In the run-up to the 2023 general elections, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has returned to the drawing board. The PDP, which governed the country at the inception of the present democratic dispensation in 1999, lost the 2015 general elections to the All Progressives Congress (APC), and since losing, the opposition party has never left anyone in doubt about its desire to regain power in the country.
In 2019 general elections, the PDP battled to reclaim power but failed with its candidate, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, losing to President Muhammadu Buhari of the APC.
However, though it lost but the opposition party recorded success in some of the gubernatorial elections and increased the number of states it controlled prior to the election from 11 to 16.
Again, ahead of 2023, the party leadership is taking some strategic steps, including wooing the youth, to put it on a stronger footing to confront the APC.
Speaking at an event to mark the third year anniversary of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC), the PDP national chairman, Uche Secondus, said the party was ready to take on the APC in the 2023 polls.
Secondus said it was obvious that the hope of the country lay on the PDP, as the ruling party has allegedly failed to provide good governance in the last five and half years.
He said: “the hard fact facing all of us now is that this regime has woefully failed Nigerians in all ramifications. It is a shame that a government that came to power brandishing its military credential as a General with the propaganda to wipe away Boko Haram in 100 days is there 5 years plus presiding over the worst security situation in our history with no clear direction on what to do and even afraid to face the country’s parliament to explain what he is doing.
“In my statement to the media last May in the assessment of the five years of APC administration, I said that APC is a road Nigeria should not have followed. Everything on ground in our country today from insecurity to the recessed economy etc points to the fact that Nigeria entered the wrong bus in 2015 and they are paying for it because a wrong vehicle cannot take you to your correct destination.”
The PDP leader added: “even in a situation of hopelessness as APC has dragged the country, there is still a window for children of God. Nigerians should not despair.
“There is a light being sighted at the end of the tunnel. This light is in the resourcefulness and resilience of our youths. The well laid out programme of youth development by the PDP will ensure that the future of this country is handed over to those it rightly belongs to, the Nigeria youths.”
He stated that in the last three years, the PDP NWC through its “Reposition, Rebuild to Regain” programme has been repositioned and rebranded, making it a party of choice for Nigerians.
Secondus said with the entrenchment of internal democracy in the opposition party,”powers were effectively decentralized to flow from the people. Party tickets were gotten at the congress venue not at party headquarters at state and National levels. Popular and more acceptable candidates emerged at state congresses and National Convention.”
He explained that the effect is that “all over the country, the party remains the bride. States under the party’s control rose from 11 to 16 and it could have been more if not for the shameless ambush of the APC in Osun, Kano, Kogi and Imo states.”
As part of preparation for the next generation election, the PDP National Executive Committee (NEC) at a recent meeting resolved to retool the party’s manifesto to make the opposition party more appealing to the electorate.
Opposition spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, told journalists in Abuja that the retooling of the manifesto is necessary in order to meet with current realities in the country.
“Our party and NEC have decided that in view of the new exigencies in our nation, and in order to be able to meet the demands of Nigerians; in order to prepare Nigerians ahead of 2023 elections, we are going to create a committee that will review our manifesto and make sure that it meets the requirements of today particularly, the exigencies of today.”
Earlier, the party had set up an Election Review Committee headed by the Bauchi State governor, Bala Mohammed, to review the outcome of the 2019 general elections, to guide the PDP in its preparation for the 2023 contest.
The outcome of the committee’s assignment is expected to aid the opposition party in addressing issues relating to the zoning of it’s presidential ticket and other key issues concerning the next general election.
“Our party has a clear method of doing things. After the general election, we set up a panel to study and appraise our performance and make necessary recommendations. The governor of Bauchi State, Alhaji Bala Mohammed is heading the committee and they are still working.
“We did the same thing when we lost election in 2015 when we set up the Senator Ike Ekweremadu committee to look into why we lost. It was from that report that the party took action towards 2019. The same way this time, we must study our last outing before looking ahead. We can’t be talking of zoning when we have not appraised how we faired in the last election,” Secondus stated
The PDP leader added that “projecting into the next one year when our tenure will end, we have lined up some programmes. Our e-membership registration is to begin in 2021 unfailingly having secured the approval of its take off from the NEC of our party.
“We also intend to finalise the peace and reconciliation process within the party with a view to entering the general election as one united and focused political family. The 2019 general election appraisal committee is also expected to finalise its report and some decisions are to be taken and implemented from it.”
A fortnight ago, the PDP inaugurated a Reconciliation and Strategic Committee, to resolve differences among party stalwarts, so as to present a united front in the next polls.
The committee, which is headed by former Senate President, Bukola Saraki has former Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Anyim Pius Anyim; former Cross Rivers State governor, Liyel Imoke; former House leader, House of Representatives, Adeola Mulikat-Akande as members.
Other members of the committee include Ibrahim Shema and Hassan Dakwambo, former governors of Kastina and Gombe states respectively.
Saraki, while speaking after the inauguration of the committee, said the panel will leave no stone unturned in its quest to pursue genuine reconciliation in the party, as well as strengthen the structures, as “ a united PDP is in the best interest” of the country.
“This initiative by our great party to embark on genuine reconciliation, strengthening of our structures, addressing the grievances of our members, re-inventing the all-inclusive, broad-based foundation of our party which has been the goal of our founding fathers is, to quote Victor Hugo, ‘an idea whose time has come’.
“As members of this committee, we all subscribe to the fact that a united PDP is in the best interest of Nigeria. It is a necessity for mobilizing the citizens of this country around the ideas of national unity, economic prosperity, healthy social relations, mutual respect, discipline and security of lives and properties.
“For this reason, we will go all out to reach our members who have one grievance or the other and seek to reconcile all of us. We will reach out to numerous key politicians who have left our fold and have indicated interest in returning to the PDP.
“We will reach out to all the youths looking for a party on whose platform they can contribute to the development of our country. We will reach out to those who create jobs in our country and want to support a party with clear and realistic economic policies”, he said.
Nevertheless, the PDP believes that credibility of the next general elections will, to a large extent, depend on electoral reforms.
Consequently, the party at its last NEC meeting resolved to set up a committee to work closely with its members in the National Assembly to push for electoral reforms.
Ologbondiyan said there is no doubt that without improvements in the electoral laws, “our elections are not going to be credible and this is going to endanger our democracy.” He added: So, the PDP has resolved to constitute a committee that will work in tandem with NASS members elected on the platform of our party and other interested parties as well to form broad-based committee that will work with our parliamentarians.
“We need to engage the civil societies on electoral reforms because as a party, have seen that the issue of electoral frauds, abuses, hijack of electoral process by the APC can only be redeemed if every Nigerian agree in unison that we must amend the rules. This was why the PDP has agreed to work in concert with CSOs, faith-based organisations, community leaders to entrench a law in the system in which the people can truly elect their representatives.
“If you look at the election that was held in Edo State, results were transferred from the units, the base of the election to the collation centre, that negate and ruled out the tendency of hoodlums to hijack results and change them.”