PDP: It is finished

It is now official. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has finally lost its place as the ruling party in Nigeria.

The final nail on the party, which suffered a devastating defeat at the presidential election, was its poor showing at the April 11 governorship elections.

Of the 29 states where elections held last weekend across the country, PDP, which ruled the country for 16 years, managed to win only eight, corresponding with the results of the House of Assembly election.

PDPAlthough the party was able to salvage some pride by retaining its states in the South-South and South-East, it lost grip in some states which it hitherto had control.

It was a poor showing for the party at the North Central region as the APC had a clean sweep. The PDP lost control of former strongholds- Benue, Niger, Kogi and Plateau States, even as the APC maintained its grip in Nasarawa and Kwara.

Its performance in the North East region was not any better, the party touted as Africaís biggest, was routed in Adamawa and Kaduna states by the All Progressives Congress (APC), Nigeriaís incoming ruling party. Elections in Taraba were still inconclusive as at press time, although the PDP looks poised to retain the state. It also managed to retain control of Gombe state.

In the South West, the PDP bounced back in Ekiti and Ondo states. Although there was no governorship election, in both states, the party won 25 of the 26 seats in the State House of Assembly election in Ekiti and also took 19 out of 26 seats in Ondo.

However, in Lagos, Oyo and Ogun states were governorship elections held, the APC remained the peopleís choice.

The South-East and South-South expectedly produced the PDPís best outing. Of the eight states where elections held in both regions, PDP has comfortably won in six, with results of Abia and Imo still pending.

ìThe PDP is a party for all and it is set to rule Nigeria for the next 60 years. I don’t care if Nigeria becomes a one-party state. We can do it and the PDP can contain allî.

It was a former chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Vincent Ogbulafor, that made the above statement in 2008, boasting of the capacity of his party to control the Federal Government until 2068.

At the time he said it, he had genuine reasons. First, the PDP was in control of 29 out of 36 states of the federation, with only Lagos, Anambra, Bauchi, Borno, Edo, Kano and Yobe states not in its then well endowed kitty.

The dominance of the party had started in 2003 after the PDP successfully captured five states in the South West, Ondo, Ekiti, Oyo, Ogun and Osun. It could not however pull the same feat in Lagos, a jinx that has continued to haunt the party since 1999.

Its grip on the central government was also firm.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, after eight years in the saddle, was succeeded by late Umar Musa Yarí Adua, also of the PDP.

Yarí Aduaís victory was a defining moment for the party. It was its third successful victory at the presidential polls over the opposition.

At the National Assembly, the party also held sway. Since 1999 it has controlled the majority at both the House of Representatives and the Senate, while the opposition parties have had to play the minority.

The PDPís control of power at the centre, the state level and the National Assembly looked unassailable as it not only resonated, but restricted the power of the opposition parties to the regions.

While the defunct Action Congress (AC) held sway in the South West, the now rested All Peoples Party (APP, later All Nigeria Peoples Party) and All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) were in control of the North and South East respectively.

But the fortunes of the party began to nosedive shortly before the 2011 elections

The first indicator came in 2010 when the PDP lost two states via election tribunals, when the victory of Olusegun Oni of Ekiti State and Olagunsoye Oyinlola of Osun state were upturned within a space of one month, returning the mandate to Kayode Fayemi and Rauf Aregbesola respectively.

In the 2011 elections, the fortunes of the PDP further dimmed in the South West.

Against all odds, the AC which had metamorphosed to become Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) battled hard and displaced the PDP in Ogun and Oyo States, while it continued its winning streak in Lagos. This swelled the number of states controlled by the ACN to six, including Edo state.

Despite its rally at the governorship elections, its quest to stop the PDP at the presidential election remained elusive.

Yet again, the PDP convincingly defeated the opposition parties to retain its control of the federal government.

While the PDP celebrated its feat, the opposition went back to the drawing board to rethink its strategy.

What was however notable was the impressive show of the presidential candidate of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Muhammadu Buhari.

Despite the CPC coming on board six months to the elections, and without any control in any state, polled over 12 million votes.

The ACN which boasted of six states came a distance third as its candidate, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu could only manage about four million votes nationwide.

Before the elections, a last minute plan by the two parties to merge had hit the brick wall. Nevertheless, post-2011, the two parties, went back to the dialogue room to ponder on a possibility of forming a merger.

Teaming up with the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and a segment of APGA, a merger was formed after nearly two years of extensive consultation and planning. On February 6, 2013, the All Progressives Congress (APC) was successfully birthed.

Five months later, the APC also got approval from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to become a political party and subsequently withdrew the operating licenses of the three predecessor parties (the ACN, CPC and ANPP).

The interpretation of the merger meant that for the first time in the fourth republic, there was one formidable opposition.

The merger had an instant impact in the National Assembly as legislators in the House of Reps and Senate became lawmakers under the new party.

But the PDP laughed off the success of the merger.

Special Assistant to President Jonathan on Public Affairs, Doyin Okupe, aside tagging the APC a conglomerate of strange bedfellows, gave the party only six months before its eventual breakup.

The party however weathered its teething problems and trudged on.

The effects of the merger did not take too long before it began to affect the PDP gradually.

Less than a year after its formation, the APC scored big.

On November 26, 2013, five aggrieved governors of the PDP: Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), Rabiu Kwakwanso (Kano), Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara) and Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto), dumped the party for the APC, citing several issues of mistrust and betrayal within the ranks of the ruling party.

The move impacted on the National Assembly where 49 legislators joined the ranks of 137 legislators in the APC as a result of the prior merger.

This initially gave the APC a slim majority of 186 legislators in the Lower House out of a total of 360 legislators; however, subsequent political wrangling and pressure from political factions and interests outside the National Assembly of Nigeria, gave the party only 37 additional legislators, thus giving the APC a nominal majority of 172 out of 360 Legislators, as opposed to the PDP’s 171.

Rather than activate the process to pacify the aggrieved governors, the party, through its former National Secretary, Prof. Adewale Oladipo, dismissed the effects of the defection, predicting that the marriage between the aggrieved governors and the APC would not last.

Oladipo had boasted that the governors will come knocking on the door of the PDP after May 29.

President Jonathan did not also do enough to bring the governors back to the fold.  Gradually, the defection began to tell.

It first came to bare in the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) where the APC governors numbering 19 elected Governor Amaechi to return as Chairman. But 16 governors of the PDP refused to accept the result and in turn formed their own faction which saw Governor Jonah Jang of Plateau state as factional chairman.

The effects of the defections of the governors to a large affected the fortunes PDP in the states which the governors defected.

Though, the PDP reclaimed Adamawa after Governor Nyako was impeached by the State House of Assembly, it didnít do much to help the course of the PDP in the state.

Following the defection of the governors was the recent tussle between President Jonathan and former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, which culminated in the latter, dumping the PDP few months to the elections.

Obasanjo was said to be displeased at the nonchalant attitude of President Jonathan to unite the party.

The PDP went into the 2015 elections with high hopes that it would continue its winning streak despite the opposition.

In a bid to match the PDP in the 2015 polls, the APC took its manifesto across the length and breadth of the nation, even in the South East and South, the strongholds of the PDP.

The PDP, meanwhile, had been enmeshed in several internal wrangling, power tussle and divisiveness, forcing some big wigs to dump the party.

Not even a reconciliation committee set up by the party could do enough to address the rancor.

Buhariís emergence as the presidential candidate of the APC further rattled the PDP.

Though the party had dismissed the chances of Buhari having lost in the 2003, 2007 and 2011 elections to the PDP, there were feelers within the hierarchy of the party that the challenge posed by the APCís presidential candidate will be formidable.

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