Citing the need to protect the common interest of its members, leaders of the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM), the political machinery of the late General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, are currently leaving no stone unturned in their determination to revive the movement ahead of the 2015 general election in the country.
Sources said the group, which recently elected new officials to pilot its affairs and lead the way in its quest for total revival, has received the support of some leaders of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to re-position itself so as to once again be able to influence decision making in the party.
Expectedly, the development is causing some leaders of the ruling party to shiver. Sources within the party said speculations are rife that the rejuvenated PDM is designed to checkmate any re-election plot by President Goodluck Jonathan ahead of the 2015 presidential race.
”Consequently, plots are already being hatched to stop the ongoing move by PDM leaders to regroup their members within and outside the party. There is already an allegation that the revival of the group will contravene the latest move by the PDP to outlaw caucus and factions within its rank. The idea is to stop the revival of the group because it can cause serious damage to the unity of the PDP,” a southwest executive committee member of the party said in Lagos.
But when asked whether the revival of the association will contravene any rule of the PDP, a leader of the group, Mallam Shehu Garba, said there is no rule of the PDP that forbids the revival of the PDM.
“PDM is not a caucus; it is only an interest group within PDP. It is just a situation where people with common interest decide to come together to protect their common interest,” he explained.
Among the pioneer members who have sensed the need to renew acquaintance with the movement are former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Chief Anthony Anenih, Alhaji Lawal Kaita, Ambassador Yahaya Kwande, Chief Dubem Onyia, Prince Tonye Princewill, Dame Titi Ajanaku, Professor Ango Abdullahi, Professor Aborishade, Alhaji Kabiru Sa’idu and Dr Faruq Abdulaziz, just to mention a few.
It would be recalled that the PDM was the most influential component of the PDP at the formation of the party in 1998. Parading political heavyweights which included former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, former works minister, Tony Anenih, amongst others, the group was so strong that it was regarded as the engine room of the party for years.
Its influence, however, diminished over the years as the party gradually subsumed it. Although some members of the group continued to play crucial roles in the party and the successive governments it formed since the return to democracy, the cohesion and unity for which the PDM became a household name, was no longer visible amongst its members.
As witnessed during the 2007, 2011 and lately, 2015 general elections, it became difficult for the group to take common position on issues. Members openly disagreed on political issues and the group’s place within the ruling party was no longer assured.
The situation got so bad that some PDM members left the PDP and pitched their tents in other political parties thereby leaving their associates behind. Although some of such deserters like Atiku did return to the PDP years later, sources said the division among the group was yet to be healed.
“It is this division caused over the years by various issues and actions that we are out to put behind us with the formal revival of the group. PDM was never dead. It is an organisation built in the minds of its members. We never for one day forgot our common platform, but the truth was that the movement was no longer in a position to protect our interest within and outside the ruling party,” a member of the group told The Nation.
However, questions are now being raised on the ongoing discussions between the group’s contact and mobilisation committee and some politicians as well as politicial groups outside the PDP.
“There is need for decorum within the political space and that we intend to see to. Our party will not condone such anti-party activities. There is no way these people will claim to be PDP members and they will be hobnobbing politically with various groups and people opposed to the aims and aspiration of the PDP. We are not unaware of their antics,” our source said.
But the PDM debunked such allegation, saying its committee is only discussing with organisations of like-minds with a view to finding ways of solving some pressing national problems. In a communique signed by Bashir Yusuf Ibrahim, Prince Tonye Princewill and Murtala Shehu Musa Yar’adua, PDM further fuelled the controversy surrounding its revival when it said Nigerians are tired of things being done the same way for too long.
“The Movement resolved to open discussions with the organisations of like-minds, with a view to finding common grounds on issues of principle, policy and strategy in order to move the Nigerian project to the next level.
‘These discussions must be open, transparent and above all, in the best interest of the peace, unity, stability and economic progress of Nigeria and Nigerians as a whole. The era of business as usual should be dead and gone.
‘Politicians must begin to do things differently henceforth in order to save Nigeria from imminent collapse. Nigerians are sick and tired of more of the same and are clamouring for change, a change which they deserve,” the group said.
The group’s position on the alliance among some of Nigeria’s opposition political parties is also fuelling suspicion that there may be more to its revival than the public is yet to be told. Coming just short of endorsing the newly formed All Peoples Congress (APC), the PDM urged it to provide a credible alternative to Nigerians.
“The movement received briefing on the ongoing merger talks among opposition political parties in the country and commended the opposition for its resolve to give Nigerians an alternative political platform. We call on all opposition political parties and organisations across the country to close ranks in order to provide Nigerians with a clear choice between conservative and progressive ideologies.
“While we are gladdened by the development, we implore the opposition to define its own identity based on progressive ideology, with clear and contrasting policies and programs capable of pulling Nigeria out of the current state of despoliation, despair and debasement. Telling Nigerians how bad things are simply won’t suffice. Clear and practical solutions are what Nigerians need.
‘PDM is developing a clear roadmap for the entrenchment of profound national social, political and economic reforms which will lead to creating jobs, steady power supply, improved security, transparent and credible elections and bring corruption in all its manifestations to an end,’ the group said.
During the week, the PDM announced the formation of two new organs, a National Elders Committee and a National Caucus. Members of both are to be announced soon alongside those of State Coordinators, Youth and Women Leaders for the 36 States of the Federation and the FCT.
The group also presented a new zonal, state, senatorial and local government area management structure across the country. According to the new leadership of the group, all the new structures are to take effect immediately.
From the current look of things, it is unclear whether the PDM simply wants to reclaim its former position within the PDP as a power bloc or it is actually out to do more than just that ahead of the 2015 general election.
Some close observers wonder if a new political party is about to be born from the current reform efforts. It is just a matter of time before a clearer picture emerges.