The new year, 2021, will present some challenges and political milestones that would shape Nigeria’s political landscape ahead of the 2023 general elections.
No doubt, both the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) would be holding their national conventions within the year to elect new crop of National Working Committee (NWC) members.
Pundits say the two big parties would face hurdles in 2021, sequel to political twists and turns of 2020 and other unresolved issues begging for solutions.
Ahead of the 2023 general elections, the PDP would have to stem its internal squabbles and wave of crises rocking its state chapters.
The Kano, Adamawa, Nasarawa, Lagos, Ogun, Osun, Ekiti, Niger, Plateau, Cross River, Ebonyi and Edo chapters of the party are entangled in intense crises as party stalwarts have continued to battle over the control of structures in their states.
Plateau, Osun, Ekiti and Ebonyi chapters are already enmeshed in litigations over who would control the party.
Apart from the various crises in the state chapters, another crisis is raging in the South-West as a former governor of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose and the incumbent governor of Oyo State, Seyi Makinde, are on the warpath over who leads the party in the zone.
The Ekiti State chapter of the party is running a parallel executive as Fayose and Senator Olujimi are at daggers-drawn over the control of party structures.
The same scenario is playing out in Kano State, where a former governor of the state, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso and Aminu Wali are in supremacy battle.
In Lagos, the Deji Doherty-led group and Chief Bode George are battling over who takes charge of the party’s machinery.
In Ebonyi, the defection of Governor Dave Umahi to the ruling APC has sparked the dissolution of the party’s executive in the state, leading to a litigation.
Cross River and Edo chapters of the party are also having their own fair share of internal squabbles.
These have led to the constitution and inauguration of a national reconciliation committee headed by former Senate President Bukola Saraki.
Analysts say the Saraki-led reconciliation committee and other organs of the party must act fast before the crises consume the party.
The PDP also has the challenge of remodelling its manifesto this year to conform with the current socio-economic and political realities in the country.
Credible sources told our correspondent in Abuja that the planned review of the party’s manifesto was sequel to intense pressure to meet the exigencies of the time.
Some members of the National Executive Committee (NEC), which is the second-highest decision-making organ of the party, confirmed to our correspondent that the NWC would constitute a manifesto review committee this year to add more weight and value to it.
“We are going to inject fresh blood into our manifesto before 2023. We need a more robust manifesto. We must rebuild our manifesto in such a way that will capture the demography and further strengthen the participation of members,” a source said.
He said governors, members of the Board of Trustees (BoT), NEC, National Caucus, NWC, former ministers and governors would form the review committee.
It is imperative to state that the PDP had a rough road to 2021 and is still grappling with avalanche of challenges threatening its existence.
Another challenge for the party is zoning of offices and the 2023 presidential ticket. The tenure of the Prince Uche Secondus-led NWC would elapse in December 2021 when an elective national convention would be held for new national officers to emerge for a term of four years.
Pundits say zoning would determine the survival or chances of the party to reclaim power in 2023.
The national convention, which is the highest decision-making organ of the PDP will, among other things, ratify the zoning formula for chairmanship and presidency and adopt the party’s amended manifesto this year.
Some party top shots had attributed the defeat of former President Goodluck Jonathan at the 2015 presidential poll to the failure to maintain its zoning arrangement.
Daily Trust on Sunday reports that the situation in the PDP, considering zoning, is dicey as there are discordant tunes over which zone should field the party’s presidential candidate in 2023.
The national chairman of the party, Secondus, told newsmen recently in Abuja that the party was yet to reach any decision on zoning.
The ruling APC also has its challenges to contend with, as some of its state chapters, including Zamfara, Rivers, Cross River, among others, are neck-deep in crises.
The heightened crisis in the APC had led to the dissolution of the Adams Oshiomhole-led NWC on June 25, 2020 by the NEC, with the nod of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Sequel to the dissolution, a 13-member Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, led by Yobe State Governor Mai Mala Buni, was sworn-in to run the party and organise a national convention within six months.
The development sparked legal issues as a caretaker committee is alien to the party’s constitution. The NEC, however, ordered all members to withdraw pending cases and not to institute fresh ones.
But five months into Buni’s administration, a former national vice chairman, South-South, Ntufam Hilliard Eta, instituted a suit in an Abuja High Court against the party.
In a suit he filed on November 26, 2020 through his lawyer, Onyechi Ikpeazu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Eta is challenging the dissolution of the Comrade Adams Oshiomhole-led NWC, which he was part of.
He also asked the court for an order of injunction to restrain the Buni-led caretaker committee from functioning as the national leadership of the party, arguing that it is not recognised by the party’s constitution.
But another NEC meeting, which was held on December 8, 2020 at the Presidential Villa, expelled Eta for flouting the directive of the party’s NEC.
Daily Trust on Sunday gathered that the decision stemmed from the notion that he was allegedly being sponsored by opposition elements to destabilise the ruling party ahead of 2023. He, however, dispelled the claims.
While the case is still active in court, pundits say the leadership of the party has the challenge of tackling the issue as some stalwarts and lawyers argue that he has a good case.
Our correspondent also learnt that the party was proposing amendments to its constitution this year to bring sanity and discipline among card-carrying members.
The Buni-led committee’s timeline was extended at the December 8 NEC meeting by another six months. The committee is expected to, within the period, reconcile all aggrieved members, complete the new membership registration and revalidation exercise and organise a national convention.
Another contentious issue in the party is zoning, which is causing ripples among leaders in the North and South.
Some stakeholders said there was a gentlemanly pact prior to the 2015 general elections, that at the expiration of President Buhari’s tenure in 2023, the party’s ticket would go to the South.
A former governor of Lagos State and current Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola, in an interview with newsmen recently in Abuja, said the party should honour the agreement.
But declaring his intention to contest the 2023 presidential election on the platform of the APC in an interview with newsmen recently in Abuja, a former governor of Zamfara State, Ahmad Sani Yarima, said there was no such agreement.
“I don’t think there is anything like agreement. You can ask Mr President, he led the group, Asiwaju was there; I was part of it.
There was no meeting I didn’t attend or any meeting I attended that there was such agreement. Agreement can’t be verbal, it has to be written. In any case, any agreement that is contrary to laws of this country is not an agreement.
The constitution is very clear. We are in a democracy and it is governed by processes, procedures and laws.
The constitution of Nigeria doesn’t recognise anything called zoning, likewise the constitution of the APC. If there is that agreement, why didn’t we put it in the constitution?’’ He argued.
It is left to be seen how the party would tackle the challenges before the election year.