PDP Must Evolve, ‘Drop’ the Past, Embrace the Future

Former VP Atiku Abubakar  

By Ikenna Ellis-Ezenekwe

It has become extremely difficult for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to operate in the current political climate in Nigeria where the political demography has shifted considerably away from the period when the PDP held sway of the affairs of the country. This is due to its inability to shake off the cobwebs from its past, largely due to its unwillingness to move beyond its terribly outdated methodologies and personalities.

Recently, the national news dailies and electronic media were agog with news about operators within PDP auguring to reposition their principal for the top position ahead of 2027 presidential elections. Particularly, the political handlers of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar were spread out in virtually all the media houses to present their principal as the PDP candidate.

Although the principal himself did not comment openly on the public discourse of his vying again for the presidential seat, he however, did not shun his operators to desist from marketing his candidacy to the general public. He allowed the discourse, almost as though to encourage the insensitivity to the untold hardships currently bedeviling the country, the insensitivity to the astronomic inflation in everyday food prices,  and the activities surrounding the day-to-day survival of Nigerians.

This insensitivity to the plight of Nigerians owing to callous greed and blind quest for power defines the group that currently holds the PDP firmly by its jugular. They are termed the “Old PDP” – the ones that refuse to embrace the future for a new PDP. They consist of the part of PDP that has refused to embrace the new realities of the changing times. In their understanding, the PDP serves solely as means to power rather than means to deliver good governance.

From all indications, what the operators of the “Old PDP” appears to be preoccupied by is the battle for the top seat at the Presidential Villa, and not the alleviation of the suffering of the masses who appear increasingly unable to provide two square meals a day or pay the tuition fees for their children in schools or even pay their way to and from work. The need to play the role of opposition party in the manner it needs to do as the leading opposition party in the country evades them.

For this reason, the PDP must be born again.

A new PDP devoid of the shenanigans who gave way to repeated failures at the national stage since the defeat of its national flagbearer and ex-President of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Ebelemi Jonathan by the then opposition party, the All Progressive Congress (APC), is what will reposition the party to the people of Nigeria as the people’s party. The old PDP in its old way of doing things has repeatedly fielded the same presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar since Jonathan was defeated at the polls in 2015. Interestingly, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has exhibited the capacity to fail politically more than any presidential candidate in the history of modern Nigeria. He has participated in virtually all the presidential contests in some capacity and has failed to bring the bacon home each time. Atiku Abubakar epitomizes the past.

Again, the new born-again PDP must step away from the past to examine a new template for leadership selection.

Nigeria is populated with over 200million people and gifted with adequate human resources. Leadership selection ought not revolve around one person or a few persons. The new PDP must shy away from tying itself to a single politician’s aspiration. It must create an environment for open growth and new talents to help breed new life into the party.

Furthermore, the party must re-visit its stance on regional sensitivities with respect to leadership selection. The geo-dynamics in the polity has changed considerably since the formulation of the PDP. New comers with proven track records should be accommodated and allowed to showcase themselves.

This inability to untie itself from the personal aspiration of Atiku Abubakar led the PDP in a quagmire too potent to resolve.

Unarguably, this resulted from what transpired in the period leading up to the 2023 presidential elections when the PDP tied its destiny to the private political aspiration of Atiku Abubakar, thus leading to the abandonment of the party by Mr Peter Obi – and to some extent, Nyesom Wike – who decided to support the candidacy of the APC presidential candidate in the person of Bola Tinubu. The reactionary actions of both Peter Obi and Nyesom Wike is believe by many to have eventually led to the defeat of the PDP at the polls. Resultantly, Tinubu has rewarded Nyesom Wike with the juicy ministerial position as the Federal Minister for the Federal Capital Territory [FCT] — a position he holds while still remaining a PDP member and daring the PDP leadership to expel him from the party.

Surprisingly, the PDP appears stuck in limbo, still unable to untangle itself from the quagmire.

Howbeit, if the PDP must move forward, it must retool and learn to become an opposition party. In the over eight years it stayed out of power, the PDP has yet to recover from the shock of the 2015 defeat, and thus has yet to embrace the task of opposition party, a task it must embrace and rightly perform if it must or intends to recover power from the ruling party, APC.

Finally, PDP, as a political party must look to the people and have them at the back of their minds in every step and action it takes. It must see and feel the pain of the people not from a distance but from within. Until one understands the root of his problem, he may end up not achieving any solution to it. After all, it was Albert Einstein who said We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.

Ikenna Ellis Ezenekwe is the publisher of 247ureports.com