In what appears to be the acceptance of a direct challenge by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the ruling party has unfolded plans to rebuild the party from its ruin ahead of the 2019 general election.
The APC had on Monday admonished the PDP to stop being a cry baby and come to terms with the cold, hard reality that its fortunes have since plummeted and that it is now in opposition.
This followed lamentations by the chieftains of the PDP over its loss in the March 28 Presidential and National Assembly elections and the April 11 governorships and houses of assembly polls where it was roundly defeated by the opposition party.
But the PDP at a well-attended meeting in Abuja on Wednesday put the disastrous result of the elections behind it and resolved to take the party back to its lofty heights.
Consequently, a committee to reposition the party following its not-too-impressive showing in the recently-held general elections is underway. This is in a fresh bid to rebrand the party and make it strong enough to take over power back from the APC in 2019.
The plan was unfolded at the end of the meeting of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC), National Vice Chairmen and State Chairmen of the PDP in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja.
A communiqué issued at the end of the meeting and signed by Amb. Ibrahim Kazaure and Dr. Emmanuel Agbo for National Vice Chairmen and State Chairmen respectively, indicated that the meeting assessed the outcome of the 2015 general elections and accordingly resolved not to allow the temporary setback affect the party’s contributions to the democratic development of the country.
The meeting also commended and appreciated the patriotic stand taken by President Goodluck Jonathan after the elections as another milestone in the party’s contributions to peace, stability and progress of the nation. But it was quick to condemn the widespread anomalies and irregularities that characterised the elections in most states to the disadvantage of the PDP despite being the incumbent government.
It therefore resolved to give full backing to the various pursuits of redress in this regard within the ambit of the law and tenets of democracy and consequently directed all PDP candidates who believed that they were shortchanged to channel their reports through their state chairmen as it resolved to resist undue harassments, witch-hunt and any form of intimidation or undemocratic tendencies from the opposition aimed at bringing down PDP members psychologically.
Acknowledging the subterranean moves by the APC to undermine the structures of the PDP across the country with the sinister singular motive of allegedly imposing a one-party state in the polity, the meeting strongly cautioned the APC and its leader, General Muhammadu Buhari against any action or inaction that could threaten or erode the gains of democracy and personal freedom that have been established by the PDP government in the last 16 years.
The meeting resolved to galvanise the structures of the party and give full support to PDP candidates in the supplementary governorship elections in Abia, Taraba and Imo states as well as resist any undemocratic plot to manipulate the process against the party.
The meeting called on INEC and other stakeholders involved in the supplementary elections to be forthright, transparent and ensure that the will of the people in the affected states are not in any way subverted.
It resolved to give all necessary support to the national leadership of the party under the chairmanship of Ahmadu Adamu Mu’azu to enable them re-engineer and rebrand the party for the task of regaining power by 2019.
In view of the above, the meeting charged all members of the party to continue to work harmoniously with their leaders at all levels especially at this critical time, while channeling any grievances to the appropriate organs in line with the provisions of the party’s constitution
The meeting condemned in its entirety the attitude of fair-weather and unprincipled members who are rushing to the APC. It noted that such members are saboteurs and moles who worked against the PDP in the general election.
The meeting saluted the courage and faith of committed and dedicated members even in the face of the setbacks and intimidations and assured them of adequate protection of their inalienable rights as citizens in a democracy.
The meeting accordingly resolved to set up special committees on the repositioning of the party.
However in a statement issued in Abuja on Wednesday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, APC urged PDP to stop complaining about alleged harassment and intimidation by the APC, when it should be strategising about the daunting task ahead of it.
It said the truth of the matter is that the PDP is scared stiff of being in opposition, adding: ”We don’t blame them as they have neither the capacity nor the commitment to be in opposition. A party that stood for nothing but looting and rent collection will naturally be afraid of being in opposition, where there is nothing to loot or rent to collect.”
APC advised the PDP to understand that it is not by repeating obvious lies that an opposition party can be effective, but by being creative, knowledgeable, resourceful and above all credible. It is not by cheap blackmail, but by being resilient.
”This is why we wish to extend to the National Working Committee of the PDP a free orientation, just as we have offered the party’s spokesman a free crash course in how to be an opposition party spokesman. The theme of the orientation for the PDP NWC members will
be ‘transiting from the ruling party to an opposition party’
”In the first instance, there is no substitute for experience. Also, we believe that democracy will be deepened only when there is cooperation between the governing party and the opposition, hence the offer,” the party said.
APC slammed the PDP for daring to complain of harassment and intimidation by the APC, saying if any party is guilty of harassment, intimidation and impunity before, during and after the 2015 general elections, it is the PDP.
”Have they so soon forgotten the reckless show of shame by their OPC lackeys with the full support of the Nigeria Police Force in Lagos or the mindless bombings and killings of APC members in Rivers and Gombe states, among others? Only on Monday, APC supporters were again reportedly killed in Rivers and Kaduna states.
”Haven’t the folks in the PDP seen the pictures being circulated of their (PDP) supporters brandishing machetes in broad daylight during the party’s campaign in Aba on Tuesday (21April)?” it queried.
APC also described as laughable the allegation by the PDP that the APC is trying to turn the country into a one-party state by luring and making irresistible offers to the leadership of the PDP.
”The truth of the matter is that the leadership of the PDP is not even waiting to be approached before fleeing to the APC. PDP leaders and members are falling over themselves shamelessly and swearing undying allegiance to the APC. Well, in case they did not get the message of the President-elect and our National Chairman, we want to repeat it in very blunt terms: PDP leaders and members, you are not welcome in APC. Please stay in your party, but if – as we suspect – you cannot survive in opposition, then take a walk, quit politics,” the party said.
APC also reacted to the whining of the PDP concerning alleged plan by the APC to use the Election Petition Tribunals ‘to truncate and subvert the freely given mandate by the people in the states and constituencies’, saying it amounts to blackmail.
”No amount of blackmail from the PDP will dissuade us from seeking redress in the Election Petition Tribunals, especially in states where the whole world knows there were no elections. Since we don’t believe in self-help like the PDP, we see a recourse to the Tribunal as a lawful means of giving vent to our rejection of the massive electoral malfeasance and the resort to violence in some states
”In case the PDP, beaten and battered by electoral pummeling, has forgotten, the recourse to the Tribunals to seek redress is the only lawful means of resolving electoral disputes. Anything else amounts to self-help, which is not our forte,” the party said.