Postscripts of Electoral Misfortunes: The Imperatives of Reorganization and Restructuring of Cross River State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) 

Jan 22, 2024 - 08:18
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Postscripts of Electoral Misfortunes: The Imperatives of Reorganization and Restructuring of Cross River State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) 

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Postscripts of Electoral Misfortunes: The Imperatives of Reorganization and Restructuring of Cross River State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) 

The general elections have come and gone. In Cross River State, the die was cast between the fragmented Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and the All Progressive Congress, APC. The then governor, Senator Ben Ayade had precipitously decimated the power base and structure of the now opposition party when he predictably decamped to the former opposition party, the APC in the early year of his second term as governor. He has had a running battle and struggle over party structure control with perceived political enemies made up of most of the then serving National Assembly members from the state and his predecessor and godfather, Senator Liyel Imoke.

It was not surprising then that the PDP, after former governor Ben Ayade abandoned the party with its attendant effects on its structure and power base, pick up the pieces of her broken relationship and starting charting a new course of strength and resilience to give Ayade a run for his money. It was more of a Herculean task running against the tide of an emperor with a large financial war chests dripping from the state coffers.

At this point, the reins fell on a former governor and Ayade’s predecessor, Senator Imoke to rally round the National Assembly members from the state , except for two, led by their Caucus leader, Senator Gershom Bassey to show strength of character, attitude and resilience to put up a fight against a sitting governor and a coterie of his aides, political stakeholders and elder as well as supporters whose eyes were fixated on prowling at the alluring and  streaming flow of state natural and financial resources as an attraction to buy and give loyalty and support.

With an uncanny show of perseverance, the  PDP didn’t have any difficulty in doubling her mobilization strength to keep most of her structures and members including some aides of Ayade who refused to decamp with him despite the allure of financial trappings and perks of office. It was an eerie demonstration of resilience, pliability and sturdiness for such strength of character and ability of the party to bounce back.

Rebuilding the party with such swiftness and deftness also resonated with the positive perceptions by electorates of the party during her hey days in the saddle with unmatched delivery of dividends of governance. The perception and believability came as a filler that can rescue the state from the horrifying and harrowing misrule and poor governance by the Ayade administration.

It was not too long that the party came on stream once again with the deftness of serious mindedness, problem solver and rescuer of the people from the clutches and bootstraps of a fledgling and inexperienced state actor of a governor as Senator Ayade. Most people saw his “socketing to the center”- a sobriquet promoted by Ayade himself to underscore his dumping the state PDP to support the National government of the APC with Mohammedu Buhari then as the helmsman, as a blessing in disguise for  the State and an opportunity to thrash a rubbish in the bin of the State political history.  

The comeback of the PDP and strong support from residents and citizens were ecstatic and electric. New party structures from the state, local government and ward levels were reconstituted. The party became full blown with flurry of  activities such as rallies, stakeholders’ meetings, engagements with defectors, etc.  The state party started  winning the trust and confidence of the National Working Committee of the Party, major stakeholders and of, course she became, once again, the beautiful bride of all the presidential aspirants of the party.

Then, of course, when the wind of political aspirations for the governorship ticket of the party started blowing from the creeks of Bakassi to the hills of Obanliku, it was an ill wind that was inclined to dismantle all the energy, resources and goodwill the party has garnered over time. The party became fragmented along ethnic, sectional and subliminal interest where truth was stood on its head and party leaderships took positions to satisfy their pecuniary interests and self-aggrandizement. The state party chairman, Venatius Ikem led an onslaught against the people of the Southern Senatorial District denying them the right of a perennial zoning system which had clad the party in unity and understanding for decades now.

Then, entered the dragon whose flaming tongue saw nothing else than his innate presidential ambition and consumed all that was left of the PDP in the State despite warnings and  caution of an impending implosion that was later to consume any iota of unity and bond that kept the party for the battle ahead for the soul of Cross River State from abuse, misuse and corruption.

Apart from the overwhelming political interest that tended to fragment and factionalise the leadership of the party, she also suffered from poor funding that always necessitated the state working committee of the party going cap-in-hand to beg for funds from PDP-controlled State governors to run the state party. This opened her flanks for manipulations and overarching control by external forces. Then came forces to determine who becomes the governorship candidate of the party in the last election, which presidential aspirant to be supported, throwing caution to the wind and causing the party to lose a great chance and missed opportunity to be bonded and united to wrestle power from Ayade and give back the party its pride of place as a performing political party greatly loved by the people of the state.

Currently, PDP  in Cross River State is enduring a series of electoral setbacks as an aftermath of the crisis that engulfed the party, losing major seats in the State and National Assembly elections. Out of the 25 seats in the State House of Assembly, the APC has a majority with 20 members leaving the PDP with a paltry 4 members and Labour Party has one seat. At Federal Legislative level, APC has two out of the three Senatorial seats and five out of the eight House of Representative seats, leaving the PDP with two and Labour Party with one seat. A clear pointer to the APC dominance and emphatic take over of the power structure in the State.

However, the most critical blow to the party came in the form of the woeful defeat of its flagbearer, Senator Sandy Onor, in the last governorship election and the subsequent recent Supreme Court ruling against him. The opposition candidate lost 15 out of the 18 local government in the state. Senator Onor is recorded to have lost his political domains where he could not pull strings to win his ward, local government and senatorial district. It was indeed the most embarrassing defeat of a political candidate in the history of any governorship election in the state.  

These events bring the urgent need for the PDP in the State to reflect, reorganize, and lay the foundation for a restructured party capable of playing a significant and effective role as the opposition.

The PDP's loss in major seats during the State and National Assembly elections and the resounding defeat of Senator Sandy Onor in the governorship election are cause for introspection within the party. This series of misfortunes highlights the necessity for the PDP to analyze its electoral strategies, messaging, voter engagement, and party organization. Understanding the factors contributing to these losses is crucial for the party's resurgence and future success.

In the face of electoral setbacks, the PDP in Cross River must seize the opportunity to organize and become an effective opposition party. This process should involve a comprehensive review of the party's leadership structure, internal and external communications, candidate selection process, grassroots mobilization, and voter education initiatives. By reevaluating and resetting these aspects, the PDP can rebuild its reputation and regain the trust and confidence of the electorate.

The PDP's role as an opposition party in Cross River State is of utmost importance to ensure a vibrant democracy and effective. Restructuring should aim to redefine the party's core values, strengthen its policy, and develop a coherent and compelling narrative that resonates with the electorate. Additionally, fostering a culture of accountability, internal democracy and conclusiveness will promote unity and attract diverse voices within the party, enhancing its relevance and effectiveness as an opposition force.

The electoral misfortunes faced by the PDP in Cross River State should be seen as catalyst for change. Instead of dwelling on these setbacks, party has an opportunity to reflect, reorganize, and restructure itself to reclaim its role as a significant and effective opposition party. By analyzing electoral strategies, enhancing party organization, and fostering unity and inclusivity, the PDP can rebuild its political presence, reconnect with the people, and contribute to the vibrancy of democracy in Cross River State. The winds of change are blowing, and embracing this opportunity for transformation will be crucial for the PDP's future success.

ASUQUO BASSEY SOLOMON PARTY CHIEFTAIN AND STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS EXPERT