A spokesman for Nigeria’s ruling People Democratic Party (PDP) has rejected reports that the defection of some prominent governors to the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) has weakened the party ahead of the scheduled 2015 general election.
Abdullahi Jalo says the defection rather depicts the internal democratic tenets the PDP espouses, which he said, would rather make the party stronger in the run up to the next election.
“A statement has been made by the leadership of the party it will make the party that is the PDP [much] stronger and stabilized,” said Jalo. “PDP under the leadership of President and the [party chairman] are all out for peace and dialogue wherever there are differences between the party and the followers, they are all out to amend it. “
Jalo says that the defection will enable the party to focus on its stability and strengthening the group’s rank and file in the run up to the 2015 vote.
The PDP governors who defected had formed a splinter group they called the New PDP (NPDP) at a recent congress citing sharp disagreements with the leadership of the party. The defected governors include Rivers state’s Rotimi Amaechi, Kano state’s Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, Sokoto State’s Aliyu Wamakko, Jigawa States Sule Lamido, and Adamawa State’s Murtala Nyako.
Some analysts say the defection will undermine President Goodluck Jonathan’s possible re-election bid. Mr. Jonathan has yet to officially announce whether he will seek re-election. Jalo declined to comment on Jonathan’s chances in the next presidential vote.
“The president is very categorical that it is offending electoral act for him to make any statement on that issue. So he is not going to utter a word with regards to his contest, until when the times come in 2014,” said Jalo.
Observers say the APC is stronger because of the defections since governors in Nigeria generally wield significant political influence in their respective states. They also said the opposition could pose a threat to the PDP by chipping away at the enormous support the ruling party enjoys across the country. Jalo disagreed with the assessment.
“You don’t claim to be a national party when you don’t have the national followership,” said Jalo. “As far as Nigeria is concerned, there is no stronger party than the PDP as of today. Where ever PDP is contesting it [win] the majority states of Nigeria.”
Critics say the ruling PDP has become complacent and that the elite leadership has lost touch with the average Nigerian. They also said the party has yet to keep its promises of improved living conditions and protecting civilians from violence carried out by armed groups including the violent Islamic sect Boko Haram.
But, Jalo denied the accusation saying President Jonathan’s administration has implemented security measures which have sharply reduced the attacks on civilians. He said the criticisms are part of an opposition media campaign to tarnish the reputation of the PDC ahead of the election.
“The higher section that controls the media is [in the ] west and that is where the APC came from, and that is where a lot of propaganda is being made,” continued Jalo, “so it is not true that [the] PDP has lost touch and not doing what Nigerian citizens are requiring.”