Tuesday, September 10, 2013

New PDP: What Jonathan Should Do

The fact is, the root and the hidden-strength behind the PDP Governors at the center of the current crisis in the Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP) can be linked to former President Obasanjo. Obasanjo feels marginalized in Jonathan’s administration and it is obvious.The crisis, which has now gone beyond Obasanjo’s grievances, has transformed into a nexus of Obasanjo’s anger; Atiku Abubakar’s ambition and some PDP governors’ resentment. The bubble is about to bust. President Jonathan’s 2015 ambition is facing its toughest moment.

The array of demands tabled by the aggrieved members of the PDP- that the President drop his 2015 re-election ambition; removal of the PDP national chairman, Bamanga Tukur and restoration of the party executives in Adamawa and Rivers states including some PDP national executive members, Sam Jaja and his likes, who were disqualified from contesting at the just concluded PDP special national convention makes approaching the crisis quite dicey. President Jonathan has two options in approaching the crisis viz-the hard or the soft. As it appears, President Jonathan and his handlers seem to have chosen the soft approach for now. But is the soft approach -the current reconciliation going on, the best option? It seems the soft approach would be painful, while the hard approach may result into a deeper political crisis. 

It amazes observers of PDP politics that, President Jonathan always finds it tough to solve an internal political crisis within the party; particularly those that involve northern governors, despite having a vice president, PDP national chairman and a senior special adviser on politics from the region.This cannot be far-fetched from the fact that Vice President Namadi Sambo does not have a solid political influence in the region, unlike Atiku Abubakar when he was Vice President to Obasanjo. Bamanga Tukur has vast political experience and is very conversant with politics of the north, but has for long-time lost contacts within the cycle of Nigeria’s thorough-breed politicians, while Ahmed Gulak is just a local politician in Adamawa state, who even lost the PDP primaries for House of Representatives, he does not have ample knowledge of the politics of northern Nigeria let alone that of complex Nigeria. One interesting point here is, Obasanjo, despite his shortcomings, carries more political weight in the north and in behind-the-scenes politicking than the above three. So, he is smartly utilizing it to play politics.

As a typical Nigerian politician, coupled with the history of his party, the PDP, President Jonathan definitely has the hard approach on his table to tackle the current crisis. But the best option for President Jonathan is to employ same strategies that brought him to power in 2011.The strategies that granted him victory from the PDP primaries to the general elections- negotiations and the spirit of give and take. Nevertheless, President Jonathan has to do what he has to do in order to do what he wants to do.The smartest way out for Jonathan is to approach the crisis using ‘reductionistic tactics’ –tackling the aggrieved group by tackling each member of the group. Each of the major players in the formation of the faction, ‘New PDP’ has a particular reason for being aggrieved. Jonathan should take this to his advantage to soften the gang-up, and then face the group as a whole.

Anyone conversant with Nigerian politics knows that the demands laid down by the aggrieved members of PDP were meant to be leg-pullers for President Jonathan and his political team. The aggrieved members know that any miscalculated move in pursuit of his 2015 re-election ambition would be the end-of-the-game for Jonathan. Hurriedly succumbing to the demands to remove Bamanga Tukur as the national chairman of the PDP would be a political suicide, while blankly yielding to the governors’ demands would mean Jonathan completely losing of control of the PDP. Jonathan and his handlers must avoid prolonging the crisis, a failure to bring those aggrieved governors back to the PDP fold would seriously hurt the PDP in states it controls and those it does not, because those aggrieved governors have comfortable party platform options readily available for them- the PDM or the APC. 

Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Jimeta, Adamawa State, zaymohd@yahoo.com, 08036070980. 

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