OPINION: PDP’s Court Ruling: What Next?Articles/Opinion, Featured Contributors/Columnists, Latest News Friday, February 17th, 2017
By Olawale Rasheed
(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – The ruling of the Appeal Court in Port Harcourt nullifying all decisions taken at the Port Harcourt convention which produced the Makarfi led caretaker committee is an eye opener for political watchers. The outcome can be assessed from two sides -either as the final dead end for the PDP or as a miraculous rebirth of that once giant party.
The judge had ruled that all decisions taken at the controversial Port Harcourt convention violated the PDP constitution and therefore null and void. The implication implies a return to status quo before the convention and a direct re-confirmation that Senator Ali Modu Sheriff remains the authentic chairman of the party. By extension all decisions and actions taken so far by Makarfi group is illegal and of no effect.
Considering the array of party structures lined up behind Makarfi, the ruling is a rebuke of governors and most lawmakers elected on the platform of the party. It is a consigning to political dustbin all those big names who considered themselves the founding fathers of the party. By analysis it rubbishes all those touted presidential ambitions from Jigawa to Ekiti and potentially opened the route for the final eclipse of the party before 2019.
Few hours after the ruling, both camps are likely separately having a review. Options are been considered. From a political analyst’s perspective, many options abound for the two factions to adopt. The easiest is for the Makarfi factions to simply return to the umbrella under Sheriff and commence the process of a new National Convention in which both factions will be adequately represented.I call this the easiest option even though I know it will be the most difficult.
The factions have ego issues. Makarfi faction has variously threatened to quit the PDP if the disagreement continues. Many of its leaders have reached a stage that they feel a sense of no return. This may not be unconnected to allegation that the faction is involved in the planned mega party or that it has offered the party ticket to former vice President Atiku Abubakar. Many political pundits will be shocked if Makarfi and his caucus ever bow and embrace Sheriff. That option of amicable unification and consensus building appear like a political mirage which many had no hope in.
Another option is a likely movement into the mega party, the Action Democratic Party. There are reports that the Makarfi group has a leg in the new party and that in case of finally losing out, it may move into the new party ahead of 2019. This possibility is considered a strong possibility among watchers of the political process. In that case, the new party may take within its fold substantial numbers of sitting governors and federal lawmakers, thereby constituting itself into a new power bloc within the nation’s party system. This is predicated on the equally strong hints that a section of the ruling All Progressive Congress may move into the new mega party. Indications are very strong that such realignment is very strong possibility in the emerging political space.
Beyond the above, there is also another likely permutation. If Makarfi group should move out of the PDP, the party may become a very weak shell without elected governors or lawmakers. Its structures may become virtually eroded such that it can hardly make any strong headway as a political party. In that case, the Sheriff group would have to consider various options.
The first is for it to retain its identity and function as PDP despite the likely depletion of its fold. It may chose to carry the stigma now successfully associated with the party by the ruling APC.This option may be attractive because the party has name recognition. Two, Makarfi group may be working to avoid profiling if it decides to fuse with the ruling party. Three, the political space is just too messed up to attempt any other alliance.
But for Nigerian politicians, it is safe to suggest that PDP may not remain unaffiliated if the Makarfi group actually joined the mega party. If a former vice president and his caucus actually moved to the mega party alongside the Makarfi group, there may be strong possibility that the Sheriff group may considered moving to the APC.The possibility of a movement to the APC may become stronger because by then APC too is suffering hemorrhage and in need of infusion of new entrants ahead of the 2019 battle.
What will be the rationale for the Sheriff Camp to ever dream of going into the APC. First, chieftains of the group need the Federal Government to survive due to the messy nature of Nigerian politics. Two, the APC then must have emptied some of it caucus which the Sheriff may be originally scared of. Three, PDP on its own cannot survive because of credibility deficit and mass exodus of its elected officials. Four, Sheriff cannot move into the mega party because Makarfi group would be in by then.
But in all these, the APC appears to hold the ace. Being in control of federal machine and having proved to be more adept at wielding power, both the PDP and the mega party may be at the mercy of the ruling party. Will APC obstructs the registration of the mega party? Will APC welcome the Sheriff group it ever contemplate joining the APC? The answers lie in the expected drama of the next few months.
Back to the court ruling, there is the last option for the Makarfi group-Take the case to the Supreme Court. That sounds plausible and a great move to test the judicial chain to the last point. This has its own likely unpredictable scenario.
But what if unexpectedly Makarfi decide to embrace Sheriff as the chairman? Then PDP become a united family. Is that a possibility?
*Olawale Rasheed, Publisher of Sahelstandard.com, writes from Abuja
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