Can PDP bounce back in 2019?

Can the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) bounce back in the Southwest in next year’s elections? Correpondent MUSA ODOSHIMOKHE writes on the preparations of the crisi-ridden six chapters for the polls.

The Southwest Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has been struggling to put its house together ahead of next year’s elections. The task seems herculean, but the leaders are not leaving any stone unturned, in the efforts to reposition the party to win elections in the zone.

PDP members are harping on the party’s presidential candidate, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar. The PDP believes that the former number two citizen has the weight and capacity to brighten its chances in the zone when the die is cast.

Analysts have said that the outcome of the presidential election, which will come before other elections, will define the outcome of subsequent polls.

The region has become the battle ground for the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The PDP presidential candidate is starting his campaign in Lagos. Atiku has said on many occasions that he would return the Southwest to the PDP as he did when former President Olusegun was in the saddle.

But, this time around, many are weighing the possibility of the former Vice President’s statement. Observers say it was possible to do that when the PDP was in government. They noted that the unfolding political situation appeares not to favour such permutation.

The PDP is not cohesive like it used to be because major stakeholders who assisted Obasanjo to conquer the Southwest have either decamped to the ruling APC or are not around to fix it back. For instance, the late Chief Anthony Anenih, who supervised the routing APC in the Southwest in 2003 is no more around.

Despite the challenges starring the PDP in the face, its National Vice Chairman, Dr. Eddy Olafeso, said the party would reclaim lost grounds. He said the failure of the ruling APC to meet its campaign promises would boost the PDP’s chance in 2019.

He said: “It has never been brighter in the face of the tragic situation in the country, the insecurity problem, the economic stagnation and the social development that has been put at abeyance. Our people are tired of unfulfilled promises.

“All we are saying at this moment is to mobilise our people and begin to rally for the February 16 general election. On our own part, we have been able to stabilise the party. We have tried as much as possible to ensure equity, fight imposition and remove undemocratic moves.”

Oyefeso pointed out that the malaise in the country has been observed by the international community, stressing another four years of the stagnation would cripple the country.

“We are all set and I am very confident that the PDP would do very well. Like me make it clear that the two elections in Ekiti and Osun states are pointer to the fact that the APC is a spent force. The APC used security forces to scuttle the two elections and order to steal the victory.”

Public commentators say, the internal wrangling in the PDP would work against the party. They believe that the PDP had not done enough to push a common front ahead of 2019. For instance, in Ogun State where the court had declared Senator Kashamu Buruji governorship candidate is making temper to high.

According to the Southwest PDP chairman, the internal contradiction in the PDP is far less than the APC. He said put side by side the APC was more fractured, noting that the Kashamu case was simply a distraction.

“You cannot compare the internal contradictions in our party to the APC. Kashamu is just one entity in Ogun State. The case will be made to rest in the shortest time possible. We know that he is the black leg among us and he is working for the opposition.

“We know we shall overcome, outside Kashamu, I think we have stabilized within the last two years. The truth remains that outside Ogun State, other states are in good stead and what we are doing at the moment is to begin to mobilise for the elections.”

In Oyo, PDP the dust has not settled. But, the party claims its chances in 2019 are bright. Analysts said the party must go back to the drawing board if it must win.

The governorship candidate Mr. Seyi Makinde said had made frantic efforts to get former members of the party who defected to other parties back to the fold. But, his effort had not yielded the desired results.

Prior to the PDP primary, he visited the former governor Chief Alao Akala, Makinde, went in the company of Alhaji Adebisi Olopoeniyan, were to intimate him of the leadership vacuum since the exit of former Governor Rasheed Ladoja. But, the effort yielded very little results, prompting the PDP to look elsewhere for solution to its challenges.

Commenting on the PDP’s inability to get Akala back to the fold, Olafeso said the former governor had never been stable politically. He noted that without him, the party would win the election.

He added that Akala had moved across the major political parties in the state. Olafeso said: “Akala had joined the APC, Accord and lots of other parties and so we do not consider him as one of us.

“If he was one of us, he would not be migrating from one party to another party. We are stronger without him, with new generation of leadership. We have evolved a collegiate leadership where everybody has a role to play and it is working very fine in Oyo State.

“My best bet is Oyo State in the 2019 election, they are doing very well, we will win the state hands down. However, the ruling APC has promised to retain the state.

Governor Abiola Ajimobi said the state witnessed remarkable progress during his administration, noting that Oyo people will vote continuity.

He added that effort by the PDP to foment trouble in the state was rebuffed, noting that the party membership had swelled over the period.

“The meeting we held with President Buhari in Abuja was to fashion out ways of repositioning the party for victory in the 2019 elections. I am happy that despite the insinuation that that our party membership has been depleted, it has increased, we will win the coming election in the state.”

The Osun election, according to observers, is a pointer to the fact that PDP had gained momentum in the state. The result of the governorship election won by the APC through a re-run exposed the weakness of the party.

That notwithstanding, the elections in the state are different entirely. They believe the PDP may not command the followership it recorded during the governorship election in next year’s polls.

But, PDP leaders maintained that Osun people would repeat the same feat. They added that the governorship election was marred by irregularities, noting that if the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) conducts a transparent election, the PDP would win.

Observers who monitored the election in Osun commended INEC for a job well done. They however, blamed the political party supporters and security agencies for widespread interferences and intimidation of voters. Analysts say the APC and PDP have chances.

The Ekiti State governorship election exposed the danger associated with vote buying. The PDP and APC have been accused by observers.

Though, the parties tried to absolved themselves of blame, analysts say the trend had to be nipped in the bud. The PDP was in control, prior to the last governorship election. But, the situation is no longer the same. Governor Kayode Fayemi won the election.

The presidential election would be a test case for President Muhammadu Buhari, who former Governor Ayo Fayose had criticised vehemently. But many believe that the exit of Fayose and failure of the party to win the election will brighten the chance of the President in the state.

With the support the President Buhari gave to Fayemi during the election, the PDP’s fortune in the state had been reduced. Analysts say the PDP would not make impact in the state.

According to reports, the most important thing is for the people of Ekiti to make their choice, through free and fair election and in an atmosphere of peace and tranquility.

Ondo State PDP has lost its shine since the exit of former Governor Olusegun Mimiko, who had since defected to Zenith Labour Party (ZLP). The PDP had been struggling to keep body and soul together, but the centre had not held for a long time.

Despite the shortcoming in the party structure, the Ondo PDP is still hopeful that it would bounce back. PDP chieftain, Prof. Olu Agbi, said victory is sure. He said PDP is the only party that can better the lot of Nigerians.

Analysts have said that the APC government in Ondo State inherited the burden of unpaid salaries.

In Lagos, observers have said the PDP has no chance. Accoding to them, it would be difficult to undermine the structure that had been laid close to 20 years.

The two leading governorship candidates, Babajide Sanwo-Olu of the APC and Jimi Agbaje of the PDP, said they would win the election.

The APC which had not lost any governorship election in the state, believes that it would repeat the same feat. Agbaje has contested twice. He failed at the polls. What different can he make in 2019? Will he spring a surprise?


Credit – Musa Ododshimokhe