Dark clouds are gathering over the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as bigwigs of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) poised to whittle its structures down ahead of the 2023 general elections.
Pundits say the political strategies being adopted by the APC ahead of 2023 are far-reaching and would require concerted effort in the PDP if it is to survive.
This, it is argued, is part of the party’s effort to prove as wrong the impression that President Muhammadu Buhari’s exit at the expiration of his tenure in 2023, would lead to the collapse of the APC.
Some APC bigwigs had predicted during the reign of Adams Oshiomhole, as the party’s national chairman, that the party would cease to enjoy federal power after President Buhari’s tenure.
However, with Oshiomhole’s abrupt exit from the APC headquarters following the dissolution of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party in June 2020, the strength of the party, its modus operandi and agenda for 2023 have changed.
The APC is “waging a war” against the PDP, which reigned for 16 years after the return of democracy in 1999, after years of military rule.
When APC won the general election and “seized” federal power in 2015, many PDP leaders left for the ruling party, ahead of the 2019 general elections.
The same scenario is playing out ahead of the 2023 poll as top PDP leaders are jumping ship. Political alignment and realignment have begun in the country in the form of defections.
A few months ago, the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led APC Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee received some PDP bigwigs who jumped ship into its fold.
A former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara; former national chairman of the PDP, Senator Barnabas Gemade and Ebonyi State Governor David Umahi, have dumped PDP for APC.
Others are; National Assembly Chief Whip Jimoh Ibrahim, former Head of Service of the Federation, Mr Danladi Kifasi, Sen Isa Hamma Misau, Alhaji Salisu Takai, Senator Elisha Abbo from Adamawa State, and many others.
Majority of the defectors attributed their decisions to alleged poor handling of issues and injustice in the PDP, a claim that was rebuffed by the opposition party.
With the political twists and turns, the polity is twitching while the main political actors in the APC have been relentlessly meeting and wooing bigwigs in the PDP.
Recently, there was widespread rumour that APC top leaders were in talks with former President Goodluck Jonathan to dump PDP and pitch tent with them in the ruling party. That was, however, debunked.
Similarly, a former governor of Ogun State who was Campaign Manager for PDP’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, in the 2019 general elections, Otumba Gbenga Daniel, defected to the ruling party on Tuesday.
Also, a former Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Azubuike Ihejirika, on Tuesday joined the APC. Many House of Representatives members have also crossed over to APC.
Sources within the party told our correspondent that the gale of defections had triggered a move to sack the party’s national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus.
Secondus has been surviving sack moves since the party lost the 2019 general elections, and after Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State defected.
The party’s National Working Committee (NWC) yesterday dismissed reports that chairman is facing sack threat. In an interactive session with journalists in Abuja,the spokesperson of the PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, said there were no such attempts to sack Secondus.
PDP moves to stem the tide
The PDP top echelon, our correspondent gathered, is jittery and worried over the mass exodus of its leaders to the ruling party.
This is especially as the opposition party is “battling” to return to power at the end of President Buhari’s tenure.
Following the crisis rocking some state chapters of the party and gale of defections, the PDP recently inaugurated a national reconciliation committee headed by a former Senate President Bukola Saraki, to initiate peace and return the party to its “lost grounds”.
The committee has been meeting with key party stalwarts across the country. On the other hand, the PDP 2019 Election Review Committee headed by the Bauchi State Governor Bala Mohammed, is meeting with party stakeholders to unravel what led to the party’s defeat at the 2019 polls.
The Bala-led committee has met with a former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, a former Head of State, Ibrahim Babangida, a former vice president, Atiku Abubakar and many others.
On Tuesday, the Saraki-led National Reconciliation Committee met with ex-President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja. This followed claims of APC wooing Jonathan to defect. Also, yesterday, the Saraki-committee met with former governors who are members of the party in Abuja.
However, it is left to be seen if the PDP would weather the storm and clear the hurdles before it and reclaim power in 2023.