How PDP shoots itself in the foot

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By Jide Ajani
•February1999: Presidential primaries in Jos, Plateau State: Olusegun Obasanjo’s victory as the presidential candidate shakes the party.

•Obasanjo ignores consensual approach to picking his running mate. Single-handedly picks Atiku Abubakar

•Obasanjo surreptitiously encourages governors-elect on PDP platform to become political leaders at state level

•Between May and June 1999: Obasanjo rejects the choice of Chuba Okadigbo as senate president and instead forces Evan(s) Enewerem on the senate – this creates ripples in the party

PDP-convention venue

•Mild crisis in the PDP over the forced resignation of Imam Salisu Buari as Speaker – a resignation which Obasanjo attempted to stave-off because he saw Buari as malleable.

•Barely a month in office, some aides create crisis in the presidency between Obasanjo and his deputy, Atiku

•Another confrontation on the installation of Okadigbo as Enwerem’s successor in a palace coup on the floor of the senate – an extension of the brewing crisis in the presidency between Obasanjo and Atiku

•Late 1999: Katakata over choice of Bernabas Gemade over Chief Sunday Awoniyi as PDP chairman – Gemade wins at national convention. To date, that has been the only keenly contested chairmanship tussle in the PDP.

•Proposed amendment of party constitution to extend tenure of national executive committee by one year leads to crisis over whether the incumbent exco members should benefit.

•Emmanuel Ibeshi and Gbenga Olawepo (publicity secretaries of the party) rejects retroactivity of amendment and push for reforms. This leads to another round of crisis.

•2001: Gemade announces the suspension of Chief Anthony Anenih but this immediately backfires as the former was to recant the following day. He is forced out of office but makes a prophesy, a curse, that the fate that would befall his successors would be worse than his own in  the coming years.

•Audu Ogbeh, long-forgotten Second Republic Minister of Communications, is exhumed and made PDP chairman but this also creates its own ripples

•April 2002: Brouhaha over presidential ambition of Obasanjo for second term. Crisis erupts again as associates of Vice President Atiku Abubakar talks of a MANDELA OPTION which Obasanjo was expected to adopt. This creates bad blood between Obasanjo and Atiku but they both try to manage the crisis and keep it under the table.

Even the public declaration of Obasanjo for second term at the International Conference Centre, ICC, saw a president not mentioning the name of his running mate at all as he assesses his administration and prepares for a possible second term. Just before then, Atiku, too, had played footsy by not making himself available for the public declaration but had to be compelled to attend to allow peace reign.

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•Mid 2002: An attempt to impeach Obasanjo as president by the national assembly polarizes the party. Whereas the Senate was able to sheath its sword, the Ghali Umar Na’Abba-led House of Representatives goes ahead, prompting many influential personalities to wade into the crisis – the attempt was dropped eventually.

•Battle of wits between Obasanjo and Na’Abba spills into the party. It deepens and weakens the party in December 2002 just before its presidential primaries.

•January 2003: Atiku eyeballs Obasanjo over presidential primaries
January 2003: State governors insist that Obasanjo would not be marketable for the 2003 elections; urges Atiku on; Atiku turns down the offer at the last minute. Alex Ekwueme contests against Obasanjo again but loses.

•2004: Signs of a divided PDP National Executive Committee, NEC – Obasanjo forces pitched against Atiku’s associates

•Late 2004: Audu Ogbeh hits Obasanjo in an open letter, complaining about Obasanjo’s seeming overbearing attitude and the shambles of the President’s actions were turning PDP into. *Obasanjo responds and goes vulgar against his party chairman, insinuating that Ogbeh may have made so much money after being made chairman of PDP – mind you, between Obasanjo and Ogbeh, they flouted the PDP constitution which says a national officer of the party shall not accept an appointment in government at the same time: Ogbeh was made Presidential Adviser to Obasanjo on Agric.

•Early 2005: Peace brokered between Obasanjo and Ogbeh forces at the PDP NEC meeting. That NEC meeting was not expected to hold but it did. The temperature in the polity reached boiling point. Obasanjo had planned to publicly disgrace his party chairman but forces loyal to the party chairman, too, had their own response agenda, the consequences of which nobody could predict.

* Shortly after, Obasanjo forces Ogbeh to resign ahead of the end of his tenure after he was cajoled to visit Aso Rock Presidential Villa and a resignation extracted from him, personally by Obasanjo

* Ahmadu Ali of the ALI MUST GO fame is exhumed from private life and imposed as national chairman of PDP without an election in 2005
* PDP shocks the nation and the political world when it announces that members of the party would be re-registered as members – something akin to sacking all your workers and telling them to re-apply.

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* PDP during that same period introduced what it called linkmen who determined those to be re-registered as members of the party. This created bad blood not just in PDP but heightens tension in the polity. The linkmen systematically refused to register Atiku and his associates.

* Obasanjo introduces a new phenomenon of tenure elongation dubbed Third Term. This creates a new crisis in PDP and forces take sides.
* Third Term fails by April 2006

•Atiku and his associates are then forced out of PDP even while a case was in court on the matter
•2007: Party congresses and primaries in shambles – PDP selects its candidates
•Presidential primaries and Obasanbjo’s insistence on Umar Musa Yar’Adua creates fresh crisis in the party.

•Yar’Adua emerges as PDP presidential candidate but many limbs are broken and faces bruised by Obasanjo in the process.
•Obasanjo picks Jonathan as Yar’Adua’s running mate

•Yar’Adua takes over and sets up the Alex Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme Reconciliation Committee with a view to bringing back members who were forced out and even that committee work was sabotaged by people who saw themselves as new kings.

•2008: Pre-national convention tussle between former Governor Sam Egwu and former Senate President Anyim Pius Anyim tears the party apart – matter resolved and all aspirants for the post of national chairman file behind Vincent Ogbulafor.

•Ogbulafor then shoots from the hip in one of his first public statements by saying PDP will rule for another 60 years – Nigerians tear him apart.

•Yar’Adua’s refusal to sign handover letter to his deputy creates fresh crisis in the polity and even between and among PDP members and leaders.

•Ogbulafor’s statement about presidency and zoning sparks latest crisis.
•A new group emerges tagging itself PDP Reform Forum, insists that NEC and National Working Committee, NWC, of the PDP should be dissolved.

•PDP NWC suspends leaders of the Reform Forum, among whom are former Senate President Ken Nnamani; Aminu Bello-Masari, former Speaker of the House of Representatives, convener; former Rivers State governor, Peter Odili

The post How PDP shoots itself in the foot appeared first on Vanguard News.

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