ENUGU— Second Republic Vice President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, yesterday, put the blame for the crisis in the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP to the hijack of the party by members strange to its core philosophy.
Ekwueme, a founding father of the PDP particularly cited the membership re-registration exercise conducted under the stewardship of former President Olusegun Obasanjo as the genesis of the crisis.
The former vice president added that he sometimes felt like weeping for the party, PDP.
Ekwueme spoke in Enugu, yesterday, when the Prof. Jerry Gana-led Strategy Review and Interparty Relations Committee of the PDP presented its report to him in Enugu.
Ekwueme said: “The story of PDP makes me sometimes to weep. When our founding fathers said the party will be in charge for 60 years or more, some thought they were just bragging. PDP was packaged to be a mass movement of all Nigerians just like the ANC of South Africa.
Genesis of PDP’s current situation
“We started that way, the first election in 1998, December 5, we won massively across the country, we took control of 28 out of 36 states, In 1999, we ended up with 21 of the 36 governors. South-East and South-South were all PDP, 10 of the 19 governors of the north were PDP, it was a strong showing.
“We also had control of the National Assembly. With that showing, all we needed to do was to manage the party properly as envisaged by the founding fathers, making it a mass movement and expanding its power base.
“Unfortunately, some people, who did not know how the party was formed or what informed its philosophy, got involved in the party and decided to convert it to a personal estate without regard to the underpinning principles that formed it and gradually, we started to lose ground.
“At one stage, in my state, they decided to commence the re-registration of members so as to exclude members, who they thought were not in their camp. Instead of attracting more members, they decided to exclude. That was the genesis of our present situation, coupled with lack of internal democracy.
“I can’t remember how many times I’ve been called to spearhead the process of bringing back people to our party. That was what late Umaru Yar’Adua invited me to do as soon as he took over as president. We went round all the six zones, met with aggrieved members, unfortunately, Yar’Adua passed on and that initiative was not conclusively implemented.”
Party’ll get back to where it started
The PDP founding father, however, said he was happy that after the debacle of 2015, there has been the need for retrospect as evidenced by the strategy committee and the move to bring it back to its original plan.
He promised to take time to read the report, noting that with the calibre of members of the committee, the party will get back to where it started, if the recommendation is fully implemented.
We’ll revive it and win back power by 2019— Wali
Meanwhile, Nigeria’s former Ambassador to China and former Foreign Affairs Minister, Alhaji Aminu Wali, who presented the report to the former vice president, said the report had addressed the party’s woes, which he said would help revive the party.
Wali said: “Impunity, party discipline, impositions and intra-party probems were looked into and solutions preferred. We’ve presented the report to the caretaker committee. We’ve learnt our lessons, the indiscipline that bedevilled the party over the years were tackled.
“We want to rebrand our party and get back to the visions of the founding fathers which made the party a winning party. We will revive the party and win back power by 2019.”
On mega party
On the issue of the upcoming mega party, Wali said: “PDP has always been a mega party; find out the personalities behind the so-called mega party. I don’t want to dwell on that because it’s not really a serious effort. They don’t understand how parties are formed. It’s going to be very difficult forming a mega party.”
A member of the committee and Chairman of Daar Communications, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, said PDP was formed by eminent citizens, who set out to build a strong party for Nigeria with well packaged people-oriented policies of government.
He said: “But we made mistake and lost 2015 polls, that loss opened our eyes to the problems in the party, hence the setting up of this strategy review and inter party relations committee.”
“The committee presented a report and members were broken into 11 syndicates on various aspects including coming up with a new manifesto for the party and ways of addressing imposition, internal party democracy.
“We’ve addressed the problems in our report, we want to return the party to Nigerians, we apologize to them on any way we’ve failed them, we shall correct those mistakes and re present ourselves to them. We want to get the youths and the women to play prominent roles.
He noted that there is no faction in the party, describing those claiming to be in a faction as dissidents.
“There are a few dissidents who have right to express themselves. Our governors, senators, state chairmen, trustees are all with the caretaker committee. There’s no faction. We are all heading to Port Harcourt to get final decision from court on the matter by Friday, 17, February.”