Let me state from the outset that after I read, in between the lines, the piece titled: “PDM, PDP and the Battle Ahead” in THISDAY, the Sunday newspaper of September 8, 2013, I came to an interesting conclusion that there is no battle ahead, after all, between Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM), which has just transformed into a political party, and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
What, however, lies ahead for the new PDM is a crisis of identity! I say new PDM because many founding leaders of the aboriginal PDM have distanced themselves from the secret registration of the Movement as a political party with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). So, what this means for the new PDM is that the soul of the Movement is, understandably, still in the PDP.
The new party is, therefore, at best, a splinter group from the aboriginal PDM, which worked with other political associations to form the PDP in 1998. And the resolve of the founding fathers of the Movement was to keep it at the level of a pressure group and not to transform it into a political party. This is why it has remained so within the PDP since 1998.
Even Olumide Adefarakan, the writer of the piece, who is a public affairs analyst and reporter (paragraphs 26, 27 and 28 refer) admitted the fact of the resolve especially in the fourth paragraph when he said that, “it will be recalled that the PDM was a major fulcrum in the formation of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP) and also in the formation of the PDP in 1998.”
But his claim that the older generation of the original PDM members has betrayed the ideals of the Movement as a bastion of democracy is fraudulent. It was clear that he chose to be fraudulent in order to prepare the grounds for the rationalizations offered by the purported Interim National Chair of the PDM party, Malam Bashir Ibrahim Yusuf, for the registration of the Movement with INEC behind the backs of the founding leaders.
In a bid to justify the secret registration of the PDM, Yusuf was quoted to have said “during the days of the founder of the party (Movement), there were many times the Tafida (the late Shehu Musa Yar’Adua) held a contrary position to those of his lieutenants. I cannot recall any such time when the Tafida lorded his opinion on the rest of the group. Decisions were always subjected to the test of democracy and, in a like manner, all decisions and actions in the PDM passed the test of democracy.”
What a spurious assertion! Was Yusuf saying that the decision to transform the Movement into a political party a product of consensus by leaders and members of the Movement? The decision could not have passed through the transparent, credible and democratic test; otherwise it would not have been a subject of controversy that has trailed its transformation into a political party.
So, on what moral basis was he accusing the original PDM leaders of betraying the promotion of the ideals of democracy? Whereas, the reporter in Olumide Adefarakan betrayed his bias for the new PDM with his spins in paragraphs 26, 27 and 28, all in a clever bid to divert attention from the involvement of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar from the rebellion that led to the registration of the PDM as a party.
Read the concatenation: “Although, a senior member of the PDM family has on several occasions dissociated himself from being the force behind the registration of the PDM, and many of his core political associates have also distanced themselves from the newly registered political party, there are fears in some quarters especially proponents of a Jonathan second term that the newly registered party may yet be a fallback for some interests if the PDP gave Jonathan its presidential ticket without going through primary election or if there is no level playing (sic) field in the emergence of the ruling party’s flag-bearer….”
Let us read Adefarakan’s purported sources close to the PDM, whom he claimed said that “all efforts by the new party to have the former Vice President on board as part of its 2015 permutations have failed as Atiku has insisted that he is staying put in the PDP to slug it out and create a level-playing (sic) field in the party.”
Indeed, there is no amount of pseudo-reportorial dissembling that will divert attention from Atiku as being the face of the PDM rebellion. The leadership of the aboriginal PDM knows that he was the one who encouraged and promoted the registration by proxy as a fall-back platform for his never-waning presidential ambition.
No one reckons with his claim that he remains in the PDP, especially after playing an opportunistic role in joining some aggrieved governors to break out of the Special Mini Convention ground at the Eagle Square on August 31, 2013. That was Atiku’s archetypal politics of rebelling against constituted authorities in promotion and defence of his personal political interests.
He is not new to the game of rebellion and betrayal. He is not one of the aggrieved governors who have issues in their states against the PDP leadership, but having gained access to the venue of the convention as a statutory delegate, he was to lend himself to the act of joining the aggrieved governors to stage a walk-out from the convention venue.
That was not the first time Atiku would present himself as a rebel with personal cause: in 2003, as sitting vice president, he planned a civil coup against his boss, the then President Olusegun Obasanjo in a desperate bid to scuttle Obasanjo’s second term of office. He had collaborated with some nine governors, with whom he had wanted to upstage the applecart of Obasanjo’s presidential bid.
But for the deft moves of the like of former Minister of Works and Housing, Chief Tony Anenih, who had just left the cabinet to oversee Obasanjo’s re-election campaign as the de facto National Coordinator, and the political brinkmanship by the presidency, Atiku might have had his way. He had obtained the presidential nomination form and asked for time extension to enable him submit it.
Relying on his famed control of the state governors whom he had planned to use to swing delegate votes either to himself if he ran eventually or to former vice president Alex Ekwueme who eventually ran against Obasanjo, he had put the scare into Obasanjo. What Atiku wanted was retention as vice president after reports had indicated that Obasanjo was going to drop him as running mate for a northeast governor due to his disloyalty.
He was able to negotiate his retention as running mate, but immediately the presidential election was won, Obasanjo went after him for his own pound of flesh. The influence he wielded in his first term as vice president was deliberately whittled down by the Ebora of Owu (Obasanjo).
In fact, that was how Atiku Abubakar bungled his God-given opportunity to emerge as Obasanjo’s successor in 2007, which could have happened on the PDP platform if vaulting ambition had not consumed him to the point of deploying his media aides to quietly propagate the Mandela option for Obasanjo even while the first term was underway.
But in order to realize his presidential ambition, he had moved to then Action Congress (AC) to contest after winning a legal battle. He was defeated in the election by the late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. In 2010, he returned to the PDP, got a waiver to contest for the presidential ticket of the party and had outwitted other northern presidential aspirants in the PDP to emerge as consensus candidate of the north to run against Jonathan in the PDP presidential primaries, which he lost.
Now, he is preparing the ground to run for the presidency again, most certainly on the platform of the new PDM party. There is no doubt he will emerge the party’s candidate, but what impact will he be able to make? As AC candidate in 2007, he could not even win his Adamawa home state. If he deploys the platform of new PDM and loses, as it is expected, the PDM would have been abused and deflated.
This is what I mean by crisis of identity, which I referred to in the second paragraph of this piece. Not many will want to know which PDM lost. As far as they are concerned PDM is PDM; a common patrimony, handed down by the late Gen. Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, which has now been partitioned because of the political ambition of one man: Atiku Abubakar, the Turakin Adamawa, would have been demystified. The late Gen. Yar’Adua will turn in his grave in disapproval of the demystification, no thanks to Atiku’s personal schema; and, this will be sad.
* Momodu contributed this piece from Abuja.