The leadership crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has suddenly brought out formerministers there were appointed by the party from their cocoon since the party lost the general election. In this piece MIKE ODIAKOSE examines the sudden resurrection of PDP ex-ministers.
Since the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, presidential candidate in the last general election, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan lost the election, the administration of his successor, President Muhammadu Buhari, has used every opportunity to heap blames on him for all the problems confronting the nation. At every turn the Jonathan administration is blamed, even for obvious lapses in the present administration like the padding of the 2016 budget which the All Progressives Congress described as the handiwork of loyalists of Jonathan in government.
In spite of these scratching criticism of the Jonathan administration, and by extension, the PDP, by the present ruling party none of those that served in his cabinet ever deem it fit to come to the defence of their former boss, apart from the former minister of Special Duties, Taminu Turaki, and Spokesman of the Jonathan Campaign Organisation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, who on several occasions punctured some of the propaganda of the APC against the former PDP administration. Indeed, Fani-Kayode became the voice of the opposition and his numerous statements, alongside that the Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti state, were about the only thing that put the ruling party in check
They abandoned Jonathan like an orphan as the other PDP former ministers’ voices are only heard when they are personally mentioned on raging issues. Beyond that, they maintained deafening, stoic silence on issues raised against the government they were opportune to serve as ministers and even against the PDP on whose platform they rose to become members of the federal cabinet.
Though no one can precisely give reasons why the former PDP ministers opted to keep mute while the party is receiving bashings from the APC, some political watchers have suggested that the former minister are scared of the anti-corruption war of President Muhammadu Buhari. Their argument is that the former ministers chose to remain silently in the background because of the fear that the present administration will come after them and beam its searchlight on them if they dare raise their voice on raging national issues. It is only Chief Fani-Kayode among the lot that has boasted openly that he is not afraid of probe and cannot be cowed by the APC-led federal government.
APC leaders appear to have decoded the fears of the majority former minister that served the PDP administration and capitalized on this fear to blame the past administration for almost all lapses of the present administration like the crash of the Naira, the comatose economy and the decline in foreign direct investment into the country. The former ministers, who were in the cabinet when major decisions were taken, were also nowhere to be found even when some of the achievements of the past PDP administration are appropriated by the incumbent government. The situation is as bad as that.
They minsters are believed to have been cowed to the extent that they are very reluctant to empathise or openly express solidarity with some of their former colleagues or PDP members that are perceived to be facing persecution by the present administration.
Concerned members of the PDP have raised issues over the silence of the former ministers. They are quick to point out that the former ministers completely abandoned the party immediately the left office and have not been participating in PDP activities.
Some of the silent complaints against the former ministers are that unlike when they were in power when they are regular faces at PDP campaign rallies, their faces disappeared at PDP rallies for elections that were conducted after May 29, 2015.
When APC dragged some elected PDP governors to election tribunals up to the Supreme Court, none of the former ministers came out in solidarity with the governors to give them moral support. They were neither at the tribunals to boost the morale of PDP members and would not assist with legal team to tackle their cases in court.
Few of the former ministers were said to have shown their faces at thank giving services after the legal battle has been lost and won at the tribunals and the Supreme Court.
These are some of the reason why PDP faithful and leaders were taken aback by the sudden resurrection of the former ministers who are now operating under the auspices of PDP Former Ministers Forum after the emergence of Senator Ali Modu Sheriff as the new national chairman of the party. The former ministers are very vociferous in their opposition against the former governor of Borno state leading the party.
However, political observers have picked holes on the demand for the sack of Modu Sheriff by the former ministers on the ground that the forum of the former ministers is not a constitutionally recognised statutory organ of the party. They argue that the ministers, who constitute infinitesimal number in the membership of the party, cannot attempt to override the decision of the statutory organs of the party.
The ministers’ demand for the removal of Modu Sheriff also received knocks in some quarters where their long silence over who succeeds Adamu Muazu was called to question. The ex-ministers, like the Board of Trustees and the North West zone went to sleep after the resignation of Muazu in May last year. It was only Alhaji Gulak, a former Political Adviser to former President Jonathan that took up the challenge of ensuring the party respects its constitution by getting Muazu’s replacement from the North East.
When Gulak’s plea to the National Working Committee to put in motion process to produce another chairman from the North east failed he was forced to go to the FCT High Court and it was the outcome of the legal battle that eventually led to the emergence of Modu Sheriff as the substantive chairman of the party.
While Alhaji Gulak was battling Prince Uche Secondus and the NWC in court the PDP former ministers stood with arms at akimbo on the sidelines. PDP members who have been following the development are scandalized that after Gulak had secured an order of the court mandating the NWC to appoint a new chairman from the North East the ministers came together to initiate a forum which they want to use as a power block to determine what happens in the party they abandoned since PDP lost the last election.
There are strong indications that PDP leaders perceive the new ex-ministers forum as of nuisance value to the party as their position was not even taken into cognisance when the party leaders met on Tuesday where a truce was reached. At the meeting representatives of all the constitutionally recognised statutory organs of the party were present. But the ex-ministers were totally ignored by the PDP leaders. While the ex-ministers were issuing a communiqué asking for the removal of Modu Sheriff, the PDP leaders were busy addressing the media that the crisis is over, which suggests irresistibly that the ex-ministers are not on same page with PDP leaders at various levels.
Addressing journalists at the end of the meeting, the chairman of the PDP Governors Forum, Dr Olusegun Mimiko said the crisis in the party is over as all the statutory organs of the party have reached a consensus to support the new national chairman of the party.
He said: “As you can see, we are just from a meeting. You are all aware of some controversy generated recently because of recent developments in our party. I am happy to let you know that all the major organs in the party: the Governors Forum, National Working Committee, National Assembly Caucus and the Board of Trustees have agreed to stand by our National Chairman to ensure that our party moves forward.
“We have put behind us all the controversies in the press in recent times. I want to assure you that we are together as a party.
“We have also mandated the National Chairman and the National Working Committee to put in motion immediately the processes of ensuring that within three months, a National Convention of our party is called. And we will brief all our members nationwide within the next two weeks of the timetable in that direction. In the next two weeks, the timetable will be out, all cumulating in our National Convention within three months.”
Mimiko hinted that the PDP does not recognized anything called ex-ministers’ form while responding to a question.
His words; “All I can tell you is that every past minister is a product of the state caucus of the party. They emanate from the state. The caucus of the party is all designed that every state is represented by the chairman of the party.
“Secondly, all the key organs in the party are also represented in the caucus. The governors are there, National Assembly members, National Working Committee members, BoT members are there. And I tell you that every governor, NWC member, member of the National Assembly emanate from the state organ of the party. And all state chairmen are members of the Caucus, they are members of NEC. They were part and parcel of the decision that led to this controversy. And everything is going on very well. There is no problem.”
With this statement from Mimiko the ex-ministers may as well jettison their forum, moreso since most members of the PDP alleged that most of the ministers from outside the South South and South East could not deliver their Wards during the last general election.