PDP leadership crisis and the Struggle for supremacy between Atiku and Wike ahead of 2027

PDP leadership crisis and the Struggle for supremacy between Atiku and Wike ahead of 2027
PDP leadership crisis and the Struggle for supremacy between Atiku and Wike ahead of 2027

By -Abba Hamisu Sani

Africa-Press – Nigeria. The lingering crisis in the People’s Democratic Party -PDP is taking another dimension ahead of the Party’s 18th April 2024, National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting.

The main opposition Party which ruled Nigeria for sixteen years is bedeviled by a series of crises since it lost control of the Central government to the opposition All Progressives Congress -APC in 2015.

The recent crisis rocking the Party started during the 2022 Presidential Primary election which produced Atiku Abubakar, Nigeria’s former Vice President as the party’s flag bearer in the 2023 Presidential poll and his refusal take anoint former Rivers State governor Nyesom Wike who came second during the Primaries as his running mate.

Wike subsequently led a group of five PDP governors tagged G-5 which gave Atiku’s success.

The former Rivers governor later settled to support the ruling APC Presidential Candidate Bola Tinubu who after winning the election compensated him with the appointment of the Federal Capital Territory Minister.

Wike remains in the PDP despite holding appointments in the APC Federal government.

Ahead of the PDP NEC meeting

Ahead of the 18th April PDP’s National Executive Council Meeting tension has gripped members of the Party over who will take charge of the party afterward, with stakeholders and interest groups engaged in a battle for the structure and soul of the party.

Some reports indicated that stakeholders from the North Central recently held a meeting in Abuja with the charge that, the person to chair the party should come from their zone, to take over from the acting chairman Iliya Damagum and complete the tenure of the suspended national chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu who hails from Benue State in the North Central, where the position is zoned while Damagum is from Yobe State in the North East.

According to a source that speaks to one of Nigerian newspapers, stakeholders from the North Central and other parts of the country, want the acting chairman to revert to his original position for several reasons.

“The inability of the party to have a substantive national chairman has impacted the state of the party. There is a consensus among members, even though others may not want to admit it, that we have not lived up to expectations” he stated.

Also, a group of the House of Representatives members under the party led by Ikenga Uchinyere from Imo state added their voice, insisting that, going by the constitution of the PDP and in line with its zoning formula enshrined in its constitution, the position of the party chairman ought to remain in the North Central to conclude the unserved term of Senator Ayu.

However, members of the PDP have been agitating for the National Working Committee to convene a NEC meeting which has the power to to act on some of the issues relating to the national chairmanship and others.

With the announcement of a date for the National Executive Council Meeting stakeholders are already in contention over who will replace Damagum as the substantive chairman, while others are working to ensure that the acting chairman should continue in office.

As Suswan worked to replace Damagum

Former Benue State governor Gabriel Suswan, who has been eyeing Damagum’s position, lamented that the party had failed to live up to the expectations of Nigerians as a viable opposition since the 2023 general elections.

He blamed the party leadership for the state of the party, saying unless there was an overhaul of its leadership, the party would ‘go nowhere’ because the current leadership had lost focus.

The former governor regretted the inability of the party to resolve the fallout of the 2022 Presidential primary election, which saw five governors of the party work against the Party’s Presidential candidate in the 2023 Presidential elections.

He also criticized the acting national chairman for occupying the position of the North Central following the removal of the substantive chairman, Senator Ayu, who hailed from the zone.

“PDP is comatose now, and nothing can happen now, ” Suswan said.

He added that it was regrettable that politicians were now preferring to hold talks with smaller Parties and not the PDP.

“Until we provide that leadership, the PDP will not be a viable platform. We need to overhaul the leadership of the Party. There is no pretense about it. Everybody in the PDP knows it. Without discipline and reconciliation, the party goes nowhere.” the former Benue State governor stressed.

The battle for Supremacy between Atiku and Wike

Political spectators noted that unless there were last-minute efforts to rally stakeholders, there might be a serious crisis after the party’s NEC meeting.

There are indications that those loyal to Atiku want Damagum to go for a total overhaul of the party, while on the other hand, the loyalists of Wike in the Party are working to maintain the status quo.

