Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu
Former Vice President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, yesterday in Enugu said the hijack and conversion of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to a “private estate” by some individuals who lack knowledge of the underpinning principles behind the formation of the party was the major reason why the party lost the 2015 general election.
The second Republic Vice president said he was always moved to tears each time he remembered the story of the PDP, especially how the party which was initially formed to be a mass movement for Nigerians had suddenly become a shadow of its old self.
Ekwueme who received members of the party’s Strategy Review and Interparty Relations Committee led by Ambassador Aminu Wali at his Enugu residence who came to hand over a copy of their report to him said the “hijackers who did not understand the principles behind the party’s formation deviated totally as imposition, impunity took centre stage while internal party democracy took flight.”
He said: “The story of the PDP makes me sometimes to weep. When our founding fathers said the party will be in charge for 60 years or more, some thought they were just bragging, PDP was packaged to be a mass movement of all Nigerians just like the ANC of south africa, we started that way, the first election in 1998, December 5 council election, we won massively across the country, we took control of 28 out of 36 states.
“In 1999, we ended up with 21 of the 36 governors. All the five states of the South East and six states of the South-south were all PDP; 10 of the 19 governors of the North-east, North-west and North-central were PDP, it was a strong showing, we also had control of the National Assembly. With that showing, all we needed to do was to manage the party properly as envisaged by the founding fathers, making it a mass movement and expanding its power base
“Unfortunately, some people who did not know how the party was formed or what informed its philosophy, got involved in the party and decided to convert it to a personal estate without regard to the underpinning principles that formed its formation and gradually we started to lose ground. At one stage, in my state, Anambra, they decided to commence the re-registration of members so as to exclude members who they thought were not in their camp, instead of attracting more members, they decided to exclude, that was the genesis of our present situation, coupled with lack of internal democracy.
“I can’t remember how many times I’ve been called to come and spearhead the process of bringing back people to our party, that was what late Yar’Adua invited me to do as soon as he took over as president, we went round all the six zones, met with aggrieved members but unfortunately Yar’Adua passed on and that initiative was not conclusively implemented. I’m happy that after the debacle of 2015, there was been this need for retrospection as evidenced by this strategy committee to try and find out where we went astray and try to bring the party to its original plan,” he noted.
He further pledged to read the content of the 12-page report of the committee, positing that he was optimistic that with the calibre of persons in the committee, once the report was fully implemented, the PDP would regain its lost glory.
Earlier, the leader of the delegation and Nigeria’s former Ambassador to China, Alhaji Aminu Wali, disclosed that the committee was able to take a closer look at all the problems that faced the party as well as their causes and also proferred the way out, adding that the party’s leadership under the Caretaker chairman, Alhaji Ahmed Makarfi was determied to return the party to the true owners.
He said by the time the report of the committee was fully implemented, the PDP would be on its way to reclaiming the nation’s presidency by 2019.
“The report has addressed the probelms, we’ve done a good job that will help revive the party. Impunity, to party discipline, impositions and intra-party probems were looked into and solutions proferred. We’ve presented the report to the caretaker committee. We’ve learnt our lessons, the indiscipline that bedevilled the party over the years were tackled, we want to rebrand our party and get back to the visions of the founding fathers which made the party, a winning party. We will revive the party and win back power by 2019,” he said.