13 February 2013

Nigeria: A New PDM Births

Chuks Okocha, in this report, examines the new management committee of the political associates of the late General Shehu Musa Yar'Adua in the race for the 2015 elections

On February 5, the political associates of late General Shehu Musa Yar'Adua elected new officials to run the affairs of the group known as the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM). The officers elected to marshal the affairs of the PDM are Senator Abubakar Mahdi, a Second Republic senator from Borno State as National Chairman, Chief Bode Ajewole, Deputy National Chairman, a former Minister of state in the Olusegun Obasanjo administration, Chief Dubem Onyia as National Secretary, Bashir Yusuf Ibrahim as Director of Research and Planning while Prince Tonye Princewill, politician and business as the Director of Organization.

Other elected officials of the PDM are former Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Titi Ajanaku as Director of Women Affairs, Alhaji. Murtala Shehu Yar'adua, son of the founder of the group and former Minister of state for Defence as the Director of Youth Affairs while Abdullahi Shuaibu Yeman is Director of Finance.

By the election of its Management Committee in a democratic manner with members that can be described as independent-minded, observers are of the view that the new PDM is not beholden to anyone. The new management is believed to be embodied by independent individuals. Their loyalties is therefore said not to be to anyone but the people.

Their history also shows that they are determined to do what is "right" over what is expedient. A quick example was their condemnation of the light jail sentence handed former Director of the Police Pension Fund, Yakubu Yusufu, who stole N23 billion, but asked to pay a fine of N750,000.

But the PDM in its communiqué queried the rationale."The light sentence handed down for this crime against Nigerians and, especially, against the millions of retirees who sacrificed their lives at their prime age, does not inspire confidence in the purported war against corruption in particular and in the nation's judiciary as a whole"

The new posturing of the PDM, though membership cuts across the various political parties, portrays the fact that leaders removed from the people will find it difficult to secure their support.

Another distinct issue raised in their communiqué was the challenge of the new opposition platform - the All Progressive Congress (APC). Their plea for APC and all other parties to seek an identity in the political space while proferring solutions to the nation's problems seems to suggest that they side with Nigerians than a political platform, suggesting that they would be swayed only by the people and that the people should be the centre of policies. They have always said that an anti-PDP stand is not enough.

"While we are gladdened by the development, we implore the opposition to define its own identity based on progressive ideology, with clear and contrasting policies and programs capable of pulling Nigeria out of the current state of despoliation, despair and debasement."

One thing that is discernible from the group's stand is that it still has within, some of the ideas of the original founders, which is siding with the people at all times. It was no wonder that it said last year that it was not a member of any political party and that its loyalty was not attached to anyone, no matter how highly placed, stating that the group would swim and sink with the general interest of Nigerians

The new management team has a mix of founding members and some new breed politicians. In addition to this, state coordinators, women leaders and a new youth wing under the supervision of Yar'Adua, have been inaugurated. Added to this is the fact that the new structure has zonal, state, senatorial, LGA and ward units all the way to the grassroots with a view to having a feel of what is happening in the PDM across board.

This new PDM management is driven by its new agenda of three Rs- Rejuvenate, Reconcile and Recruit. It appears to have stuck to this premise and is in a good position to sweep up the huge chunk of first time voters, youths and women who are looking to actively participate in politics.

With its massive recruitment and reconciliation of both old and new members, it is believed that the group is well funded, connected and vast in the affairs of Nigerian politics. PDM appears to have no Presidential ambition which makes it even more credible and potentially more useful. It remains to be seen what role it would play in the emerging equation even though the stage appears set for a two-party politics.

But as the politics of 2015 gathers steam, indications that the group may be more receptive to Jonathan are high. However, if APC adopts a people-friendly manifesto and the PDP changes not, the thinking may as well change.

It is also imperative to watch out for members of the group. Yar 'Adua's son is undoubtedly prominent given his youth-related responsibility. Princewill has a history of speaking his mind and putting his money where his mouth is. He'll bring in a new perspective as the Director of organization. Ibrahim, known for building political structures from scratch, is an articulate politician.

He brings to the table, a wealth of experience as Director Research and Planning. His analytical skills will also come handy. Indeed, a new PDM cometh!

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