By Ndubuisi Orji
Wadata Plaza is the National Secretariat of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), though only a few know that the complex means much more than a party headquarters to several people.
Located along Michael Okpara Avenue in Wuse Zone 5, Abuja, the building was the epicentre of political activities in the country for the 16 years that the PDP held sway. Many decisions affecting the fate of Nigeria were taken within the building. In Wadata House, many political dreams were either nurtured to fruition or killed altogether.
Not even the party’s loss of the 2015 general election could diminish the influence of Wadata House as the place continued to maintain its status as Nigeria’s political Mecca; politicians trooped to the party secretariat for one activity or the other or a daily basis.
For political hangers-on, youths, women groups and petty traders running business around the PDP secretariat, Wadata House was more than just a party headquarters. It was a source of livelihood for them, where they eked out their daily bread.
However, all these changed with the crisis that hit the opposition party in May last year. First, the police sealed Wadata House to prevent any of the gladiators from gaining access to the secretariat.
In the 14 months that the fireworks lasted, the party’s fortunes nose-dived, with devastating implications on the staff and every other person that depended on the party for survival.
Ngozi Nzeh, one of the leaders of the staff union told Daily Sun that the experience was not palatable, as the period of the crisis was better imagined than experienced.
“The period of the crisis was a bad experience. You can imagine that one was not sacked yet could not come to work because of the crisis in the party. I had bills to pick, school fees to pay, but was not coming to work. It was a bad experience.”
The popular saying that after the rain comes shine rightly applies to the PDP, in the aftermath of the Supreme Court judgment that resolved the leadership crisis bedevilling the party.
Wadata House has bounced back to life. Soon after news filtered out that the apex court had resolved the leadership crisis in favour of the party’s National Caretaker Committee, led by Senator Ahmed Makarfi, party members trooped to the secretariat in celebration.
The staffers too were not left out. Many of them could not hide their joy as they celebrated the return of peace to the PDP. Narrating their ordeal during the crisis era, one of them who pleaded anonymity said, “Some of the staff could not meet up with their house rents and other associated family demands because our salaries were slashed during the period. Many of the ad hoc staff could not meet up with family obligations. In fact, one of the ad hoc staff died because he could not afford the money to buy drugs.”
Meanwhile, the first working day at the PDP headquarters after the Supreme Court judgment was a Monday; incidentally the day the party held its expanded national caucus meeting.
Although the meeting was scheduled for 8pm, many elated party supporters and political cheerleaders had besieged the National Secretariat as early as 12pm, taking over every available space. Same scenario played out the following day when the party held its Board of Trustees (BoT) and National Executive Committee (NEC) meetings.
Since then, the Wadata House has returned to a beehive again. The usual political pilgrimage to the headquarters of Africa’s onetime largest political party has resumed.
Almost on a daily basis, party stalwarts from different states of the country besiege the secretariat to brainstorm with the national leadership on various issues. The number of visitors to the party secretariat has also increased, while one of the lanes; closed to traffic during the crisis period, has since been opened.
Expectations are that the non-elective convention of the party slated for Abuja this weekend, will further boost activities at the party’s National Secretariat.