The PDP Midlife Crisis: An Abstract! By Olaleye Olawale

For many and as with institutions, the time to start the journey of self-discovery and perhaps personal growth usually comes after a later-life crisis. It is the stage people reconcile their reality with their fears for a reassessment of what is possible and important in their lives.

From state to state, the challenges of leadership that the PDP faces are not something to gloss over when juxtaposed with what is at stake, especially its survival as it appears the most potent opposition party for now.

Take a trip to Imo, Rivers, Edo, and several other states, you’ll discover that the party’s choices in the local politics of the states are responsible for where it is today. Sadly, this is not about to change, which also presupposes that the crisis may linger more than many can imagine.

In Imo, for instance, how does any genuinely serious party encourage the utter impunity that defines its subsisting political complications? The National Secretary, Samuel Anyanwu, sat on his position on one leg and hijacked the party’s governorship ticket on another.

Yet, not one of the elders and leaders saw that a disaster was loading. In other words, Anyanwu ate his cake and still had it. But should that matter have even gone to court, had the party leadership known its onions and lived up to billing? Maybe not.

The judiciary can pass for another “freelance political party” since it always acts like an interested party to cases. Seeking justice in court lately might as well be a sheer waste of time. Corruption seems to have cast an invisible nest in that critical arm of government.

Talk about Rivers. Isn’t it a standard practice that the sitting governor of a state is the leader of the party in the state, automatically? Why is Sim Fubara subservient to a lesser authority in his own case? Even if for the optics alone, shouldn’t the PDP have pretended and managed the tendencies better?

But the case in Rivers is different. A former governor and Minister of the FCT, Nyesom Wike, has been handed the party’s leadership in Rivers. You do this and expect peace? Whatever happened to political solutions that encourage a sharing formula, presenting a win-win situation in the worst-case scenario. But it appears the PDP is intentional about killing itself.

The crisis in Edo has been present from the first day Governor Godwin Obaseki crossed over to the party. Also, the clash of interests as being stoked by the “demigod” from Rivers is deliberate.

Truth be said, the negotiation that brought Obaseki into PDP was done top-down and not bottom-up. It disregarded the local content. How this would not affect the September election is yet to be seen. The battle is far from being over.

Different scenarios with peculiarity to the states abound. But the most profound, which kneels comfortably on the neck of the PDP and causing it breathing difficulty is the presidential consideration, which has stirred many interests in the party. It may also define its fate, ultimately.

There’s no gainsaying the fact that Wike’s attitude, against his party in the run-up to the 2023 elections, was repulsive, resentful, and highly reprehensible. Not many decent people could have tolerated such habitual indiscipline, empty haughtiness, and crass insolence exhibited by the new landlord of Abuja. Not even the president.

But looking back and through the window of time, the presidential candidate of the party, Atiku Abubakar, could also have better managed things, if his eyes were truly fixed on the prize – the big picture.

There’s no doubting the fact that Wike wasn’t doing anything for the sake of the party, love of the country, or even in God’s name. It was all self-serving, the reason he didn’t think twice before trading off the party, and all there was, just because things didn’t go his way.

If anyone ever doubted Wike’s real intentions, some of the developments since the elections have exposed his otherwise hidden motive. Apart from his attitudinal inconsistency, evidenced by palpable character flaws, his sole desire has been to continually grab power and remain relevant. After all, he also wants to be president. A tailored career politician without a second address.

Curiously, he has also discovered that Atiku, too, has made his presidential bid somewhat a do-or-die affair, reason it is easy for Wike to divide the party without much ado. He appears to have a number of people behind him, who have bought into the narrative that all Atiku is working towards is to run for the presidency again in 2027.

Riding on the back of this seeming poverty of ambition believed to being exhibited by the former vice-president, many people in the PDP, including the governors do not want to serve Atiku again by seeing him fly the party’s flag in 2027.

For as long as Turaki’s body language suggests he is still interested in the nation’s top job, the conspiracy against him would remain oxygenated and Wike would continue to maintain the upper hand in the battle for the soul of the PDP.

This is the crux of the matter messing with the future of the PDP and the only way to change the tide is if Atiku could offer himself as the sacrificial lamb: stand down his ambition and step forward to drive the much-needed reorganisation of the party as its leader.

The 2027 election is going to be much tougher for the PDP. The incumbent president, Bola Tinubu, is believed to have been consolidating ferociously. Not only that, his party is fast encroaching on the other vulnerable opposition groups to keep a solid membership and support base.

In fact, there is a joke among some politicians now that while the opposition parties are struggling to seek their place in the 2027 political season, President Tinubu, had since left that station and is actually working on his likely successor for 2031 poll instead. That’s the nature of the current political extrapolations that seem to be guiding projections into the foreseeable future.

For the PDP to make any impact at all, it has to start now, and the hope of the possibility of luck smiling on it begins with Atiku making the big sacrifice. If he fails to lead by example through this personal sacrifice and in collective interest, the 2027 poll might be a walkover for the ruling party.

Look at it this way. The Labour Party is supposedly being tinkered with from the outside and may never really recover from its current ordeal. The stage has been set for its destabilisation. People suspect the ruling party.

A similar fate is fast beckoning on the PDP, and Wike is the canon folder here. To move forward, therefore, the PDP has to put individual ambition behind it and put its house in order. But Atiku must lead the charge.

Even if the major opposition groups ever considered the idea of a merger, alliance, alignment, or realignment, ambition is the nemesis waiting for them on the other side. In other words, whichever options they seek to embrace, they must first push ambition to the backstage with Atiku as the rallying point. Atiku must understand that he is the main issue.

You can argue that Tinubu is overrated in terms of governance and/or administration, where he grandstands a lot of the time. But when it comes to politics – real-time politics – and near-accurate projections, even Atiku knows that is Tinubu’s turf, and he knows it well. While age and health might have taken heavy toll on him in many areas, not a tissue of his political reflexes is affected yet.

If the PDP still wants to continue to pride itself as Nigeria’s GOP, certain difficult decisions must be taken, and that includes sacrifices on the part of some people, Atiku being the number one.

The moment Atiku hints at the possibility of dropping his rumoured 2027 presidential bid by renouncing it, he’d see that even the governors playing hanky-panky would fall in line and turn away from the enfant terrible of Rivers.

Otherwise, at the end of the day, all the talk about the country heading in a one-party state would be no one’s fault but their inability to properly think and come up with an organised action plan.

Tinubu, everyone knows, cannot tolerate the opposition and would do everything to kill it. Needless to say, it is within his right to play that politics for as long as the opposition is unthinking, disunited, and disorganised. That is not his problem. After all, it’s all about the survival of the fittest.

Taken together, the opposition will continue to be its own enemy, for as long as it remains thoughtless. The ruling party is just helping their clash of ignorance and division to fester like the gangrene, and that’s fairplay.

After all, all is fair in war. But if the opposition is serious about its comeback bid, then it should play the politics tributary to actualising it.

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