By Sanusi Muhammad
Going the memory lane, one is forced by past hardship artificially created by our rulers in democracy to say that Nigeria under the maximum rule of the military was far a better country than the PDP misrule and mismanagement we tolerated in pains. In the PDP style of leadership, corruption was not stealing but a ‘decent’ way of life. Under PDP, corruption was protected and shielded against any offensive. PDP celebrated corruption with passion and satisfaction while majority were deprived access to good living. The few of its decent members that subscribed to probity and accountability in politics were denied access to aspire to any elective office. Bauchi state governor, M.A Abubakar was a victim in 2010.
PDP to majority of the people was a symbol of disaster and disappointment and passed for gang of thieves.
The party was registered as a national political party to participate in the political affairs of the country supposedly with sincerity of purpose and for the interest of the country and its people.
At inception, it was piloted by respected democrats and administered within the confines of the Laws. Chief Solomon Lar, a respected lawyer and champion of emancipation was the first to chair the party. He piloted the party to safe navigation in 1999 with caution and pride but died a disappointed and abandoned patriot.
Other patriots followed suit with few exceptions the likes of Ahmadu Ali, Bamanga Tukur and Ahmadu Adamu Mu’azu whose tenures courted hatred and animosity within and outside the party with sharp corrupt practices more pronounced.
Its ‘victory’ at inception was alleged to be through connivance with the then military regime that mid wife the nascent democracy in 1999 with no other party to stand its intrigues and lust for power.
Alliance for Democracy (AD) under the leadership of renowned politicians of south-west extraction fizzled out after infiltration by PDP planted moles. Action Congress, AC and its successor, Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) could not make much impact as a result of endless squabbles within its rank and file caused by PDP moles. The PDP greedily swallowed five of seven governors elected on the platform of All Peoples Party (APP) within eight years of the democracy. Labour and All Peoples Grand Alliance, APGA appear to be PDP’s surrogates till date. On the other hand PDP remained the greatest mobilization agent since 1999 dominating the political scene. When it sneezed, the nation caught cold. Its actions and inactions affected our past and defined the future of our children and grand children. The insensitivity and the cavalier way the party presented Goodluck Jonathan as its sole presidential candidate for the 2015 election as if the electorate did not matter was not accidental but the body language of the party since inception. Jonathan despite his several disabilities was the only asset the PDP could boast and present for 2015 for his rating as clueless and inept that could dole out public fund at the slightest request to realize his inordinate ambition.
Till today, PDP remains as an association of wheelers and dealers with no identifiable ideological world view or a coherent manifesto to benefit Nigerians. In place of manifesto, in 1999 Obasanjo talked of a total transformation of Nigeria through urban development and privatization, stable electricity supply, roads and infrastructure and constitutional review.
Yar Adu’a came with his own unwieldy seven point-agenda which received little attention from PDP. Then the master of all deceitful mechanisms arrived. Jonathan was loaded on the people with his transformation agenda, a five-year development plan focusing on ‘strong, inclusive and non-inflationary growth, employment generation and poverty alleviation and value re-orientation of the citizenry’.
John Campbell, a former American envoy to Nigeria described PDP at a debate on Nigeria in the British House of Commons as ‘an elite cartel at the centre of power in Nigeria, a political party that came together …….as essentially a club of elites for sharing oil rents and political spoils’.
The PDP led government provided enough facts to validate Campbell’s thesis. The privatization exercise probe by the House of Representatives showed that it was designed to share out blue-chip companies built with tax-payers money to privileged members. The monetization policy was used by PDP to immorally sell inherited patrimony from colonial masters that rightly belongs to all Nigerians to greedy party members and their sympathizers. For instance in Bauchi state, former governor Mu’azu authoritatively sold out choice property not in need of renovations located in Government Reservation Areas, GRAs to himself, hangers-on and party members at unbelievable prices that almost courted his administration trouble. As a government that believes in the doctrine of change, Governor Abubakar should revisit that day light robbery of public property.
