- Category: Politics
- Published on Wednesday, 19 January 2011 09:05
- Written by Admin
- Hits: 1415
IN 12 years, the political party that takes pride in describing itself as the largest in Africa has had its affairs directed by seven men. All the seven left office before the expiration of their tenure. It has become conventional for power men within the party to come together and show each of the men the red card.
At the beginning, the party held out a lot of hope. It was headed by Dr. Ekwueme, who was the leader of the G.34, the group credited with standing up to the Abacha junta. It was a group of men held in high esteem and this was transferred to the party that they founded.
Ekwueme impressed many with the role he played during the heady days of the crisis that attended the June 12 election annulment. He faulted the annulment and spearheaded a move to find a way out. He, along with the late Chief Adekunle Ajasin, called a meeting of all political leaders to examine the issues and plot the way forward.
He was, therefore, the natural choice to give life to a party regarded as a national movement at birth. But he was also the choice of his people to fly the PDP presidential flag in 1999. He, therefore, had to relinquish the office before the February 1999 National Convention in Jos. He was succeeded by Chief Solomon Lar.
He was a worthy successor, a veteran of many political battles. He had been involved in the process that culminated in independence in 1960 and became a legislator shortly after. In the Second Republic, Lar was governor of Plateau State on the platform of the Nigerian Peoples party (NPP). He has always been politically relevant. However, he had a very short tenure.
It was, therefore, no surprise that Lar was shoved out at the 2000 National Convention.
The 62-year-old Gboko, Benue State-born politician was a surprise choice for the sensitive position. Although he had participated actively in politics during the Abacha regime, he was not in the class of Ekwueme and Lar. But, he was Obasanjo’s choice. He mounted the saddle at the behest of the President and both men enjoyed a very warm relationship for a short while. When he attempted to act independently, he ran foul of the code prescribed by the President and had to quit after barely one year in office. He was replaced at the 2001 mini convention.
Although he could not be said to exist in the class of Ekwueme and Lar, Ogbeh was preceded into office by a reputation of being principled. A farmer, he was highly experienced, having served in the Shagari cabinet in the Second Republic.
Anyone who understood the setting could predict that his romance with the President could not have lasted long. The immediate cause of his sudden exit was the ripples from the governorship election in Anambra State in 2003. He fired a letter to President Obasanjo on December 6, 2004 and the response was swift. Ogbeh was forced to resign.
Ali was a natural choice in the circumstances. He had served in the military and was a minister under Obasanjo in his first coming. The relationship remained smooth. Ali even had his tenure renewed in 2006. But, at the expiration of the Obasanjo tenure in 2007, those who were dissatisfied with that administration and the role that Ali played insisted on his exit with his boss and soul mate. The excuse was simple: with a Northerner elected President, the party chairman had to come from the South.
The exit of Ali and Obasanjo from office opened a new vista for the party. Two major contestants emerged: Dr. Sam Egwu, backed by the former President, and Anyim Pius Anyim. The former Senate President drew the bulk of his support from the National Assembly caucus. A flurry of meetings followed and the PDP governors stepped in. They went for a dark horse who ordinarily stood no chance in the contest. The man, Ogbulafor, had been secretary of the party after he left the All Peoples Party.
Ogbulafor emerged a consensus national chairman at the March 2008 convention, but his tenure, like his predecessors’, got terminated in May, last year. Many still ascribe his exit to a disagreement with the untidy role that the party leadership played in the struggle for succession of President Umaru Yar’Adua. He was charged with fraud and told to step off the dais. It cannot be said that the state has since diligently prosecuted the case against him.
Dr. Nwodo was the party’s pioneer national secretary. He was one of those who left with Alhaji Atiku Abubakar in 2006. However, he returned to the PDP two years into the Yar’Adua/Jonathan administration. It was long enough to ensure his emergence to complete the tenure, which was started by Abia-born Ogbulafor. His emergence as national chairman proposed by the Southeast caucus is believed to have been facilitated by President Jonathan. But, he is also known to be a good friend of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who was the main opponent of the President at the party’s special convention last Thursday in Abuja. He had been caught in the crossfire between Jonathan and Abubakar. He also insisted on dictating the political pace in his home state, Enugu. Now, he has lost out.
The question now is, who succeeds him. No one knows at the moment. All that can be said is that the PDP constitution prescribes that the Deputy National Chairman, Dr. Mohammed Bello Haliru, can only act for a short while for the Southeast to sort out the matter.