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PDP, feared but despised

By ochereome Nnanna
BUT somehow, after the victory, the people you vanquished, the opponents we demolished, whom we conquered and who should be, ideally, our booty have today found a life-wire whereby they make so much noise to the point that, apparently, we, the PDP, we who won the elections, who should be defending the interests of the PDP, defending our victory and our fortunes have been blackmailed into silence.

And, therefore, today, the raving and ranting of those who lost elections is now defining and influencing Nigeria and Nigerians in terms of what is called legitimacy. And I think this we do not accept”.

That was Governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa State, one of the few remaining orator-political leaders, in full spate when former PDP Chairman, Dr Ahmadu Ali, came at his invitation to commission some projects in his state.

When you add this to former Senate President, Chief Ken Nnamani’s assertion that today’s PDP had become a party whose victories are regarded as “rigged” while its losses are seen as outcomes of free and fair elections, you will agree that the nation’s ruling party is in a deep crisis of legitimacy both internally and externally.

This obviously accounts for the emergence of the PDP Reform Group, which seeks to restore the ruling party to its original charter of being the engine room for the advancement of genuine democracy in Nigeria.

In its 11 years of dominance of the Nigerian political landscape, the PDP was hijacked by alien forces and turned into the stranger that it is today. The Party was founded while former President Olusegun Obasanjo was in jail. But when he was released and favoured by the ruling class to lead Nigeria again, he took over the reins of the party.

He drove to the margins (and some out of the party altogether) the elements that founded the party after bravely succeeding in challenging General Sani Abacha political machinations at the height of Abacha’s brutal rule. Sule Lamido was one of the G.18 members that later expanded to G.34 which became the core of the original PDP.

Obasanjo destroyed the All Peoples Party (APP) and the Alliance for Democracy (AD) and brought many of their erstwhile members into the PDP. One of these was Dr Vincent Ogbulafor. He was the APP governorship candidate in Abia State in 1999.

When he was outsmarted by Chief Orji Uzor Kalu of the PDP, Ogbulafor was one of the APP elements who were co-opted into Obasanjo’s “government of national unity” as a minister. The Secretary General of the PDP then was Dr Okwesilieze Nwodo, who was Ogbulafor’s Bestman when he wedded. When Obasanjo wanted Nwodo out, it was Ogbulafor that he used to replace him as the National Secretary General.

Some of the people who drifted from other parties to the PDP rose rapidly through the ranks and held many juicy posts in the party and government, and were among the quislings and sycophants who were used by Obasanjo and his foot soldiers such as Ahmadu Ali.

In Obasanjo’s eight years as PDP leader, there was a reign of impunity in the land, and Obasanjo was the major culprit. PDP grew in size, won most of the elections, but inside and out, it was ideologically, philosophically and morally bankrupt.

It was in this state of affairs that the present crop of leaders was elected. PDP was large enough to win the 2007 elections neat. But Obasanjo was so out of control that he still embarked on a do-or-die expedition to make assurance doubly sure.

That robbed the Party of the victor’s swagger. That was why its victories were slammed and losses celebrated. It lost its voice of authority and legitimacy.

Rather than antagonise the Reform Group within its ranks, PDP should actually have seized this opportunity so close to the next general elections to reform itself and reclaim its respect and esteem among Nigerians.

Governor Sule Lamido is obviously a proud party man who is ready to defend its honour. But he should be worried about the sorry state of credibility in the party as one of its founding fathers. It is not really about “conquest”, “demolition” or “booty”. It is a question of restoring the dignity of the “largest party in Africa”, reclaiming its original charter and putting it back as the driver of genuine democratisation in Nigeria.

TA’s second term blues

RECENTLY the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) came out of a  national meeting and, through its spokesman, Ben Onyechere, announced that Governor Theodore Orji of Abia State will be given a second term ticket. He admitted that Governor Orji was a gentleman and a strong electoral asset to the party, who won his election when he was away in detention and should win again now he is a free man and would be campaigning by himself.

It is in PPA’s ultimate interest to give T. A. his second term ticket. He is the party’s best bet if they want to retain their hold on the Government House of Abia State. He has a large following within the party, and if for any reason the Chief Orji Uzor Kalu family gives the ticket to another candidate, the PDP, which has a formidable presence in Abia State, will likely sweep to victory in 2011.

T. A’s only offence was that he wanted a little more breathing space from the Kalu family to work for Abia people and justify the position he is occupying. Beyond that, he has been an exemplary party man, refusing all calls on him to decamp and “be free”. T. A is still OUK and PPA’s best bet.

Onyechere has spoken. But the last word belongs to OUK.


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