In a move widely believed to be pre-emptive and designed to prevent the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) from exploiting issues from the recent political realignments in the country, the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), has finally resolved to change its name ahead of the 2019 general election.
The PDP, which planned to announce the decision to change its name today, had also penciled in Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu as the one to head a committee that would walk the party through the procedure.
That was as former Vice President Atiku Abubakar said Saturday in Yola that the federal government led by the APC had failed Nigerians and the people were yearning for change. Atiku stated this at Ribadu Square, in the capital of his home state of Adamawa, at a rally where he formally declared his intention to contest next year’s presidential election on the platform of PDP. He decried the killings in different parts of the country and blamed the APC for visiting insecurity, tragedy, division, and economic misery upon the citizens.
Atiku promised to restore national unity, security of life and property, and economic prosperity if elected president.
According to Thisday, the decision by the PDP to change its name might have stemmed from last Thursday’s meeting between President Muhammadu Buhari and Senate President Bukola Saraki. Though details of their discussion were not made public, many in PDP believed that with such sessions, the chances of bringing Saraki back to the PDP could be hampered.
The opposition party had long mooted the idea of name change but had slowed down on the decision because a majority of its members were not disposed to it, and those who wanted it could not convince the others.
Besides, it was thought that even though the party had switched positions and had become an opposition party, PDP was still the only party with membership in the remotest parts of the country, and the name resonated with a majority of its members and admirers, particularly among the teeming illiterate populations.
But this very thinking had since changed, especially with the prevalent narrative of the ruling party, which is always attacking the PDP as a corrupt party. PDP believes the corruption allegation is the main defence APC has found to justify its continued stay in office, despite widespread belief that it has mismanaged the affairs of the country.
Leaders of the opposition party are, therefore, of the opinion that since the ruling APC may be unable to campaign with a good record on economy and security, the only thing it has going for it is the attempt to de-market the opposition by constantly alluding to corruption allegations. However, once the name changes, leaders of the party reckon, PDP would naturally die with the corruption tag and the engagement would shift to issues-based debate. Many PDP members feel that APC would be unable to sustain such a debate owing to its poor performance in the last three years.
It is also believed that in the run-up to 2019, PDP has gained many sympathizers, some of who are, however, uncomfortable with the name because of the baggage that comes with it. The party’s leaders are, therefore, of the view that with the old name gone, PDP’s sympathizers would not only openly identify with it, but most of them would also attract more members, thus putting it in a position of advantage to effectively take on APC in the next election.
Therefore, the assignment before the Ekweremadu committee would be to come up with a name that best suits the party, considering the short time between now and 2019, and also not forgetting that such a name must be easily recalled by illiterate citizens. Meanwhile, Atiku was well received at his declaration ceremony in Yola, which took place in a carnival-like atmosphere.
“Fellow Nigerians, the government of APC has failed, it has failed to unite Nigerians,” Atiku told a capacity crowd of jubilant supporters and party leaders, which included PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, and other members of the party’s National Working Committee as well as leaders from the six geo-political zones of the country. “Today we are more divided than in any other time in the history of this country.
He said the APC government had failed to rescue Nigeria from destruction, “Rather, it has destroyed the economy, security, and ensured more poverty and starvation in the land.