The largest opposition party in the land, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has not hidden its intent to oust the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) at the centre in the 2019 elections. Lofty as the ambition is, the party is not unaware of the numerous barricades on the way to victory.
A few months ago, national chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus stunned millions of Nigerians with his public tendering of an apology for the missteps of the party in its 16 years stewardship. Promising to take the party back to the people, Secondus noted that the abiding philosophy of the PDP is to empower the people wherever they are.
Wadata, the party’s national secretariat, Secondus added, would devolve power to the grassroots, thus democratising the power of choice in line with the dreams of the party’s founding fathers. Not long ago, the party literally invaded the North-West geo-political zone with its mega rallies first in Dutse, the Jigawa State capital and later in Katsina, Capital of President Buhari’s home State of Katsina.
At the rallies, the message was the same: PDP is set to provide purposeful leadership if only the electorate would give the another chance. Aware of the mistakes of the past, Secondus reiterated the commitment of his leadership to zero tolerance on imposition and impunity; two vices that contributed immensely to the defeat of the party in the 2015 general elections.
The exodus of people at rallies into the fold of the party is yet another pointer to a new lease of life for the party under the leadership of the current National Working Committee (NWC). As it was in North-West, so it turned in the South-West where the party posted another stellar outing in Osogbo. A party leader who couldn’t hide his excitement at the warm reception given the party said: “These unsolicited chanting of songs across the streets of the town, prayers and good wishes from market women, artisans, civil servants and all categories of persons who trouped to the Nelson Mandela Freedom park rally ground is a verdict already passed on the administration of the ruling party.”
Secondus who led many other party leaders to the Osogbo rally harped on the importance of procuring the Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) even as he urged the people to vote out the APC in the September gubernatorial election, saying all hands must be on deck to get enthrone a PDP government in the State.
On hand to support the party were colourful politicians and Presidential aspirants-Atiku Abubakar (former Vice President), ex-governors of Jigawa and Kaduna States, Sule Lamido and Ahmad Makarfi respectively and serving governors-Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti and Emmanuel Udom of Akwa Ibom States.
Atiku at the rally called on Nigerians to unite against all forms of divisions currently threatening the peace of the country, adding that only an atmosphere of peace would the nation realized its huge potentials. He urged all PDP stakeholders across the nation to make the required sacrifice and forge a united front to defeat the Buhari-led government, declaring that all indicators in the polity are showing that the time is ripe for the opposition to rise on behalf of the Nigerian people.
The Coalition option
The 79th National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the PDP a couple of months ago, tasked the NWC lead a strong conversation and discussion towards a formal coalition of democratic forces to guarantee Nigerians the much desired all-inclusive platform ahead of 2019 general elections.
As a result, the party symbolically threw its doors open to Nigerians of all walks of life in a bid to swell up its support base ahead of the 2019 elections. Other resolutions include the deployment of “The instrument of its democratic structures at all levels across the country to legitimately and urgently rally all Nigerians to vote out the APC and return the nation to the path of national cohesion, stability and prosperity for the good of all,” and the “immediate prosecution of Senator Ovie Omo-Agege and all those involved in the treasonable act” of Wednesday invasion of the National Assembly which culminated in the carting away of the legislative mace.”
Contact and mobilization
Just a day before the South West zonal rally, the National leadership of the PDP evolved another strategy towards facilitating the success of its policy of re-launching strong alliance with other political interests to boost its move to recapture power in 2019.
It inaugurated a Contact and Mobilization Committee and charged it to reach out to all former and non members of the party.
Inaugurating the committee, Secondus said the PDP would do all that is legitimately necessary to return to power, adding that the past three years of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration has convinced Nigerians of the need for a credible alternative in 2019.
On the spate of killings in the country, the PDP boss tasked members of the committee to reach out to Nigerians and groups on the need to forge a common front for the political salvation of the nation.
“Your committee and your nomination into it is a well articulated decision of the party leadership to bring our open door policy to fruition. Just as your name connotes, you are to deploy your well versed network to help open the space and allow into our party, all those whose union with us can help in rescuing this country. Like we always say in this party, this umbrella is big enough to accommodate all people of patriotic ideals,” Secondus stated.
The decision to reach out to other unions according to Secondus was informed by his open door policy aimed at making the party the preferred platform for all Nigerians, saying, “when I formally took over the leadership of this party on December 11, 2017, I made the symbolic move at the entrance gate of this party headquarters when I threw open the main gate of the Wadata Plaza ajar, in order to indicate that the party under my watch, would be open to all people of like- minds, irrespective of class, religion or tribe.
“I then called on all our people from across the whole country and from all works of life, desirous of taking our beloved country to the next level, to come in and join hands with us in the great and urgent task of rescuing and rebuilding our country.
He accused the APC of foisting “a most disastrous government” on the nation, even as he chided incumbent administration of doing nothing other than blaming previous administrations since its assumption in office about three years ago. Secondus also tasked security agencies to work harder in order to tame the security challenges in parts of the country.
The ECA $496 billion controversy
The PDP has also accused the federal government of “ struggling to rationalize and legalise the unilateral withdrawal of USD1billion from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) purportedly for the fight against Boko Haram without the prior approval of the National Assembly which has the sole power to appropriate funds for federal expenditure.
“Just recently, the president unilaterally and unconstitutionally disbursed the sum of USD 496billion from the Excess Crude Account (ECA), ostensibly for the purchase of Tucano fighter aircrafts from the United States without appropriation by the National Assembly.”
Amnesty International Report
“Recently, Amnesty International issued its 2017/2018 report on Human Rights in Nigeria and found that there were gross human right abuses and violation of basic rights of freedom of association and expression by the Nigerian Government and its agencies.
“As if to corroborate the veracity of the Amnesty Report, the United States Department of State on Friday, 22nd of April released a damning report on human rights abuses in Nigeria stating clearly those violations continued to increase in 2017 while officials who perpetrated them were almost never prosecuted by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Having laid bare the facts, we respectfully invite the United Nations (UN), its agencies and the international community to note the developments in our land and stand in defence of democracy,” the party prayed. Copied in the petition were the European Union (EU), American Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright, the French Ambassador to Nigeria, Denys Gayer, among others.
In all these, the PDP must stop at nothing to walk its talk by ensuring that the promise of putting to an end all forms of impunity and imposition are kept. As it were, the return to power must not be seen as a walk in the park as the power of incumbency does not yield easily, regardless of the ideals shared by an opposition camp.