Many Party insiders believe that the acting National Chairman, Damagum, the National Secretary Senator Samuel Anyanwu, the National Vice Chairman (South), Dan Orbih, and many others are loyal to Wike and that continuing with the status quo would benefit the FCT minister.

If that is to happen, the hope of those threatening to sanction the FCT Minister and others who worked against the party in the last elections will not work.

Moreover, Wike previously said that he took permission from the Damagum-led National Working Committee to participate in Tinubu’s administration.

On the other side, those loyal to Atiku and allegedly hoping to use the PDP as a vehicle to dislodge the APC in 2027 will want the status quo to change. They believe that a new national chairman will rejuvenate the party and position it for the task ahead.

A chieftain of the PDP who is not happy with the status quo said that he doesn’t think what is happening is about Atiku Abubakar or Nyesom Wike.

“We should not reduce the party to the situation between two individuals.The general belief among members is that the party has become too weak to act as the main opposition party or even do anything for that matter, and it appears that the leadership is helpless.

They are not doing what they are expected to do, many people believe that if a substantive chairman should come on board and see how they can turn things around, the party might be strong again and viable to operate. Maybe they can change the fortunes of the party and position it to win elections.

So I believe that is what many people are saying rather than reducing it to an Atiku Wike situation,” he said.

Ismail’s Aruwa is the PDP North Central Youth leader. He said that all those saying Wike is backing the National Working Committee and maintaining the status quo have no evidence to back it

“It is just an allegation, except if they can prove it, then we can act on it. This is a political party and we are all members, so no one has the power to say he is sponsoring this or that” The North Central Youth leader said.

Aruwa also said that naturally, as human beings, people had their allegiance to one person or another but that what people should be talking about was whether what was happening in the party was constitutional.

“Division is normal in any organization like a political party, what matters is the interest. What I expect people to be asking is whether what is happening in the party is constitutional or not. That is all.

Are we following the laid-down rules and regulations? If it is about camps, that one is not an issue. It has become a normal thing in the PDP now that people say Wike Camp or Atiku Camp it is all about interest.

People are already aligned to camps, but we are not surprised, all the leadership needs to do is the right thing.The party is bigger than any individual, so the right thing needs to be done. If there are disagreements, there might be a vote and the majority will carry the day” The North Central Youth leader stated.

Ayu’s replacement is a Constitutional issue

Yuhana Iliya is the National Ex-Officio and former Nasarawa State Chairman of People’s Democratic Party.He said the issue was not open for discussion as it was a constitutional matter, adding that the party’s stakeholders would take the necessary steps to address the issue before it escalated

“The issue of the North Central producing someone to take over from Ayu is a constitutional matter. Where there is a vacancy due to death or resignation, the replacement should come from the same region as the former occupant.

If that is what the constitution says, who am I to go against it? Who am I to be against the Party “Iliya said

The former Nasarawa State PDP chairman acknowledged that in exceptional circumstances, stakeholders might need to deviate from the constitution, but that this would require a consensus among all party stakeholders otherwise, the constitution would prevail.

“For those who want to oppose the party’s constitution, I hope that we reach the NEC meeting where the final decision will be made. The critical stakeholders of the party, including the governors, Board of Trustees members, and various party caucuses, are aware of the situation and will act accordingly” He said

To conclude this article is to look back at the People’s Democratic Party’s history of crisis right from when the party was ruling the country from 1999 to 2015. There was no National chairman of the party that began and ended his tenure. This recent leadership crisis in the PDP and the battle for control of the party structure is not unusual.

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar who was the two-time Presidential candidate of the party in the 2019 and 2023 elections still wants to maintain his political relevance while at the same time, the current Minister of Federal Capital Territory and former governor of Rivers State who emerged second during the PDP Presidential primary election also want to have control over the party all in effort to retain his political relevance too.

So this situation as expressed by both PDP members and other political analysts is gradually taking the PDP to the background as the main opposition party expected to serve as a watchdog over the ruling APC as smaller parties like the Labour Party -LP, New Nigeria People’s Party, and other parties like SDP are pushing to take the position of PDP.

For More News And Analysis About Nigeria Follow Africa-Press


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here