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