HOW FORMER PRESIDENT OLUSEGUN OBASANJO DESTROYED PARTY SUPREMACY IN NIGERIA – LUKMAN
In a recent episode of Laolu Akande’s political talkshow, Inside Sources, former All Progressives Congress (APC) Vice Chairman and ex-Director General of the Progressives Governors Forum (PGF), Salihu Lukman, unveiled startling insights into the demise of party supremacy in Nigerian politics, attributing a significant role to former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Lukman highlighted the pivotal period between 1999 and 2003 when the organs of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), including the Board of Trustees and the National Executive Council, regularly convened. He pointed to the beginning of trouble during the transition to the 2003 election candidacy, where Obasanjo, facing a potential loss of the ticket, forged a strong alliance with governors, notably the vice president at the time.
The former APC Vice Chairman noted that this power consolidation led to the emphasis on absolute loyalty, with the narrative that loyalty must be 100%, leaving no room for 99%. This shift, Lukman argued, contributed to the mismanagement of the electoral process in 2007 within the PDP, where internal primaries were bypassed, and influence at the national level determined candidates.
He said, “If you remember, we used to see the organs of PDP Board of Trustees and the National Executive Council meeting regularly. That was between 1999 and 2003.“I think where we started having problems was the transition, I mean the second era, the whole negotiation to emerge as a candidate for the 2003 election and how Obasanjo, if you remember, we were told had to – and at that time somehow, the vice president was the coordinating person with the governor.
“It’s like he had a stronger relationship with the governor, and they pulled the strings in such a way that Obasanjo almost lost the ticket. And when eventually he got it, he had to take steps to ensure that all the structures of the party are subordinated under him.
“That is when the story, if you remember, that when you begin to say loyalty has to be 100%, there cannot be 99% loyalty. You know, and that was when, for instance, the whole thing about being the leader of the party began to be emphasized.
Reflecting on the expectations during the 2011 and 2013 merger negotiations, Lukman expressed disappointment in the failure to break away from the established model. Despite initial sacrifices made by opposition party leaders, the focus shifted to the management of victory in 2015, primarily centered around political appointments.
He said, “Governors also said they were leaders of the party at the state level. Those are some of the things that created the whole mismanagement of the electoral process in 2007, whereby if you remember internally within PDP, no primary took place.
“If you had a relationship with the party leadership at the national level, you just imagine. There were stories of many people who bought the forms, but before they got there, they were told the primary had been concluded, you know. And that became the model.
“So when in 2011, 2013, the whole negotiation to march started, the expectation of Nigeria and the expectation of many of us in the opposition parties were that this model is going to be changed, you know.
“And to be fair, our leaders, they made all the sacrifices at the beginning. I think where we started losing it was the whole management of the victory in 2015. Somehow, everybody became more interested in the question of appointments.As Lukman unfolded these revelations on Inside Sources, the narrative shed light on the intricate web of power dynamics that unfolded within the PDP, ultimately impacting Nigeria’s political landscape. The question now remains: will these revelations prompt a reevaluation of party structures and leadership dynamics in the country?