In 1998, thirty four distinguished  Nigerians (politicians, Businessmen and retired soldiers) gathered to lay the foundation for the party that latter emerged to be called the Peoples Democratic Party( PDP). This group known as G-34 metamorphosed from an original G-18 which was formed to oppose General Sanni Abacha's move to succeed himself, pushing for a return to true civilian democratic rule. Among these men were Alex Ekwueme, Bola Ige, Jerry Gana, Adamu Ciroma, Abubakar Rimi, Solomon Lar, Sule Lamido and Elder Awoniyi and others, some of whom are late now. They were soon to be joined by men from other political groups, such as Atiku Abubakar who came from the Peoples Democratic Movement( PDM). Subsequently they were joined by a number of retired Military Generals including Ibrahim Babangida who succeeded in attracting General Olusegun Obasanjo to join them, whom they eventually elected as their presidential Candidate for the 1999 elections.
  The PDP enjoyed a lot of support at inception  and became very popular. The calibre of its founding fathers, the broad membership ethnic base cutting across all the Regions and zones of Nigeria, coupled with its democratic promises and the Right of the centre economic slant all combined to help it win the  1999 General elections, beating the All peoples Party( APP) and the Alliance for Democracy( AD). In 2003, it also won the elections as Obasanjo was returned with a massive 61.9% of the popular votes. In the Legilslative elections, PDP won 223 seats in the House out of 360, while it won 79 out of the 90 seats in the Senate. In 2007, PDP won again, increasing its control of the house to 260 and senate to 85. President Yar'adua could not complete his first term as he died early in 2010, making way for  Dr Goodluck Jonathan the Vice President to become the President. A major crack occurred in the PDP in 2011as Goodluck Jonathan stood for elections for a four year term, after completing Yar'adua's term. A significant number of PDP members crossed over to the Action Congress of Nigeria( ACN). The North did its best to stop Jonathan from becoming President, after completing Yardua's term. Indeed he was nearly stopped from becoming acting President when it was clear that Yar'ardua's health could not let him continue in office. Jonathan's struggle to become acting President, then President( to complete Yar'ardua's term) and then to seek a full 4-year term severely strained the party. 
  The demand by some of the Northern members of PDP that the North should be allowed to complete its 8-year term, led to internal sabotage within the Party. But when Jonathan decided to seek a second term in 2015, the division in the party enlarged drastically. And when they could not stop him, an internal revolution occurred causing a fission of the Party to form the "New PDP ". The "New PDP" eventually merged with the Action Congress of Nigeria( ACN) to form the new mega party, All Progressives Congress( APC) which swept PDP out of power at the last General elections in 2015.  With a margin of 2.6 million Votes, President Muhammadu Buhari of APC defeated the incumbent , Dr Goodluck Jonathan of PDP. Thus after sixteen years in Power, PDP moved from the ruling party to the opposition party.
Beyond the all-consuming determination of the North to produce the President, which first led to the crack in the party, and latter anti party activities of most of the Northern political leaders in PDP, other factors contributed to the fall of PDP.
  Among these factors is impunity within and without the party. A party that was founded on democratic principles began to impose candidates and force its ways. Next was arrogance,being in power for so many years gave the party leaders a false feeling of invincibility and they began to behave as if Nigerians had no other choice. Indeed, it did not seem to care or worry  when hordes of its membership began to defect to other parties .The third was that  the party went cold on fighting corruption. Though it pursued fairly aggressively, the economic program of Privatization and deregulation, which took power and discretion away from public servants as a way of minimizing corruption, and introduced some electoral reforms that minimized electoral corruption( Jega & Card reader for example) pmany Nigerians still felt that corruption was proliferating. Fourth was that the party became incapable of disciplining its members. No where was this incapacity so visible as in the Presidency. Poor performance was tolerated and many public servants were treated as untouchables. Fifth, the party seemed to have lost any ability to resolve conflicts as it seemed to move from one crisis to another in many States. Up till date, Anambra State runs parallel party leadership. Lastly, the Party became a party run by geriatrics. Men over 80 years old ran the party at different levels and men and women were being recycled as if the Party was short of younger and fresher faces. I believe all these factors combined to humble the party at the 2015 elections. 
