Yesterday’s resignation of PDP Chairman, Mallam Adamu Muazu, marks an end to a along battle to save the soul of the party. A compromise candidate brought in to douse the fire ignited by the dissident new PDP, who insisted on the sack of former chairman Bamaga Tukur as condition for peace in the party. It was their eventual defection to the APCthat set the stage for the defeat of PDP in the last polls. But soon after the polls, strident campaigns ensued orchestrated by Ekiti State Governor, Ayo Fayose, for the sack of Muazu for his complicity in the defeat of the party. After what seemed like a ding-dung affair, Muazu finally threw in the towel. But he is not alone in this fate; it follows a tradition long established in the party that its chairmen never complete their terms and usually end in controversial circumstances. Under eight years of Obasanjo the party produced six chairmen.
The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, is a free -market oriented centre-right political party in Nigeria. Its policies generally lie towards the centre-right of the political spectrum. It won every Presidential election between 1999 and 2011, and was until the 2015 Elections, the governing party in the Fourth Republic, although in some cases, amid a few controversial electoral circumstances.
The party emerged from G34, an amalgam of different political tendencies that coalesced together to fight the military dictator, the late General Sani Abacha, who had since the ill-fated coup of November 17, 1993 maintained a stranglehold on the nation, in what many have described as the first example of maximum rulership. At the initial stage, the group was the brainchild of Second Republic Vice-President, Shehu Shagari and Second Republic Governor of the old Oyo State, Bola Ige.
As common with an organisation with differing vested interests and conflicting visions of development and politics, the group eventually buckled under the weight of internal contradictions wrought by differing perspectives on what post-military Nigeria should be. Eventually, the arrowhead of the centre-left arm of G34, the late Ige decided to pull out along with his ideological soul mates to form Alliance for Democracy, AD, with a stronghold in the West, an area noted traditionally for liberal political orientation, welfarist cum-Fabian view of society. A tradition that could be traced to Unity Party of Nigeria in the Second Republic, and Action Group in the First Republic.
Alex Ekwueme, Sunday Afolabi, Adamu Ciroma and other leading conservatives transformed the rump of G34 to PDP in 1998 and the most noticeable feature was the preponderance of old National Party of Nigeria, NPN, in the new party.
The party contested and won the 1999 Presidential Election with Olusegun Obasanjo, a former military ruler of the country as its Presidential candidate. Many observers saw the party as a continuation of the old guards that have been governing the country right from the 60s , this could not be simply dismissed given the fact that many of their leading lights such as Adamu Ciroma, Obasanjo, Yakubu Danjuma, Sunday Awoniyi and others , have been around since the 60s.
However, there’s one sore point about the party- the high turnover of the party’s chairman which many analysts and political observers have attributed to the internal contradictions and lack of internal democracy in the party.
Since its inception, there have been eight chairmen of the party, and the high turnover was recorded most during the administration of Obasanjo. At the inception, Chief Solomon Lar, former governor of old Plateau state was the pioneer chairman. He left in 2002, and was replaced by Bernabas Gemade, who initially had the backing of the all-powerful Obasanjo. But after he ran afoul of Obasanjo who had hijacked the soul of the party from the National Working Committee, NWC, and it did not take much sweat for the President to install one of his old comrade in the military, the man that served under him as Federal Commissioner for Education in the 70s, Col. Ahmadu Ali as the new chairman of the party.
He too suffered Gemade’s fate as he was replaced by Audu Ogbe, who in turn was controversially manipulated out in favour of Vincent Ogbulafor. In all, the Obasanjo two-term in office produced five chairmen. Between the late President Musa Yar’Adua and incumbent Goodluck Jonathan, there were only three chairmen of the party.
None of the party chairmen demonstrated streak of independence, as they were largely seen as lackey of the President in power, only with the exception of Solomon Lar, who maintained little mindset that may have offended Obasanjo.
The ‘resignation of Adamu Muazu, may have been a denouement to the protracted battle between him and Jonathan’s loyalists, who have maintained that he contributed to the loss the party suffered during the 2015 President Election.