By Luka Binniyat
Last Wednesday, at the Murtala Muhammed Square, Kaduna, an army of urchins, among others, converged.
Dressed in and what looked like hurriedly made Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) T-shirts and caps, their dusty feet, thread-bare trousers and the liberty with which they smoked and screamed obscenities , reminded one of the “toxic waste of human society”.
Occasionally a brawl would break out in the crowd but would be quickly contained by the large number of uniformed and plain clothes security men at the venue.
The occasion was the North-west PDP zonal rally which had in attendance President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GEJ) who sat under the giant canopy stand at the square, with Vice President. Namadi Sambo, members of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the PDP, seven governors, several former governors, scores of senators, Reps members, and ministers.
Behind them were many prominent members of the PDP from the North-west.
If the aim of the rally was to showcase the degree of support for the PDP in the North-west, it would look like Sambo is in serious deficit, including the host Governor. Mukhtar Ramalan Yero of Kaduna State.
The men who stole the show were the governor of Katsina State, Barrister Ibrahim Shehu Shema, and Jonathan
While the applause the President received when he was called to round off the three-hours rally with a speech may be out of the excitement of most of the crowd seeing him in person for the first time, the cheering that greeted Shema each time his name was mentioned showed he must done something others did not do.
Even when local musicians were called to entertain the gathering, the crowd quickly improvised a chorus that ended with . . . Sai Shema! (Shema only!)
Those who claim to understand the inner workings of the PDP told this reporter that it was a plot to make Sambo look inconsequential in the gathering while presenting the Katsina governor as the man truly in-charge of the politics of the zone. It was a wily style of bargaining for the running mate of the President in place of Sambo, should the president decide to run in 2015.
Though the occasion was supposed to be a “Unity and Reconciliation Rally” for the zone, most of the speakers spoke on the achievements of Mr President and of the PDP since 1999.
Apart from the Chairman, BoT of the PDP, Chief Tony Anenih, the governor of Jigawa State, Alhaji Sule Lamido, and the National Chairman of the party, Alhaji Adamu Mua’azu, who harped on the importance of reconciling aggrieved members of the PDP from the zone, all speakers praised the President, and what a wonderful party the PDP had been since 1999.
As if saving the best for the last, Jonathan took on the opposition in a tirade.
Even the Minister of Information, Mr Labaran Maku, known for his unsparing words for those opposing the President, did not match what the President had to tell his opponents.
After calling the APC (which is a marriage of three political parties) a container of toxins, he told it to go dip its head in a septic tank.
Said the President: “PDP is the only party that whatever is happening to the PDP is happening to Nigeria. PDP is the only party that you can say ‘is for the people, by the people and of the people’
“ We have been told that some people are ganging-up in different names. I can assure you that this is not the first time that there has been a gang-up.
“From 1999 there was a gang up. Two, three political parties came together. They brought a presidential candidate from one Secretary to the Federal Government. The gang up will fail.
“ And I tell people that if you put oil in a container, then pour kerosene in that container, then pour sulphuric acid in that container, you bring petrol and pour in that container and then hydrochloric acid, what do you think will happen to that container? Disaster!
“The gang up will fail. It is just as you mix acid and other things in a container. It is not a new thing. They will continue to gang-up, but will fail.
“And ask yourself – look at the history of great political parties all over the world. They don’t change everyday like rocks going through metamorphosis.
“Look at the African National Congress (ANC) of South Africa. The ANC is over 103 years old. It is older than Nigeria as a state. It is still ANC today. So when you see a party changing names anyhow you should know that that is not where to go.
“ The PDP is committed to being stable. And PDP is taking us to where we shall go. PDP is the right place to be PDP is a truly democratic party. It is the party that anybody can rise to be anything. It is the party that gives me and you the opportunity to be what we want to be. So continue to support the PDP, continue to be with the PDP. . . . continue with your commitment to our great party, don’t be worried.
“PDP remains committed to the development of the country. And let me re-assure you very, very sincerely that the PDP is still the party of the North-west zone, and intends to remain so. Come 2015 PDP is going to retain this zone. . . we will continue to retain Jigawa, Katsina, Kaduna, Kebbi states.
Kano is a PDP state, but some people want to take the state from us. We don’t know where they are taking Kano State. But with Shekarau and others joining PDP, we will take Kano back. Kano State will surely come back to PDP.
The same thing with Sokoto State. PDP will take over Sokoto state, and will continue to rule Sokoto State. The only state that has never been a in the control of the PDP is Zamfara State. But it is a friendly state, and we have been assured that we will win Zamfara come 2015”.