By Adams Abonu
With recent mending of fences within its ranks, Nigeria’s major opposition platform, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), might well be on the way to genuine reconciliations. The indications for reconciliations became stronger on Monday, September 18, when leaders of opposing factions within the party led in their respective capacities by Senator Ahmed Makarfi, the National Chairman of an Interim Caretaker Committee empowered by some leaders of the party in a botched convention in Port Harcourt on May 17 and Senator Ali Modu Sherriff, erstwhile National Chairman whose tenure was put to a widely expected end by the same convention.
Since the botched convention in the garden city, peace had evaded the party as the opposing factions bare their fangs through various conflicting court injunctions that almost made a joke of the major opposition status of the party. While a Federal High court sitting in Port Harcourt affirmed the decision of party leaders at the convention that appointed the Makarfi-led Caretaker Committee, another Federal High Court of equally competent jurisdiction sitting in Abuja declared the committee a nullity insisting that Senator Sherriff remained the “authentic” chairman of the party.
As the conundrum in PDP ensued, Nigerians waited earnestly for an amicable resolution in the interest of democracy. This was as the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) dithered in the beckoning responsibility of showing efficient leadership at the face of national apprehension occasioned by the ailing economy.
“While the crises in PDP lasted, the teeming supporters of the party had the earnest expectations that it would not last so that we could provide options for Nigerians. As peace returns, there is more hope for democracy in Nigeria because of the prospects of ensuring that government gets it right in meeting the genuine expectations of Nigerians,” Aliyu Adada, a former federal lawmaker from Nasarawa State told THISDAY.
However, in an exclusive chat with THISDAY in Abuja on Thursday, Alhaji Sule Lamido, a founding member of the party and erstwhile governor of Jigawa State revealed that leaders of the party “worked tirelessly behind the scene to ensure that the various reconciliatory mechanisms instituted by the leadership succeeded.” He expressed utmost optimism that the gestures of peace by hitherto opposing factions would yield the desired results.
“PDP is beyond a political party. This is an expression of the Nigerian family. Every Nigerian who loves Nigeria will believe in the PDP cause because the party is formed on our history as a country. We give Nigeria a platform which would involve every Nigeria, giving each one a sense of belonging and say in the political process of the country, where anyone can aspire to any leadership level from councillors to the Presidency. And this is very important because it creates the environment for affinity and common bond.
“We have had a lot of crises in the party in the last 19 years. But the political will of the Nigerian family has always stood by the PDP. We have had party leaders like (former National Chairmen) Gemade, Audu Ogbe and others removed, or leaders in the National Assembly like late Chuba Okadigbo and (Adolfus) Wabara removed, with their attendant crises. But the the followership in the grassroots are thickened in their support for the party. So when the issue of Modu Sheriff and Makarfi began, none of the PDP members in Nigeria left the party. Inspite of the crises, people were leaving APC to join us,” Lamido said
The former governor who is a likely presidential candidate of the party appreciated the resilience of members and attributed the prospective reconciliation to the goodwill of Nigerians. He said, “ the first gratitude and commendation should go to members of the party nationwide for standing with the party. That was the stand of the ordinary folks in the party, that no matter what you do as a party, we will not leave as it is our own. If we kept on messing up, Nigerians would not forgive us. The leadership now realised that Nigerians are watching us with expectations. This was how the peace process began.
The effort to reconcile the party was first put in place by the chairman of BoT set up a committee for reconciliation headed by Professor Jerry Gana and other prominent members. Then all of us worked behind the scene to ensure that the process succeeded. I think what we have today as a return to reconciliation is a culmination of all the efforts.
First, the prayers and efforts of the ordinary people in PDP who refused to leave the party inspite of the crises. And then the level of paltriotism of the leadership of the party who felt that they owe a duty to Nigerians beyond our immediate selves. All of us at the higher level are people whom the party dignified and we owe it to Nigeria and Nigerians to pay back what we enjoyed from them and their leaders.
Everyone played a role, including some elders of Nigeria who are not even members of the party but who are concerned because the only platform to move Nigeria forward is PDP. The current mess created by this APC Government is frightening because when you talk about an economy in recession or depression, it is because the leadership is also depressed or stressed. The economy becomes recessed because leadership depressed. I thank God that we are getting out of the wood.
Nationwide, people are jubilating because of the prospects of this resolution. People have seen that APC cannot deliver any change because the failed miserably.
Lamido proffered that hope in leadership must be restored to move the country forward. He charged the ruling party to wake up to the task of bringing Nigeria back to prosperity that prevailed before APC took over.
With the prospects of reconciliations imminent in PDP, providing alternative platform towards reviving the ailing national economy becomes more paramount.