The Peoples Democratic Party was formed on 28th July, 1998 and formally launched on 31st August, 1998. It was one of the three parties registered by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the 1999elections.
The party was formed from the ashes of the G 34, which was largely a collection of heavyweight politicians from the Second Republic era and a few other people that formed a coalition against GeneralSani Abacha when he was planning to transmute himself into a civilian president.
They were all united by one common objective, namely, the exit of General Abacha as military dictation.
When Abacha suddenly died on 8th June, 1998, the G-34 was quickly transformed into a political party. At the meeting at which the transformation took place, the members resolved that “”.
In other words, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) began as an amalgam of different and divergent groups, with little or nothing in common but united primarily by the desire capture to power from the military. This background, of the party has significant implications for the structure and development of the Peoples’ Democratic Party.
Thus, in the party at its formation, were a formerVice President, Dr.AlexEkwueme, Chairman of Arewa ConsultativeForum, ChiefSunday Awoniyi, former military governor of Kaduna State, Abubakar Umar and former civilian governor of PlateauState, ChiefSolomon Lar.
Others included Mallam AdamuCiroma, SenatorFrancis Ellah, AlhajiAbubakar Rimi, AlhajiLawal Kaita, Dr.Basil N. Ukegbu, Dr.lyorcha Ayu, Dr.Suleiman Kumo, Dr.Tunji Otegbeye, ChiefEdwin Ume-Ezeoke, MallamLawal Danbazzau, Chief C. Ezeife, Prof.Jerry Gana, AlhajiAli Baba, AlhajiIro Abubakar Dan Musa, Prof.Ango Abdullahi, AlhajiAbubakar Atiku, Dr.Steve Achema, Dr.Usman Bugaje and Col.Yohanna Madaki. Interestingly, most of these founding members of the party have since pitched their tents with other parties and are perhaps the greatest opposition to the PDP today.
The aims and objectives of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) include the following:
To introduce democratic and good government;
To promote freedom, human rights and social justice;
To ensure federalism and equality before the law; .
To maintain integrity and transparency in the management of public affairs and
To promote sustainable human development.
Achievements of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)
The PDP claims to be the largest political party in Africa. This claim is no far from the truth. Beside being the ruling party in Nigeria since 1999, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) controls the Federal Government, dominates the National Assembly and provides political leadership in most states of the Federation.
In the 1999 elections that ushered in the Fourth Republic, the presidential candidate of the party, ChiefOlusegun Obasanjo, was declared president. The party also won 67 out of 109 senatorial seats and 214 out of the 360 seats in the House of Representatives thereby gaining a majority in both houses of the National Assembly.
Moreso, in the 1999 gubernatorial elections, the PDP won 19 governorship seats. In elections to state Houses of Assembly it also secured 528 seats compared to 251 by APP and 166 by the Alliance for Democracy (AD).
The party even did better in the 2003 elections. The PDP produced Chief Obasanjo as president for a second term and obtained more than two-thirds majority in both houses of the National Assembly. It also had 27 state governors and controlled 28 state Houses of Assembly.
In the 2007 elections, AlhajiUmaru Musa Yar’Adua, the party’s candidate won the presidential elections and the party retained its dominant control of Nigerian politics. The PDP presidential candidate in the 2011 general elections, Dr.Goodluck Jonathan easily defeated his rivals by polling 56 percent of the votes. They party also secured control of the governorship seats in 23 of the 36 states and obtained simple majority in the National Assembly.
Addressing party members at the National Convention of the party held at the Eagle Square, Abuja, in November 2001, former President Obasanjo did not fail to allude to the successes of the PDP.
“”. The claim of the forme President that the party is the only viable one in the country is partly true and partly false.
January 1st, 2021 – the All Progressives Congress (APC) is the only viable opposition to the PDP today as the other parties are either dead or comatose or engaged in a fratricidal war of attrition. Of the three parties registered in 1998, the AD is factionalised into several factions and a large part of it has moved to the Action Congress of Nigeria. The ANPP also has several factions and it is usually active only when elections are approaching. The new parties are too new and disorganised to be relevant. Without doubt, the PDP remains the party to beat in Nigeria given the magnitude of resources at its disposal and its control of government at all levels, especially at the centre.
Although parties like the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), APGA, ANPP and the Labour Party did fairly well in their respective strongholds in the 2011 elections, yet their inherent organisational weakness and inability to pool their resources together may continue to give the PDP an edge in any electoral contest.
Problem of the Peoples Democratic Party
The problem of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) lies in its strength As an umbrella party of disparate political groupings and heavyweights from different parts of the country and with no clear-cut ideology, the PDP looks like a rally rather than a political party. As such, party discipline which is the hallmark of any political party hardly exists in the PDP.
Thus, the PDP is the greatest enemy of the PDP. For example, the bill to amend the 1999 Constitution which was sponsored by the Federal Government was defeated in the National Assembly in which the party had an absolute majority. That was in May 2006.
Similarly, in the election of October 2007, to pick presiding officers the members of the House, most of whom belonged to the PDP shunned the party’s preferred candidate but rather voted massively for Hon.Dimeji Bankole to replace MrsPatricia Etteh as speaker. The same pattern was repeated in June 2011 when the House dominated by the party elected Hon.Aminu Tambuwal as the Speaker against party directives.
Perhaps because of the struggle for dominance among the various contending groups in the party, several founding members of the party have been frustrated cut of the PDP. In April 2012, for instance for med President Obasanjo suddenly resigned as Chairman of the party’s Board of Trustees.
Another major problem of the PDP is the imposition of candidates at party primaries or even after. In Rivers State for example, the Peoples Democratic Party imposed Celestine Omehia as governor in the April 2007 elections. But this was reversed by the Supreme Court in October 27thand Rotimi Amaechi was returned as governor.
There is also a high turnover of party chairmen. The PDP has had about a dozen chairmen since its formation in 1998. These include: Alex Ekwueme, Solomon Lar, Bernard Gemade, AuduOgbe, Ahmadu Ali and Vincent 0gbuluafor, Okwezili Nwodo, Mohammed Baraje, Bamanger Tukar etc.
The democratic credentials of the Peoples Democratic Party have often been called to question. For example, it used affirmation rather than voting to elect party leaders in November 2005. This has been the subject of legal action by aggrieved party members.
By mid-2006 a splinter group led by Solomon Lar emerged within the party. It is indeed correct to assert that most of the other political parties were formed and dominated by former PDP stalwarts. The future of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) depends on its ability to manage its internal cleavages and produce a manifesto which is people oriented. For a party that lacks internal democracy, this may be a tall order.