2019: Why The PDP Must Get It Right With The Choice Of National Chairman – Eugene Upah 


As the political seasons draw nearer, strategies are in place by political parties to ensure there remain in power or wrest power from the seating government as the case may be. The 2019 elections will no doubt, be one of Nigeria’s acid tests in deciding who gets what, and rules over the affairs of the giant of Africa for the next four years. While Party bigwigs and State Chief Executives are aligning with the central government to remain in power, other opposing political parties are having sleepless nights strategizing, re-inforcing and gambling on how to take over the mantle of leadership from the government in power. I doubt if the People’s Democratic Party, Nigeria’s main opposition party have (fully) recovered from the shock defeat it suffered during the 2015 general elections. It struck the party like a tsunami. And if the PDP must bounce back and reclaim power in 2019 some structures would have to be amended or overhauled where the need arises. The choice of who becomes the party’s national Chairman will determine the level of work to be done and also the chances of the party in reclaiming power. As the party zones her oval office to the South, a handful of aspirants have indicated interests to champion the activities for the period and beyond. My interest in writing this is borne out of the fact that my home state; Cross River is a dominant PDP state and also the abysmal outing of the APC led (central) government of President Muhammadu Buhari in the last two and half years.

The candidates for the position of national Chairmanship of the PDP are quite glaring especially considering that there is more work to be done in the run up to the elections. Several persons have indicated interest to lead but, who is the most suitably qualified? The PDP should as a matter of national interest, do away with internal politicking (for now at least) and present someone with the capacity to deliver. The choice of Uche Secondus may not fly owing to his precedent. The party needs one who can(will) carry everyone along, one who understands the ethics (terrain) of the game very well, one who has the wherewithal to reconcile (and possibly) return the aggrieved factions, one who is widely accepted. Someone who has links, and is in the good books of the Otta Farmer in the West, and the Minna born General in the North. Otunba Gbenga Daniel, Chief Raymond Dokpesi or Senator Liyel Imoke aren’t bad ideas. They are all good Strategists with followers in the West, North and South. They are the neutrals choice. They are widely liked and as such would fly the party’s flag more than Tunde Adeniran, Jimi Agbaje, Bode George or Uche Secondus. Mr. Dokpesi has the character the PDP needs to displace the APC in 2019. He can bulldoze his way and does not shy away from making breathe-taking decisions, no matter how unpopular. Gbenga Daniel is one of the most suitable candidates for chairman. He has the support of a lot of powers that be in the PDP. He also more than most candidates appears to have the reach directly to elements within the PDP. He enjoys wide media coverage compared to most of the candidates. As former governor, he enjoys the support of many serving and former governors. That support is key because governors appear to (always) have their way in when it comes to party politics.
Jimi agbaje’s major strength is that he appears to be trusted by most who play the game of politics with him. He is a man that many party stalwarts appear confident working with. However, methinks he is too much of a gentle man afterall. It must have to be someone who is quite vocal, rugged and proactive.

Senator Liyel Imoke may not appear physically aggressive (rugged) but he is highly intelligent and very, I mean very unpredictable. He has what it takes to change the dice at the eleventh minute. Of course we all saw what happened in 2015 in the run up to the elections in Cross River State. He is one man who (naturally) enjoys supreme loyalty from his subordinates. He has a large heart and is a core Strategist. Though I doubt if he has interest in contesting but he would have had a good spill of romance amongst members within the PDP and beyond.

It would be very disastrous for a few state Governors to impose a candidate on the party at this time as this would open doors for more defections and the result; a step backwards for the PDP. Also, the choice of Dokpesi may not be very bad afterall, he would be the backbone behind intensive media/publicity via his platform; AIT. This might be the leeway for all media coverage of the party since the state owned TV Cable; NTA would desist from covering programs of the opposition PDP. The party must take into consideration that the emergence of a national Chairman would also determine who brings in monies into the campaigns. So it is better to stage a liberal minded and widely accepted candidate. Mr. Secondus was a deputy national Chairman and subsequently, acting Chairman of the PDP. He was also a two-term chairman of the PDP in Rivers State. Mr. Secondus to an extent has knowledge and workings of the PDP, a knowledge that may come in handy as he seeks to be the next chairman of the party. However, permutations within the party work against his aspirations. Since the leadership of the PDP is disposed to producing a northern and (possibly) south eastern pair of presidential candidate it would be difficult to have a chairman from the South-south in the person of Uche Secondus.

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