President Muhammadu Buhari and the ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC) appear to have deployed a sinister strategy in crippling and ultimately, decimating the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the main opposition political party in the country. The PDP, which lost the 2015 general elections after 16 years in government, is currently weighed down by leadership crisis, which is about snuffing life out of the once vibrant party.
Sunday Telegraph gathered that, indeed, the APC knew that given its surprise victory at the polls, the surest way to consolidate on power was to so cripple the PDP that it would be extremely difficult for the opposition to have a breathing space to face the coming elections. A competent source familiar with the plot said that there is “an orchestrated plan by the presidency to decimate members of the opposition,” particularly those who have the capacity to re-launch the party into political prominence.
“Don’t forget it (the leadership crisis) came after the EFCC (the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission) has arrested and detained some of our leaders. Some of them who could not stand the heat left and joined the APC to avoid prosecution.”
In PDP circles, it is generally believed that the presidency is using the EFCC to silence critics of the sitting government. The anti-corruption agency has arrested and detained almost all the outspoken members and leaders of the party.
Even a sitting governor, Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State, who ordinarily is supposed to enjoy constitutional immunity, is being investigated and his personal bank accounts frozen by the anti-corruption agency. Prince Dayo Adeyeye, spokesperson of the National Caretaker Committee set up at the May 21 National Convention to run the affairs of the party for 90 days, said in a statement that President Muhammadu Buhari’s government was out to silence any voice of opposition.
According to Adeyeye, since his arrest by the anti-graft agency, “Chief (Olisa) Metuh could not challenge the APC government on policy issues until he left office. “Nigerians will also recall that one of the known opposition voice, apart from some individuals and governors of our party that have exposed the APC led administration for running the country aground in the last one year, is the former spokesman of the PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation, Chief Femi Fani Kayode; and he is now standing trial for receiving campaign funds from the Director of Finance of the campaign.
“It’s now the turn of the Governor of Ekiti state, Ayodele Fayose, who has been consistent in condemning the woes the APC government brought upon Nigerians and for remaining critical of the APC and President Buhari’s administration.” He added that, by freezing Governor Fayose’s personal account, which, he said, violates Section 308 of 1999 Constitution as a sitting governor, cannot stand trial until after office. “President Buhari and his party, the All Progressive Congress (APC), have introduced a dangerous trend in our polity and if this is not checked or curtailed immediately, Nigeria may be heading to an imperial-rule where the leader of the nation is a supreme ruler, dictating who survives at the expense of Nigeria constitution.”
Among PDP leaders arrested and detained by the EFCC are former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki; former PDP National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh; former Deputy National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus; former Director of Publicity of PDP Presidential Campaign, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode; former Chairman, PDP Board of Trustees (BoT), Dr. Haliru Bello Mohammed; Chairman of Daar Communications, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, among others. But the most disturbing for PDP members is the leadership crisis in the party. PDP has been factionalised since May this year.
Majority of its leaders and founding fathers have pitched their tents with the caretaker committee headed by former Kaduna state governor, Senator Ahmed Makarfi. But a former Governor of Borno state, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, who was discretely foisted on the party has become a great threat to unity in the party. Sheriff and some members of the National Working Committee (NWC), as well as former deputy national officers, are still laying claim to the leadership of the party.
They have instituted multiple suits in various courts on the claims that their tenure has not expired. Adeyeye told journalists that the party’s intelligence reports revealed that Sheriff was working for the APC to disorganise the PDP ahead of the Edo governorship election in September. “The All Progressives Congress (APC) has contracted Sheriff and his cohorts to scuttle the chances of the PDP in the Edo governorship election.
“We have credible intelligence that Sheriff had a meeting with an APC governor from the North West, where it was agreed that he would be given full security and financial support to exacerbate the crisis in the PDP with the objective of preventing the PDP from presenting a candidate for the Edo governorship election, or at the least, to prevent the PDP from offering a serious challenge to the APC, whose electoral fortunes have continued to nosedive.”
Each of the factions laying claim to the party’s leadership has obtained court orders in its favour, which is making the crisis intractable.
The party further observed that two former judgements before the July 4 Port Harcourt judgement, declared that Senator Sheriff is not qualified to be a National Chairman given that the PDP Constitution 2014, which he claimed brought him to power, is not in existence and therefore, null and void. The BoT members led by the Chairman, Senator Walid Jibirin, have so far visited former Minister of Finance, Mallam Adamu Ciroma, and former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.
Ciroma is a founding member of the PDP. The board has also sent a delegation to Minna, Niger state, to interface with former Military President, General Ibrahim Babangida. Walid revealed that a special committee headed by former Minister of Information, Prof. Jerry Gana, has been set up to reconcile aggrieved party members.
Three days ago, members of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), embarked upon some high level meetings and consultations in a last minute effort to rescue the party from disintegration.
This effort appears to be the only lifeline now left for the survival of the party. Meanwhile, the Presidency has absolved itself of all blames in the series of crisis plaguing the PDP in the last one year.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, said President Muhammadu Buhari has no hand in the protracted leadership crisis in the main opposition party, adding that, rather the crisis was an act of God. .
“The crisis in the PDP is God- sent because of the way they ran down this country. Whether we believe in life here and hereafter or not, we must realise that there are consequences for the actions we take in life. It is called retributive justice.
It is a God – sent crisis and it is only God Almighty that can reconcile them. But for now, we can only fold our arms and watch them, “ he said.
On the speculations that the Buhari administration embarked on its anti- corruption war in order to silence the opposition and other vocal critics, Shehu said nothing couLd be further from the truth.
He argued that given the pedigree of President Buhari, he would be the last person to meddle in the affairs of another party. “The President we have, you know him, he is not someone that would orchestrate crisis. He can’t put his hands in such a thing,” he said