The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) before now, had always been seen in the northern part of the country as the party to beat. This is because the party in the race to the return to democracy in 1999 took hold in most states of the North; either North West, North East or the North Central, PDP was the popular choice. Even in subsequent elections in 2003. 2007 and 2011, the party with the proud slogan as the “Biggest Party in Africa”. remained the party to beat. But, that has changed with the 2015 elections. PDP lost most of its traditional strongholds in the North including Kaduna State, and since it found itself in the opposition it’s like the party’s leading functionaries in the state have gone practically into limbo.
Many have wondered if this is due to the fear of possible harassment or, the effects of its devastating defeat that has made the movers and shakers of the party go underground.
But then, the APC was in opposition for many years and were always seen and heard criticizing and also pointing out the inadequacies in some policies of the then PDP government, so, why would PDP members relegate themselves to the background? A concerned PDP member asked.
In Kaduna state, the PDP Secretariat with its office situated just beside the old site of the Nigeria Defense Academy, has become a shadow of itself where only female members gather at times, to while away the time while the leader and elders of the party are nowhere to be found.
The only ones who are bold enough to talk or make any contribution do so in the social media (Facebook or WhatsApp) giving room to the general belief that the party is as good as dead in the state.
Also in Kaduna, the former Vice President, Architect Mohammed Namadi Sambo is seen by many as the face of PDP in the North and the reason for this is not far-fetched; having attained the position of the Number 2 man in the country under the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan who was the leader of the party.
But, with the defeat of the party in 2015, the only public outing by the former Vice President was his visit to Vice President Yemi Osibanjo which then led to rumours of his wanting to defect to the APC.
Namadi’s continued silence has become a source of worry to many PDP members and supporters alike who had viewed this in different ways. While some see this as a sign of total defeat, some say and believe that the party was dead in the state. Others believe that since the leader of the party from the North is neither seen nor heard of, then who are they to start making statements concerning the party?
However, some prominent members of the party have come to the defence of the former VP saying he has been abroad recuperating from a surgery.
During an exclusive interview with Independent, the former Minister of State, (Aviation) Transport, Chief Felix Hassan Hyat had defended their leader, stating that Namadi had been in constant touch with most members of the party and had been abroad where he had gone for treatment.
Asked if the former VP’s visit to Osibanjo had any undertone as being speculated in some quarters that he was making arrangements to defect, the former Minister said it was just speculations, saying there is nothing wrong in a former VP visiting his successor.
Although, as Vice President was not regarded as a shrewd politician in the mould of the likes of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, also a Vice President to former President Olusegun Obasanjo and founding father of PDP, but Namadi was an accomplished architect and a dogged businessman who had built a successful business empire for himself.
His position as VP made him wield so much power and attract associates in the North as politicians from the region tried to outsmart and out-do one another in order to either curry his favour or get goodwill.
But, with the defeat of PDP at the last polls, the once sought after politician seems to have gone into limbo, with little or nothing being heard about him.
Many had wondered what his visit to Professor Osinbajo was all about. Could it be a solidarity visit to the serving VP or a visit that the members of the opposition PDP should worry about?
After the visit to the VP, rumour mongers had gone to town with the news that his visit was not unconnected with a perceived intention to defect to the APC. Would a visit to the VP therefore be an indication of defection?
Politicians in the North who were PDP loyalists, reportedly became jittery and some were quick to ask questions, hoping to get answers that would assuage their nerves. Could this be true; his loyalists queried even as they were of the opinion that their leader had no reason to defect.
Independent findings however reveals that, the former VP was not in any way planning to defect to any other party but rather, had been silent because he was recuperating from a leg surgery abroad.
Another PDP stalwart who spoke to Independent debunked the rumour, saying it was malicious and unfounded for anyone to say the former Vice President’s visit to Prof. Osibanjo was to prepare the ground for his defection.
“If the VP does not align, people will say he is hurting because of PDP’s defeat. The issue here is that, we are all Nigerians whether APC or PDP; we must contribute our quota to make our country great.”
Although, many politicians in the state have wondered why the PDP would fizzle out just because they are now in opposition.
Other stalwarts of the PDP have, however, stated that there is the need for Nigerians to understand that being out of office does not mean that the former VP should take to the media to be heard or seen.
According to a political analyst in the state, the former VP has his business concerns which he had left in the hands of others to manage whilst in government and after a well deserved rest, would want to return and see to their well-being.
“For all we know, Namadi Sambo is a core PDP man whose antecedents speaks for him and would always remain one. We are not bothered about his silence because in the first place, we are not in a media war”.
Speaking with Independent, the aide to the former VP, Alhaji Umar Sani, debunked the rumour that his boss was planning to defect saying, “it is not true”.
Many PDP heavyweights in the state are either out of town, as their phones were switched off while some others refused picking their calls.
However, the Minority Whip of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Umar Barde had during an interactive session with journalists in the state boasted that the friction between Governor El-Rufai and Senator Shehu Sani, was to the advantage of his party, the PDP, which people had wondered how such would be possible with the elders and leaders of the party in limbo.
Barde, like other PDP leaders had stated that they were taking their time to watch as events unfolded in the state, assuring that the PDP would pull a surprise anytime there was a Local Government election, just as he boasted that they would “win the ruling party hands down”.
Though, a former Minister had stated that they were quietly watching the ruling party APC in order to take advantage of their shortcomings to improve on their party, many had said it was a statement made to give hope to the now very worried members who are disturbed and concerned.
Comrade Danjuma Bello Sarki, President of the Kaduna State PDP Patriotic Front when asked recently why their leaders and elders have not been making statements concerning the party, stated that the leaders did not have to come out to speak on the pages of the newspapers but were meeting regularly and watching how things were happening and that, at the appropriate time, the would do the needful.
A prominent PDP member who craved anonymity told Independent that, “whether the party leaders would rally round and put the party together is what we are waiting for. But for all I know PDP members in the state have to wake up and take the bull by the horn.”
“This is not the time for us to be feeling sorry for ourselves as opposition but time to put all things right, local government election would soon take place as soon as these interim chairmen’s tenure expires”.