Jerry John Rawlings: Ghana’s Junior Jesus

By Tony Eluemunor

History is, unfortunately, about to repeat itself. It is just a year and few months to the next election, but opposition parties are behaving as though Nigeria is healthy.  No intense preparation is on to turn the tide against the All Progressives Congress (APC) under whose watch Nigeria turned into a land of tears, sorrow and blood because of general insecurity and the global poverty capital. The citizenry has nothing worth having.

As is usually the case with failed administrations, excuses are being advanced for this failure, but the APC and its key players are still filled with either a blind conceit or a terrible and galloping hypocrisy.

Hey, you may have already become firmly convinced that I have set out today to hammer APC, but that would be decidedly wrong; my anger is directed against the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), especially its variant that former President Goodluck Jonathan left behind (or abandoned—depending on whether he is still a member of that party of he now belongs to APC).

With less than two years to the next presidential elections, Nigeria is just where she was in 1981/82.  By then it was obvious that former President Shehu Shagari’s administration had failed beyond redemption. Yet, the opposition political parties stood largely on their own as independent groups ready to repeat the mistake that resulted in their individual losses in the 1979 election and thus made possible the NPN administration which Shagari headed as president. That the NPN nearly did not acquire the needed twelve and two third of 19 states national spread to meet the set down rules for a victor to emerge from the 1999 election did not convince the opposition parties to unite against the NPN in the next election.

With Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe’s Nigerian Peoples Party (NPP) holding the then two South-Eastern states plus Plateau state and Chief Awolowo’s Unity Party of Nigeria holding firmly to the South-Western states and South-South’s Bendel State, and Alhaji Waziri Ibrahim’s Great Nigeria People’s Party (GNPP) controlling affairs in Bornu and Gongola states in the North East, and Alhaji Aminu Kano’s Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) having Governors in Kano and Kaduna states, NPN would have defeated in 1993 if those parties teamed up against their common foe.

In 2011, the Action Congress fused with the Conscience Party to give what remained of PDP a drubbing. What remained of PDP? I said that with all conviction for the PDP that Jonathan led into that election was a wounded, dying, wobbly, fading and vanishing PDP which Obasanjo handed over to Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and which Jonathan further damaged. Remember that former Vice-President Alex Ekwueme and the 40 wise men had fashioned PDP into a decidedly national party. It came complete with the idea of rotational presidency to allow Nigeria to heal from the wounds a lengthy and nasty military regime had inflicted on it.

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The PDP wise men had formed a party that would not be dominated by any ethnic group but which would be absolutely Nigerian, so that one heavy and debilitating load; that ethnic overhang, would for once be banished from Nigerian politics. Unfortunately, General’s Theophilus Danjuma, Ibrahim Babangida and Aliyu Gusau did not allow Dr Ekwueme to have the first shot at the presidency in 1999. Yes, it is easy to blame them, right?  We would all be wrong if our blame is not put in its truest context. They had played some roles in the Gens Murtala/Obasanjo 1976-79 military administration—Nigeria’s golden epoch. So, why not bring back Obasanjo for a grand encore?

They must have reasoned thus. But that proved a disaster—but known to us only with the benefit of hindsight. Or, who would have told Danjuma, that Obasanjo would spit on the rich recommendations of his Presidential Policy Advisory Council (PPAC)? Jonathan did the same too in 2011; 12 problems were identified for him to solve but he bombed in all. Jonathan got into office with some 28 or so PDP states.

He left office with about 12. Right before the elections, five governors had left the PDP and he did not see the danger that portended. And they fell victim, reaching agreement with Bola Tinubu’s Action Congress and Buhari’s Conscience Party, when Buhari follows the dictates of his mind; some call him stubborn, others say his is inflexible. I say he is not a team player. And today, Nigeria is more divided, ethnically, than ever before. Ekwueme’s labours are now in vain.

That brings us to the title of this column; in 1983, Zik and Awo still embraced their petty squabbles, so neither could lead a conglomeration of other parties. The only option open was for a new but serious presidential candidate to emerge; think of a Lateef Jakande and Abubakar Rimi ticket. Think of a Sam Mbakwe or Jim Nwobodo and Rimi or Balararabe Musa ticket. Of all, only Nwobodo is still alive; what a loss! And then the GNPP would have been promised the Senate presidency post.

The NPN would have been defeated, despite their landslide rigging because a tsunami would have battered it.  But it was still a world of “Awo or nobody else” in the West and “Zik or nobody else” in the East. But Shagari won, not Awo or Zik. UPN lost Oyo and Bendel states, and NPP lost Anambra and Rimi lost in Kano.

The rest is … Nigeria’s sorry history.

So, how is PDP preparing for the 2023 election? It must first reclaim its soul damage by Obasanjo’s corrosive excesses, remodel it after what Ekwueme had envisioned, and master planners, game changers, strategists like Chief James Ibori or Dr Bukola Saraki (without sworn enemies) should reorganise PDP. Atiku Abubakar should recreate the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) wonder. Nigeria needs a party Nigeriana which promises administration Nigeriana.  Just think about Nigeria’s fate … from Jonathan’s mistakes and the confusion since APC’s victory in 2015. Think about that.



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