One and half years ahead of the 2019 general election, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is not leaving any stone unturned in its determination to dislodge President Muhammadu Buhari and his ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) from the centre.
Although its bid to select a consensus chairmanship candidate ahead of the national convention slated for December 9, which is crucial to its future plans, appeared shaky, the party is determined to overcome the challenge without rancour.
A stakeholders meeting held in Enugu on Sunday to streamline the process, and attended by no fewer than six aspirants including Otunba Gbenga Daniel, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, Chief Jimi Agbaje, Chief Bode George, Prof Tunde Adeniran and Rasheed Ladoja, failed to reach an accord.
Daily Sun gathered that the party leaders were unanimous in their resolve to get their forthcoming convention right, as that would put the party in a “steady form” ahead of its presidential primary, holding next year.
A source at the meeting said an agreement was reached that before the week runs out all the aspirants would return to the national secretariat of the party in Abuja to sign an undertaking to abide by the outcome of the election at the convention.
The source also said that the meeting agreed that the chairmanship slot was still zoned to the South and would not be de-zoned.
The APC made history in Nigeria by being the first opposition party to defeat an incumbent president. But it appears the party may make another history as a party that could not govern beyond one term, if the feelers from the PDP camp are anything to go by.
Daily Sun gathered that the first step in the plot to sack the APC at the centre is PDP’s determination to get a national chairman that would appeal to all the various tendencies within the party.
Once that is done with, Daily Sun further learnt, the next step would be to work towards getting a “credible presidential candidate” from the North, whose acceptability would cut across the northern and southern parts of the country, with a running mate from the South-East.
The presidential candidate, it was further gathered, “must be one that could match Buhari, especially in the North, in case he decides to run.”
A competent source in the PDP said before the choice of a presidential candidate, the party “would have received our former members who had defected to the APC before 2015, back to our fold. We are working on them, and majority of them have signified intention to return. The truth is that they are not happy where they are. They can’t wait to return.
“We made our mistakes in 2015. But we have learnt the hard way. We are making efforts to correct them. Go and check the results of the presidential election again, you will observe that we would have still managed to win if we had fielded a northern candidate in 2015. But like I said, we made mistakes. We have learnt our lessons.”
While some PDP stalwarts still see Buhari as a threat ahead of 2019, a founding member of the party and former Jigawa State governor, Sule Lamido, thinks otherwise. He told our sister publication in an exclusive interview last Saturday that Buhari was no threat to the PDP.
In the interview, Lamido among other things, said: “What is my business if they endorse him or if he runs? Buhari came from a very small party called the CPC. Without the influence of the AC and the governors who left the PDP, there was no way he would have won because he came from a very tiny party. If those who came together to make him what he is are no longer in the party, then he has my sympathy for failing to understand this. Look here, Buhari is no threat to the PDP.
“In PDP, we do not give a damn whoever the APC presents for 2019 because we are more than two-third. We know that as a party, we have made some mistakes and we apologise to Nigerians. If the likes of (Bola) Tinubu and Atiku (Abubakar) feel concerned about what is happening in APC and those who were originally in PDP leaves, what will become of him? He would only be left with his tiny CPC, I don’t know how he would do it, but that is his problem, not mine. In any case, the Buhari of today is not the Buhari of 2015.”
Meanwhile, Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike has declared that the party must form a united front after the December 9 national convention to help salvage the country from its present predicament, saying it would not make the mistake of 2015.
The governor emphasised that he would never be a party to anything that would lead to the disintegration of the PDP, adding that the national convention was a family affair.
Speaking yesterday when he granted audience to Chief Olabode George, former Deputy National Chairman of party, who is also an aspirant to the office of the national chairman, in Port Harcourt, Wike said: “As we agreed in Enugu, whoever wins, let us come out from the national convention stronger. If we don’t get it right now that Nigerians are yearning for the party, we should as well say goodbye.
“I will do everything humanly possible to strengthen the PDP because we have nowhere to go. We will do everything to ensure a free and fair national convention.”
Last Sunday night, PDP leaders from across the country, including their governors, met in Enugu, where they reiterated their resolve to sack the APC in 2019.
Although the meeting was held behind closed doors, sources told Daily Sun that the party leaders were unanimous in their resolve to get their forthcoming convention right, as that would put the party in a “steady form” ahead of its presidential primary, holding next year.
At the end of the meeting held at the Enugu Government House, the PDP Governors Forum Chairman and Ekiti State Governor, Ayo Fayose said the party was equally ready to win the Anambra governorship election, holding this Saturday.
He also spoke about the understanding reached at the meeting concerning the choice of the party’s national chairman.
“We have responsible people vying for the office of chairman of the PDP nationally and we are on one page and the page is the PDP first and the PDP first. Our aspirants have agreed to work together so that whoever emerges will be supported by the other ones.”