Fear Grips PDP Presidential Aspirants Over Mass Defection From APC

LAGOS AUGUST 12TH (NEWSRANGERS)-There seems to be an uneasy calm in the opposition Peoples Democratic (PDP) following massive defections, particularly, from the ruling All Progressives Part (APC).
This is because, most of the defectors, particularly, the bigwigs are said to be nursing presidential ambitions, which will surely swell the bourgeoning number of aspirants in the fold.

The development is said to causing jitters among the aspirants and consequently, unsettling the party with the problem of choice. Some analysts say at the weekend that the situation, if not properly managed, may be the greatest undoing of the party in next year’s elections.
“In fact, the frequency of the harvests and the calibre of the people being harvested have become subject of concerns, as managing such big shots most times could pose a lot of challenges to the party or any other organisation that may find itself in similar situation,” says an analyst who pleaded anonymity.
Specifically, the party had in the past weeks harvested presidential hopefuls like former governor of Kano State, Rabiu Kwankwaso, incumbent governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal and former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar.
Aside these three, there are the likes of Ahmed Makarfi, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, Tanimu Turaki, Danti Baba Ahmed, Sule Lamido, governor of Gombe State, Ibrahim Dankwambo and lately, Bukola Saraki, Senate President.
Some analysts say that with the calibre of people already in PDP, the party leadership will definitely have a tough time selecting the best to be its candidate to fight President Muhammadu Buhari in the forthcoming presidential election.
More worrisome, they argue that the aspirants may likely cry foul if the primary election does not favour them at the end of the exercise.
For instance, George Ekeh, Legal Practitioner, who sees Nigeria as a huge political laboratory, as a result of the gale of defections said the greatest problem for PDP, will be where the defectors who are heavy weights in their own rights would land, in view of growing number of aspirants.
Friday Ameh, Lagos based analyst believes that the crisis may have started as there are bickering and suspicions among some aspirants already who are feeling threatened by the new entrants.
“Although the party claims to be in control and capable of providing level playing field for all the presidential hopeful, but there are ominous signs that things are beginning to fall apart and suspicions have started creeping in,” Ameh said.
Another political analyst says PDP has succeeded in exposing the lack of ideology by the parties generally, while also exposing the politicians as only concerned with their selfish interests.
“What this tells us is that our political institutions are weak, while the politicians are very strong dictating the pace of politics and who gets what. This is unfortunate and a mockery of our democracy,” he said.
At the last emergency National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of PDP, our correspondent had asked the Chairman of the party’s Board of Trustees,(BoT), Walid Jubrin how the party would tackle the issue and he had replied that the party will address it and ensure that it does not affect it on the long run.
At the moment, some stakeholders are already warning the party leadership not to give undue advantage to the new entrants. Even though the party had given the assurance that all PDP members will be treated equally, but some party members still entertain fear.
Interest and lobby cannot be ruled out in politics as those behind the aspirations of some candidates will always want their interest to be protected and as such do what is possible to ensure that they are not shortchanged on the long run.
This narrative may be partly responsible for alarm recently raised by the likes of former National Caretaker Committee Chairman of the party, and former governor of Kaduna State, Makarfi against favouring returnee members at the detriment of old members.
Addressing the leadership of the Kogi State chapter of PDP and other stakeholders in Lokoja recently, Makarfi had said, “some people when you pinch them like this (touching his arm), they will run to another party. When the going was tough, I stayed on… but you accept them into your house and give them your guest room. Next, they take the Master Bedroom; next, they drive you out of your house. We must not allow this, nor give undue advantage to them, so that we do not alienate our people.
“Modu Sheriff was brought from another party; they said he had three jets; he had billions, but what did he do? He was taking the party down, but I, the ‘bush boy,’ with the support of others, was able to make members close ranks, and today, we can all see.”
However, Kola Ologbondiyan, PDP spokesman had assured its members of adequate protection, accommodation and a level playing ground at every level of political engagement and aspirations ahead of the 2019 general elections.
The party had said that it had taken note of all concerns raised by highly respected and committed leaders of the party, as it concerns accommodation of interests as well as new alignments, and has since taken extensive measures that would ultimately ensure that no person or group is, in anyway, short-changed.
“While the PDP appreciates and values such concerns, it is instructive to inform that the national leadership of our party has already envisaged the challenges of an enlarged family and has since made adequate arrangements that would effectively cover all interests for the task ahead.
“All members must therefore dispel every fear in relation to control of our structure as well as processes for selection of candidates for election, especially on the choice of our presidential candidate, as such will be handled with the strictest adherence to the principles of internal democracy and zero tolerance for imposition,” Ologbondiyan said.
Despite these assurances, some members of the party still express reservations because of the continued influx of heavyweight politicians into the fold of the party.
But Ologbondiyan and Makarfi, while speaking with our correspondent on this development, further allayed the fears of members, insisting that modalities have been put in place to address the fears being entertained.
While Ologbondiyan emphasised the position taken by the leadership of the party that every member both old and new will be given equal treatment, Makarfi, who said that he never used the word ‘undue advantage,’ disclosed that a committee has already been setup to address the unforeseen circumstances emanating from the mass defection of APC members to PDP.
Speaking with Sunday INDEPENDENT, Ologbondiyan further emphasised that all members whether old or new will be treated equally, adding that every interest will be taken into consideration.
Makarfi, a presidential hopeful, however insists that only full integration will address the fear entertained by some members of the party over the gale of defections to the party.
The former governor of Kaduna State, who noted that celebration in whatever form is human, warned that the party should not be carried away with celebration, as the task before the party is 2019 elections is enormous.
He disclosed that there is a committee working to bring about the fusion of old and new members in such a way that it will be acceptable to all, noting that when issues are settled amicably, it will erode the trait of court actions.
He said: “We must celebrate defectors at anytime, but we have a task before us. It is time we make use of the current situation positively. Celebration will come, but that will be a short while because what we have ahead of us is a battle and that means all hands must be on deck.
“What I called for was the integration of both the old and the new, so that the synergy of that integration produces result and that is not an easy task when you are integrating people. I believe we are capable of doing that integration. A full integration is what will deal with that particular issue.”
Makarfi noted that during the task of blending, mischief makers should not be ruled out, who may attempt to go to court to challenge one or two things, adding, “When you sit down and settle doubt, it takes away the trait of court actions that may introduce new dimension into the whole things.
“I have no fear about that because I know for sure that there is a committee working to bring about this fusion in such a way that will be acceptable to all. They need to integrate the old and the new members. That is what needs to be done and we have done that.”
Sunday Independent

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