By Emmanuel Aziken
When Dr. Alex Ekwueme last Wednesday said the story of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP makes him weep; some may have misunderstood the emotional turbulence that led to the assertion.
His assertion when he received members of the party’s reconciliation committee in his Enugu residence, came just two days before yesterday’s historic Court of Appeal judgment on the factional crisis that has paralysed the one-time ruling party. Underpinning that crisis is the fact that the once bubbling national secretariat of the party has been sealed off for more than six months. The same party that once bragged that it would rule the country for 60 uninterrupted years was just 16 years after, chased away from power by a septuagenarian. Even in the absence of the septuagenarian and the visible expressions of rudderlessness, the party can hardly evince a proof of its existence as a constructive opposition party.
Indeed, only a few would have
connected with the historic vision that
underlined the formation of the PDP back in 1998. And perhaps, fewer still, would have contextualised the party as a national institution or bulwark against the primitive tendencies of ethnicity and religious bigotry that chip at the foundations of national cohesion.
The PDP was conceived from the political alliance of nine principled men who stood against the tyranny of the Sani Abacha dictatorship. The G 9 as they were called included Bola Ige, Senator Francis Ellah, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, Prof. Jerry Gana, Dr. Iyorcha Ayu, Solomon Lar, Adamu Ciroma, Abubakar Rimi and Sule Lamido. Four of the nine men, Ige, Ellah, Lar, and Rimi have now passed on to the great beyond, leaving the remaining five to live with the torture of a missed vision.
Governor Sule Lamido who governed Jigawa State between 2007 and 2015, perhaps as a memory to the vision of the G9, immortalised them by naming nine Government Guest chalets in Dutse after each of
Members of the G9 at that time in the late nineties represented some of the best political minds in the country. Remarkably, the major ethnic and religious shades in the country found habitation of sorts within the G9.
It is significant that after the 1999 elections that the PDP won 21 of the 36 governorship slots in the country. Remarkably, ten of its governors were from the North, and 11 were from the South; underlining its standing as a truly national party. Its national colouration was against the provincial character of its two competitors, the then All Peoples Party, APP and the Alliance for Democracy, AD which drew strength almost entirely from the North and Southwest respectively.
It is this great national institution that has lately been reduced to near irrelevance, not even able to voice its positions on national issues.
Ekwueme blamed President
Olusegun Obasanjo for what happened to the PDP. Though it wasn’t reported, it is unimaginable that the former vice-president would have let it slip that Obasanjo was not even there when the G9 sowed the seed of the party. Not even when others came to join them to make it G18, or even when it reached G34 was Obasanjo present.
Whether Obasanjo as a person was wholly responsible for what happened to the PDP remains an issue for the jury, especially given the effectual role played by other political actors in that period. Many who lost out in the power game turned out to bellyache and curse Obasanjo for being an enemy of democracy including those who within their own conclaves destroyed the basic instincts of internal democracy.
Even the well respected Dr. Ekwueme is sometimes blamed for the anarchy that became the lot of the PDP in his state, Anambra. Those who have not heard his perspective of the role, if any, he played in the emergence of Dr. Chinwoke Mbadiniju as PDP governor say he was responsible for the disaster that the PDP became in Anambra.
Though he has publicly torn his membership card of the PDP, it would be a notorious space in history if Obasanjo refuses to let the world let the role played by the different actors in the sordid and sorry state of the PDP. Then, Ekwueme’s weeping would have been truly in vain.