2023: Nigeria PDP In Two-Front War

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In the 2023 general elections, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Nigeria’s political space will prosecute the electoral democratic agenda to come back to power in a fashion akin to a rehash of the Napoleonic war.

In that war, France repeatedly fought on multiple fronts. France fought the Spanish and Anglo-Portuguese armies in the Peninsular war while fighting the Russian Empire at the same time during its invasion of Russia.

Two-front war is a battle of attrition. It takes place on two scenarios and or geographically separate fronts, reducing the odds of success. In World war 1, Germany under Kaiser Wilhelm II fought a two-front war against French, British, Belgian, and later, American forces on the Western Front while simultaneously fighting the Russians on the Eastern Front, until the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 took Russia out of the war.

Germany, unlike the PDP, had foreseen such a scenario; and developed the Schlieffen Plan, a plan intended to ensure German victory over a Franco-Russian alliance by holding off Russia with minimal strength and swiftly defeating France by a massive flanking movement and preempted being surrounded by its enemies.

The PDP soon will transit from intra-party dysfunctional contestation to a full-scale ballot war against itself – the disaffected Governor Nyesom Wike’camp. That alone is a serious vulnerability that has, hitherto, remained a formidable challenge with no easy answers.

Yet, the PDP will rival governing All Progressives Congress, APC, Labour Party, LP, and other fringe political parties over which party and Presidential candidate will occupy Aso Rock Villa, the administrative soul of Nigeria.

The winning stride and public image of the former ruling PDP were rooted in a membership populated by a united galaxy of highly reputed entrepreneurs, technocrats, and retired careerists as witnessed in 1999, 2003, 2007, and 2011. At the end of 2014, the party slipped into an internal crisis; and lost, many of her parliamentarians and stakeholders by defection to the then nascent coalition APC, bolstering its capacity to beat the PDP at the 2015 general elections.

Yet, features of the PDP 2015 Intra-party crisis that degenerated to its resounding defeat through sabotage are waiting in the wings.

The PDP presidential primary is the bane of the internal crisis of the party that pitted Governor Nyesom Wike’s wits against the eventual winner and presidential candidate, former Vice president, Atiku Abubakar. The root of the crisis; never was even the defeat but the arbitrary selection of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa by Atiku as running mate in utter disregard to the recommendation of the party’s special committee made in favour of Wike.

Besides, wike in various fora said Atiku met him soon after the primary with a promise that he would be his running mate and again, that the National chairman of the party, Iyorchia Ayu would resign on his emergence as the standard flagbearer following a predetermined agreement.

Now, Wike holds on firmly to the implementation of the gentlemanly accord especially the resignation of Ayu as a precondition for peace. Wike, now a disaffected Presidential hopeful and Rivers state Governor from the south/south is citing unfairness, injustice, and marginalization from the north against their southern counterpart and stakeholders.

He said the national executive structure of the party is lopsided with Atiku and Ayu coming from the northern part of Nigeria. Appeasement, however, later came with Senator Walid Jibrin who resigned as chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees and in his stead was former Senate president, Adolf Wabara from the south as a replacement.

Yet, Wike is unmoved by an argument that the BOT chairmanship was not an executive position but an advisory.

Not only wike is holding this political position against the PDP and presidential candidate. Some of his associates and colleague governors are involved. Governors Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Samuel Ortom (Benue), and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu) are all disaffected with the PDP structure, presidential candidate, and political agenda.
Other former Governors Donald Duke (Cross River) Gabriel Suswan (Benue), Olusegun Mimiko(Ondo), Ibrahim Idris (Kogi), Jonah Jang (Plateau), and former PDP National Vice Chairman, Southwest zone, Chief Bode George.

With the existing PDP rival sub-structure, it is evident the party is going into a two-front political war. Not a few political pundits affirmed that Atiku has not done enough as the number one leader of the party on the ballot. The negotiations held so far were said to be full of inadequate sincerity conventional for untying a political logjam of interest essentially about a party genuinely seeking a return to power come 2023.

Conversely, the Atiku handlers are accusing Wike of overreaching himself, strengthening their principal to back out from further negotiation with the undertone to call Wike’s bluff. In corroboration, former Ekiti state governor, Ayo Fayose last week told Wike, “For me, I want to believe that His Excellency Atiku Abubakar is not against you. But let me say this quickly, a lot of people surrounding the throne are enemies of the throne.

“A lot of people surrounding the throne have one axe to grind with somebody or some issues with somebody, and they take it to where they are not supposed to take it. There is no living person in the party and outside this party that will not acknowledge your contribution to this party. You are the soul of this party.

“In every political party, there will be grouping, the same family but different interests. We can do better than we are doing. People around the corridor of power, please allow this candidate to win the election. We don’t celebrate victory until it is ours”.

Fayose added that there was the need for Atiku to work to unify the party so that everybody can focus on how to win the 2023 presidential election.

But the reconciliation moves have apparently ended with the appointment of the Sokoto governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal as the Director-General of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council. And the parties are permitted under the regulations released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to start their campaigns on Wednesday, September 28.

Insider sources said Wike’s camp has started considering options on its gambit to the internal political war. But the Wike disaffected group shortly declared to have distanced itself from the Atiku’s constituted Presidential Campaign Council, insisting that the party’s National Chairman, Iyorchia Agu must resign.

This was the outcome of a meeting held September 20 -21, in PortHarcourt, Rivers state capital where not a few PDP stalwarts including Wike, Governor Seyi Makinde, (Oyo), former Governor Ayo Fayose(Ekiti), Former Governor Donald Duke(Cross River), former Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo (Gombe), former Governor Jonah Jang (Plateau), Former Minster of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke, Former PDP southwest leader, Chief Olabode George, Former Communication Minister, Prof. Jerry Gana, South/South PDP chairman, Dan Orbih were in attendance.

Others are former deputy speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Chibudom Nwuche, Senator Suleiman Nazif, Hon. Nnenna Ukeje among others.

Barely a week from now, the PDP will be seen in a campaign cross-fire preparatory to the February showdown of a two-front ballot war. Having toed this inglorious path in 2015, sources thought the PDP would see its repeat as a political suicide that would most likely yank off the party from the annals of political relevance.

But there has been much public concern about a potential threat to the PDP’s planned two-front war. Atiku, the main opposition leader has an Achilles heel, politically. He had in 2007 after he defected from the PDP, prosecuted a presidential election under the platform of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, with the APC presidential candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu as his National leader. And in 2019, the Labour Party, LP, presidential candidate, Mr. Peter Obi Atiku’s presidential, running mate on the platform of the PDP. Even, Wike knows his political skills.

Thus, in this forthcoming election circle, sources believe, Atiku has nothing new in his strategic election surprises to hide from his main challengers and should reconcile with the disaffected PDP stalwarts to win or lose the 2023 presidential poll by default.

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