Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar
Moves by political associates of the former Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters, the late Major General Shehu Musa Yar’Adaua, to revive his political machinery, the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM), have hit a brick wall.
The late Yar’Adua, elder brother to the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, was in the thick of the politics of the aborted Third Republic and a key figure in the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP).
The SDP was one of the state-funded two parties that participated in the political process that collapsed with the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election by the then military president, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida.
The PDM, on the other hand, had played a prominent role in the emergence of its founder’s principal, Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo, as president of the extant political dispensation in 1999.
Its notable members included former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, Chief Tony Anenih, former Vice-Chancellor, Ahmadu Bello University, Prof. Ango Abdullahi, Chief Yomi Edu, Alhaji Shuaibu Oyedokun, Dr. Bode Olajumoke, Mallam Umar Shettima, Mrs. Titi Ajanaku and Alhaji Isa Kaita, many of whom held high profile appointments in the Obasanjo administration.
Given its clout at the beginning of the current democratic dispensation, some young politicians, who want to use the PDM platform for political ascendancy, had since May commenced moves to resuscitate the political machinery by reaching out to erstwhile influential members of the group.
Sources told THISDAY that the move to revive the PDM, one of the disparate groups that formed the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at inception, is targeted at the 2015 general election and is anchored on the possible disintegration of the PDP ahead of the election.
The thinking is that the jostling for the presidential ticket of the ruling party would be hard fought and likely pit the North against the South, if President Goodluck Jonathan decides to seek a second term in office, a situation that could lead to the weakening or break up of the PDP.
The promoters of the idea had canvassed for reviving the political machinery with a view to forming a new political movement that could transform into a viable alternative to the PDP ahead of the 2015 election.
However, THISDAY checks revealed that promoters of the idea beat a retreat following the reluctance by Atiku, widely regarded as the most influential PDM member in the country, to embrace the idea.
A source disclosed that one of those who met Atiku for the revival of PDM was Second Republic governor of the old Kaduna State, Alhaji Lawan Kaita.
According to Kaita, “I was among the group that met the former vice-president, but he was not receptive or forth coming on the plan to revive the PDM. He was just not receptive.”
THISDAY was told that the former vice-president, who has made very little effort to conceal his desire to contest for the presidency come 2015, balked at the suggestion, fearing betrayal.
In the race for the PDP presidential ticket last year, Atiku, who emerged the consensus candidate of the North, which was opposed to the presidential bid by Jonathan, had accused some PDM leaders of backing Jonathan in the presidential primary.
According to one source, who gave some insight into what transpired during the build up to the PDP presidential primary in 2011, the leader of the PDM, Alhaji Farouk Abdullaziz, and some other members, including Anenih, a former chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT), had ensured that the PDM group in PDP backed Jonathan to defeat Atiku.
With the PDM throwing its support for Jonathan instead of Atiku, the political group became factionalised into the Abdullaziz and Kaita camps. Even though both camps were later to realise the need for a rapprochement, the former vice-president was never able to live down the experience.
The source said: “Apparently, it was this sense of betrayal that played out when some members of the PDM met with Turaki (Atiku) and he was not receptive to the idea of reviving the PDM.
“What is the need of resuscitating the PDM, when he (Atiku) needed the group the most, he was abandoned?”
Though the members trying to revive the PDM are yet to meet with Anenih, the source said, “The cold shoulder they got from Atiku has not encouraged them thus far.”
He, however, said the promoters of the idea plan to meet with Abdullahi to support their cause.
THISDAY also gathered that some PDM members have met over five times this year, with the last meeting taking place in Asokoro, Abuja, at the residence of a prominent politician from the North last June. Prominent members like Atiku and Anenih were, however, absent from the meeting.
While Atiku is interested in contesting the 2015 presidential primary of the PDP, Anenih is one of those allegedly supporting Jonathan’s second term ambition.
Notwithstanding Atiku’s disinterest, some members are still pushing for the revival of the group. “Insiders at the meeting are planning to launch the group back into reckoning through a seminar to discuss the security situation in the country and how to proffer solutions and other political matters of interest,” a source said.
A member of the group and an associate of Atiku, Prince Tonye Princewill, confirmed that the PDM has been meeting, but refused to give details of the meeting and other plans of action to revive the group.
According to him, “Recently, an old political movement has started to resurface, the Peoples Democratic Movement, the foundation structure of the PDP. Now, PDM, the foundation structure of PDP, will ultimately meet to think on how to address the question.”
According to another source, the implicit understanding among PDP stakeholders from the North is not to mount a challenge against Jonathan from picking the party’s presidential ticket, but to float a new party that could wrest the presidency from the South.