By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
The National Democratic Party, NDP when it was formed just before the 2003 elections became a rallying point for many discontented members of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
The party as its founders proclaimed at every opportunity, was a purpose built vehicle conceived by aficionados of former military president, General Ibrahim Babangida to accomplish a romantic return to the Aso Villa by Babangida. As it turned out, Babangida consistently shunned the NDP choristers.
In 2003 when Babangida turned deaf to the passionate pleas of the party officials, the party at the last minute assigned its presidential ticket to Gen. Ike Nwachukwu with Alhaji Habu Fari, the national chairman fixing himself in as the running mate.
The party’s visibility at that time was helped by one of the country’s most articulate political publicists, Prince Kassim Afegbua, the party’s pioneer Director of Publicity. After Gen. Nwachukwu’s run, the baton was passed on to Fari himself in 2007 at the last minute after Gen. Babangida again shunned the NDP’s eternal offer of its presidential ticket.
Fari ran the race albeit unsuccessfully. After he picked up the presidential ticket, the office of the national chairman became vacant and Fari’s longsuffering deputy, Prince Chudi Chukwuani, himself another Babangida apologist assumed Fari’s office.
After the contest Fari positioned himself as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the party with Chukwuani formally taking the position of national chairman.
But that was not to be for long. The erstwhile Director of Publicity of the party, Prince Afegbua who by 2007 had risen to become the Director-General of the party, demurred and led a rebellion.
Afegbua led a faction of the party to wrest control of the party as he assumed the office of national chairman. Afegbua was to engage the duo of Fari and Chukwuani in a media war over the control of the party.
Afegbua was to subsequently distinguish himself as the spokesman to General Babangida successfully running a brief that saw him take political opponents of the General to the cleaners.
Remarkably, while Afegbua was distinguishing himself in articulating the thoughts from the Minna hill top of Babangida, Fari was also reinventing himself in pushing the national chairmanship aspiration of the PDP of business mogul, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur. While the campaign lasted, Fari was all about Tukur, planning strategy and settings for Tukur’s campaign to become national chairman of the PDP.
Today, after helping Tukur to successfully push out all other 11 contenders for the national chairmanship of the PDP, Fari, the erstwhile national chairman of the NDP, the chairman of the BoT of the NDP is the Chief of Staff to the national chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Tukur!
His one time friend turned foe, Prince Afegbua is also today, the Director of Media to the Oshiomhole Gubernatorial Campaign in Edo State!
So, what happened to the office of national chairman of the NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY? The two men have an explanation for the party’s followers.