Akpabio said the forum’s strategy was to have continued interaction within the party with a view to building synergy. Soon after its formation, the forum delved into the crises in the South West PDP chapter and the Adamawa chapter.
Taking off in this manner, the forum drew plaudits from party faithful, especially against the backdrop of the PDP’s apparent loss of the control of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF). Despite, the assertion of Akpabio on the reason behind the emergence of the PDPGF, the Presidency was thought to have encouraged its formation as a counterweight to the shenanigans of the NGF which had turned itself into an opposition platform against Federal Government’s policies and programmes.
Rivers State Governor Romiti Amaechi and the PDP governors that voted for him in the NGF election were bitter over the way then-National Chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, had handled the crisis in various state chapters of the party, particularly Rivers and Adamawa states. Angered by what they termed Tukur’s impunity and high handedness in the running of the PDP, they pressed for his removal. This did not happen and so they initially led their supporters to break out of the PDP to form New PDP before eventually defecting to the APC.
Beyond the speculated vice presidential ambition of Amaechi, which gave rise to the perceived antagonism between him and President Jonathan, some political watchers question the role played by Akpabio in the PDP hydra-headed crisis. Cynics say that driven by personal ambition, he found himself in rivalry with Amaechi as the Akwa Ibom governor was thought to be eyeing the vice presidential slot just like Amaechi.
Even though his public posturing indicated support for Tukur, the PDPGF chairman was said to have actually worked against the former party boss. To make things worse, Tukur was consorting with some political actors in Akwa Ibom State behind the governor’s back, to the consternation of Akpabio. As he began to alter the structure of the PDP in Akwa Ibom State ostensibly to position his loyalists where they could facilitate his ambition, his action was greeted with lukewarm attitude by Tukur who appeared to have his own idea of how the state party structure should look like in the run up to 2015. Those were no offenses Akpabio was prepared to forgive.
Today, with the passage of each day, the politics of Akwa Ibom State appears to be creeping into the running of the PDPGF as it now seems that Apkabio is utilising it for self-preservation. Armed with his chairmanship of the PDPGF, he commands enormous influence within the national hierarchy of the PDP and can certainly use the position to get what he wants as far as Akwa Ibom State PDP is concerned. The consequence is that there will be no level playing ground for his rivals within the party at that level.
His argument that the PDPGF was formed to neutralise the APC may be valid but what observers are saying now is that Governor Jonah Jang’s faction of the NGF, the one recognised by the Presidency, also serves the purpose of neutralising the schemes of the opposition in virtually the same way. The possibility of overlap in their functions raises the question of the necessity for two organs with similar attributes at the same time.
Apart from that, the PDP has resolved its long-running crisis with the recent resignation of Tukur as the National Chairman and the selection of former Bauchi State governor Ahmadu Adamu Muazu as his replacement. This places the PDP in strong position to stand toe-to-toe with the opposition without the unwarranted distraction that the PDPGF has become. As an association of governors from the same party, it is easy to justify its existence. However, it becomes dangerous to the overall interest of the PDP where particular politicians exploit it for the promotion of their own narrow political objectives.
Ugwu lives at Plot 323 Cadastral Zone, Jikwoyi, Abuja.