Other evidences against the PDP led-central government include the theft of about N1.7trillion from fake fuel subsidy deal which involved highly placed party members and their children. The pension scheme scandal where one of the major crooks continued to receive protection from the Jonathan government and now touted to replace the late deputy governor of Borno state for immunity cover. The probe set up by Jonathan into the cases of abandoned projects in the last 15 years showed that it would take five years of budgeting to implement uncompleted projects across the country if fresh projects were not embarked upon. Of course there is the issue of unremitted $20billion oil revenue which cost the whistle blower his job in CBN. There is the case of South African confiscation of $9.3million illegally ferried into the country in the private jet of Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) president.
Starting from 1999, of the 23 PDP governors, 17 were arraigned for corruption cases. A few that served their terms along with others are still expected to be in court to defend their integrity while few were rehabilitated by Jonathan as party chieftains, ministers, or elected senators and governors before his timely defeat. Within the same period, many of PDP’s leading lights such as chairmen, senate presidents and speakers were found guilty of corruption. Salisu Buhari, Alphonsus Wabara, Chuba Okadigbo, Evans Ewerem, Dimeji Bankole, Bayero Nafada etc.
To show that it was little governance going on in Abuja outside sharing, Obiageli Ezekwesili, a co-founder of Transparency International and a former federal minister drew the attention of Nigerians to the new fad introduced by Jonathan for Federal Executive Council holding meetings over award of contracts when it is the responsibility of statutory bodies to do so. That was usurpation of powers to water corrupt practice. Execution of constituency projects was seized from lawmakers to Special Duties Ministry to position the other side of corrupt practices.
Besides corruption, another enduring legacy that should continue to haunt PDP is insincerity. It started with Niger Delta insurgency leading to political Shari’ah riots and today’s Boko Haram which Jonathan admitted had claimed over 20,000 lives mostly innocent souls in the last five years…….Operating in between are the rampaging Fulani herdsmen and tribal militias killing innocent people in Plateau, Kaduna, Benue, Nasarawa, Taraba and Kwara States. Although Boko Haram has been active since the Yar Adu’a administration, mindless killing of innocent people started during Jonathan with the administration unable to contain the sect’s activities which started with attacks on places of worship, police stations and military barracks and then motor parks, markets and populated streets of Maiduguri, Kano, Kaduna, Gombe, Jos and Damaturu. Then the insurgents shifted their mindless killings to schools where they carried out selective murder of male students. What drew international attention to Jonathan’s helplessness was the shameful abduction of over 200 girls from the dormitories of Government Secondary School, Chibok in April 2014 which he first denied but later forced to believe by the international community.
But in spite of its numerous disabilities and liabilities, PDP was still counting on its selling point which was its big umbrella which besides protecting those that swore to PDP oath of allegiance, also drips honey that quenches the thirst of its members. Thus family members who strayed out often scrambled back as they often find it difficult to survive outside the PDP family umbrella.
For instance, a whole Atiku Abubakar in spite of his ‘financial’ muscle and influence had to overcome many hurdles each time he crawled back to PDP after defection but has summoned courage to have now defected for life. Kalu Uzor Kalu was refused admission back to PDP by the local chapter of the party his credentials notwithstanding as a former state governor and publisher. Bode George, the Lagos ‘boy’ who once passed through the old Ondo state as a military governor even after serving prison term for theft in NPA, wrongly found no other party that could quench his thirst other than the PDP. Tom Ikimi, Femi Fani-Kayode, Ayo Fayose and several others were not just thirsty but famished by the time they returned to their natural habitat, PDP. Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, the renown clown and liar who mismanaged Niger state for eight years and misdirected Northern Governors Forum through deceit, was not just back after leading a rebellion he had the unenviable duty of announcing Jonathan as the PDP sole candidate for 2015 as prove of his sincerity of return. Even PDP former tormentors like Nuhu Ribadu, Ibrahim Shekarau and Ali Modu Sheriff found the PDP honey very sweet and tempting that they had to swallow insults to crawl under its umbrella for share of the loot and cover.
