The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the party that gave Nigeria its first Fourth Republic president, went comatose in 2015. That was the year it lost power to the then upcoming All Progressives Congress (APC).


Since that political accident took place, all that the party has been doing is to strap itself onto any available straw in the bid to survive. Nearly a decade after, the possibility of that survival remains a far cry. Instead, the party has been gasping for breath. There are chances that it could choke to death sooner than later if nothing radical or decisive is done by its leadership. No doubt, some effort may have been made  to save the party from  the throes of death . But that has not yielded the desired result. The party has failed repeatedly to find the tree for the woods.

Let us recall that the PDP blazed the trail in 1999 when it got the blessings of the then ruling military dictatorship to be the vehicle for the country’s return to democratic governance. The military’s scheme at that time was woven around one of its former officers, and a former military head of state, Olusegun Obasanjo. With him, the PDP held sway for eight eventful years. Obasanjo’s firm hold on the PDP and the country was the party’s selling point. It got the party at some point to think that it was impregnable. But that dominant reign of the PDP ended in 2015 when the leadership of the party and the country slipped into the hands of a “good” man who did not understand, let alone appreciate, the fact that politics is not for “nice” people. That fellow, as we all know, was Goodluck Jonathan. His supposed niceness stripped the party of whatever winning streak that it had.

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The party’s Original Sin which came to the fore under Jonathan was that of internal sabotage. The party has been its worst enemy since the power struggle of 2014 that eventuated in its ouster in the 2015 election year. The problem then was that of a self-inflicted red eye. Some seven northern governors elected on its platform had found accommodation in the newly formed APC. Their attraction to the new party, which its promoters were not even sure that it had a future, was their common position that Jonathan must not return as president in 2015. Even some of the then northern PDP governors who did not defect to APC were stridently opposed to Jonathan. The most vociferous of them all was  Babangida Aliyu, then governor of Niger State. The camp of the renegade governors was boosted the more by some northern legislators led by Aminu Waziri Tambuwal who was then the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Going by the way it all turned out, it was clear to one and all that the northern elements were driven principally by regional considerations. They wanted power to return to the north. Even Atiku Abubakar, the man who is today holding one end of the stick in the struggle for the soul of the PDP, was a renegade then. He left the party and found accommodation elsewhere. As a matter of fact, the coup against Jonathan and the PDP was total. Most northern members of the party wanted it dead, including Adamu Mu’azu, then National chairman of the party. That was why they returned to the party in droves after Jonathan lost power in circumstances that were unknown to our shores. It was Mu’azu who, on the day of the 2015 presidential election, applauded the Independent National Electoral Commission for the successful deployment of the card reader machines in the election. This was in the face of the fact that the device almost did not allow President Jonathan to vote that day. It was the same card reader that by-passed underage voters in Kano State that Mu’azu was happy about. Mu’azu was satisfied because the scheme against Jonathan, his party’s candidate, was working.

That was the situation then. But to demonstrate that they can put the PDP to any use, depending on what suits them at any time, most of the northern rebels who nailed the party to the coffin in 2015 are back in the party. Today, they are embroiled, once again, in a ding dong battle about who takes control of the PDP. The problem created in the party by the Atiku Abubakars and their cohorts has, in the circumstance, become protuberant. It has become a major sore which the party must either excise or go down with.

Since the ouster of Jonathan, Atiku has taken hold of the PDP. It has become his personal possession. He has emerged as the presidential candidate of the party in two consecutive election cycles- 2019 and 2023. Whereas he had a smooth sail in 2019 because the leadership of the party declared after the ouster of Jonathan in 2015 that it had zoned the 2019 presidency to the north, the same thing cannot be said of 2023. The last election year posed a brand new headache for the party.

The party’s leadership did the unthinkable when it refused to recognize that power should shift to the south after eight years of a northern president. The mood of the nation favoured power rotation to the south but the PDP threw that overboard because of Atiku’s ambition. Atiku picked the party’s ticket quite alright but what he had in his hands was a poisoned chalice. It was a liability. The PDP’s wrong step in this regard was compounded by the overweening ambition of a Nyesom Wike to be vice presidential candidate to Atiku. Wike was shoved aside and this threw up a certain crisis that has lingered to date.

A major fallout of this battle of wits was that Wike as governor of Rivers State at that time, openly worked against his party, the PDP, in the 2023 presidential election. The APC, the party he worked for, has since compensated him with a juicy ministerial appointment. But it is strange that the PDP has continued to lack the will power to take disciplinary actions against Wike. The party’s incapacitation in the face of Wike’s spiteful anti-party activities is at the root of its imminent collapse . The soul of the party has been traded off for a mess of pottage.

As if the party is doomed to internal sabotage, its present leadership led by Umar Damagum is said to be working for Wike. In fact, the story out there is that PDP is divided between those loyal to Wike and those loyal to Atiku. This scenario is shameful to contemplate. How can a Nyesom Wike who is firmly rooted in APC be in contention in  the struggle for PDP’s soul? That there are elements in the PDP who are still pandering towards a man who midwifed the party’s failure in 2023 is the worst form of self-negation. The party will die a compulsive death if its leadership continues to wallow in paralysis of will.