EMEKA NZE captures the very essence of the National Convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) held last Saturday where the ranking members noted that it is time to liberate the country from the shackles of insecurity, unemployment and poor economy.
Amidst its intra-party wrangling, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), last Saturday reinforced its dream to wrestle governance from the All Progressives Congress (APC), come 2023 with a view to rescuing Nigeria from unprecedented division, insurgency as well as other economic woes bedevilling the country. At the end national convention which held in Abuja, 18 out of 21 positions were settled by consensus while three posts namely: the National Youth Leader, the Deputy National Chairman North and the Deputy National Chairman South were decided through elections.
But it was also time of hope-restoring speeches by ranking members of the party and there was an avalanche of them.
Atiku: PDP is not perfect
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, while welcoming the delegates said, “Today our country is going through the most trying difficult period of its existence. I can tell you, I’m 70 years plus but I have never seen this country in such a very bad shape, so disunited, so much unemployment, so much insecurity, beset by economic, social and security challenges in all corners along with lingering tensions arising from questions surrounding the very nature of our corporate existence as a nation.
“Nigeria is at the edge of precipice because of lacklustre performance, complacency and heedlessness of successive administration terminating in the gross failures of the APC led government.”
He further told the party men and women that “we have a chance to set the ship on the right course, we have a chance to atone for the mistakes of past leaderships, we have a chance to unite the country on a march to achieve and exceed the dreams of our founding fathers who fought for independence so many years ago, a chance to seize the opportunity to steer our country towards its rightful position amongst comity of nations”.
However, aware of the foibles of his party, Atiku noted, “Indeed, the PDP is not perfect; as humans, none of us is perfect but we will continue to learn from and correct our mistakes. We can save ourselves, we can save the party and we can save Nigeria together.”
It’s not easy to keep a party like the PDP united -Tambuwal
Chairman PDP Governors Forum, Hon Aminu Tambuwal, one of the few PDP governors in the north and perhaps the most outspoken, had re-echoed Atiku’s words, when he said, “Our country Nigeria and indeed our continent Africa is going through trying times.
“Our people are in need of policies, interventions and leaders that can provide solutions of security, unemployment, rising cost of energies, food and other essential items for living decent lives.
“Africa needs a strong and smart Nigerian that can provide the leadership that will help sustain institutions capable of promoting collaboration in areas of security, innovations, trade, investment and defence of our democracy.
“Our young people need a fair, safe and enabling country that will allow them realise their desires to be educated, employed and deploy their entrepreneurial and creative skills. They need to be able to take advantage of our potentials and fulfil their ambitions.
“I, therefore, appeal to all of us here to join hands for us to have a very successful convention that will usher in a sound party that will provide the enabling environment and a democratic platform for every aspirant to aspire and that every Nigerian will be proud of.
“I assure you that the governors of the PDP, 13 of us, are determined to working together and ensuring that we have not only a viable PDP but we rescue Nigeria collectively and together with the rest leaders.
Apart from the task of rescuing Nigeria from the stronghold of maladministration, the Sokoto state governor also underscored how difficult it had been not only to keep Nigeria united but also to remain in an opposition party.
While speaking of attempts, by apparently the ruling party to divide PDP, Tambuwal also stressed that the temptation and allure of power have been overwhelming and stated the obvious that some have fallen along the way.
The governor then tried to evoke the sympathy of Nigerians to see reason with his party why those who could not withstand the “temptation and overwhelming allure of power” had to port to the APC.
“It is not easy to keep a party like the PDP united. It is tough because we are a big party with members from all parts of the country with various interests and desires. As hard as it is, it is clear to me that we are at our best. In Nigeria, it is tough to remain united, focused and disciplined while being an opposition party. The temptation and allure of power can be overwhelming and some have fallen along the way.
“There are attempts to scuttle our unity as a party and as a people. There are people that are working to present us as weak and in disarray but I’m happy to report that the PDP today is the strongest and most populated in Nigeria. I’m happy to report that those that want to divide and weaken us are the ones falling and we are winning by the grace of God.”
