The PDP should ensure its best emerges as the presidential candidate, writes Bolanle Ajibade

Te Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will be holding its national convention in the first week of October and there is a lot of apprehension about who will emerge as the standard bearer of the main opposition party.

For a political party that has been used to being in power since 1999, it is expected that the PDP should throw in its all to wrest power from the ruling All Progressives Congress. Already there are 13 aspirants who are keen on contesting the presidential ticket
of the PDP. Of course, some of the names are heavy weight while some others are not really expected to go far in the contest.

What is however not in doubt is the fact that the PDP parades a very colourful array of aspirants and it might seem that all that the party needs to do well to guarantee a return to Aso Rock Villa in 2019 is managing the crisis that may potentially erupt after the primaries election.

But the PDP will be deluding itself if it was to presume that the ruling party would allow it a free hand to stabilise and eventually present a formidable candidate who could cause an upset for the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari in the next year’s election. Of course, the All Progressives Congress will dog its main rival to ensure that it frustrates any attempt to throw up a strong candidate as the standard
bearer of the party.

Perhaps some people in the leadership of the PDP know this much and that, perhaps, prompted the remark by the Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike that there are moles amongst the contenders for the presidential ticket of the PDP. Such a remark from a highly respected leader of the PDP makes a lot of sense because, for whatever it is worth, it is trite that out of every 12 there is a Judas.

And in the case of PDP, the figure is even more than 12! For those who believe in conspiracy theories, the allegation from Governor Wike should be seriously looked into by the relevant organs of the PDP. The 2019 election is a very critical election such that the PDP cannot have its two eyes closed and allow a dummy for bargain. The Buhari-led APC controlled federal government has performed so poorly that Nigerians cannot afford to take a gamble for another four years of the current hardship.

International bookmakers have already predicted that the APC would lose the 2019 election but that is only to the extent that the PDP does not allow the APC to influence the processes that will lead to the emergence of its presidential candidate.

Already, speculation is rife in some quarters also that the APC is in talks with some of the governors of the PDP predominantly in the South-south to ensure that the PDP fields a less popular presidential candidate as trade-off for their second term comeback as governors. According to those making the narrative, the idea is to enter into a deal with some influential governors in the South-south who are main financiers of the PDP to skew the PDP ticket for a weaker aspirant, in return that in their state too, the APC would field weak governorship candidate opponents against them.

Such an arrangement is not alien to the political terrain in Nigeria. If one recalls that in 2003, the then ruling PDP had a deal with incumbent governors of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) in the Southwest not to field a candidate for the presidential election with the promise that those governors, in turn, would have their seats secured.

But today the consequence of that deal on the political careers of those governors and the fate that befell their political party is common knowledge. The PDP, therefore, should learn from history and not allow a situation whereby any or some of its governors will mortgage the soul of the party for an uncertain pot of porridge.

And, in any case, the PDP has agreed to zone its presidential ticket to the Northern zone of the country and the aspirants who have emerged among whom there is a sitting senate president, two sitting state governors, a former vice-president, a former senate president, former minister and former state governors. The list is very impressive and gives credence to the political sophistication that the North is known for. But it is preposterous that with the all-star parade of politicians from the North vying for the PDP ticket, just one state governor from the Southsouth is the alpha decider of who eventually will win the PDP ticket.

Much as it is important that whoever emerges winner amongst the contestants should have appeal across the length and breadth of Nigeria, it is equally dangerous that a moneybag state governor will solely determine the candidate that the PDP fields in the next year’s election.

It is necessary for PDP stakeholders in the North to rise to the occasion and seize the reign by consulting widely with other sections of the country and endorse the aspirant who best meets with the interest of not only the North but indeed of all of Nigerians.