The decision by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar (an outsider to the plot who opportunistically joined the bandwagon) and seven Peoples Democratic Party governors to rebel against the leadership of the party has caused quite a stir in Nigeria’s political circles. It has also heightened political intrigues in the build-up to the contest for the presidency in 2015, and caused President Goodluck Jonathan to sack as many as 9 of his ministers on political considerations. Beyond these, however, is the political uncertainty and dilemma the rebelling governors now face: where to go from here.
The arrowheads, Governors Aliyu Wammako (Sokoto), Sule Lamido (Jigawa), Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano), Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara) and Babangida Aliyu (Niger), had broken out of the party’s special national convention ground at the Eagle Square on August 31 in protest against what they referred to as “undemocratic acts” of the party leadership. The group insists that the party’s national chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, is guilty of “serial violations” of the party’s constitution with the connivance of the presidency. Together with Atiku and Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), they hatched a plot to create a parallel executive of the party with Abubakar Baraje as Chairman and Olagunsoye Oyinlola as National Secretary.
Like in most rebellions, the dramatis personae have not been short of sycophants. Since the walk-out and subsequent announcement of their new leaders, crowds of cheerleaders have surfaced to applaud them for their “courage.” Some people even took newspaper pages to hail them for “visionary leadership.” However, as days run into weeks, the cheers are gradually dying down and a certain dilemma about their political destination has confronted them. Not only have they been speaking in discordant voices about the reason for pulling out of the mainstream PDP, they have sounded even more confused about where they are headed, politically. While some of them have made comments to the effect that they would float a new party, others have canvassed strongly for them to dissolve into any of the newly registered parties-preferably the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM). Yet, a third group insists that they would stay in PDP and seek ways of addressing their grievances.
Even before the rebellion blew open, the seven governors were suspected to have sponsored a political association called Voice of the People (VoP), which has since applied to the Independent National Electoral Commission for registration as a political party. Since the recent developments, a crisis of confidence has set in. It has become apparent that some of them have different agenda altogether, causing some of them to start back-pedaling.
At the last count, only Governor Lamido of Jigawa state appears to still be committed to the VoP. Surprisingly, his Kano State counterpart, Dr Rabiu Kwankwaso now toes a different path altogether. He told the Hausa Service of the BBC last week that if ongoing talks to resolve the political impasse within the PDP failed to yield any tangible result, members of his grouphis group might defect to the APC. On this score, his supporters and those of Governor Wamakko, differ too. A strong member of the faction, Alhaji Muhammadu Dangogo, who is a close acolyte of Governor Wamakko, has come out to dismiss suggestions that they may quit the party. Dangogo declared that Wamakko’s supporters in the state are open to dialogue and would remain till perceived lapses of the mainstream PDP are addressed.
In Adamawa which is torn between Governor Nyako and Atiku Abubakar, most of the governor’s political associates have already defected to the APC. While Nyako has openly declared that he would remain in PDP and “see to its burial,” Atiku, who is said to have sponsored the secret registration of the PDM as a political party, has already mobilized his foot soldiers to make a case for the group to move into the so-called new PDP, which laughably is not registered with the INEC and therefore alien to the relevant laws governing validly registered and existing political parties.
Of interest is the fact that the destination of some of the actors will be determined or largely influenced by the wishes of their godfathers and sponsors. The case of Governors Aliyu of Niger, Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara and former Osun State Governor and ex-National Secretary of the PDP, Olagunsoye Oyinlola are cited. In Niger, Aliyu is well advised to factor in the interest of General Ibrahim Babangida in whatever he decides to do. Indeed, the security report linking former President Olusegun Obasanjo to the factionalisation of the party appears to have opened a leeway for rapprochement between IBB and President Jonathan.
On the other hand, Governor Ahmed of Kwara State and Alhaji Kawu Baraje who are part of this feuding lot just to demonstrate their loyalty to their political benefactor, former Governor of the State and serving Senator, Bukola Saraki, can also only act when he (Saraki) says so. For now, Saraki has not given any indication where he is headed. However, he has totally ruled out the possibility of his supporters joining Atiku’s PDM. When the interest of former President Obasanjo is factored in too, it is easy to conclude that neither the APC nor the PDM will be acceptable, which is why Oyinlola, an Obasanjo ally, has suggested the group will go it alone in a new party. So, why are they hanging in the PDP? Why have they not move to their new party or parties? Is it that they fear they would not be able to survive outside PDP that has been firmly entrenched in the nation’s political terrains and not showing signs of disintegration despite the crisis instigated by the rebel group?
This explicates their dilemma. The voices could not have been more discordant, and there lies their real predicament. Whichever way, no single platform is expected to accommodate the divergent-and clearly conflicting-individual interests of the “new PDP” leaders. It has even become apparent that beyond the façade of protesting “undemocratic acts,” lies a deep-rooted plan to intimidate President Jonathan from seeking the people’s mandate for a second term as guaranteed by the constitution. The consequence of their confusion over a common platform is that the rebellion is doomed for failure and the elements are likely to scatter in different directions. Even if they hold together, in a very unlikely situation, how far can they go in the enterprise of working with the opposition to destroy the party that gave them its platform to win election and offer public service?
The result, ultimately, will be that their initial plan to weaken the mainstream PDP and frustrate Jonathan’s second term aspiration will be rendered ineffective. This is why they should be disposed to the ongoing efforts by the presidency and the PDP leadership at reconciliation. They should encourage President Jonathan and Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Chief Tony Anenih, who have passionately committed themselves to achieving peaceful resolution of the crisis and keeping the party intact by helping the process of reconciliation so that the party can come out of the crisis stronger.
· Ehigiator sent in this piece from Abuja.