Daniel Bwala’s departure: Drama, issues, lessons for PDP

Daniel Bwala

By Azimazi Momoh Jimoh

The recent visit to President Bola Tinubu by Daniel Bwala, a former spokesman of the campaign organisation of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate in the 2023 elections, Atiku Abubakar, is a dramatic indication of more serious issues in the practice of partisan politics in Nigeria. 

The PDP, having suffered many internal crises, which most of its critics blamed on indiscipline, leadership failures, among others, may just be on the verge of harvesting from its inability to take firm and fair decisions at the right time.

Partisan politics in contemporary Nigeria is dominated by highly “mobile” politicians who care less about sentiments but more about upholding issues of pecuniary interests.

Many politicians including some serving leaders of the PDP, who had jumped in and out of political parties in pursuit of their political goals, do not see anything wrong with Bwala’s departure. It is even a sign of many more defections from the leading opposition party, which has failed to clinch presidential power since 2015.

Bwala, shortly after his meeting with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, stated: “Today, I was delighted to meet President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, (GCFR) in the Villa to show appreciation and support for the bold decisions he is taking to deal with the crisis confronting our dear country.”

In a brief interaction with newsmen after the meeting, Bwala said further: “Some of his ministers that were allegedly reported to have committed infractions, instead of protecting them, he asked that the law should have its own course and suspended somebody without wasting time. 

“That to me is impressive because it’s about the people. Secondly, there has been this outcry that the government is bloated and the rest. Yesterday, he introduced a policy that reduced the cost of governance and today he told me it is just the beginning.

“There are many more decisions by the government that will reduce the cost of governance. What I’m saying apart from today that I’m talking here, you all need to visit my Twitter page. 

“In the last few days, I have been expressing my surprise and appreciation to the President for the decisions he is taking. So, this is not about political party. And you need to know that as I said, I was with him before I left. 

“And I was doggedly committed to him. I told him today, I am committing to play my part to support your administration, and I have no apologies to anybody.”

On whether he was set to defect to the ruling APC, Bwala said: “APC is a party; President Bola Tinubu is my motivation. If supporting him will take me to APC, so be it!”

But just a few weeks ago, Bwala had disclosed that a strong coalition of opposition parties would soon emerge to tackle the ruling APC. Speaking at Channels Television’s Politics Today on the second day of the year, he said that without a coalition of opposition parties, Tinubu would spend eight years in office.

“Without a coalition of political parties, Tinubu is going to spend the next eight years. That one is for sure. The truth of the matter is that there will be a coalition of political parties that will be very strong. This is a fact that I know. The coalition that is coming will swallow some of the elements that are creating the problems in the various political parties,” he said.

Speaking on the state of the economy at another forum, Bwala had said that Tinubu would not get anything done about the economy even if given 30 years to govern.

He said: “When people talk about being patient and waiting, you have to look at the time frame the public officer is expected to execute the work. The President has just been voted into a term of four years. He is eight months into the term, which constitutes 31.8 per cent of the total time that he has.

“He has less than 70 per cent time in government. When is that going to happen? When President Buhari took over in 2015, it was the same language and we patiently followed and he finished the first term and finished the second term.

“When there is a fundamental problem with policy, time is irrelevant; 30 years it will not work. Most of the economists I’ve listened to have faulted the President’s budget with which he was supposed to deliver the agenda flat-out. We want to see deliverables. Nigerians are tired of English, Mathematics, Economics, Science and Technology. We want to see practical things.”

In 2022, Bwala had in total condemnation of the APC stated that the human brain works effectively until one joins the ruling party.In a post via X, he said: “The human brain is unique and miraculous. It works and functions optically 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, until you join the APC, then it stops working.”

In view of the need to instill discipline in the PDP, the leadership of the party had come under pressure last year. At an emergency meeting to address issues that led to its loss at the February 2023 presidential election, the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party led by its acting National Chairman, Umar Damagum, said the party would demonstrate that no one is above the party.

The PDP chairman said: “I have always said this thing that as long as you are a member of the PDP — there is a time for everything. “My duty is to stabilise this party and not to cause crisis and I will continue to do that within the confines of reason.

“When things go out of hand, we will act. But meanwhile, we still see it within the ambit of the law. Mind you, we have other litigation going on in this party and we won’t want to plunge our party into another crisis.

“And let me tell you something, it’s not only Wike. There are other people who worked against this party.

“When we get to that level we will sanction everybody. If Wike believes he is above this party, we will be able to show him that he is not above this party.”

Damagum said that the party had constituted a panel to probe those involved in the anti-party activities. The PDP national chairman said the panel would present a report and recommend appropriate sanctions to be taken against errant members.

“They are to review what happened in 2023 (election) and come out with a report not only about one person, but every person who has in one way or another engaged in anti-party. Then after that, we will see what kind of measure to take,” Damagum said.

While members await how the party would carry out this threat, a member of the then G5 PDP Governors, who played serious roles in the events that led to the party’s defeat at the last presidential election, former Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, declared that the group would work to ensure Tinubu’s re-election in 2027.

He spoke at a luncheon hosted by the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nyesom Wike, in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. Wike, an ex-governor, was flanked by Ortom and another G5 member, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State, at the event. 

Addressing the gathering, Ortom said the G5 has no regret for working for Tinubu’s victory in the last general election, declaring that the group would again back the erstwhile Lagos State governor for a second term in office as Nigeria’s president. He said: “If we work to ensure Bola Ahmed succeeds, there will be tomorrow for anybody to even contest an election at all.

“Our leader, Nyesom Wike, has already made a declaration that in 2027, we are supporting President Bola Tinubu.

“We have nowhere to go because that is what Nigerians believe. Even the past administration that took Nigeria from top to bottom, we allowed them to work for eight years. So, why can’t a seasoned administrator like President Bola Tinubu rule us for eight years?”

Ortom assured Nigerians that Tinubu would fix security, economy and other critical areas of challenge to the citizens. But where are all these leading Nigeria’s major opposition party, the PDP? Time will tell!

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