T hese are interesting times for opposition politics with the perception that the rejection of e-transmission of election results in 2023 general elections does not augur well for credibility of the polls.
This concern is reinforced by a perception that lawmakers voted on that contentious amendment clause along party lines which saw the ruling APC having the day.
For the flagship opposition platform and former ruling party Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) the political horizon seems dire.
While PDP might have to bear the brunt of the rejection of e-transmission of votes, it has had to suffer depletion within its ranks with the defection of governors as well as deal with internal wrangling within its fold.
The unfolding intrigues put the party in a rather awkward position despite its seeming good start especially in the build up to 2019 polls.
Many pundits had noted that the 2018 presidential primary of PDP which was regarded as transparent and rancour-free as no candidate complained of being shortchanged after the event.
Although there were silent rumours about power play, there was no issue about a “big man” single handedly influencing the process at the level of stopping the votes of delegates from being counted.
More so, party watchers were mindful of reforms made by the party like the empowering of party structures in the states and regions, even though it had it’s imperfections anywhere.
Also, the party leadership was noted for its management of governorship primaries in the states such that there was less or almost not mention of the influence of any godfather which gave some measure of confidence to the intra party.
Above all was the number of states won by the party vis a vis senators and House of Representatives members.
Sadly however the recent spate of defections seems to have put the party leadership in a tight spot with regards to its ability to overcome the perceived onslaught by the ruling party.
So far some groups like PDP Youth Vanguard blamed the national leadership for the defections. They argue that the party leadership didn’t do enough to stem the tide of defections from the party.
The situation was further compounded with the recent chastising of the party leadership by the Rivers State governor Nyesom Wike who accused the national chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus, of the recent woes affecting the party.
Wike at the birthday reception of former governor of Cross River State, Liyel Imoke, blamed Secondus for not being proactive in tackling the defection of PDP governors. Although Wike’s outburst isn’t so strange in light of his tendency to take a jab at the party structure, many were taken aback by his direct attack on the national chairman whom he had worked for to ensure his emergence.
Secondus in a rather deft response said no amount of provocation will make him join issues with any leader of the party talk less than a state governor.
A statement from his media office signed by Ike Abonyi said, “To do that is to remove the toga of a leader of the party. The impact of such a response from the National Chairman on the party will be worse than silence.
“The national chairman considers whatever negative outburst against him from any quarter as one of the punches a leader must receive and endure to get stronger especially when truth is unhidden that Secondus is not a liar.”
While the intervention by the Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom who shares common political agility with Wike (as minister) and Secondus (a former NWC member) would serve to arrest the faceoff between the two political gladiators, many believe that the party leadership would have more going forward.
Reacting, political commentator and lawyer Maxwell Obiekwe, said “As much as one cannot hold forth for these our political actors, it is clear that defectors are ungrateful lots especially in the context of our political culture. Their action is borne out of personal greed and not because the leadership of the party at the National level had done anything wrong.
“Recall how the PDP fought to get Zamfara State, recall how Ayade had not taken part in PDP activities despite the fact the state is a PDP state and how Liyel Imoke fought to put him in office, Recall how members of the PDP in the state had refused to defect with him. Recall how former Senate President Pius Ayim, Sam Egwu and others fought Elechi to put the governor of Ebonyi State in office despite being from a minority in the state. So I think their decision to defect from the PDP to the APC is an act of ungratefulness and should be condemned.”
Speaking also, a PDP member from Gombe, Salihu Magaji, said the task before the party is not to allow what has transpired to affect the opposition.
“The PDP is still the best option to the cluelessness the APC has brought to the country. PDP must be united. Taking over power without unity is impossible as a house divided against itself will not stand. Nigeria has fallen and the people are looking up to the PDP. The leadership must forget about personal ambition and come together to lead the people out of the present predicament that the nation is.
“We can’t afford to allow the APC to divide the party. It is the duty of the ruling party to attempt to, but the PDP should know this is the right time for its members to come together.
“No political zone can do it alone. All the six zones are important. To wrestle power, all the zones must come together. The issue of zoning is not now. All organs of the party from the ward to the NEC must come together. The rally point is the masses and we can’t afford to disappoint them,” he said.
But political activist, Bolarinwa Oyebanji, said it’s easier said than done for the PDP.
“The PDP has to show that it has not just learnt from it’s past mistakes but that it is ready to chart a new course going forward. This is a party that has been in a ruling party position since 1999 until 2015 and had ample time to fix some things. But we can’t continue to cry over spilled milk. The new party leadership sometime back apologised for some actions taken by the party as the party was tongue-lashed for that at the time. But I think they are a lot more sober now.
“It is good that the party’s siding with some positions that appeal to the quest for credible elections and other acts that will enthrone quality governance. We hope that the leadership of the party, being the main platform, will continue to make itself available to fight conscientious battles in the interest of Nigerians and not for mere political gains. Nigerians will expect more from them considering that they seem to be the only other viable platform at the moment,” he said.
The talk of a third force ahead of 2023 has been rife. Whether PDP will be able to prove it has the depth to galvanise the opposition platform is another matter.
Evidently the prospect of the party winning further election will come to the fore especially after the defection of governors and the e-transmission of results but how the party leadership rallies it members to respond to the challenges will be key.