It is obvious that this is not the best of time for the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP as the party and it members are currently struggling to find their footings after a woeful performance in the 2015 general elections.
The party has completely failed its members and Nigerians as far as opposition politics is concerned. The party has found itself in a protracted crisis since the unexpected emergence of Senator Ali Modu Sheriff as its national chairman.
Shortly after his emergence, many party faithful within and outside the PDP cried fowl that the emergence of Sheriff portends a big danger for the future of the party. Even many politicians, who happen to come from the state with Sheriff, said the former governor of Borno state will only succeed in distabilising the party because of his antecedents.
Unfortunately, since Sheriff assumes the PDP chairmaship role, it has been from one crisis to another. To make matters worse, the Board of Trustees of the party even insisted that Sheriff will leave office for a southerner in 2018.
The board, which stated this after its meeting in Abuja, said that the decision to relieve Sheriff of his duty then was as a result of the zoning of the party’s 2019 presidential ticket to the North. It said that there would be a midterm convention in 2018 to ratify the transferring of power from Sheriff to a southerner.
Again, the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led Caretaker Committee and Ali Modu Sheriff camp are currently in war of words over who controls the party’s structure ahead of the gubernatorial elections in Edo and Ondo states.
Makarfi has dismissed the suspension of the Edo state executive committee of the party by the Ali Modu Sheriff faction. Sheriff had earlier announced the suspension of the Edo PDP exco, replacing it with a caretaker committee. The bone of contention is the PDP primary election organised by the Makarfi caretaker committee ahead of the Edo gubernatorial election, which produced Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu as the candidate of the PDP. The Sheriff group, also fixed June 29 to pick the PDP candidate for the September 10 Edo gubernatorial election.
As APC assumed its new role of a ruling party, Nigerians expected to see a robust opposition from the PDP, but instead, it has been infighting, squabbles, bickering, criticism and counter criticism among party members.
No doubt, the defeat highly distabilised the party in no small measure, thus prompting many Nigerians to begin to wonder if the party, amidst the defeat and attendant confusion, can play the role of an opposition effectively.
But political analysts have insisted that before PDP can play the role of an opposition party, it must first put its house in order by ensuring internal democracy, carry all its members along and be willing to build a strong and united party devoid of rancour and bickering.
In order to stabilise the party and perhaps prepare it for the role of the opposition, some prominent members of the party have embarked on confidence building among members.
The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu has tasked party members to put the failures of the last elections behind them and be prepared to build a strong and united party ready to play a credible opposition.
“We must accept the ups and downs as an opposition party. That is what the PDP is now. We must remain a united family and face the reality.
“The not-too impressive showing of the PDP in the last elections may in the long term be a blessing to the party and the nation because we are going back to the drawing board to do a critical review and fashion out a blue print that would get us out of the woods for good.
“The role of opposition is strange to us, but it is not a death sentence. We should be ready for the challenges. We are prepared to play a credible opposition. I believe the nation and indeed Nigerians would be the best for it.
“There is no need weeping over lost opportunities or mistakes of yesterday. The failure of yesterday should be our lesson for a better today and a triumphant future. I called on all the members of the PDP to bury their hatchet and resolve to work together for a united and progressive party for the future,” Ekweremadu asserted.
Similarly, keen political watchers said the first test for the party’s acting national chairman would be how he would pilot the PDP to woo the other political parties since the parties’ leaders said the PDP had yet to approach them.
But some of the parties such as the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA; the Unity Party of Nigeria, UPN and the Labour Party have said repeatedly that they are not ready to merge with the PDP for now. This implies that the party has not only found itself in a strange political terrain, but will also play the role of the opposition by raising the bar high.
Without misgivings, Nigerians need a strong and vibrant opposition party that will always keep the ruling party on its toes; an opposition that will look at issues dispassionately and analysed them critically without sentiments. Therefore, the Buhari-led administration will definitely need divine guidance and direction giving the monumental challenges he has to overcome within a stipulated four-year period.
Perhaps, this is why the National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, argued that the party needs a strong opposition party to keep it on its toes for the benefit of the populace.‬ He explained that in view of the huge task ahead of them, it has indeed become imperative for a formidable opposition party that will make them walk the talk.
Therefore, as PDP tries to overcome its crisis to play its role of opposition, its members should start the process of rebuilding the party not just at the national level, but also at the grass root. In fact, by now, the party should have adapt to its new status in the country’s political equation.


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