BY LEKAN BILESANMI
Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chairman, Alhaji Adamu Muazu, in one of the on-going campaign rallies for this year’s general elections, told on excited crowd that the party will continue to do well if it refrains from the habit of using and dumping its members. To situate this statement in its proper context, until 1998, there was no name like the PDP.
The name became famous, perhaps than other parties, because it was the party of choice when it was founded to usher in the new political dispensation in 1999. The name, however, is not as popular as its logo, the umbrella. The party is so popular that sometimes, only its logo would suffice. The now celebrated logo was designed by a journalist, Gbenga Amobonye.
However, Amobonye’s effort to the success of the party today appears an oversight as some have suggested. Thunder does not strike on the same spot twice. If after repeated efforts to get the party’s hierarchy to see the need why this unsung hero should be rewarded and, at every effort, there is a brick wall, one is quick to align with its Chairman’s postulation of use and dump. Amobonye wrote several letters to the party leadership without any response. Well, if the letters did not get to the addressee, the addressee cannot be blocked from reading Amobonye’s thoughts on the pages of newspapers.
He said, in one of the letters,” I proposed umbrella to the party in 1998 as its symbol and it was carried with spontaneous applause and commendation. The proposal for the adoption of the umbrella as symbol of the then emerging political party, PDP, was presented on my behalf by one time President of the Senate, the late Dr. Chuba Okadigbo, in his capacity as Chairman of the Publicity Committee of the political association, whose responsibility, it was, to consider a name and symbol for the association, in preparation for its registration as a political party with the Independent Electoral Commission, INEC”. His proposed symbol was not only accepted but was approved by the party hierarchy.
However, in year 2000, according to the letter, Okadigbo introduced him to the then party Chairman, Chief Barnabas Gemade, as ‘ the man who gave PDP its logo, and said, please do something for him’. Gemade never did even when Amobonye had to officially write him. His persistent efforts appeared to be paying off when he learnt that the Special Assistant to the then National Secretary, Senator Aniete Okon, signed a letter addressed to some founding fathers of the party on the issue.
It read, “I am directed to forward here the letter dated 27th June,2001 from Mr Gboyega Amobonye, Abuja Bureau Chief, National Concord Press of Nigeria Ltd, to our National Chairman claiming he suggested the umbrella symbol at the foundation stage of our great party, for your kind attention and advice. It will be appreciated if you throw more light on this matter to help the National Working Committee, NWC.”
Segun Adeniyi, the Thisday Editorial Chairman, on December 15, 2002, published an interview with the late Okadigbo where he said, ” The name PDP was suggested by me at the Muson Centre in Lagos, including the symbol. There was a certain Yoruba guy from Concord Newspaper who wrote me a letter which had this symbol of umbrella, I thought it was interesting. So, I read it out and it was adopted”.
Evidence abound to show that indeed Amobonye was the brain behind the symbol through the collaborative claims of important party members.
One-time PDP Publicity Secretary, Gbenga Olawepo, in an interview with the defunct Monitor Newspaper of September 30,2001, corroborated the claim of the late Okadigbo. Olawepo, in the interview, was expressing his view on his suspension and eventual expulsion from the party. He said: ’You, Gbenga Amobonye, even submitted the proposal for our symbol which we adopted at the Muson Centre, Lagos. Was Gemade at the meeting? That was when we were considering the logo and everything, you made a proposal. You know the story of the PDP better. How can any of these people now say they are sacking me from the party?”
Amobonye said he would continue to appeal to the PDP leadership rather than resorting to legal action over the logo issue, hoping that they would have a change of heart.” I think this option I have been pursuing is far better than the legal option you are asking me about. If you believe in a cause, see it to the end, and that is what I intend to do. I will continue to appeal to them, particularly Alhaji Adamu Muazu, the Chairman and President Goodluck Jonathan, the party leader, to see my little contribution to what the party is today and duly acknowledge it .
I have written another letter to the President explaining my stand on the issue. I am yet to get a reply. Yes, it is true that this is an intellectual property issue which ordinarily should resort to litigation. But what do I stand to benefit ultimately if I drag the party to court? If my design, which is my sweat, is appreciated by the party and adopted it as its official symbol, and the same party is now the largest on the continent, apart from being the ruling party since about 16 years now, I should be glad that my effort is what everybody is trying to associate with. So, I will continue to appeal to them, particularly through your widely read medium”.
Amobonye appealed to President Good luck Jonathan to appreciate his foundation effort that has led to the success of the party today.” I, most respectfully, therefore, crave Mr President’s kind indulgence that I may be so recognised, acknowledged and compensated for my intellectual property.
I am appealing to Mr President, in his capacity as the leader of the party and father of the nation, having failed to receive due attention of every Chairman of the party to whom I have been appealing since 1999-from Chief Barnabas Gemade to the incumbent and skilful crises manager, former action governor of Bauchi State, Alhaji Adamu Muazu, whose letter was delivered and acknowledged on April 14, 2014”. Just as the effort of the Nigerian flag designer, Pa Akinwunmi, was eventually acknowledged and appreciated by the Jonathan administration, let us hope that he would also do same for Amobonye.