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OBJ, Ogbulafor: Challenge of leadership

By Linus Ikechukwu

MANY Nigerians used to think that the best thing to have happened to the country at the tail end of military dictatorship was the formation of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the late 1990s. It is now doubtful whether, indeed, the PDP is a national blessing or a curse to the people of Nigeria. No doubt, the PDP is more than just any ruling party because its fate is tied to the future of the country.

Consequently, we all have an obligation to show concern over the affairs of the party. Those of us who pioneered the formation of the party definitely cannot afford to fold our hands and watch it being destroyed.

When in 2008, the Dr. Ahmadu Ali-led executive of the PDP handed over the affairs of the party to Prince Vincent Ogbulafor and his executive, the expectations were exceedingly high. The out-going executive was notorious, particularly for its persistent violation of the rule of law, acts of impunity and corrupt practices. The coming of a new executive was, therefore, a mighty relief to members of the party and, indeed, to all well-meaning Nigerians. How disappointing!

Prince Ogbulafor and his executive have not been faithful to the ideals of the PDP; they have not been able to serve the party and the nation with all their might or to the best of their abilities. A major part of our problem since the new democratic dispensation has been that of corruption and lack of transparency in the running of our national affairs. Unfortunately, it is in this respect that the leadership of the PDP has been most wanting.

A recent newspaper report on the PDP in Imo State stated, to the embarrassment of all, that huge sums of money were spent in mobilising various levels of PDP leadership to ensure the successful defection of Governor Ikedi Ohakim from the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) to the PDP.

On the corrupt manipula-tions that preceded that event, the report had it that “Ohakim may have secured some assurances from the PDP national leadership before making his capital-intensive cross-over. The source spoke of little value placed on  Ogbulafor’s integrity as the National Chairman of the ruling party. Shameful, indeed!

Keen followers of political events within the PDP would agree that what happened in Imo State was not an isolated event. It was a graphic illustration of the corrupt manipulations perpetrated by the leadership of the party in other state chapters – in Plateau, Adamawa, Edo, Anambra, Bayelsa, etc – where party executives have been reduced to a “cash and carry” affair that depends on the highest bidding.

Not surprisingly, the Ogbulafor executive has generated more court cases within the PDP than any other executive in the history of the PDP. In Edo State, the party is virtually comatose; so is the party in Anambra State, and it is most likely to be same in Imo State . Prince Ogbulafor ought to learn from history and the series of court decisions against the PDP.

He appears to be following the bullying leadership style of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. What could have led to the unwarranted sacking of the Imo State Executive of the PDP by the National Executive, if not a show of raw power, especially with Obasanjo in attendance?

The situation is particularly tragic because it got the President of the Federation involved in an open violation of democratic principles with grave implications, not only for the party but also for Nigeria at large. We cannot pretend to be committed to democracy when our ruling party is misleading the President of the country into embracing undemocratic practices.

It is a sad omen for Nigeria , if the leadership of the PDP is prepared to sell the soul of the party for a mess of pottage. Prince Ogbulafor should be told that Nigerians have grown in awareness and that they can no longer be cheated. He has to choose between self interest and service to the nation.

The Nigerian judiciary has again and again proved itself to be the hope of the common man. The eventual nullification, on Tuesday, July 28, 2009, by the law courts, of the illegal dissolution of the Imo State PDP Executive by the Ogbulafor-led Executive, has shown that there is hope and fairness in Nigeria and that at the end justice will prevail, no matter the delay.  Luckily, we have a President who has respect for the rule of law and who obeys court judgments.

When the PDP was established, the goal was that its leadership, especially the National Working Committee (NWC) and the Party’s Board of Trustees (BOT) would uphold and promote values that contribute to the well-being of Nigeria and her people.

It was never imagined that the National Chairman or Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Party would indulge in acts that violate the ideals of the party. That was what happened recently in Imo State , and thank God, good has prevailed over evil.

Mr.  Ikechukwu, a political analyst, writes from Lagos.


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