The ongoing internal chaos in the Peoples Democratic Party, which was actually a predictable twist following the rate at which key members were being ostracised with obvious cooperation of President Goodluck Jonathan, is a repetition of a drama witnessed under the chairmanship of Ahmadu Ali in 2006, when a group led by the founding chairman of the party, Solomon Lar, set up a parallel faction to purportedly take over the running of the party from Ahmadu Ali.
Declaring its position known at the time, the splinter group announced through a past Deputy National Chairman of the party, Shuaib Oyedokun, that it had ceased to recognise the Ali-led leadership, as its faction was the authentic. The faction also boasted of supports from 17 governors and notable chieftains of the party. This split was in the middle of a war over the then Vice President Atiku Abubakar’s fallout with his boss. And thus it was considered a move sponsored by Atiku.
That major split was triggered by alleged political victimisations in which then Plateau State’s Governor Joshua Dariye and Anambra State’s Chris Ngige, were suspended and expelled respectively. The ostracised members, Oyedokun told journalists, were “chased out by those elements that were mere beneficiaries of the struggles of the G34. Most of them in the hierarchy of the party and government today are known Abacha foot soldiers and they are at it again. Indeed, the PDP has been hijacked by night guards.” Oyedokun added that his group was taking over the party because “the existing national officers led by Ali were purportedly elected by affirmation in a method that was strange to the party’s constitution.”
PDP has always been mired in crises over legitimacy of its national exco. The recent crisis was sparked by the nullification of the election of 12 of the 16 members of its National Working Committee by INEC on April 8, 2013; a crisis that did not not end until a panel led by Anyim Pius Anyim was set up to intervene, hence a recommendation for the sack of some members of the party’s national executive committee- an imbroglio narrowly escaped by the embattled and controversial party chairman.
The long-awaited special convention of the party last Saturday brought to the fore a foreseen split which had frustrated the unity of the party chieftains ever since the infamous election of Nigerian Governors’ Forum in which River State’s Governor Rotimi Amaechi and the Presidency-backed Governor Jonah Jang were both “winners”. While the division was along a deepening conflict between President Goodluck Jonathan and various state governors, it became a repetition of an old drama with the involvement of Atiku who had never had it easy, and who had also always been a political outcast and on the opposite side of incumbent leaderships.
As the current Atiku-led faction battles to chart the way for an already threatened party in its desperate campaign for relevance and sympathy come 2015, the memories of a similar act seven years ago continue to torment the psyche of the nation. Is PDP going to survive this very split? Is the Tukur-led leadership ready for this rise of an aggrieved faction? Is this the beginning of an end of the self-acclaimed biggest party in Africa?
This second split is likely to deal a heavy blow to the ruling party as it’s not only ill-timed but happening at a time the oppositions merged to form a strong and attractive force. It is however evident that PDP is again exhibiting its failure to coordinate its internal affairs, tasking us with asking: is this finally the end of the road for PDP?