Obviously, the People Democratic Party (PDP) needs to rebrand for its deserved victories in any election in Nigeria going forward. PDP got too comfortable in government and forgot to remarket its brand to the Nigerians. The All-Progressive Congress (APC) in opposition took advantage and dealt monumental damage to the image of the PDP with several orchestrated propaganda and fabrications.
To a large extent, the PDP has not recovered from its loss in the 2015 general election. The party has consistently failed to utilize several failures of the APC in government towards redemption. Observers of Nigerian politics wonder why the PDP allowed the lies of the past to linger with the electorates to its detriment for several years.
If the PDP must change the status quo, a drastic effort at rebranding the party is a must and it should start from Ekiti where it all began in 2010. The next governorship election in the state offers that ladder.
Rebranding in this context entails rigorous and painstaking efforts at changing the perception of the electorates about the PDP. These efforts should include cleaning up the process leading to the party’s primaries, the conduct of rancour free internal elections and the emergence of individuals without blemishes as representatives of the party at the polls.
The PDP must employ the strategy of giving a new face to its brand at all levels. Companies change name or symbol to rebrand but a political party may simply change its representatives at the polls to wear a new look. Presenting to the electorate candidates that may not be known or identified with its past. This is like changing the design for an already-established company brand.
The idea behind rebranding is to create a different identity for the PDP at the polls, a brand that is a departure from the lies told by the opposition. Thanks to the APC, Nigerians are no longer oblivious of the fact that a political party is as good as the ability of its representatives in government to deliver the dividends of democracy. Every Nigerian agrees that the ruling party has not only failed in meaningful governance but lacks meat to redeem itself and ensure prosperity for all.
No doubt, Ekiti state PDP parades household names that are closely affiliated with the old characters of the party in the mind of the electorates. People who are part and parcel of the dented past and are interested in retaining and remaining as the face of the new PDP, especially at the 2022 governorship poll. The national leadership may be tempted to assume that these old wine skins with deep seated animosity are the best containers for the new wine, the result will be devastating for the party.
It is time for the PDP to embrace the wisdom of creating a new wine skin for a new wine to preserve the wine. A new face flying the flag of a united PDP at the polls in Ekiti is a strategy to beat. The APC leadership in Ekiti is patiently waiting for who becomes the candidate of the PDP in the State. Their prayer is for the PDP to make the mistake of picking any of its old hands whose weaknesses they know.
Since the last gubernatorial election in Ekiti state in 2018, the PDP has not remained the same. It has been from one battle for supremacy to “taking over” party structures, thus damaging the electorate’s perception. Former governors and Deputy Governors that were once the face of the PDP in Ekiti are at the forefront of these hostilities. Interestingly, all have either shown interest in the party’s governorship ticket openly or clandestinely, while others have endorsed a candidate ahead of the Primary. While these leaders cannot be wished away in Ekiti State politics, truth be told, the party has to move beyond politics of personal aggrandizement if PDP must produce the governor of Ekiti again. One of the main reasons the party lost during the last election was supremacy fight and irreconcilable conflict of interests.
As at the last count, over nine qualified aspirants are jostling for the PDP governorship ticket come 2022. Among these men is a former governor Asiwaju Segun Oni, his deputy, Dr Sikiru Lawal, Senator Abiodun Olujimi (former Deputy Governor), Yinka Akerele (former PDP governorship aspirant and chairman Ekiti Road Management Agency), Bisi Kolawole (immediate past PDP chairman, former house of assembly member and commissioner in Ekiti), former Deputy Governor Prof. Olusola Eleka, Hon Wale Aribisala (former House of Representative member and current National Treasurer of the party), Mr. Kayode Adaramodu (former Senatorial Aspirant in Ekiti South and ex bank executive) and Mr Lateef Ajijola(former Senatorial Aspirant in Ekiti Central and a successful businessman).
Clearly, any of these men is eminently qualified to contest Ekiti governorship seat. But the most politically qualified may not be the most suitable candidate to win this election because of the exigency of the circumstance. The electorates are eager for something different, a breath of fresh air. Therefore, we must look for a capable, energetic and digital-minded individual with evidence of progressive ideas.
I strongly recommend a choice between the easy-going Prof Eleka (if he can be reconciled with former governor Fayose), an established and loyal partyman Aribisala who is presently the National Treasurer of the PDP, the vibrant and charismatic Kayode Adaramodu and highly dogged and energetic Ajijola.
The national leadership should urgently intervene in the party in Ekiti. The party cannot afford to be in opposition again in 2022. More importantly, the electorates are eagerly waiting to vote for the PDP if the right candidate is offered to fly the party’s flag.
Ogunmodede, a PDP member, writes from Ikere Ekiti