By TAIWO AMODU
For 16 years, Wadata Plaza, the national secretariat of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), was a beehive of activities, creating gridlock on the Zone 5 area of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). While the PDP was the ruling party, Zone 5 was one area of the city centre that cabs were reluctant to ply, except on weekend. Reason was, each time the party’s stalwarts came visiting, they parked their vehicles indiscriminately, obstructing vehicular movements.
All that changed last year, when the erstwhile ruling party that prides itself as the largest political party in Africa, lost its grip on the central government to the All Progressives Congress (APC). It was also pummeled to a humiliating defeat in most of the states hitherto regarded as its strongholds by the APC. The PDP national secretariat was thus, stripped of its glamour having assumed the toga of the main opposition party.
hat followed was a gale of defections to the new ruling party. The national leadership of the party was also in the news for the wrong reason, as certain individuals demanded for their resignations over allegations of half-hearted commitment to the presidential campaigns of the party standard bearer in the last presidential election, Dr Goodluck Jonathan. While the former Bauchi State governor, Ahmed Adamu Mu’azu, succumbed to pressures and tendered his resignation letter in May, 2015, other members of the National Working Committee (NWC) snubbed the agitation for their removal.
But Muazu’s resignation created a fresh crisis in the party as certain forces from the North-East, demanded that the Deputy National Chairman of the party, Uche Secondus, who assumed the former’s office in acting capacity, vacate the position, urging the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC), to seek nomination from the North-East to complete Mu’azu’s tenure.
It took the theatrical show of Ahmed Gulak, for the relevant party organs to move swiftly to restore sanity. The erstwhile Special Adviser on Political Matters to former President Jonathan had in January, this year stormed Wadata Plaza and proclaimed himself as national chairman. Gulak told newsmen that judgment by Justice Hussain Buba of the Federal High Court, Abuja, directing Secondus to vacate his position as acting national chairman within 14 days, also pronounced him (Gulak) as the new national chairman.
Gulak’s dream was however, aborted as a meeting NEC held on February 16, elected former Borno State governor, Senator Ali Modu- Sheriff as new National Chairman. The controversy induced by Sheriff’s emergence which was initially rebuffed by a strategic organ of the party, the Board of Trustees (BoT), had since been resolved in his favour after the troubleshooting initiative of the PDP Governors’ Forum. At the end of a meeting held at the Ondo State Governor’s Lodge in Asokoro, Abuja, Acting Chairman of the PDP BoT, Senator Walid Jubrin, assured Senator Sheriff of the support and cooperation of members of the board. Ondo state governor and chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum, Dr Segun Mimiko, also proclaimed a three- month tenure for the new party chairman. A meeting of the NEC held on March 7 had since fixed May 21 for a national convention to elect new set of national officers for the troubled party.
Life returns to Wadata Plaza
Ahead of the national convention, the former chairman of the BoT of the defunct All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) has been playing host to delegations on solidarity visits from state chapters and those seeking his assurance on transparent congresses and convention. It is obvious that the lull at the party’s national secretariat is over.
Speaking while receiving the party faithful from Jigawa State on solidarity visit, Senator Sheriff said the erstwhile ruling party was determined to regain lost grounds in the northern part of the country. Sheriff said:” We lost an election, not because PDP isn’t there in Jigawa, but we lost to a movement at that time that made it possible for APC to win. We have learnt from our mistakes. Everybody in Jigawa is united and poised to recapture what belongs to us.”
”We shall make sure that nobody is left behind, we shall make sure that all the people that left out of anger are brought back. With Sule Lamido, it is a matter of time that we shall recapture Jigawa for PDP.”
While also meeting with party delegation from Adamawa State led by the state Chairman, Joel Madaki, the PDP Chairman vowed that nobody would be allowed to manipulate the forthcoming state congresses and national convention.
He assured alsos that his national working committee members would not be allowed to swing the process for any favoured party chieftain, whether at the state or national level.
“We will conduct a congress that will not be manipulated by anybody. We will send people to local governments to bring out persons that the people want to be their leaders. I want to assure that the right thing will be done in Adamawa and every other State. I will not impose anybody on people. Anybody that is not wanted by his people will be my friend in Abuja but will not be imposed on the people,” Sheriff said.
He expressed regret that the party lost elections in Adamawa and Borno states for the same reasons it lost the presidential election.
“I don’t believe that anybody who is not accepted in his locality should come to Abuja to manipulate things to destroy the party. We
have no reason to lose Adamawa and Borno states. The same reason we do not have legislators in Adamawa and Borno is the impunity with which the party was run.
“I knew everything that happened to Adamawa before the election and I also knew we were going to lose the state”, Sheriff told the