The Ahmed Makarfi led faction of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has said the party has a very good opportunity of coming back to power and overthrowing the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2019 election.
This was coming after its special committee on strategy and inter party affairs led by Prof. Jerry Gana promised that it would be ready with its report by January 31.
The Chairman of the National Caretaker Committee (NCC) of the PDP, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, while addressing members of the committee on Wednesday, said the party was awaiting the pronouncement of the Court of Appeal to enable it go ahead to re-build the party into a wining platform.
But the APC said the opposition party would not recover from the internal crisis bedevilling it.
According to Makarfi, “We are not just an opposition party but government in waiting. And if we do the right thing, we will be there. It is in the interest of Nigerians that opposition exists and is strong,” he said.
Speaking on the pending Appeal Court verdict on the leadership crisis in the party, Makarfi sounded a note of warning, saying PDP is alive and kicking .
Makarfi also said the party would employ a different strategy in its opposition to the APC-led government.
He said the favourable judgment from the Appeal Court would strengthen its hands in reconciliation.
In addition, the former Kaduna State governor said the court’s pronouncement has become necessary so that the party would not face any challenge in future over the present leadership crisis.
“It is a matter of procedure, we have to follow the law. If not, anybody that works here will no doubt that PDP is alive; it is alive and we are restrategising and we hope that in the end, we shall smile. We all remember that Rome is not built in a day.
“We are all aware that it is only the judgment from Port Harcourt that we are waiting for. Whatever we do, even if we make peace yesterday and the court pronounces judgment, but we are waiting for judgment that will restore hope, how the court will restore that hope is for the will of PDP members should be respected, and we are giving the legal right for us to go ahead to build a virile party.
“Nigerians will not expect an opposition that behaves in an unruly manner, that will be there to talk down on government all the time. I think we should not be unreasonable in our opposition but we should use our brain, so that when we criticise and bring out alternative ways of doing thins, we will convince Nigerians that we are better set of people to take Nigeria that it is in now.
“But if we show that there is no difference, Nigerians will say no, they are birds of the same feather. That is why we must criticise using our brain to actually connect with Nigerians so that we can convince them that we are what we say we are,” he said.
On the issue of reconciliation, he feels that party leadership must not withdraw from any opportunity to reconcile with its members, “We must not close door to reconciliation, and negotiation but we must reconcile based on strong position. A unified judgment by Court of Appeal will place us in good stead,” he said.
The chairman of the caretaker committee commended all the staff for their solidarity and self-less sacrifices which the they have so far made notwithstanding pressures and inducement to back out.
Ahead of the 2019 general election, the chairman of the PDP strategy committee, Prof. Jerry Gana said the party has asked one of its syndicate groups working on the Committee’s assignment to help devices strategies to overcome alleged bias by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Gana said before submitting its report, the committee intends to have a brief session with governors “to inform them on some of the issues and recommendations that contained in the report, and also the National Assembly caucus so that if there is any input they can bring forward so as to bring everybody on board.”
Meanwhile, Deputy National Chairman of the APC, Segun Oni, while speaking yesterday in an interview with journalists in Abuja, dismissed the possibility of PDP successfully forging alliance to form a new mega party before 2019 elections.
“If PDP dies, there will be another opposition party. What I believe is not visible is the idea of calling it a mega party, because no party that will emerge will be bigger than APC, that ‘s what l’m saying. I have always predicted from the beginning that, long before now, the PDP will go into rumbles and that it will thereafter grind to powder, Its rumbles is grinding,” he said.
According to Oni, even if a new party emerges, it would not be bigger that APC.
“So, we are not saying the will not come back, we are saying, don’t call whatever political party that is coming mega party, it can not be bigger than the APC.
Speaking on what Nigerians should expect from the APC and the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration in 2017, Oni said they should expect that the economy would get better.
“Nigerians should also expect that the human face of this party will continue to show.
“Let me tell you something that you journalists have not noticed, or pretended not to have noticed. Since the coming in of Buhari’s administration, federal government has been trying to encourage the state governments to meet their obligations to their staff by giving series of bailouts.
“The federal government cannot afford to pretend that after everybody have taken the allocation, that’s all. And over the years, Nigeria has become a country where government, not just government at state level, even at federal level, owe people at will, especially staff.
“I believe the moral signals that Buhari is sending to all of us is that if Nigeria will be Nigeria, staff salaries should be paid to all. And I’m sure with the series of bailouts, everything will be covered and this government will encourage people never to allow things to degenerate to this level. So, when we talk of ‘change,’ that is ‘change.’
“There was a time when I was growing up, we did not even know when our teachers were paid. Nobody ever complained that salaries were delayed. It was a mentality and somehow, the mentality of government not caring to meet its obligation became so rampant. Now, that mentality of the government meeting its obligations as at when due, is what President Buhari is bringing back.”
However, the leadership of the APC has said its national convention will now hold not later than April 2017. According to the party, the processes leading to the party’s long-awaited convention would now begin with congresses nationwide which would be followed by the national caucus meeting, and finally with the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the party, where actual dates for the national convention will be fixed.
In a statement issued yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, the party said the processes leading to the national convention would commence with the congress to fill vacancies in the state party structures across the country.
The APC spokesman said the decision on the proposed convention dates was one of outcomes of the National Working Committee (NWC) meeting which was held on Monday and Tuesday this week at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja.
According to the spokesman, APC constitution provides that the party’s convention must be held once in every two years.
“The processes leading to the national convention will commence with the congress to fill vacancies in the state party structures across the country. The vacancies to be filled occurred principally from political appointments, deaths and resignations. The congress to fill the vacancies would be followed closely by another congress to nominate delegates into the mid-term non-elective convention of the party.
Meanwhile, it was leant that the party was unable to take a definite date for the convention because of the need to consult widely with stakeholders, some of whom would be expected to bank-roll the convention expenses.
The meeting of the NWC which had to stretch to two days, was also not able to conclusively deliberate on the proposals for the constitutional amendment and restructuring of two important party organs-the Board of Trustees and national caucus.
The meeting was chaired by the APC National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun.