Reports about the alleged secret registration of the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) as a political party with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) have spawned contention within the Movement, which is a pressure group in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The leadership of the political pressure group populated by associates and supporters of the late General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua has been engaged in a game of wits consequent upon the questionable registration.
As at the time of writing this piece, many leaders of the Movement have distanced themselves from the decision to transform it into a political party largely because, as they claimed, it was done without consultation and, to that extent, therefore, not a product of collective decision. In fact, zonal leaders of the Movement had expressed dismay with the manner it was secretly done against the original vision of its founding fathers. In their well-reported and advertised communiqué in the media, they said “…a situation where founding fathers, national caucus, zonal leaders and state management committees were not consulted is unacceptable.”
They resolved to disown the new party and remain members of PDM as a pressure group within the PDP. They also reassured PDM members across the country that the vision of the founding fathers shall not and will not be compromised without consultation and their consent. Leaders of the Movement are effectively divided over the group’s real and acceptable status-whether it is a Movement or Political Party. While some have tried to justify the registration, others insist the action was meant to break the bond of unity among its members who wielded tremendous political influence during the life and times of Shehu Yar’Adua, and still do today within the ruling PDP.
Former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, a leader of the PDM, has defended the registration as being in accordance with democratic ideals but claimed that he remains a member of the PDP; whereas, Chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees, Chief Tony Anenih, who reportedly played a leading role in the formation and nurturing of the Movement, said the PDM that was secretly and mischievously registered as a party with INEC “is not our PDM that worked with other political associations to form the PDP in 1998.”
“For the avoidance of doubt, the PDM, which we collectively envisioned under the leadership of the late General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, remains an integral part of the PDP, whose Board of Trustees, I currently chair by the grace of God and the consensus of founding fathers and leaders of our great party,” he stated and urged “those who look up to me for guidance in this circumstance to remain steadfast with me in the task of building a much more united and formidable PDP and to discountenance the registration and treat it as a political trickery which will not survive the test of time.”
He appealed to members of the PDM, “which is working for the unity and success of the PDP and the Federal Government under the leadership of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan,” not to panic. Anenih urged them to see the registration of PDM as an attempt to undercut our PDM, “which was never intended to be and should not be a registered political party within and against the PDP.” His position aligned with that of Ambassador Yahaya Kwande, another PDM leader, who declared that the Movement was not meant to be a political party, but to serve as a bridge, meeting point and unifying forum for Nigerians from all walks of life. “PDM was never proposed to become a political party; it was established to stand as a bridge linking the northern and southern parts of the country and between people in different political parties; a meeting point for people in different religions and tribes; a unifying forum for Nigerians from all walks of life,” Kwande had posited.
But Atiku’s decision to rationalize the registration on the grounds that it was in consonance with democratic ideals has only exposed him as the masquerade behind the proxy registration. Or what more evidence, than this proclivity towards his associates that registered the party, is needed to make that valid deduction, having accepted that he was aware of the clandestine plan to register the movement and insisted it is within the rights of anybody to seek registration as a political party? Although, he had denied his membership of the group and affirmed that he remains a member of the PDP, only his followers must have been enamored of this seeming “approbation and reprobation”, this unconscionable dissembling.
Indeed, Atiku’s explanation is as curious as his usual claim of commitment to democratic ideals. As a PDM leader, he does not see anything wrong in the fact that the PDM registration was done behind the backs of the group’s leaders- and for that matter, a majority of its membership. And as a “PDP member”, he finds nothing wrong in giving voice to a group that seeks to decimate his party. It is emblematic of Atiku to play the double game, even when many within and outside of the PDP continue to question his credentials and integrity as a politician. Where Atiku sorely misses the point, perhaps, is that while Anenih and co., do not object to individuals’ rights to association, they frown at the situation where few elements took a decision purporting it as the collective action of the whole. Nothing can be more fraudulent!
The indubitable belief in many quarters, especially the PDP, is that Atiku is the one behind the PDM “rebellion” that seeks to decimate the PDP; that is if that can be done. His denial of the party’s membership is an attempt to hide behind a finger, since it is common knowledge that the fire of his presidential ambition has never waned. He never really returned to the PDP after the misadventure of 2007, except that he found it expedient to make a stop-over in 2011 as a political nomad in his quest for the presidency.
n Ainofenokhai writes from Lagos.