• Urges Buhari to learn from Ghanaian president

Tobi Soniyi in Lagos

Some members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are mounting pressure on the party to change its name, THISDAY can authoritatively reveal.

Two senior members of the party who confided in THISDAY said they preferred to speak anonymously to avoid sanctions from the party.

According to them, the fortunes of the party were likely to improve during the next general election if the party adopts a new name.

According to them, “It will also enable more people, including those who left the party, the opportunity to join the party.”

He cited former Minister of Information, Professor Jerry Gana, as one of those who had privately expressed concern about the party’s name.

“I don’t know whether this is why he left for the Social Democratic Party (SDP) but I am convinced that his decision to leave must have been influenced by the issues bordering on the party’s name.

“It is not only Gana that is seeking a change of name. Many of the members of the party who had left and desirous of coming back to the party also want a change of name,” the source also added.

So far, those who spoke with THISDAY said the leadership of the party had consistently rejected the idea, saying the PDP is a brand that has done well for the country and still has what it takes to do better.

When contacted, the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, said the party welcomes ideas on how the party can succeed in the 2019 elections, stressing however that a change of name is not on the agenda of the PDP.

He said: “We seek new ideas on how best to sell our party to the generality of Nigerians. But changing the name of our great party is not in contemplation of the organs of our party.

“Why do we need to change our name? Our party is rebranding, repositioning and more than ever ready for the 2019 election. We lost in 2015 not because we were called PDP but because the opposition party then tagged us with unprintable names.

“Today, we remain the most viable opposition in our country and we have carried out our duties to the country responsibly. Nigerians are rallying the PDP because they have seen through the All Progressives Congress (APC) lies and propaganda.

“For us in the PDP, we will not change our name just because we lost election in 2015. In the Unites States of America, the Democratic Party has lost elections in its 190 years of existence but it has not changed its name. Also, the Republican Party has existed for 164 years without a change of name.

“The PDP has lived for almost 20 years and lost election only once. Our rebranding is not about change of names but adopting democratic culture that meets best practices all over the world.

“The PDP is striving to meet these practices on daily basis, and it has become responsive to the demands of members. Our party therefore has no need to change its name.”

Meanwhile, the party has called on President Muhammad Buhari to use the benefit of his state visit to Ghana to draw lessons from his Ghanaian counterpart, President Nana Akufo-Addo, on how to run a peaceful, united and economically vibrant country.

The party also criticised the president for offering to assist Ghana in her war against corruption when his own administration reeks heavily with corruption as evidenced by the Transparency International report which exposed the fact that corruption has worsened in Nigeria under his watch.

The party, in a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, yesterday said the president and his handlers should have been embarrassed that while the President of Ghana paraded credentials of a robust economy and a peaceful country, Nigeria, under the Buhari presidency is plagued with economic recession and upsurge of violence and daily bloodletting.

“When President Buhari was reeling out President Akufo-Addo achievements in his one year in office; his ingenious approach to job creation; the farming for job initiative, the senior high school free education, one district-one factory projects and one village-one dam initiatives among others; we hope our dear president reflected on the fact that back home, his inept government had instead, wrecked our once robust economy, the reason he had nothing to present to the world at the ceremony.

“We hope President Buhari recollects that unlike his Ghanian counterpart, his administration had nothing to show in its first year in office. Our president recalls that under his own watch, over eight million Nigerians have lost their jobs, 16 million remained unemployed, 18 million more were underemployed while another 27.44 million refused to work for various reasons related to frustrations occasioned by the negative policies of his government.”

It added: “In the same vein, we hope President Buhari notes that unlike his Ghanaian counterpart, who initiated development projects and opened factories, in Nigeria under his watch, many factories have shut down, infrastructures are collapsing, inflation has soared, fuel price has moved from N86.50 to N250-N300 per liter in various parts of his country, while the nation’s debt profile has continued to escalate.

“Furthermore, when President Buhari offered to assist Ghana in her fight against corruption, we hope he remembered that the world already knows that back home, his administration reeks of allegations bordering on corruption in high places and the Transparency International (TI) report has exposed the fact that corruption has worsened in Nigeria under his government.

“Today, the world knows that what obtains in Nigeria is direct persecution of opposition members under the guise of a fight against corruption, which has been aided by intimidation of the judiciary and incessant harassment of journalists.”

The PDP therefore urged President Buhari’s handlers to stop embarrassing the nation, especially at the international stage.

“We know that the presidency sought to use the Ghana visit to curry international endorsement for their 2019 re-election bid, unfortunately, they reaped a harvest of international embarrassment
and ridicule.”

“Finally, we want to urge Mr. President to be wary of turning Nigeria into a joke in the international arena, especially as the world knows what is obtainable in his government.”