2015 is a year best forgotten for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). For the first time in 16 years, the self-acclaimed biggest political party in Africa lost its hold on the presidency after it had produced three presidents since the country returned to the democratic rule in 1999. For the first time in Nigeria’s democratic history, an incumbent president, Goodluck Jonathan, was defeated by the candidate of the opposition party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).
It does not rain but pours. The PDP in 2011 had 23 governors while their closest rival, the Action Congress of Nigeria won in 6 states. Fast forward to 2015, the party lost its hold in 11 states and could only win in 12 states.
The PDP’s inability to win the presidential election and also losing its 11 states to its opponents was dues to some mistakes the party made in 2015. While the APC deserves credit for its effort in defeating the PDP, the latter made a lot of political errors that cost the party its top position in the country’s political landscape.
Here are things the PDP did wrong in 2015, naij.com’s edition:
1. Presenting Goodluck Jonathan As Its Presidential Candidate.
The power of incumbency is a strong one when it comes to participating in an election as so as expected, the then president, Jonathan automatically got the presidential ticket of the PDP to run for presidency in 2015. While on a plain level it looked like the normal things to have done, a critical political review would have shown that presenting Jonathan as its candidate was a wrong move.
Firstly, it was reported that there was an intra-party agreement that Jonathan, after having completed the tenure of the late president, Umaru Musa Yar’adua, would only spend a single term. The former president Olusegun Obasanjo made it known that he would not support Jonathan’s bid for a second term as he had broken a gentleman’s agreement.
Secondly, it was becoming obvious that the people had lost faith in Jonathan and wanted change, a mantra the APC adopted. The growing number of Boko Haram’s attacks, especially the abduction of the over 200 Chibok girls, were still fresh in the memory of Nigerians. They also got concerned by the removal of subsidy and the increment in the price of petrol. The last straw was the prevalence of corruption which Jonathan did not seem to manage properly.
2. Smear Campaign
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The PDP, during the presidential election, employed a dirty tactic that shocked a lot of Nigerians. Its campaigns, rather than focus on what the party and its candidate had done to warrant the re-election, spent its energy trying to defame its main rival, the APC, and its candidate, Buhari.
The tactic did not work, as while the then ruling party tried to convince (or confuse) Nigerians that Buhari did not have a higher education certificate and was a murderer, the APC was focused on glorifying its candidate as an experienced incorruptible, no-nonsense leader.
Nigerians were left to make a choice between the two candidates: a good Buhari or a bad one while the PDP neglected its candidate, the height of its smear campaign was a newspaper advert sponsored by the governor of Ekiti state, Ayodele Fayose in which he warned Nigerians not to vote for Buhari as he might likely die the same way some northern heads of state died in office.
3. Defending Corrupt Officials
It is in the interest of political parties to stand by their members, especially during trying periods. However, there are some situations where the party should either dissociate itself or keep mute. The PDP in a bid to stand by its members has portrayed itself as a party that supports and represents corruption. The party’s publicity secretary, Olisa Metuh, was quick to berate the current president and the APC for the arrest of Sambo Dasuki, the former national security adviser to Jonathan. The party was also quick to come to the support of Raymond Dokpesi, the chairman of Daar Communications, when he was arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The PDP in 2015 has portrayed every investigation that concerned its members as a witch hunt without being able to convince Nigerians that the allegations against the suspects are false.
4. Losing Obasanjo
The marriage between the former president Olusegun Obasano and the PDP came to an end in 2015 although the strain in their relationship had started before then.
It is not doubt that Obasano is one of the most powerful political figures in Nigeria and a respected figure in the PDP. He was elected the president on the platform of the party and became the first one to successfully hand over to another elected president in Nigeria. That was why it came as a surprise when in February 2015 Obasanjo dramatically tore his PDP membership card and declared that he was an elder statesman and therefore not supporting any political party.
The PDP in its reaction declared his exit a relief and saw it as good riddance. Their rival, the APC, immediately paid Obasanjo a visit to solicit for his support. His numerous supporters switched their allegiance from the PDP to the APC.
5. Fani Kayode And Doyin Okupe
Doyin Okupe and Fani Kayode became (in)famous in 2015, especially during the period before the general elections. The duo, who were the mouth piece of Jonathan and also his campaign publicity advisers, spent more time rudely castigating and cursing the APC and making more enemies than friends with their brand of campaign and criticism. The duo introduced a brand of campaign that did more harm than good to Jonathan. They spoke more about Buhari not having a certificate than what Jonathan did with his PhD.
In the long run, Nigerians grew used to the insults they were spewing and were swayed by the candidate who seemed to be more represented in the media by his publicity team than the one whose campaign team spent more time on the candidate of the rival party