PDP Faces Deepening Schisms with Faction Wanting Jonathan Out As Presidential Candidate

February 17, 2015 1:04 pm

There is a new twist in the
desire of some top officials of the Peoples Democratic Party () for a
six-month postponement of polls in , with several sources saying
a faction of the party would work to replace President Goodluck
Jonathan as the party’s presidential candidate. 

In separate interviews , numerous PDP
officials disclosed that many founding members of the party had lost
confidence in Mr. Jonathan’s viability as a candidate, adding that a
faction within the party had discussed easing the incumbent president
out of the presidential race, and replacing him with another candidate
from the Niger Delta zone.

                               President Jonathan on New Year’s Day Service


“The only obstacle to the plan is that the South-South might
kick against it, so we have arrived at a consensus to find another
candidate,” one of our sources, a northerner, said.
“If elections could be postponed for six months, we will definitely
replace President Jonathan as our candidate,” another member of the
faction confirmed.
In a clear sign that the party was crumbling was within, several high
ranking PDP members said they regretted letting President Jonathan
carry the party’s flag as a presidential candidate in the forthcoming
elections. Some of them confessed to being aware that the party’s
prospects looked dire with Mr. Jonathan holding the presidential
ticket.
“We are the ones who started the push for six months delay in the
elections to enable us [to] put in place an interim government which
would then enable the party to change its presidential candidate to
somebody that is more competitive,” one official confessed. He added
that Mr. Jonathan’s faction also sought the extension for their own
designs, which was to explore ways of rigging the elections.
Our interviews revealed that many PDP governorship candidates in the
north and elsewhere in the country were secretly working against Mr.
Jonathan’s re-election or quietly distancing themselves from him.
One party leader revealed that some candidates in the northern area
were all but campaigning for Mr. Buhari, the presidential flag bearer of
the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC).
However, some PDP officials say that, while
they hoped that President Jonathan could be sidelined to increase the
chances of the party in the upcoming elections, they also wished that
the APC would also dump Mr. Buhari as its presidential candidate.
The party officials claimed that key political figures across
Nigeria continue to view a Buhari Presidency with mortal fear because of
his stubborn personality and his promise to punish the corrupt.
Several of the PDP officials said  that the rift
between Mr. Jonathan and a large faction in the party that wants him
dumped was reflected in the responses to former President Olusegun
Obasanjo who two days ago dramatically announced his resignation from
the PDP, publicly tearing his membership card. Two of the officials
disclosed that, while Mr. Jonathan’s aides launched direct attacks on
Mr. Obasanjo, the officials at the party headquarters in Abuja adopted a
more cautious and subdued tone, regretting that the former president
had decided to leave the party.
Some officials stated that the party hierarchy viewed Mr.
Obasanjo’s public departure from the party as a dangerous signal and as a
major threat. “Chief Obasanjo doesn’t just come out swinging the way he
has done recently unless he is privy to the existence of some third
forces that are against President Jonathan. And to the best of our
knowledge, the former president has never fought a battle like this and
lost, no matter how long it takes him,” one of the officials said.
“The truth is that many senators, honorable members of the
House of Reps and governors are loyal to Baba, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.
So they are doing Baba’s bidding even though they are giving Mr.
President [Jonathan] the impression that they are with him,” another
party official in Abuja said.
The party officials acknowledged that the statements of former
President Obasanjo in the last three days had caused a major havoc on
the party’s plans to work towards an interim national government.
Several of the PDP officials attributed the fractiousness within the
party to the way Mr. Jonathan and his wife, Patience Jonathan, imposed
unpopular candidates on the party in various parts of the country. Even
though they agreed that Mr. Obasanjo had imposed candidates on the party
in the past, one PDP official said the Jonathans consistently backed
candidates who were extremely unpopular within the PDP and unelectable.
Asked if President Jonathan was aware of plans to replace him, some
of our sources said the president knew that many powerful members of the
party were not satisfied with his style and low performance. One source
said former Vice President Alex Ekwueme and even the party’s chairman
of the board of trustees, Tony Anenih, were far from enthusiastic about
Mr. Jonathan’s re-election.
“President Jonathan’s candidature and unpopularity are damaging the
party,” one official stated. He added that the party’s electoral
prospects in the general elections had dwindled dramatically. “We are
only sure of carrying about 11 states in the country, according to our
internal polls,” one party official disclosed.
Party officials also said they were determined to change numerous
candidates for governorships, the Senate and House of Representatives in
several states if the six-month postponement ever became a reality.
“The way President Jonathan and First Lady Patience Jonathan picked many
candidates has now weakened the party across the country,” one top
official in Abuja complained.

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