By UMAR SA’AD HASSAN –
Hate it or love it, the PDP represents our best hope of ridding ourselves of unarguably the worst government we have ever had; and, as such, its affairs are of paramount importance to a lot of us. If President Buhari packs and heads back to Daura in 2019, it is most likely the party will take the credit.
It was inevitable that the north and south-west, due to their dismal outing at the last general elections, would lose considerable influence in the party to the south-south and south-east which would not only produce the new big players but also become the major financiers of the party.
Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State had the added advantage of being a very key member of the Jonathan administration who was reportedly handed a mandate by the then first lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, to wrestle back her home state by any means necessary from Rotimi Amaechi.
Wike, fresh from an epic battle and being a prominent member of the party in the previous dispensation, assumed leadership status after Jonathan’s semi-retirement from party affairs. He has succeeded in foisting Uche Secondus on the party, when it made logical sense to allot it to the south-west not only because it has never held the position but also to enhance chances of making a major breakthrough into a region that has proven to be the most decisive in our electoral structure, especially in these crucial times.
Wike may be apt for bulldozing the opposition and employment of brute force, but leading a vast number of people with divergent political and ethnic interests cloaked in the guise of a common goal takes a special kind of skill he hasn’t displayed.
Secondus is heavily reliant on his dictates and, so far, he hasn’t blown him towards galvanizing the troops, especially in the south-west, as efficiently as possible.
The most prized asset the PDP had was Olusegun Mimiko before his defection back to the Labour Party. Mimiko was the best vice-presidential candidate in the land and one who would have been pivotal to winning over the south-west electorate, a region swayed more by competence and credibility than ethnic or religious sentiments. That Wike and his gang would make a man like that feel under-appreciated tells a lot about the job they are doing.
A reconciliation committee headed by Bayelsa State governor Seriake Dickson was hurriedly put in place after Secondus’ emergence as chairman with a very narrow and myopic objective: pacifying the aggrieved chairmanship candidates instead of the entire south-west PDP. It goes without saying that the region is the most strategic going into next year’s general elections. With Buhari still enjoying a large followership in the core northern states and only the central ones seemingly switching allegiance, the PDP would need a chunk of the south-west votes to complement those of the south-south and south east to guarantee victory.
As things stand, its major players are content with moving solo or as parts of a caucus, and that will not augur well. How else can one explain a mega rally in Ekiti State, the only place the party controls in the region, without Chief Bode George, Otunba Gbenga Daniel or Alhaji Rasheed Ladoja?
There is no clearer depiction of the woeful job the PDP has done in rallying its members in the south-west than the very notable absence of the region at the Ekiti mega rally.
There is a very important need for the south-west members to be brought under the umbrella and not only presented to feel special but also to operate as a formidable entity.
As things stand, the only thing anyone who is discontented with the Buhari government has to be hopeful for, as far as the south-west electorate go, is their tendency to vote purely on the strength of candidates presented and nothing else.
Wike must learn to lead. Having seized the party machinery, he must ensure it is up and fully running.
Hassan is a lawyer based in Kano.