Some time in November 2013, 5 governors elected on the platform of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, decamped to the All Progressives Congress, APC. It was an unprecedented move in Nigeria’s political history and formed the foundation for APC’s victory at the 2015 general elections.
The governors who led their supporters and political structures to APC were Governors Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara), Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto), Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano) and Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers). They were joined by other political heavyweights such as Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Senator Bukola Saraki, the then Speaker of the House of Representatives – Aminu Tambuwal, Shaba Lafiagi, Mohammed Ndume, Danjuma Goje, Abdullahi Adam, Bindo Jubrilla and Abdullahi Gobir.
Others include Dr. Samuel Ortom, former Speaker Aminu Bello Masari, Alhaji Atiku Bagudu and Barrister Simon Lalong. In fact, of the 17 state governors elected on the platform of APC in Northern Nigeria only 7 are not ex-PDP members.
At no point since 1999 had so many political heavyweights left a party in such a manner. The loss of the clout, networking, followership and funding that these men represented was a significant blow that PDP could not recover from in time for the 2015 elections. The rest, as they say, is history.
However, things have not been rosy for these dwellers in APC. With the exception of Rotimi Amaechi – who currently serves as Minister of Transport, all of these men have been engaged in various battles within APC. And in the minds of many, it begs the question whether the whole excursion has been worth it.
For instance, Senator Bukola Saraki has gone on to become Senate President. But that only became possible after an alliance with PDP Senators. In fact, he is only being preserved as Senate President on the strength of that alliance.
His emergence as Senate President ruffled many feather within APC and it is believed that this forms the basis for his trial on charges of under-declaration of assets at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
Others like Aliyu Wamakko, Murtala Nyako and Rabiu Kwankwaso have been sidelined in the running of the affairs of the party. While Kwankwaso is involved in a bitter battle with Governor Umar Ganduje over control of the party in Kano State, Wamakko has largely lost control of the State party structure to his successor – Governor Aminu Tambuwal. Murtala Nyako seems to have gone into hiding completely.
In the light of the current political circumstances, one wonders whether the lots of these political heavyweights will not be better served by returning to PDP. At least, in PDP these were men who called the shots, whose voices were heard. One cannot say the same thing for them in APC.
And there is a myriad of reasons why one may argue that these men should return to PDP. For one, most of them were founding members of the party. Most understand its ethos and ideology. As it stands, they currently find themselves in the APC where they struggle to acclimatise to the variances between the more democratic ideologies they were used to in PDP and the total control exercised by Bola Tinubu in the ACN wing of APC and the cult followership given to President Muhammadu Buhari by the CPC wing.
Secondly, many of these men have future political ambitions. It is common knowledge that Atiku Abubakar desires to run for President in 2019. Kwankwaso and Tambuwal also harbour the same ambitions. Rotimi Amaechi’s future political relevance has to lie away from APC seeing as the party is simply not accepted in home state.
Many analysts think that PDP would be a better place to articulate their political futures.
Finally, there is the altruistic reason. Most of these men, along with former President Olusegun Obasanjo, were founding fathers of PDP. While they may not have been in the room the day it was decided to form the party, they all played a role in its successes over the years.
In many ways, their abandonment of the party has led to its current travails. In many ways, the abandonment of the party by these founding fathers has caused it to lose its very soul and essence.
In the face of the outright failures of the ruling party, the return of these men to the PDP fold is essential not only for its survival but for the survival of the entire country.
Once you consider that President Buhari presides over Nigeria at its most fractured state since the Civil War and does not have the right sort of temperament to reunite the country, you will see the altruistic need for these men to return to PDP as a means of building the virile opposition that the country needs.
Having enjoyed many benefits from PDP, these men owe the party – and indeed the rest of the country – an obligation to return and ensure the party does not die. This is the only way to secure a viable opposition to the ruling party and prevent the establishment of a one party state.
Deji Adeyanju is director of Social Media of the People’s Democratic Party. He is also a former aide at the Presidency. He tweets from @adeyanjudeji.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.