By SUNDAY ODIBASHI
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) appears to be facing the temptation of falling into a major trap that costed the party the 2015 general elections, particularly, the loss of the president, as the opposition party works out new template for selection of candidates. It irrational that at a time the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) had modified the delegate system to direct primary in electing governorship candidates of the party for 2019 elections, the PDP is considering the more anachronistic model of consensus process to nominate a highly sensitive candidate for the 2019 presidential election in 2019.
From 1998 to 2011, the PDP had always nominated its presidential candidate through delegates election. As commanding as former President Olusegun Obasanjo was perceived to be, he still allowed the delegates election process while seeking second term ticket of the PDP. The process prevailed in the emergence of late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in 2007, and former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2011.
The only year PDP failed to conduct primary election to nominate its presidential candidate, the party also failed to win the elections.
The Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria (TAN) were funded by certain politicians to mount intimidating campaigning across the country for the re-election of former President Jonathan. Coordinators of TAN collected signatures of those endorsing Jonathan for second tern from the various states, at the end the signatures were found to be misleading and pretentious. Jonathan lost to All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari.
The activities of TAN was so intimidating that many PDP leaders thought the deal had been sealed and there was no need for primary election to elect the party’s presidential candidate, even amidst serious conflicts in the party. Thereafter, some PDP leaders left for the APC while others who stayed behind later betrayed Jonathan the party in the general elections.
The adoption of Jonathan as consensus candidate clearly closed the democratic space, shut the door of opportunity for others who would have given the fight for the ticket a trial even when they know the ticket was meant for one person. The fulfilment from democratic decision was cut short be the decision of endorsing Jonathan as PDP consensus candidate in 2015 and the tragedy made history in Nigeria’s political development.
National Daily gathered that Alhaji Walid Jibrin, WaziriNasarawa, Chairman PDP Board of Trustees (BoT) is muting the idea of guiding the party to adopt a consensus presidential candidate for 2019. The BoT Chairman was said to have indicated preparedness to meet with all PDP presidential aspirants to discuss the possibility of picking a consensus candidate.
National Daily further gathered that Walid Jibrin, at a press conference in Kaduna, midweek, remarked that if the aspirants do not agree on a consensus candidate, PDP will then be left with no choice than to conduct primary election.
The PDP BoT Chairman maintained that despite the number of persons involved in the race for the PDP ticket, only one person will get the ticket.
Walid Jibrin had declared: “Efforts are on ground by BoT to bring all the PDP presidential aspirants together to consider how best they should accept one of them to stand, realising that despite their number, only one person will emerge as a candidate during the primaries and also only one person will emerge as the president of Nigeria.
“We have men and women of honour in the BoT that will never sell their conscience, and ensure that the best will come out of the presidential aspirant without fear and favour.
“I urge all organs of the party to partner with BoT in this respect. I call on all members of PDP to remain calm and resolute by remaining unshaken with the belief that PDP will take over government at the federal and states with majority of our members in National Assembly and state assemblies.
“While we do this, we will also consider the role played by our old and hardworking existing members who supported the party almost to the point of death.
“No decampee should be pushed away for now. We shall apply conflict management resolution methodology to enable us remain stronger.
“We must at all cost use sacrifice. In the light of the above, PDP shall never condone campaign of calumny against us by the APC as more of their members continue to decamp to PDP.”
There looms fresh crisis; how would the4 PDP BoT convince the majority aspirants that one person is better than the rest of them; what parameter would the party adopt to assess or eliminate the candidates. The temptation and trappings could be dangerous.