Another party, Independent Democrat, has also been registered. Atiku Abubakar has said that he is still a member of the PDP.
After weeks of speculation, the Independent National Electoral Commission on Friday announced the registration of Peoples Democratic Movement, a party largely believed to have links with former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.
The announcement came a day after Mr. Abubakar admitted his ‘political associates’ were behind the new party.
The electoral commission also registered another party, the Independent Democrat, ID, raising the total number of political parties to 25.
“The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has registered two new political parties in accordance with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as Amended) and the Electoral Act 2010 (as Amended).
“The newly registered parties are the Independent Democrats (ID) and the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM),” INEC said in a statement signed by secretary to the commission, A. C. Ogakwu.
The statement said the constitution, manifesto, logo/flag and list of National Executive Officers of each parties have also been approved by the commission.
Arriving barely two weeks after three major opposition parties merged into one, the PDM is seen as a potential platform for Mr. Abubakar in 2015; and appears certain to rejig Nigeria’s fast-paced political setting ahead of 2015 elections.
The former vice president, has officially denied being a member of the new party, although his associates have hinted at his interest in informal interviews.
The PDM’s interim chairman, Bashir Yusuf, also told PREMIUM TIMES the former vice president remained a member of the PDP.
“No, Atiku is a member of PDP,” he said.
But what would seem the clearest of hints from the former vice president regarding his links with the new party came Thursday in a statement released by his media team, insisting that Mr. Abubakar remains a member of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, a party he helped found in 1998 from the early structures of PDM.
At the time, PDM was merely political group pioneered by the late Shehu Yar’Adua, the elder brother to former President Umaru Yar’Adua.
But Mr. Abubakar made it clear in the statement that his “associates” were behind the new party, and he had no “right or power to stop others from associating or seeking registration for new parties.”
“While acknowledging that many of his political associates are involved in registering the PDM, Atiku Abubakar explained that he had no powers to stop adults with common interests from coming together to form a party,” the statement said.
He however welcomed the proposed party-as it was at the time, as “the expansion of the political space to accommodate all shades of opinions or political hue.”
Besides an apparent potential for the 2015 presidential election, allies of the vice president speak of the emergence of the new party as a guarded response to Mr. Abubakar’s increasing alienation from the PDP.
Weeks back, Mr. Abubakar gave weight to that concern with a protest to the leadership of the PDP, about his treatment and the specific case of his name missing from the delegate list for the August 31 special convention of the PDP.
The letter, dated July 11 to the National Chairman of the PDP, Bamanga Tukur, also complained about the systematic withdrawal of the respects and privileges accorded to him as a former vice president, in line with the PDP Constitution and sought the rectification of the mistake.
“As a bonafide member of our party, I look forward to the respect and privileges conferred on the Office of the Vice President and founding fathers of the party by our party constitution,” the former vice president wrote.
“I therefore request for a correction and restoration of my right to attend the forthcoming Special National Convention of our great party and also membership of the Board of Trustees.”
If the former vice president leaves the PDP, it would be the second time after he left in 2007 to the defunct Action Congress.