In­side PDP’s damn­ing post-2015 elec­tion report Daily Trust

Daily Trust - - INSIDE POLITICS - By Fidelis Mac-Leva

In spite of its dom­i­nance of the coun­try’s po­lit­i­cal land­scape since the re­turn of democ­racy in 1999, the Peo­ples Demo­cratic Party (PDP) was turned into an op­po­si­tion party cour­tesy of the 2015 gen­eral polls.

This, no doubt, is a bit­ter pill for a po­lit­i­cal party that had won four con­sec­u­tive pres­i­den­tial elec­tions and main­tained over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of gov­er­nors and leg­is­la­tors at both state and na­tional lev­els.

In 1999, the PDP had a com­fort­able ma­jor­ity with 214 seats in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. It moved to 223 in 2003 and then reached its peak with 263 in 2007, but dropped to 208 and 137 in 2011 and 2015 re­spec­tively.

In the Se­nate the party had 71 seats, im­proved to 76 and 87 in the 2003 and 2007 elec­tions re­spec­tively.

But the seeds of de­cline be­gan to man­i­fest in the 2011 gen­eral elec­tions when it lost 16 seats in the Se­nate, win­ning 71 seats. The num­ber of its se­na­tors fur­ther dropped to 49 in the 2015 gen­eral elec­tions.

The loss of 71 seats in the Na­tional As­sem­bly and five states in the 2011 elec­tions in­di­cated a fur­ther de­cline in the party’s pop­u­lar­ity.

Faced with the stark re­al­ity of its dwin­dling po­lit­i­cal for­tunes that cli­maxed in its abysmal per­for­mance in the 2015 gen­eral elec­tions, the Na­tional Work­ing Com­mit­tee (NWC) of the party in the af­ter­math of the polls inau­gu­rated a post-elec­tion re­view com­mit­tee on May 5, 2015 to as­sess its per­for­mances. The 17-mem­ber com­mit­tee headed by deputy se­nate pres­i­dent, Ike Ek­w­ere­madu was to among other terms of ref­er­ence, iden­tify the re­mote and im­me­di­ate causes of the poor per­for­mance of the PDP in the 2015 elec­tions, trace the ori­gin and process of de­cline in its elec­toral per­for­mance and iden­tify groups in the party who were to play crit­i­cal roles be­fore and dur­ing the elec­tions with a view to de­ter­min­ing their ef­fec­tive­ness or oth­er­wise.

Af­ter con­duct­ing pub­lic hear­ings with party mem­bers at the zones to col­lect rel­e­vant in­for­ma­tion, the com­mit­tee even­tu­ally came up with a report which was adopted at the first Na­tional Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee (NEC) meet­ing of the party af­ter the 2015 elec­tions which was held at Wa­data Plaza, Abuja re­cently.

The 40-page report, a copy of which Daily Trust ex­clu­sively ob­tained, in­di­cated that a to­tal of 5007 mem­o­randa were sub­mit­ted, rep­re­sent­ing six zones; 36 state party chap­ters and the FCT.

Out of this num­ber, 268 came from party sup­port groups while 4696 were re­ceived from in­di­vid­ual stake­hold­ers.

A peep into the find­ings of the Ek­w­ere­madu report shows that it con­tains rev­e­la­tions of a self-in­dict­ing ver­dict.

On party struc­ture and ad­min­is­tra­tion, the com­mit­tee said it found that most of the struc­tures were not prop­erly con­sti­tuted at the state level.

