The seven renegade governors of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who have been christened G.7 Governors are losing the battle against President Jonathan and the larger PDP.
Five of them, namely, Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), Muazu Babangida Aliyu (Niger) Saminu Turaki (Jigawa), Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto) and Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano) made what was supposed to be an internal affair of the PDP an out-of–stage concert when they traversed the North and South of the country to complain about Jonathan to elder statesmen.
It would appear that the nation-wide tour gave them some ideas. After the exercise, they went for broke. They pulled out of the PDP to form a new coalition called New PDP. But since the formation of the rag tag outfit on August 31, 2013, the going has not been easy for the new group. The arrowhead of the breakaway group, Atiku Abubakar, has been unusually reticent. He has not said much to lend credence to or draw sympathy for the new PDP. He appears to have goaded the governors on only to leave them in the wilderness when they needed succour most.
But with or without Atiku, the new PDP appears to be in tatters. Only a few days ago, its National Treasurer, Alhaji Tanko Isiaku Gwamna, appeared on national television to renounce his membership of the splinter group. He pledged loyalty to the PDP led by Alhaji Bamaga Tukur and urged those who left with him to return to the fold.
Beyond these unsavoury developments, the new PDP, it would appear, is running with the hare and hunting with the hounds. It wants to eat its cake and still have it. That is why elements from the group are negotiating with Jonathan and his backers and at the same time pursuing the agenda of the splinter group. This is an unconscionable act of double-dealing. I had thought that the splinter group, if it means business, should go ahead with its new agenda with a view to undermining the PDP. Rather than do that, it is still looking back, seeking to make gains out of an organization it wants to decapitate.
This is not how a serious organization should go about its business. It is therefore little wonder that the group is losing grounds already. Its main and original agenda was to ensure that Jonathan does not remain Nigeria’s President beyond May 2015. But now, we are told that the group has backed down on this. They have conceded to Jonathan the right to contest the 2015 elections. With this, the group has lost sufficient grounds. It has diluted its original objective. Whatever is left of its agenda must therefore be a cold, impotent ash.
With this concession, most of the seven governors have no issue to fight over any longer, except one or two of them like Murtala Nyako who is fighting for political survival in his Adamawa State where Tukur is set to run him out of relevance. Let us recall that one of the disappointments of the splinter group has been the continued reign of Tukur as PDP Chairman. Atiku who hails from Adamawa State as Tukur has been weakened by Tukur’s reign. But the worst hit is Nyako who has lost control of the party’s machinery in his state to Tukur. Nyako wants Tukur to step down as PDP chairman so that he will have some breathing space. That appears to be his greatest demand. Now, there is no indication that Tukur is about to leave.
The leadership of the PDP is solidly behind him. The man turned 78 the other day and the party rolled out the drums to celebrate him. This will certainly make Nyako uncomfortable. With the continued stay of Tukur as PDP chairman, Nyako is bound to remain an outsider in the politics of Adamawa State. The new PDP is supposed to help Nyako deal with this headache. But it has demonstrated too soon that it has no capacity to deal with Tukur and whatever he stands for. Indeed, the removal of Tukur as PDP chairman is not even being considered by Jonathan. It will not even make sense for the president to do so. You do not throw away your trusted ally for the sake of someone whose loyalty is questionable. Jonathan cannot afford to commit such political hara-kiri.
The same thing is true of the demand coming from Kwara State that the probe of former Governor Bukola Saraki by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) should be dropped. Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed who is a loyalist of Saraki appears to be projecting this as his own agenda within the G.7 coalition. But the president has since turned down such a demand. Of course it makes a lot of sense for him to do so. If he accedes to that demands, it would be taken to mean that he sent the EFCC after Saraki in the first place. Again, this sort of development weakens whatever the new PDP stands for.
Perhaps the only issue that may be on the cards is the lifting of the suspension slammed on Governor Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State by the PDP. We are yet to know the content of the pardon if it ever comes. But the fact that cannot be glossed over is that the Amaechi issue is very complex. It is not just as simple as asking him to return to the PDP. What about the bigger issues that tore him and Jonathan apart, namely, the 2015 Presidency and the battle for Government House, Port Harcourt, come 2015? Amaechi, no doubt, has gone too far in his opposition of Jonathan’s 2015 ambition that if he drops that now, he would have given himself away. Unfortunately, his continued opposition of the idea will be as unhelpful as his latter-day support for it. This scenario constitutes a dilemma for Amaechi. It also weakens the quest by the new PDP to have a strong stake in the real PDP.
With all these gray areas, the new coalition is beginning to lose the initial shine it sought to take away from the PDP. As I argued earlier, the new PDP should have gone ahead with whatever its agenda was and pursue that with single-mindedness. But because, apparently, it did not believe so much in its capacity to go it alone without the larger body, it bent over backwards to make demands of the PDP as condition for reconciliation. Now, it is not succeeding and that has made the new PDP and whatever it represents a laughing stock in the eyes of the public.
With the failure of the new PDP, we are left squarely with the organization called All Progressives Congress (APC) as the only body that can pose a challenge to Jonathan and his PDP. APC is girding its loins to do battle with the PDP. Its principal agenda is to ensure that power returns to the North in 2015. If we are to take a broad look at the issues, we will be saying that such an agenda is a narrow one. It is not pan-Nigerian. The APC, probably, would make sense if it sells to Nigerians an agenda that will rescue them from the stranglehold of the PDP. In advanced democracies, an APC would have been an alternative party. By that we mean that the APC is supposed to present to Nigerians an alternative agenda that they will find more acceptable than that of the PDP. That is supposed to be the selling point of the APC.
But it is regrettable that that is not what the promoters of the party have set out to do. They are rather interested in an arrangement that polarizes Nigeria between North and South. This being the case, discerning Nigerians, at critical times, are bound to raise questions over the efficacy or lack of it of such a predilection. Should a contest for supremacy that finds strength in regionalism be the concern of Nigerians at this point in time? How will that advance the cause of good governance and democracy in this county? I really do not know.
If the agenda of the APC, going by these caveats are found to be hollow and sectional, it would make things difficult for the party. It will even boost the chances of the PDP and their would-be candidate, Jonathan. Regrettably, it will be difficult for the APC to extricate itself from this snare. This is because there are strong elements within it who do not see beyond their quest for the return of power to the North. The likes of Kwankwaso and Wamakko fall under this category. Kwankwaso, for instance, has a lot of cover-up to do.
He feels empty and bare under a Southern president. He would not like the set-up to exist for too long so that it does not spoil the broth for him. Already, he is fretting over the threat to the bloated population of Kano and the large number of Local Government areas awarded to it. That threat will certainly not be there if the old order is returned.
Indeed, the G.7 Governors have their individual and collective grouses against the present order. They have made efforts to upset the apple carte. But I do not think that they will do better than they have already done. Their fury is fading. But the real regret is that it is happening too soon after the battle began. Perhaps Nigerians with a fighting spirit would have preferred a prolonged and sustained exercise rather than the easy defeat that the G.7 Governors have suffered. It is an unfortunate fall from Olympian heights to abysmal chasm.