[dropcap]I[/dropcap]f the governors elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, fail in resolving the crisis currently rocking the party, that would mean a sad end to Nigeria’s largest opposition political party. Even without an official statement admitting so, it is certain that the PDP is in a huge crisis and needs urgent redemption.
On the surface, the gladiators are former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, who, incidentally, is the party’s standard bearer for the 2023 presidential election; and Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, the runner-up in the party’s presidential primary. Both however represent the opposing tendencies in the party.
It is not that the PDP has particularly been a cohesive house since it lost power to the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2015. It has rather barely managed to trudge on, losing grounds in many instances and occasionally, chalking up some victories. The cracks in its fold however got widened following its May 28 primary in which Atiku emerged the candidate and Wike, who came second, felt betrayed by fellow chieftains.
Since then, it has been one form of meeting or another to find a common ground between the two groups in the party but not much has been achieved in reconciling both. This has prompted the governors elected on its platform to make what seems the last ditch-efforts in salvaging the organization.
It was in this regard that Adamawa State governor, Umaru Fintiri, the chairman of the reconciliation committee visited Governor Wike in Port Harcourt, Rivers State last Thursday as a way of placating the latter.
Fintiri was optimistic that the committee would achieve the desired result for the success of the party, ahead of the 2023 elections. He was particularly mindful that Nigerians would not forgive PDP if it failed to produce the next President, considering what he described as the rudderless nature of the Nigerian state under APC.
This is ordinarily, enough to give hope for the successful resolution of the crisis. But the issues involved are many and deeper. They border on ego and personal interest. Among other conditions, the Wike group is demanding the resignation of the national chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, a northerner, from Benue State, for a southerner to take over.
The argument is that having Atiku, the presidential candidate from the north, and national chairman, from the same zone as well as the chairman, Board of Trustees (BOT), Walin Jubrin, the critical positions in the party would be domiciled in one region. The Atiku camp has responded in an equally cocky manner, insisting that the condition for Ayu to relinquish his position is for all the positions held by southerners to be swapped with those held by northern chieftains of the party.
More than this, there is the argument that since the 2023 elections are yet to be held, discussing the zoning of offices would be premature, now. Ayu is also known to be an acolyte of Atiku, who he cannot easily trade-off in the build-up to the contest. None of the camps is shifting in its position.
That is the crux of the matter and the challenge before Governor Fintiri and his committee. Resolution of the crisis may thus, not be an easy exercise. If it turns out so, it would not be surprising to keen followers of the party.
In fact, in what is fast becoming a tradition in the party, there is a tendency for the PDP to lose cohesion and concentration after a major outing, particularly where some of its key members had not recorded the expected returns. It is in this regard that since it was upstaged by the APC in the 2015 elections, PDP has remained dazed and has stumbled from one internal crisis or another.
Even while in power, the party had not been held together by any known ideological strand. What it had, going for it, was the geographical spread. Added to the so-called federal might – a euphemism for vote manipulation, it had carried on with certain nauseating arrogance that many at a time, had likened it to an octopus in the throes of implosion.
At the heart of its undoing was the absence of internal democracy. But because it then had the entire state machinery to muscle its way in major elections, the cracks in the party were papered along by its leadership. But now out of power and shun of unlimited resources, the Umbrella (PDP logo), with which it had managed to sell a dummy of unity among its members, has torn apart.
The Wike challenge is what may make or mar the PDP in the days and months ahead. He is like the axiomatic bull in a china shop. Calling his bluff, may come with some electoral costs to the party and deny it of financial assistance from the governor. There is even the fear of his dumping the party for the APC, in the manner of his colleagues – Dave Umahi of Ebonyi and Ben Ayade of Cross River.
Yielding to Wike’s conditions equally comes with huge consequences. The governor is not a team player but one that loves to hear his voice and watch his gaits. He is rough and domineering – two considerations that easily scare other chieftains and amplify their fears of his hijacking the party and the Atiku presidency in the event of PDP winning in 2023.
No matter how the entire thing is looked at, PDP is in a dire situation. With the elections barely six months away, time is of the essence for the party to get its house in order. It is either the PDP steadies its steps or faces the danger of limping into the 2023 election on fractured limbs and lives to count its losses
A middle course solution in which both camps may win some and lose some can only be the way out. But that is if the combatants agree to subordinate their personal whims to the larger interest of the party.
Emeka Alex Duru, a journalist and consummate writer, contributed this piece from Lagos.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.