Posted on Friday, August 16th, 2013
By Chukwudi Nweje
Assistant Features Editor
It had been argued by enlightened analysts that the five Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governors Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano, Sule Lamido of Jigawa Aliyu Wamakko of Sokoto, Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu of Niger, and Muratala Nyako of Adamawa States who have been traversing the country consulting with eminent Nigerians on how to “save the country’s nascent democracy,” may have been testing the grounds ahead of the 2015 general elections. Unfolding developments in the land seem to prove those observers right. The governors under the aegis of ‘Save Democracy’ initiative in the last two months, had consulted with former Military Heads of State, Generals Ibrahim Babangida, Abdulsalami Abubakar; former Presidents Shehu Shagari and Olusegun Obasanjo, among other prominent Nigerians.
Although the governors who initiated their mission following the political crisis in Rivers State and the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF), maintained that they were on a mission to save democracy and the nation from implosion as a result of the political crisis, critics had argued that there was more to it than they admitted. Emerging facts reveal that the consultations were indeed for the 2015 general elections.
It has for instance been said that former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and the governors have applied for the registration of a group, Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM), as a political party, and that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is already processing the application. Beside the five, there are also indications that Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi and Governors Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara State and Danbaba Suntai of Taraba State may have decided to stake their political lot with the yet to be registered party. Analysts also say it is not a coincidence that the five governors visited Amaechi in solidarity during the Rivers State crisis. The request for registration of PDM as a political party is coming barely one week after the PDP chairman, Bamanga Tukur warned the governors that the party’s leadership expected a report on the outcome of the consultations, and 24 hours after former President Olusegun Obasanjo dismissed Atiku as a politician without integrity.
The floating of a new political platform does not come as a surprise to keen followers of political developments in the country, lately. In fact, one analyst had pointed out that the five governors on the consultation crusade were all of the Northern States Governors Forum (NSGF), arguing that “their talks with mainly retired generals and northern political elite must have to do with 2015 general elections.” Similarly, Debo Adeniran, executive director, Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL) and Joe Igbokwe, Interim Publicity Secretary of the Lagos State chapter of All Progressives Congress (APC) also said the 2015 elections could not be divorced from the consultations. However, while Igbokwe argued that the governors had freedom of association and could therefore meet with whomever they wish, Adeniran was more forthcoming, arguing that; “Their visit portends nothing other than the fact that they want to form a coalition against President Jonathan for the party’s presidential ticket. If President Jonathan wins the ticket, as he is likely to do, they might move to another party. That is why they are visiting retired generals ostensibly for them to convince the Army to give democracy a chance no matter how wobbly it is or looks.”
While informed minds support the freedom of association and people of like minds to form political parties, they wonder how the country is retrogressing despite the emergence of so many ‘progressive associations’. As a matter of fact, some argue that the various associations claiming to be progressive do so for selfish ambition, given that they are of the same conservative political breed that have held the nation down since independence.
Mallam Moyo Jaji sees Atiku’s move to float a new political party as being borne out of desperation and ambition, stressing that the former Vice President had in the past jumped from one party to another all in his bid to lead the country. “He left the PDP to contest the Presidency against late President Yar’Adua on the platform of the Action Congress (AC) and lost before returning to the PDP. He later contested the PDP Presidential primary against President Jonathan and lost again. We are not surprised that Atiku wants to form a new party. Atiku has been consumed by ambition”, he says.