With 2023 fast approaching and as political activities begin to gather momentum, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) finds itself in a modest position of opposition. The party which ruled Nigeria for 16 years was torn apart largely by ethnic sentiments which most of its leaders held to heart.
At the inception of the party, its leaders entered into a gentleman’s agreement to rotate political power between the North and the South. From ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, the party played along this agreement. But it was shattered when the late and former President Umar Yar’adua who was on the exalted seat as a representative of the North took ill and later died. This made power to unexpectedly return to the South in 2010. The then Vice President, Goodluck Jonathan, became Acting President and later President, following Yar’adua’s sudden death and his (Jonathan) subsequent victory at the 2011 presidential elections.
Going into 2023, the PDP must strategically work to heal the broken hearts of aggrieved members, especially those who saw Jonathan’s emergence as a fissure in the rotation agreement. This internal wrangling within the PDP was largely responsible for its defeat by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the exit of several of its members, including five serving governors.
Although the PDP laid the foundation for rotation tradition, it has recently been playing hide and seek over its zoning formula, especially since its Committee on the Review of 2019 general election led by Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed, recommended that the presidential ticket be thrown open to interested aspirants from both North and South.
Also, the outcome of the recent PDP national convention – in Abuja which produced Senator Iyorchia Ayu (North) as the in-coming national chairman has given a fresh incentive for the party to pick its presidential candidate from the South.
On the other hand, the body language of the ruling APC suggests that the party will most likely zone its ticket to the South. In agreement with this, majority of all the aspirants that have indicated interest in contesting for the APC national chairmanship are from the North. The support of APC governors for power shift to the South in 2023 is also a strong indication of the direction the party is going.
Since his exit from presidential office in 2015, ex- President Goodluck Jonathan has enjoyed deserved accolades and is being celebrated as Africa’s icon of peace. The former Bayelsa governor displayed a high level of democratic maturity when he conceded power to a new government in 2015, even when he could rally his way back into re-election, especially with the power of incumbency.
Ordinary Nigerians and even the political class who have compared his administration with the current one, have now told their inner conscience that he is a better and sellable candidate. Thus, APC leaders and governors have already beamed their searchlight to the South for a residential ticket and have been wooing Jonathan to join the party.
Jonathan’s popularity has been on an upward scale since his peaceful handover in 2015, which many say saved the country from being plunging into anarchy. The PDP must leverage on this and do the needful.
“One good way to make progress in this regard is to strengthen government institutions to improve integration, equity, and social inclusion in our various nations,” Jonathan said.
He is loved all over the country, even in the North which is considered a hard nut to crack for a Southern Presidential candidate. The hero welcome he got in Sokoto when he went to condole the Dasuki family was unprecedented, with the teeming crowd carrying placards and asking him to return to the Presidency. The former leader also has good followership in the South. Most of, if not all the PDP governors in the region will no doubt join him if he decides to run for the highest office again.
By Hassan Ibrahim, who is a Development Expert based in Karu, FCT, Abuja