Taking the dual advantage of recent resolution of its national leadership tussle and an unending crisis within the ruling party, opposition PDP looks set to reclaim the political power it lost in Kogi State two years ago.
Compared to the ruling All Progressives Party (APC), the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) looks more determined, in terms of cohesiveness, organizational structure and oneness of purpose, to win the next contest for the tenancy of the Lord Lugard House, Lokoja seat of Kogi State’s political power.
Recent events within the PDP have left no one in doubt about the dexterity of the party’s leadership for political re-engineering to regain its foothold given its seriousness and vision to return to power.
Coming immediately after the victory of the Senator Ahmed Makarfi leadership at the Supreme Court, the recent stakeholders meeting of the party in Lokoja, the state capital, might just be a watershed to greater things to come for the PDP in Kogi.
Despite the grounds they have lost to the APC, the leaders of PDP have proved doubting Thomases wrong that they can work together and leverage their comparative advantages for the common interest of their party going by the ease with which they convened the meeting within a very short notice with all prominent leaders in attendance.
Like politicians still in control of political power, they had held similar a meeting on March 5, 2017 where they resolved to embark on grassroots sensitization and fresh renewal of the party’s strength. With this renewed resolve that was buoyed by the apex court decision, the party was bold enough to issue a quit notice to the APC.
The leaders also directed PDP members to replicate the stakeholders meeting at ward levels down to polling units in order to carry everybody along in their determination to win the next poll.The party also challenged the APC government to conduct council election in line with the constitution of the country saying that there is no room for caretakers for the Local Governments.
Before its defeat, the PDP as a political platform was very formidable in the state and most of the members have been lying low waiting for the crises at the national level to be resolved.And with an endemic crisis plaguing the rank of the APC since its assumption of power in 2015, the PDP, which has lost its voice for about two years, is already capitalizing on the situation.
The leadership of the ruling party has not been at peace with the state governor, Yahaya Bello, leading to their relocation to Abuja from where they have been playing the role of opposition to their own leader in the state. The major issue of contention emanated from the way and manner Bello emerged after the demise of the APC candidate in the 2015 governorship election Prince Abubakar Audu, mid way into the collation of the results in which he was coasting to victory.
Bello, who became the substitute in a highly controversial high wire politicking and litigation up to the apex court, won the supplementary election and was inaugurated on January 27th, 2016.The APC has since then been in disarray as most of those who worked hard for the victory have been alienated with no patronage from the governor who was alleged of deliberate stifling the party to build a new set of loyalists unknown to the politics of the platform.
At the PDP meeting, the opposition party recognized the crack as a window of opportunity for it to wax stronger and take over the state from an uncoordinated and crisis-ridden ruling party. They pledged a better deal for the people of Kogi, different from the non-payment of salary and pensions that is currently the order of the day with the ruling APC, if they are entrusted with power once again in 2020.
They also promised to tap from the painful lessons learnt from their defeat occasioned by lack of internal party democracy by doing away with impunity and respecting the party’s constitution and the will of the majority.
Immediate past governor, Captain Idris Wada said he will not repeat the mistakes of the past because the party had gone through a lot of things in the last two years, adding that all those who betrayed the PDP in the last general election are already suffering and seeking a return to the party. Wada urged members to remain determined to rebuilding and repositioning the party for the next contest while assuring them that the PDP will not lose elections again in the state.He called on party executives at ward and local government levels to hold similar meetings and sensitize other members on the need to remain loyal to the party.
Also a former governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris who had been a strong political player in the state, announced that the PDP will take over the mantle of leadership in the state in 2020 adding that the leaders have resolved to work together collectively and that from all indications, the members were ready to fight the battle.
He said, “We have learnt our lessons in a very hard way and it was good for us to learn it that way. We would be more conscious of whatever we do to ensure such division does not come up again.“I am interested in working hard to bring back our lost glory because the children are suffering and no father would be happy to see his children suffering. PDP is fully ready to take over in 2020 to salvage Kogi State from impunity and maladministration of the APC administration.”
Also speaking at the event, Senator Tunde Ogbeha said they have not seen any form of development across the state since the APC administration came on board adding, “That means there is no good governance in Kogi and because there is no good governance, we will come back and re-establish leadership.
“We discovered that the civil servants and pensioners are suffering and we urge the governor to have that human milk if kindness in him and be compassionate to pay workers because he cannot say he doesn’t have money. “We are all witnesses to the fact that he collected the bail-out and the two tranches of the Paris club refund and he should use the money to pay salary. All these hiding behind the screen do not help.”
He said those who thought they were decamping to the APC for greener pastures have found themselves in the desert, “with nothing to eat or celebrate. They are just suffering, we are anxious to take them back and we can assure them that there would be comfort in PDP.”In a chat with newsmen after the meeting, Publicity Secretary of the party in the state, Bode Ogunmola urged defectors to return from their fruitless sojourn in APC.
He described the APC government in the state as a total failure stressing that the people, especially civil servants and pensioners, have suffered untold hardship and job loses as a result of unending screening exercise and lack of political will to pilot the affairs of the state. According to him, it is a misnomer to keep public servants and pensioners who have served the state meritoriously, starved for 18 months without salaries and pensions using the screening exercises as face saving measure.
The meeting witnessed a large turnout of party members and supporters that include, aside Idris, Wada and Ogbeha, Senator Ahmed Ogembe, Hon. Emmanuel Egwu, Hon. Tajudeen Yusuf, Patrick Adaba, Hon Yahaya Karaku, Hon Kola Ologbondiyan, Dr Idris Omede, Barrister Kabiru Usman, Malam Zakari Alfa and many other prominent party leaders.
Omede who is immediate past Commissioner for Health said the PDP has come back as one family through the judgment of the apex court.He said it is victory for all, with no victor, no vanquished adding that all should work together to take power back from the APC.According to him, “Some of the factors that led to the abysmal performance of the party are clear to all of us in the experiences that we have gathered. We should revisit those issues so that they are not rekindled again or re-established.
“All forms of impunity, imposition and self-serving interest should be done away with. Party politics is about interest but it should be about overall interest for the generality of the people who are members of the party, not a select few.“We believe that if impunity is addressed and the will of the people prevails, the party will go a long way in establishing itself and regain leadership at various levels.”Commenting on the huge success of the stakeholders’ parley, Omede said “it is a clear indication that PDP members within the state were excited and it was a full house.
“It is a very clear sign that Kogi is still a PDP state and with good planning and fairness, the party will bounce back into the various elective positions.”
The first step to walk the talk in the party’s determination to reclaim the state has also been taken with the inauguration of a seven-man committee to reconcile aggrieved members and to bring back those who had left in Kogi West Senatorial District.
This was the resolution of the party at a meeting held in Kotonkarfe local council as contained in a communiqué signed by Kola Ojo, the District’s party chairman.The communiqué frowned at the non-payment of salaries by the Kogi state government and described the suffering of the citizens as unbearable.
While it noted with concern the huge indebtedness of the state to commercial banks, the party also frowned at alleged infrastructure decay despite the huge amount the government received the last seventeen months. Kogi West PDP also pledged in the communiqué that henceforth, imposition of candidates would be discouraged for open and transparent primaries where consensus is not reached. It also commended the spirit of the members for their resolve to wrest power from the APC in 2020.