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Requiem for Ekwueme’s ‘Baby’ – PDP(1)

By Dele Sobowale

“All political parties die at last of swallowing their own lies.” Dr John Arbuthnot, 1667-1735. VANGUARD BOOK p 191.

It was no news that Jonathan would seek another term in office. Never mind that well-orchestrated deception about going to Jerusalem to seek “divine guidance”. Obama did not go there for the simple reason that nobody has ever seen God in Jerusalem. Even the “merchants of miracles”, who accompanied new “prayer warrior” know that. It was just another opportunity to collect bountiful estacodes from a depleting national treasury by the “Haves”. The former “shoeless boy” has discovered new friends – they are the jet owners. He has abandoned all those poor people gullible enough to buy his “sob stories” in 2011.

However, I am not, this Sunday, concerned with theatricals, comedy or tragedy. Even the most amusing or boring comedians sooner or depart the stage. Was it not one of the funniest, in the USA in the 1960s to 1970s, Red Skelton, who told us that, “A clown is like a man sitting on a THRONE [emphasis mine] of ice; wondering when it will all melt away”? So we can endure and pray in our hearts (we can’t afford a trip to Jerusalem, remember) that this awful episode will soon pass away. My reason for writing this series is to teach us some recent history.


“Journalism is the first rough draft of history”, said Phil Graham, late Editor of the WASHINGTON POST.

It is important for the sake of posterity to start documenting how we got to the sorry state in which we find Nigeria today. It did not happen by accident. The situation, including Boko Haram, crude oil theft, high unemployment, poor education and infrastructures etc, are the consequences of political choices, made on our behalf, by political leaders, especially since 1999 – which should have provided us with a radical departure from our sordid past. Incidentally, Jonathan is not the main cause of our problems. He is also not the solution; for the simple reason that he had been thrown up by a political party, the PDP, which lost its bearings right from the first decision it made about its presidential candidate in 1999. The day, Olusegun Obasanjo’s hand was raised up as the candidate of the PDP, in 1999, marked the beginning of the decline and fall of the ruling party and the condemnation of Nigeria to a perpetual basket case – economically, socially and politically. (Incidentally, most of what follows is already published in my book PDP: CORRUPTION INCORPORATED, chapters 2 to 4.)

Said President Dwight Eisenhower, 1890-1969, of the USA, on November 7, 1956, “a political party deserves the approbation of America only as it represents the aspirations and hopes of Americans. If it is anything else, it is only a conspiracy to seize power.” Most right thinking Nigerians will agree with that position with respect to Nigeria. Thus when in 1998, a small group of courageous Nigerians, called G-34, led by Dr Alex Ekwueme, former Vice-President of Nigeria, set out to form an all-inclusive political party which will represent the aspirations and hopes of Nigerians, many people, especially in the media, thought we were on the right political track at last. I was not so sure – for one fundamental reason. The G-34 itself was a collection of people with irreconcilable principles. Next week, we start with the list of G-34……..


“A fool if offered eternity will not know what to do with it” Epicurus, 341-270 B.C. VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS p 62.

One of the reasons I quickly became an early convert to Sam Nda-Isaiah’s campaign was his insistence on the need for BIG IDEAS – meaning throwing away the old “patch and stitch” approach to governance. Like John Kennedy’s “we are going to the moon” in 1961, which spurred the space programme, the outlines were not immediately properly defined. But, it was a challenge to the scientific community, backed by adequate resources – which paid off handsomely in 1969 when the first man walked on the moon. Sam thought that we need such BIG IDEAS. His first is power; mine is poverty eradication. So, for me it was easy to volunteer to help him. Take power generation for example.

Nigeria, since 1999, had produced three presidents, to me, men with little minds, who, together, in 15 years, added a mere 2,000MW to the power supply. At that rate, if they continue in power, for 60 years, Nigeria will enjoy 8000MW in 2074 – with 500 million population!!!

By contrast, South Africans, blessed with leaders with BIG IDEAS, built each of the following power stations in less than five years: KENDAL (4,374MW); MATIMBA (3990MW); LETHABO (3,708MW); TUTUKA (3,654MW); DUVHA (3600MW); MATIA (3,600MW). Not once was a probe necessary because no well-connected people stole the funds. Sam discussed such things and I know he will not dance skelewu after producing 500MW in five years after NYANYA massacre and after 47 kids were slaughtered in Potiskum. That is the difference.


If four states are now under control of insurgents; if 247 girls are still missing; if Boko Haram has gone further to capture the entire Chibok town; if kids are massacred in Potiskum and travelers and commuters in Kano and Abuja; if $10-20bn is still unaccounted for by NNPC; if one Minister bought cars worth N240m and another spent N10bn on joy rides round the globe; if the N1tr fuel subsidy scam remains unexplained; if states can no longer pay civil servants and pensioners die on queue without getting paid; if public universities are badly equipped; if students and lawyers fail exams; if the East-West Road had not been completed in 15 years. Damn it! I just want to be re-elected. But, then, I am only the president of area boys. What does your President give a damn about?

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