“In sev­eral states, mem­bers of the state work­ing com­mit­tee were sim­ply hand­picked or se­lected through un­demo­cratic means in fla­grant vi­o­la­tion of the con­sti­tu­tional process”, the report said adding: “Dur­ing the con­duct of ward and lo­cal govern­ment con­gresses, un­pop­u­lar in­di­vid­u­als were se­lected and im­posed as ward and lo­cal govern­ment ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee mem­bers even when avail­able ev­i­dence in­di­cated that those hand­picked can­di­dates did not en­joy broad pub­lic sup­port.” Main­tain­ing that fail­ure to ad­here to the con­sti­tu­tional process in the se­lec­tion of lead­ers at the state, lo­cal govern­ment and ward lev­els of the PDP is a com­mon fea­ture across the coun­try, the report said: “Lack of in­ter­nal democ­racy de­forms and un­der­mines the party’s ef­fec­tive­ness and pro­vides in­cen­tives for mem­bers to work against the party; lack of in­ter­nal democ­racy in­fests the en­tire party’s ad­min­is­tra­tive struc­ture and man­i­fests pre­dom­i­nantly in the im­po­si­tion of lead­ers at all lev­els.”

PDP state gov­er­nors also came un­der spot­light in the report which stated that hi­jack­ing of state party struc­tures by them (gov­er­nors), fed­eral govern­ment ap­pointees or wealthy/in­flu­en­tial mem­bers un­der­mined the in­de­pen­dence and ca­pac­ity of state party ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee mem­bers to func­tion prop­erly.

“This of­ten re­sults in the state ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee be­com­ing mere ap­pendages and rub­ber stamp of these pow­er­ful po­lit­i­cal lead­ers or lead to the fac­tion­al­iza­tion of mem­bers of the ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee, thus mak­ing it dif­fi­cult, if not im­pos­si­ble, for the com­mit­tee to func­tion ef­fec­tively.”

The report also iden­ti­fied god­fa­therism phe­nom­e­non as a fac­tor in the dwin­dling elec­toral for­tunes of the PDP that led to the party’s rel­e­ga­tion in the 2015 gen­eral elec­tions. Ac­cord­ing to the Ek­w­ere­madu com­mit­tee the party since in­cep­tion de­pended al­most en­tirely on funds gen­er­ated from sale of nom­i­na­tion forms and spon­sor­ship by po­lit­i­cal lead­ers or in­flu­en­tial mem­bers (god­fa­thers) who ei­ther seek to pro­mote their po­lit­i­cal dom­i­nance or eco­nomic in­ter­est through the party, re­sult­ing in the phe­nom­e­non of god­fa­therism.

“This prac­tice has di­min­ished the party’s in­cen­tive to col­lect mem­ber­ship sub­scrip­tion and statu­tory pay­ment of fees and levies; thus the party loses its most cred­i­ble and le­git­i­mate source of fund­ing and by so do­ing un­der­mines its ef­fec­tive own­er­ship by the peo­ple and their par­tic­i­pa­tion in the process, par­tic­u­larly at the grass­roots.”

While not­ing that the party at all lev­els does not ad­here to fi­nan­cial reg­u­la­tions gov­ern­ing the man­age­ment of funds, the report State: “This is the com­mon prac­tice in vir­tu­ally all the state chap­ters where gov­er­nors, min­is­ters or top fed­eral govern­ment of­fi­cials and wealthy mem­bers fund and there­fore con­trol state party struc­tures.”

Although the PDP has a le­gal frame­work for reg­u­lat­ing its in­ter­nal af­fairs, the Ek­w­ere­madu com­mit­tee report noted, how­ever, that party of­fi­cials ei­ther com­pletely ig­nored or se­lec­tively ap­plied the party rules and reg­u­la­tions gov­ern­ing its in­ter­nal af­fairs. The report states: “The com­mit­tee noted from the sub­mis­sions that the Na­tional Work­ing Com­mit­tee (NWC) usurps the pow­ers of the Na­tional Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee (NEC) by ar­bi­trar­ily act­ing as the fi­nal au­thor­ity on dis­putes re­lat­ing to choice of party can­di­dates for elec­tions.”

While not­ing sev­eral cases of NWC sub­sti­tut­ing names of party can­di­dates af­ter the con­duct of party pri­maries, the report also in­dicted the NWC of doc­tor­ing or chang­ing the names of del­e­gates and out­right can­cel­la­tion or chang­ing the lo­ca­tion of party pri­maries against the law to fa­cil­i­tate the emer­gence of pre­ferred can­di­dates.