But even at that, Jonathan who controlled the big umbrella was an asset to PDP that canonized him for 2015. This was a president who won all his battles without waging any war. Others fought his wars and sometimes committed political suicide in the process as it happened to Isa Yuguda in Bauchi state. It was because of his loyalty to the cause of Jonathan that he lost his bid to the senate in 2015, an action that was never be appreciated and will never be appreciated or compensated by the PDP we all know to hate.
The Save Nigeria Group (SNG) fought for Jonathan in 2010 to be sworn-in as acting president ….Vincent Ogbuluafor as National Chairman of PDP was sacrificed to ensure Jonathan crossed the PDP hurdle that stood between him and the PDP ticket in 2010. Obasanjo claimed he sold his candidacy to opinion leaders across the country on the understanding that he would run for only one term after completing Yar Adu’a’s term cut short by death.
But the usual Jonathan himself, a master of political subterfuge made his canonization in spite of his several disabilities by the governors and BOT a fait accompli. Every PDP member had a price for Jonathan’s purchase like Christmas goat. Jonathan knew that most of the governors were in dire need of continuous protection from EFCC arrest. As Obasanjo once said, “Jonathan knows how to make wise investments”. But come to think of it, how would governors without character who proclaimed themselves winners of Nigeria Governors Forum, NGF they glaringly lost, refused to pay back their debt when Jonathan demanded dividends on his investment? He disorganized the forum and threw in confusion till the end with Jonah Jang deceiving himself as the authentic chairman with 16 against 19 votes to portray himself as a village tyrant.
PDP BOT’s unprincipled leaders like Tony Anenih and Jerry Gana who had been parts of ‘Any Government in Power (AGP)’ since the days of General Babangida owed their continued relevance to Jonathan for tolerating their nuisance values of sycophancy for greed. Of course we can only support the source of billions of naira the Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria (TAN) committed to media campaign claiming without convincing proof that ‘Nigerian roads had never been so good, that rural farmers had put poverty behind them, that almajiri schools had solved the problems of poverty in the north, that citing of new universities in states without federal universities were answers to the decay in the educational sector. There was also the TAN claim of eight million signatures of Nigerians who earnestly wanted Jonathan to run. PDP wheelers and dealers really needed Jonathan to continue with what they started since 1999, stealing with impunity and tantalizing the army of deprived. PDP desperately needed Jonathan to ground Nigeria to a halt. We now hear some sweet music of relief from the backyard that those hawks, vultures and hyenas from the big umbrella that drained Nigeria’s wealth through stealing, corruption, pen and spiritual robbery are now seeking escape routes. Some we learnt are deeply in contacts to join the winning team of APC although not anticipating any loot but for possible cover from arrest, prosecution and conviction. The hardened mad ones we hear are also busy squandering looted funds combing PDP enclaves and caves seeking selection to various party National positions erroneously believing that to be a wise way for cover against arrest. Happily, we all know that the payback time most Nigerians waited for has finally come. Thieves and crooks while in government MUST be identified, arrested, prosecuted and jailed with stolen monies and properties retrieved. Nigerians need encouragement to revolt against those who deprived them from enjoying the expected dividends of good governance. There is absolutely nothing wrong if in unison we stand-up for our rights to retrieve stolen wealth from itchy-fingered vandals that masqueraded as leaders while packaging us to early graves alive. Nigerians need a brand new operational system to glory.
Nigerians are interested to have a reformed PDP bouncing back as leader of opposition but under a reliable leadership. It should be careful to avoid trusting those waiting for arrest now desperate to occupy party positions for temporary cover. The crooks have started it again.
By Sanusi Muhammad