The Jigawa State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is neck-deep in crisis with various stakeholders not willing to succumb to reconciliation ahead of the 2023 general elections.
The crisis got to a crescendo a few weeks ago as the party was hit by a gale of defections of its members to the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP).
Similarly, there have been more divisions and protests within the party, a development pundits warn could further spell doom for the party in 2023, if not carefully handled.
Daily Trust had reported how the major opposition party in the state turned against itself after its defeat by the APC.
The 2015 and 2019 PDP governorship candidate and four-time Chief of Staff (CoS) Government House, Aminu Ibrahim Ringim, had protested over the conduct of the election.
He alleged that the leader of the party in the state and former governor, Alhaji Sule Lamido, had sabotaged the elections to clear the way for his biological son, Mustapha, to contest the same seat in 2023.
Mustapha was the PDP senatorial candidate for Jigawa Central in the 2019 general elections. But he lost to the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream) Sabo Mohammed Nakudu of the APC, who is also said to be among those eyeing the governorship seat in his party, come 2023, though he is yet to publicly make his ambition known.
Ringim eventually led a very robust internal opposition within the PDP to wrest the control of the party structures from Lamido until in March 2022 when he defected to the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP).
This was after waging a fruitless legal battle with a view to getting the current leadership of the party in the state nullified.
Among those that defected with him at a well-attended rally at the Dutse township stadium were three ex-senators, four former House of Representatives members, scores of former commissioners, local council chairmen, local government and state party officials, former special advisers and assistants and thousands of supporters.
While the dust of the defections was yet to settle, Mustapha, the heir apparent of the Lamido political dynasty, pulled another crowd at his personal residence in the Asokoro area of the same Dutse, the state capital on March 24, 2022 to declare his intention to seek the nomination of the PDP as its governorship candidate in the 2023 general elections.
Pundits say if the party was truly working hard to reclaim power in the state, it would have worked assiduously to avoid the mass exodus of its members.
Analysts wonder how any serious opposition would allow such high-profile defections hit its base just a year away to the general elections.
Many have wondered how a party that lost an election as a much bigger whole in both 2015 and 2019 would desire to capture power with only a very demoralised fraction of its original self.
Similarly, pundits have asked how the PDP leadership hierarchy and its strategists would still feel comfortable with the alleged controversial aspiration of Mustapha Lamido, that was not only pre-empted and thoroughly discredited since 2019, but which also is at the centre of the party crisis see the light of the day under such an atmosphere of despair and mutual suspicion.
There are already fears that the PDP might not get the right candidates to confront the ruling party in all the three senatorial seats in the state.
It’s imperative to state that all those contacted by the party as its first choice to vie for the Senate seats across the state had allegedly declined the offer because of alleged lack of confidence.
This, many say, was occasioned by the Ringim defection and the Mustapha Lamido’s declaration. But party stalwarts contacted by our correspondent were somewhat reluctant to discuss the matter.
However, the Lamido camp dismissed allegation of imposition and sabotage against their leader as mere campaign to smear him and as excuse to move out of the party because he has insisted on ensuring that the democratic principles are enthroned in the party in the state.
As if this is not enough challenge for the PDP, Bashir Adamu Jumbo, a four-time member of the House of Representatives who represented Kazaure/Roni/Gwiwa/Yankwashi Federal Constituency between 1999 and 2015 has declared his intention to challenge Mustapha Lamido at the party’s primaries for the governorship ticket next month.
Jumbo was said to have come under tremendous pressure from the Lamido’s camp to drop his ambition under a consensus arrangement that was to see to the ceding of the Jigawa North West senatorial seat to him.
He confirmed during a recent radio programme monitored in Dutse that talks had commenced between him and Lamido’s group but eventually went low as a result of activities of some unnamed persons, who he accused of putting a wedge between him and Lamido’s family on the matter.
The other contender, a dyed in the wool Sule Lamido loyalist and a former minister of state for foreign affairs and supervising minister at the federal ministry of information under the Goodluck Jonathan administration, Dr Nuruddeen Muhammad, appeared to have foregone his aspiration quite early in the day when he led a delegation of well-wishers to the PDP headquarters in Abuja on March 28, 2022 to purchase the governorship nomination forms for the younger Lamido.
Lamido’s Special Adviser Media and Publicity, Adamu Muhammad Usman, however, played down the impact of the crisis on Lamido’s political dynasty, insisting that intra-party crisis and intense lobby around elections season were normal.
He also dismissed allegations labelled against his boss while reaffirming the rights of the younger Lamido to aspire for any office he is constitutionally qualified to contest.
He added that Sule Lamido is a thoroughbred politician of the radical left who had struggled all his life to ensure the freedom of ordinary folks to vote and be voted for, saying all he demanded was for others to respect such rights when it comes to his son.
Speaking on the mass defection of party stalwarts and his followers to the NNPP, Usman said Lamido wished them well in their new party and invited them to meet at the ballot where the people of Jigawa would be the ultimate judges.
Political watchers say the PDP in Jigawa, and the national headquarters must work hard to reposition, win new membership and sustain the existing members to win 2023.
The questions on the lips of many are: Is the party ready and capable of this self-healing? And can the PDP survive another four more years of opposition in the state? Well, this is better left for its rank and file to answer.