The pres­i­dency was not spared in the Ek­w­ere­madu com­mit­tee report as it was ac­cused of im­pos­ing can­di­dates on the party ei­ther at the be­hest of the pres­i­dent or with his tacit ac­qui­es­cence. The report cited that dur­ing its zonal pub­lic hear­ing in Gombe, “the Borno State del­e­gates al­leged that the can­di­date who won the PDP gov­er­nor­ship pri­maries was changed based on in­struc­tion from the pres­i­dency”, adding that the ag­grieved can­di­date was only able to re­claim his man­date through the court barely three days to the con­duct of the gen­eral elec­tions, thus giv­ing him in­ad­e­quate time to cam­paign.

Sim­i­larly, the report pointed out that con­trary to demo­cratic im­per­a­tives and the party’s con­sti­tu­tion, some elec­tive posts were sim­ply al­lo­cated to cho­sen can­di­dates with­out giv­ing other as­pi­rants the op­por­tu­nity to con­test.

Cit­ing the adop­tion of former Pres­i­dent Good­luck Jonathan as the sole pres­i­den­tial can­di­date of the PDP in the last elec­tions the report said: “The ini­tial im­pres­sion cre­ated by some in the NWC that a sin­gle pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion form was pro­duced and the adop­tion of the pres­i­dent as the sole can­di­date of the PDP tainted the elec­toral cre­den­tials of the party in no small mea­sure and di­min­ished its chances at the polls.”

Another fac­tor that led to the PDP’s po­lit­i­cal down­fall as high­lighted in the report is the in­volve­ment of the NWC in the nom­i­na­tion of can­di­dates and del­e­gates in some states, thus un­der­min­ing the im­per­a­tives of in­ter­nal democ­racy.

The report cited the case of Adamawa and Taraba states where there were al­le­ga­tions of un­fair treat­ment of some as­pi­rants.

“Some as­pi­rants al­leged that they were pro­vided mis­lead­ing in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing the con­duct of pri­maries with a view to schem­ing them out of the process. At the end the NWC re­lo­cated the party pri­maries to Abuja where hand­picked del­e­gates were al­legedly flown to in or­der to en­dorse a pre­ferred can­di­date for the gov­er­nor­ship po­si­tion”, the report stated, stress­ing that the prac­tice of out­right can­cel­la­tion of party pri­maries by the NWC over claims of ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties served as a sub­terfuge for the NWC to ma­nip­u­late the process to favour its pre­ferred can­di­dates.

The report said its find­ings also re­vealed that cam­paign funds were nei­ther prop­erly man­aged nor ac­counted for, point­ing out that lack of ac­count­abil­ity con­trib­uted to the poor per­for­mance of the PDP at the 2015 elec­tions. “In some cases funds were dis­bursed to the state chap­ters a day be­fore the gen­eral elec­tions, while in oth­ers, fund­ing pro­vided for cam­paigns was in­ad­e­quate to mount an ef­fec­tive cam­paign,” the report said.

From the fore­go­ing, the report con­cluded that the PDP’s poor out­ing in the 2015 gen­eral elec­tions, es­pe­cially with re­gards to the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion was a di­rect fall­out of the vi­o­la­tion of the zon­ing ar­range­ment “which led to a ma­jor ap­a­thy against the party in north­ern states.” Per­haps, it was based on this that the report rec­om­mended that “the PDP should seek its 2019 pres­i­den­tial can­di­date from the North to make amends for the ob­vi­ous vi­o­la­tion of the zon­ing ar­range­ment in the 2011 elec­tion which led to a ma­jor ap­a­thy against the party in the North from 2011, cul­mi­nat­ing in the poor per­for­mance of the party in the 2015 elec­tions.”

PDP Act­ing Chair­man, Prince Uche Se­con­dus

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