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Saturday, 4 November 2017

December 9 national convention: The choice before PDP by Abubakar Idris

Public commentator, Abubakar Idris writes on the forthcoming national convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), stressing that the party must ensure that the process to elect its leaders is transparent, credible and it produces the best candidate.

Read below:

Democracy is built on a strength of a performing government in power and a strong opposition. The opposition stands as the alternative in case the ruling party fails to meet the yearnings and expectations of the electorates, especially when it fails to deliver on the promises it made during election campaigns.

In Nigeria, since the return of democracy in 1999, the self-styled largest party in Africa, the PDP reigned supreme at the centre and in most states in the country. There was no strong opposition until 2014 with the formation of the All Progressives Congress (APC) – an amalgamation of small political parties.


PDP national caretaker chairman, Ahaji Ahmed Makarfi will be handing over to a new chairman on Saturday, December 9
The APC put the PDP on its toes. It offered a virile opposition to the PDP. With the almost never-ending press statements of its then publicity secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, every policies of the government was scrutinised and criticised.

The APC galvanised the civil society, academicians, professional bodies, trade and students' unions and the citizenry to kick against a series of government's actions and policies that it considered unfavourable, inhuman and anti-people.

The PDP became jittery, made so many policy somersaults and in most cases, was forced to issue rejoinders and recants.

It was little surprise that in less than one year, the party unseated the PDP as the ruling party and took domination of most states in the country.

However, since PDP lost out in 2015, it has failed to perform the role of the opposition effectively. It became embroiled in controversies and leadership tussle that almost destroyed the party that has produced three democratically elected presidents in Nigeria, more than two-third of federal lawmakers and governors in the country for 16 years.

It was as if the party has lost its soul until the Supreme Court came to its rescue.

As the party makes preparation for its national convention to elect its leaders, especially the national chairman, Nigerians await with keen interest and pray the party gets it right so that President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC government can come under searchlight and be made to perform better.

Not less than eight leading chieftains of the party are gunning for the apex position. Expectedly, the messages across these contenders seem similar- to provide viable opposition capable of unseating the APC in 2019. However, the intention and capacity of these individuals are not the same.

Who are these men and what are their credentials, antecedents and ability to turn the PDP into a viable alternative party.

1. Olujimi Agbaje

Agbaje, a former governorship candidate of the party in 2015 represents a breath of fresh air in terms of age and branding for the party. If party politics is all about branding and perception, Agbaje stands tall among other aspirants but the obvious is that he lacks the clout, connection and the experience to lead a party like the PDP.

Maybe, he will succeed in leading one of the new parties, but certainly not a party that has produced presidents, senate presidents, governors and have in its ranks former head of states and elder statesmen. What will Agbaje possibly discuss with former military leader, Ibrahim Babangida and other founding members of the party?

PDP is older than Agbaje in politics. PDP was formed in 1998 but Agbaje emerged in Nigeria' political calculation sometime in 2003. Agbaje is for the future.

2. Chief Rasheed Ladoja

Ladoja is a political guru but he just returned to the PDP months ago. His entrance to the race is good to justify the all-inclusiveness policy of the party but
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