The People’s Democratic Party was founded in 1998 following the government’s announcement that democratic elections would be held the following year, ending 16 years of military rule.
Since 1978 political parties in Nigeria have been required to represent national rather than regional or ethnic constituencies. For the 1999 elections, the PDP, the All People’s Party, and the Alliance for Democracy met this legal requirement by having active offices in 24 out of 36 states.
The PDP was founded by Alex Ekwueme, a former vice president of the country (1979–83)
In the legislative election held on 12 April 2003, the party won 54.5% of the popular vote and 223 out of 360 seats in the House of Representatives, and 76 out of 109 seats in the Senate. Its candidate in the presidential election of 19 April 2003, Olusegun Obasanjo, was re-elected with 61.9% of the vote.
In December 2006 Umaru Yar'Adua was chosen as the presidential candidate of the ruling PDP for the April 2007 general election, receiving 3,024 votes from party delegates; his closest rival, Rochas Okorocha, received only 372 votes. Yar'Adua was eventually declared the winner of the 2007 general elections, held on April 21, and was sworn in on May 29, 2007, amid widespread allegations of electoral fraud. In the Nigerian National Assembly election, the party won 260 out of 360 seats in the House of Representatives and 85 out of 109 seats in the Senate.
At the PDP's 2008 National Convention, it chose Prince Vincent Ogbulafor as its National Chairman on March 8, 2008. Ogbulafor, who was the PDP's National Secretary from 2001 to 2005, was the party's consensus choice for the position of National Chairman, selected as an alternative to the rival leading candidates Sam Egwu (who was backed by Obasanjo) and Anyim Pius Anyim. All 26 other candidates, including Egwu and Anyim, withdrew in favor of Ogbulafor. Meanwhile, Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje was elected as National Secretary.
However, waves of mass defectionhit the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) across Nigeria, with many aggrieved members decamping mostly to the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).
In 2011, after the People's Democratic Party saw members defect for the Action Congress of Nigeria, some political commentators suspected that the PDP would lose the Presidency. Following PDP nomination Goodluck Jonathan's victory in the 2011 elections, it was reported that there were violent protests from northern youth.