When over 3,000 party delegates gather today at Eagles Square in Abuja, venue of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, national convention, two major items will be up for consideration. First, is the validation of President Goodluck Jonathan as the party’s sole candidate for the 2015 election, and, second, the ratification of the appointment of Ahmadu Muazu as the party’s national chairman.
The first will be a record for a party that has ruled Nigeria since 1999.
This would be the first time in the PDP’s history that the party would be putting up single candidate prior to its presidential primaries.
Prelude to the 1999 election, Olusegun Obasanjo, who eventually picked the ticket, had to battle with former Vice President Alex Ekweme and other contenders at a convention that held in Jos, Plateau State, February 1999.
In 2003, Mr. Obasanjo ran against late Abubakar Rimi, while in 2006, late President Umaru Yar’adua defeated 11 other aspirants to emerge as PDP candidate.
In 2011, it was a battle between President Goodluck Jonathan and Vice President Atiku Abubakar. Mr. Jonathan defeated Mr. Atiku by a landslide.
The ruling party is taking a different course this time.
All the organs of the party, except, the national convention, which is the highest organ of the party, has adopted the President as a sole candidate.
Although, the NEC of the party at its meeting on September 18 adopted Mr. Jonathan, the party’s National Working Committee, NWC, was forced to allow other candidates- Abduljalil Tafawa Balewa, and Akasoba Duke Abiola – who were willing to challenge the Mr. Jonathan in today’s convention.
Messrs Jonathan and Balewa appeared before the party’s screening committee, but Mrs. Abiola did not. She also did not honour the NWC’s call to go to the party’s secretariat to pick her form, since she had paid for them.
Mr. Balewa later announced he was stepping down on the day he submitted his nomination forms.
As it stands, the national convention is expected to ratify Mr. Jonathan as PDP sole candidate.
Mr. Jonathan was deputy governor to Diepreye Alamieyeseigha from May 29, 1999 to December, 9, 2005 when he was sworn in as substantive governor, after Mr. Alamieyeseigha’s impeachment over corruption charge.
Mr. Jonathan and Umar Yar’adua were “handpicked” by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, as vice president and president respectively in the 2007 election.
Mr. Jonathan assumed the presidency after Mr. Yar’adua’s death. He later won election in 2011.
The president’s tenure has witnessed several unresolved scandals and controversies although the PDP insists he is the best candidate.
The party points to the railway sector, construction of roads, including, Lagos- Ore-Benin road, the Abuja-lokoja road, and the Lagos – Ibadan expressway.
The party also points to agriculture, the economy and the dredging of river Niger.
But Mr. Jonathan has come up for some of the most woeful assessments over his failure to deal with rampaging corruption in the country, and the bloody onslaught by insurgent group, Boko Haram., which has seized several towns.
The sore points for the Boko Haram crisis have been the government’s failure to rescue more than 200 Chibok schoolgirls, more than eight months after they were abducted by Boko Haram, and a phoney ceasefire the administration claimed it agreed with the sect.
On corruption, Mr. Jonathan has refused to declare his assets publicly, and once brazenly declared on television he gives no damn about doing so. He has also said stealing is not corruption.
The president has also been accused of having a role in a fraudulent Malabu oil deal in which $1.1 billion was paid to former petroleum minister, Dan Etete, and senior officials of Mr. Jonathan’s government.