly his second term as governor of Bauchi state despite the gang up by some politicians.
Danaudi, National President of Arewa Youths Advocate for Peace and Unity Initiative, writes from Bauchi via [email protected].