APC as looters of treasury- Abairibe
Senate Minority Caucus Leader Enyinnaya Abaribe did not mince words when he said Nigerians are eagerly waiting to “go way from the incompetence and oppressive policies of the APC, they (Nigerians) want to go away from the cold blooded arrogance, treasury-looting and anti-people All Progressive Congress so that we can have our country back.
“We have seen in the last six years widespread suppression of our citizens, widespread and extra judicial killings, state-backed brutality and clampdown on dissenting voices within this country. Today, what we are seeing from the APC led government is systemic injustice that has led us to have sectional agitations everywhere that threatened the corporate existence of Nigeria.”
“The APC administration is helpless and cannot do anything for the defenceless and innocent Nigerians as they are being killed day in and day out. This clueless government of APC continues to find excuses and gloat as bandits take over our highways, terrorists plunder our communities and innocent school children are used as baits and kidnapped for ransom within the corporate country of Nigeria.
“On the economy, the APC leaders have continued to pillage our economy, they have wrecked our national treasury and the very beautiful country we handed over to them in 2015, they have utterly destroyed it. So we are going to take our country back. Today, millions of our youths are denied of opportunities to engage their creative minds in fruitful ventures. When the youths go ahead and demand their rights, they are brutalised, they are branded, they are harrased and they are called all manners of names. The APC government have denied our citizens of over 80 million Nigerians, according to official figures, any daily meal that they can get, and therefore, have turned our country into the poverty capital of the world and we day no more for the APC, no more for poverty in Nigeria because PDP is coming.
“The APC, when they came to power, came through propaganda, they came through deceit, they came through false promises. They paraded themselves as saints but today, are they saints? Today, are they good people? Today don’t we know who they are? We know them as looters of our economy and people who have utterly destroyed our economy, when we handed over in 2015, we handed over with dollar at N160. Today, a dollar is N500 going towards N600.”
“We want to restate to you our unalloyed commitment towards making sure that we under the banner of our party and the new leadership, that we have an emerging Nigeria that will lead us to the promised land come 2023.”
Nigerians have however flayed some of the speakers for making excuses that to keep PDP united is difficult and blaming it on external influences. They believe that some of the PDP problems are self-inflicted.
They said Tambuwal while making excuses for his party refused to discuss the self inflicted injuries in party. For instance, the national convention merely held by the whiskers and its outcome cannot be said to stand without concluding pending litigations by the embattled ex national chairman, Uche Secondus and his co travellers.
Other Nigerians believe that the Secondus versus PDP faceoff was avoidable had the governors elected on its platform and party managers shown foresight expected of a major opposition party angling to wrestle power and rescue Nigerians from shenanigans of APC. According to this view, the party crisis would not have degenerated if properly managed in the first place.
The external view that the claim in some quarters that the PDP conflict was fueled by uncontrollable individual ambitions, finds justification in the fact that the party has blatantly refused to adhere to its principles of zoning the office of the president which its founding fathers recommended would rotate between the north and south.
Some Nigerians argue that perhaps the party has not learnt from its mistakes of the 2015 when unbridled ambition blindfolded them from appropriately zoning the presidency to the north, leading internal revolts and betrayals by some northern actors who worked against the party to actualise a president of northern extraction.
Recently, the Ebonyi state governor, David Umahi, was one of the governors to defect on the excuse of refusal by the party to zone the office of the president to the South especially the Southeast.
Zamfara state governor, Muhammad Matawalle also left the party due to ‘allure of power’ to enable him secure himself a second term and the Cross River state governor whose motive or intent for leaving the PDP is yet unclear other than pen to please his friends in the ruling party.
This view supports that if power rotation is not seen by the party as necessary, there is the likelihood of more people, especially, more governors elected on its platform, exiting to other parties due to the ‘allure of power’ and temptation.