By Sen Chris Ekpenyong
The state of the nation prior to 1998 could well be described as near comatose.
The human rights record of the military administration was at its peak.
The nation’s economy was on a steady slide to perdition. There was near hopelessness and uncertainty. In the political terrain, the nation was served with strange concoctions that would have ultimately led to national suicide.
Amid all this confusion, a group of political leaders, 18 of them in the first instance and later thirty-four decided to “dare the lion in his den”. This group known as the G-34 later formed the nucleus and rallying point of the associations that formed what is today, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
What were the ideas behind this coalition to save democracy?
Alhaji Abubakar Rimi, Second Republic Governor of Kano State and convener of the Peoples Democratic Party, had traced the idea of the formation of the party to the quest to unite civil society against military rule. According to him, “the politics of Nigeria before now was built on ethnicity, regionalism and sectionalism.’’
So the founding fathers of the PDP decided that they are going to form a party that is so big and so popular that everybody will join”.
And on August 19, 1998, several political associations including the All Nigerian Congress (ANC), Peoples Consultative Forum (PCF), Social Political Party (SPP), Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM), Peoples National Forum (PNF) and 25 other associations resolved to form a political party known as PDP. The overriding goal of the new party was to bring together all patriotic and like-minded Nigerians into a single formidable political party capable of organizing and advancing the cause of Nigeria, to build a national party that will stand the test of time.
The new party also set out to work together for the speedy restoration of democracy, through the advancement of national reconciliation, economic and social reconstruction, and respect for human rights and the rule of law.
These were the ideals of our founding fathers, these were the purpose of the formation of the party and I know many young party men and women of today are not familiar with those core values of the party. That is why people like myself who are founding members of this great party will continue to remind them why this party was formed.- it was not for anybody’s egoistic purpose. It was formed because of a need
And like then, Nigeria today is faced with other worse challenges and I could remember at the formative stage of the party everyone had their interest, everyone wanted to be something but for the unity of the party, most people had to sacrifice their interests for the collective interest of the party which was to get Nigeria to the right track.
Just like the famous African proverb goes, “when elephants fight, the grass gets trampled, I want to use this opportunity to appeal to the leaders and stakeholders of the PDP, especially those who are hurt or aggrieved about the decisions or state of the party to remember the above African proverb, that in all they are doing or saying they shouldn’t forget the labour and sacrifices of the founding fathers of the party in getting the party institutionalized across the country. Most of those founding fathers had to sacrifice their interests for the collective interest of the party, which foundation has kept the party today
I’m appealing again to Mr Project, my brother, Governor Nyesome Wike to remember his words at the convention ground where he said he will support whoever emerged as the presidential candidate of the party.
He also promised the PDP National Assembly members during his consultation that he won’t leave the party, no matter the outcome of the convention. He is known as a man who keeps to his word. He shouldn’t disappoint those who believe in him
Also, those calling for the resignation of the party chairman Especially our time-tested leader and former National Chairman, South-West, Chief Bode George, should understand that it’s too late into the election for that to occur. It will cause a mighty confusion that may hurt the party during the election, such issues should be left till after the general election, as the party stood by other zones to produce presidents, even the South-West during their turn. We should all reciprocate and stand by the North-East to also produce a president
We should all bear in mind that “in politics, you win some, you lose some.”
I appeal to all sides to sheathe their swords. The election is close by. PDP must convince Nigerians that it can manage the resources of the country in the best interest of the people.
“We should avoid arrogance and name calling. Propaganda that can destroy the party. The Board of Trustees must rise to the occasion and the warring chieftains should calm down. There have been mistakes, which will be amended after the general election when we win
For now, the major goal should be how to rescue the nation from collapsing as the heroes of the party came together to defend this nation. We should also come together as party men and women to defend our nation from the hands of this failed government
Let the sacrifices of our party heroes those who have gone and those still with us not be in vain, The sacrifices of Chief Alex Ekwueme, Alhaji Abubakar Rimi, Chief Audu Ogbe, Chief Sunday Awoniyi, Alhaji Adamu Ciroma, Alhaji Lawal Kaita, Alhaji Sule Lamido, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Chief Solomon Lar,
Alhaji Tanko Yakasai, Ambassador Aminu Wali, Ambassador Yahaya Kwande, Professor Jibril Aminu, Chief Barnabas Gemade, Dr. Iyochia Ayu, Chief Tom Ikimi, Senator Walid Jibril, Dr. Garba Nadama, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, Chief Abubakar Olusola Saraki, Chief Anthony Aneni, Chief Bola Ige, Chief Jim Nwobodo, Professor Jerry Gana, Colonel Ahmadu Ali. Obong Victor Attah, Chief Graham Douglas, Chief Don Etiebeit, Senator Anietie Okon, Dr Peter Odilli, Donald Duke, Chief James Ibori, Senator Imoke, and many others too numerous to mention here
If the umbrella was big enough to accommodate these great men and their interests, the umbrella is still big enough to accommodate all of us today
The goal should be to unify Nigeria first and every other thing will follow after.
*Ekpenyong is a former Deputy Governor of Akwa Ibom State and the Senator representing Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District. He writes from Ikot Ukana.