- Ekweremadu heads committee on new designation
After suffering a string of losses in the last four governorship elections – Edo, Ondo, Anambra and Ekiti, and in a pre-emptive move designed to prevent the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) from tagging it as corrupt, the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), has finally resolved to change its name ahead of the 2019 general election, THISDAY reports.
The PDP, which planned to announce the decision to change its name today, had also penciled down Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu as the one to head a committee that would walk the party through the procedure. Many of the party’s stalwarts have been worried by how the ruling APC had successfully branded the party as corrupt in the eyes of Nigerians and admitted that a rebranding was imperative to mount a successful challenge in 2019. Added to that concern was the powerful advice by brand experts who warned that the name, PDP, had become damaged goods that must be changed to give the party a fresh start.
The name change is coming just as former Vice President Atiku Abubakar officially declared his intention to seek the presidency under the PDP platform at a rally held at Ribadu Square, in the capital of his home state of Adamawa. Atiku Abubakar stated in his declaration on Saturday in Yola that the federal government led by the APC had failed Nigerians and the people were yearning for change. He decried the killings in different parts of the country and blamed the APC for visiting insecurity, tragedy, division, and economic misery upon the citizens while promising to restore national unity, security of life and property, and economic prosperity if elected president.
THISDAY gathered last night that the decision by the PDP to change its name might have stemmed from last Thursday’s meeting between President Muhammadu Buhari and Senate President Bukola Saraki. Though details of their discussion were not made public, many in PDP believed that with such sessions, the chances of bringing Saraki back to the PDP could be hampered.
The opposition party had long mooted the idea of name change, but had slowed down on the decision because a majority of its members were not disposed to it, and those who wanted it could not convince the others.
Besides, it was thought that even though the party had switched positions and had become an opposition party, PDP was still the only party with membership in the remotest parts of the country, and the name resonated with a majority of its members and admirers, particularly among the teeming illiterate populations.
But this very thinking had since changed, especially with the prevalent narrative of the ruling party, which is always attacking the PDP as a corrupt party. PDP believes the corruption allegation is the main defence APC has found to justify its continued stay in office, despite widespread belief that it has mismanaged the affairs of the country.
Leaders of the opposition party are, therefore, of the opinion that since the ruling APC may be unable to campaign with a good record on economy and security, the only thing it has going for it is the attempt to de-market the opposition by constantly alluding to corruption allegations. However, once the name changes, leaders of the party reckon, PDP would naturally die with the corruption tag and the engagement would shift to issues-based debate. Many PDP members feel that APC would be unable to sustain such a debate owing to its poor performance in the last three years.
It is also believed that in the run up to 2019, PDP has gained many sympathisers, some of who are, however, uncomfortable with the name because of the baggage that comes with it. The party’s leaders are, therefore, of the view that with the old name gone, PDP’s sympathisers would not only openly identify with it, but most of them would also attract more members, thus putting it in a position of advantage to effectively take on APC in the next election.
Therefore, the assignment before the Ekweremadu committee would be to come up with a name that best suits the party, considering the short time between now and 2019, and also not forgetting that such a name must be easily recalled by illiterate citizens.