President Goodluck Jonathan

Meet 10 PDP Chieftains Who Can Move The Party Into A Viable Opposition

Following the defeat of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the March 28 presidential election, the party will automatically assume the role of opposition at the centre as from May 29 when the All Progressives Congress (APC) will assume power.

The 17-year old PDP will also be in opposition in 23 other states controlled by either the APC or the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). For now it is certain that the PDP will be in power in 13 states, APC in 22 and APGA in one.

Analysts say going by the outcome of the elections, the ruling party will definitely not be the same again. The PDP, whose former national chairman, Vincent Ogbulafor, as well as the outgoing first lady, Patience Jonathan, had boasted will rule for 60 years, is already witnessing mass defections across the land.

With the resounding defeat at the polls, there are calls by PDP members that the party should be overhauled. Some have even demanded the resignation of the leadership, notably the National Chairman, Adamu Mu’azu.

Thus, in the post May 29 era, the following are influential party chieftains who have the charm, the resources and the staying power to rally party members across the country and transform the party into a viable opposition capable of dethroning the APC from power in subsequent elections.

1. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan:

Arguably, Jonathan is the greatest beneficiary of the party since its formation in 1998. Though little known before he joined politics, Jonathan, 58, has been a deputy governor in his home state, Bayelsa and later governor between 1999 and 2007. He was elected vice president in 2007, became acting president in 2010 and president from 2010 till date. He leaves office on May 29, 2015. As president, Jonathan has been the leader of the PDP since 2010.

Therefore, he is expected to play a major role in restructuring the party into a formidable opposition force. However, playing this role may be difficult for the president as he might be busy with international engagements. It is expected that by conceding defeat the manner he did and presumably conducting credible elections, international bodies might give him key assignments from time to time. Jonathan will also be one of those with deep pockets to revamp the soon-to-be-opposition party.

In the absence of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo from the party, Jonathan will definitely become the number one personality in the party. He is likely to assume the position of chairman of the party’s Board of Trustees in the months ahead.

2. David Mark:

He is the outgoing Senate President. Mark, 67, is another beneficiary of the PDP structure. Before the return of democracy, Mr. Mark, a retired army brigadier-general, had been military governor of Niger State and communications minister. He has been in the Senate on the platform of the party since 1999. He chaired the Committee on Banking and Currency in the Senate.

In 2007, he became the Senate President. He is perceived to have performed creditably in that position. Since he assumed office, stability has returned to the upper legislative chamber. Mr. Mark, who won election for the fifth time in the March 28 election to represent Benue South Senatorial District, has already given indications that he would not leave the PDP.

Clearly, Mark has enormous resources that he could deploying in helping the party get back on its feet. He has the charisma and is regarded as one of the wisest men in the party told. He has in the recent past helped in the resolving intra-party crisis and reconciling party members across the country.

3. Godswill Akpabio:

He is the outgoing governor of the oil-rich Akwa Ibom, a state he claimed to have “uncommonly transformed”. The 53-year old Akbabio however became a force to reckon with when he became Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum in 2013. He recently won election to the Senate to represent Akwa Ibom North West. Although he will be in the opposition in the upper legislative chamber, Akpabio will certainly play a key role in repositioning the PDP, especially the huge financial warchest he is believed to have amassed over the years.

4. Sule Lamido:

He is the outgoing governor of Jigawa State. Lamido was a founding member of PDP. He was a member of the G18 and 34, which fought the self-succession plot of former Head of State, Sani Abacha. The G34 later metamorphosed into the PDP. He contested the governorship election on the party’s platform but lost. He was to serve as foreign minister in the Olusegun Obasanjo administration between 1999 and 20003. He assumed power as governor in 2007 after staying four years out of political office. However, his party lost the state to the opposition APC both in the recent presidential, governorship and legislative elections. It is believed that Lamido, will be one of the rallying points of the PDP in the post-Jonathan era.

5. Adamu Mu’azu:

He is a former governor of Bauchi State. He assumed duties as national chairman of the ruling party in January 2014 when the party was in turbulence. Popularly called the “game changer,” the fortunes of the party appear to have further dimmed under him. For the first time in 16 years, the PDP lost woefully in a general election. Under Mu’azu’s watch, the party lost the presidential power to the APC in the March 28 election as well as several PDP states in the north. It is on record that despite his boast that the PDP would win 24 states in the governorship election, the party lost its earlier strongholds, namely Jigawa, Katsina, Kebbi, Bauchi (his home state), Benue, Plateau, Niger, and Adamawa. Although, there are calls for his resignation, Mu’azu instead has been assuring that the PDP would bounce back.

6. Liyel Imoke:

Imoke, 54, is the outgoing governor of Cross River. He was a senator in the botched Third Republic. He has also benefited hugely from the PDP in this dispensation. He had served as power minister in the Obasanjo administration before becoming governor in 2007. Although many expect he would remain relevant in the rebuilding process of the party, there are those who believe his below average performance as governor may rob him of the moral foundation to be a credible PDP salesperson.

7. Olusegun Mimiko:

The Ondo State governor started out on the platform of the Alliance for Democracy. He served as health commissioner in the state. He later moved to the PDP and became SSG before he moved to the centre where he served in the Obasanjo administration as Housing minister. However, he defected to the Labour Party on whose platform he ran for governor in 2007. Although the PDP was declared winner of the election, the Court of Appeal later ruled that it was Mimiko that won the election. The governor, who is serving out his second term next year, has since returned to the PDP. It is believed that his return to the PDP was in anticipation of getting a federal appointment if the party returned to power. Although, the APC won the presidential election in Ondo State, Mimiko is likely to stick with the PDP and might play a key role in reforming the party. He might be one of the key figures around which party members in the Southwest could rally and seek direction.

8: Ken Nnamani:

He was Senate President from 2005 to 2007. An indigene of Enugu, Nnamani is currently the Chairman of the Governing Board of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission. He is a respected PDP member and could be the rallying point of the party, particularly in the South East.

9. Jide Omokore:

He is a chieftain of the PDP. He is businessman from Kogi State with interests in oil trading and exploration, marine, haulage service, steel, dredging engineering and property. Mr. Omokore had once been profiled by Forbes Magazine as “High net-worth billionaires in Nigeria.” He once donated N50m to the Kogi State Government as aid to victims of the flood disaster in 2012. Although he is not known to have occupied any political office, he has been of immense support to the ruling party. Omokore is tagged in some quarters as a business front for some public officials but that could not be proved at this time. He is one of the party’s most consistent financials. It however remains to be seen whether he would continue to fund the party now that it is in the opposition.

10. Olusegun Obasanjo:

Like Jonathan, Obasanjo is one of the greatest beneficiaries of the PDP machine. In 1998, he was brought out from prison where he was serving jail term for alleged coup plotting and was elected president the following year. Obasanjo ruled as a democratically-elected president from 1999 to 2007. He had been military head of state from 1976 to 1979.

After he left power, he became Chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees but quit the position in 2012. Obasanjo however shocked many in February when he directed a fellow PDP man in Abeokuta to tear his membership card thereby signalling his exit from the party. The action was the peak of his anger with the party he was once led.

It is not clear however if the party has begged the former president. Should he return to the PDP, Obasanjo will be one of the rallying points in the quest to revamp the party ahead of future polls.

Mean while the presidency has stated that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) defeat in March and April polls is only a temporary setback and not the end of the road.

Do you know any other PDP chieftain that can be added to this list, who is key in strengthening the party as a viable opposition platform? 


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