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PDP and the lessons we fail to learn

By Dele Sobowale
What experience and history teach people is that people and governments never have learnt anything from history or acted on principles deduced from it —George Hegel, 1770-1831, Vanguard Book of Quotations p. 92

AND to this, Barbara Tuchman, perhaps the leading authority on 14th century European history added: “History never repeats itself; man does.” Whoever made the decision to remove history from our school curriculum must have inadvertently consigned this nation to perpetual underdevelopment for one cardinal reason only.

He has ensured that we never will be able to learn from our mistakes. And any nation which keeps repeating the same mistakes should forget about any vision, be it Vision 2020 or Vision 4040. Of all the subjects and books that I had to read while compiling the Vanguard Book of Quotations, none had helped me in understanding human behaviour better than the history books – followed by readings in philosophy.

Indeed, if I had my life to live again, I would read history; not economics and marketing – although they also have their uses.

Today, the greatest danger to the future of Nigeria, which, even now would have qualified to be described in Christopher Marlowe’s, 1564-1594, words when he said.

“Hell hath no limits, nor is circumscribed in one self place: for where we have is hell, and where hell is we must ever be”. (Vanguard Book of Quotations, p.89).  Before going on to explain why the PDP is the greatest danger to this country let me take us back to recent history.

During the struggle against Obasanjo’s ambition for the third term, I had published a series of articles on these pages about African leaders and their political parties which had parlayed initial majority into one-party states.

In each and every case the president or prime minister had persuaded most members of his party to help in eliminating all political opposition.

The fools willingly obliged; hoping that they would profit from the scheme. Inevitably, the one-party state had degenerated into a one man dictatorship.

Also invariably, most of the strongest supporters of the President, as he grabbed maximum power, ended up being swallowed by the monster they helped to create. Let, me list for now, some of the disasters African countries have created and which, by holding back political development have also ensured that most Africans, including Nigerians, live in perpetual hell.

Jomo Kenyatta -1963-1978 (15 years); followed by Arap Moi 1978-2000s (22 years)
Kwame Nkrumah -1951-1966 (15 years)
Sekou Toure -1958-1984 (26 years)
Hastings Banda -1964-1992 (28 years)
Dauda Jawara -1963-1990 (27 years)
Robert Mugabe -1980-2009 (29 years and still going)
Mobutu Sese Seko -1964-2000s  (26 years+)
Gnasingbe Eyadema -1967-2005 (38 years).

In each and every case, their political opponents either went into exile or early graves; and then the leader’s followers went after them one by one. Here in Nigeria, the G-34, who formed the nucleus of the PDP, stood by while the party first became a three-man show (Obasanjo, Atiku and Anenih); then it turned into a one-man affair. And only the failure of the third term saved us from a one man dictatorship. Yet, today that is the path the PDP is threading.

Attah/Akpabio (4)

For every folly of their (leaders), the (people) feel the lash —Horace, 65-8 B.C., Vanguard Book of Quotations, p.61)

DO you know what the  millennium dome built in Britain when Tony Blair was prime minister and the proposed Ibom Tropicana Entertainment Centre, ITEC, have in common? Well, I will tell you.

It is folly. And if you want to know why, you will have to wait till next week. For now, let me tell you that Britain wasted one billion pounds sterling on a vainglorious project which Tony Blair praised so effusively in the following words: “Picture the scene.

The clock strikes midnight on December 31, 1999. The eyes of the world turn to the spot where the new millennium begins – the Meridian Line at Greenwich.

“This is Britain’s opportunity to greet the world with a celebration that is so bold, so beautiful, so inspiring that it embodies at once the spirit of confidence and adventure in Britain and the spirit of the future in the world.

This is the reason for the millennium experience. Not a product of imagination run wild, but a huge opportunity for Britain. So let us seize the moment and put on something of which we and the world will be proud, then we will say to ourselves with pride this is our Dome, Britain’s Dome, and believe me, it will be the envy of the world”.

Unfortunately for Blair and for Britons, what Blair said will be called “our dome” became “our doom” for Britons. One billion pounds down the drain and the world is not even looking at the monstrous project, let alone being envious of the calamity it turned out to be. What lesson for ITEC? Don’t be impatient. That is enough for today…


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