   But the worsening economic condition of Nigeria since the last one year, the slow pace of action by the APC Government and the outright repudiation of some of the promises it made to Nigerians have begun to make Nigerians see PDP in a better light. If a pool was taken today , it is certain that PDP would do better than it did this time last year. Therefore one would have expected that the PDP would seize the moment to reinvent itself. In the last week or so the PDP has been having series of congresses starting from the Ward to the LGA and to the State, which hopefully should culminate in a National convention. But it disappointing that we can not see any effort to transform or to cause change in its structure, format or content. First, the media is full of reports of many States and Zones condemning the Ward congresses. We hear of claims and counter claims of no elections or rigged elections and the imposition of candidates by some power brokers. I know that it is in the DNA of Nigerian politicians in whatever party to reject any election they did not win, but I would expect that by now, PDP should have set up a very transparent system that would make its internal elections less contentious. After many years, they should have evolved a better system of internal democracy. At the least, they should have a robust post election appeal structure which should enjoy the confidence of most members, as well as post election reconciliation mechanism. It was embarrassing to see party founders like Jerry Gana and Ibrahim Mantu appear on Television criticizing their congresses and telling the whole World that the congresses were rigged or manipulated and asking for their outright cancellation. Could the Party after 18 years and several cycles of congresses not have perfected a system of handling internal party disagreements without dancing naked in the market place?
  Second, it seems that the Party is yet to learn its lessons, in the choice of its leadership. A  Party that hopes to make any impression on Nigerians in any subsequent election can not present a tainted Leadership. The Bible said that in the time of ignorance,The Lord winked but no more in the time of knowledge. The Present APC government has raised the issue of ANTI-CORRUPTION very high  and seems to have sufficiently painted the PDP government and its leadership with hard brushes of corruption and inefficiency. Though some of the allegations are yet to be proven in the Law Courts, but the truth is that in the court of Public opinion, they have already been convicted as charged. As they say in advertising, perception is reality.  Let it be known that PDP can not cut any ice with any tainted leadership as it moves to 2019. If I should advice, I would suggest that they make a deliberate search for a new crop of leaders who have no form of baggages at all- political, financial, military, moral or corruption. APC won the last elections, essentially because they fielded a man that was generally perceived to be 'Pure'. I said perceived. 
 Third and related to the above, PDP if it hopes to make any impact in 2019, must as a matter of urgency retire most of its present crop of leaders. Many have been recycled so much that that there is a belief that they have nothing new or good to bring to the Nation. Many have too many baggages and many are out rightly too old- either by chronological age or by political age. Some were ministers or parliamentarians in the first Republic! Some campaigned for for Abacha to succeed himself! PDP should learn from the political developments in the UK and USA and usher in a regime of young, bright and untainted political leaders. I believe they have them in the party, but because they are not desperate to hold offices and may not want to manipulate and lobby, they are overlooked.
 Finally my overriding point is that Nigerians are happy with the emergence of two major parties in the country which gives them a choice. The predominance of PDP in the last sixteen years, seemed to have denied Nigerians that luxury. With the emergence of APC in the last two years or so, Nigerians now have an alternative and could appropriately respond to the impunity and arrogance of PDP. This has also introduced reasonable competition among the parties, which should be to the advantage of the electorate. I believe that Nigerians will be happy to have an opportunity to make that choice in 2019, especially given the performance of APC thus far. That is why PDP must do its utmost to reinvent itself. If at all possible.
Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR 


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RACISM, ETHNICITY AND TRIBALISM .... What's the difference?

THE GROWING MISERY INDEX OF NIGERIANS AND THE SEARCH FOR GOVERNMENT Nigerians readily point out what Governments ought to do which they are not doing. Indeed, virtually every problem in Nigeria is blamed on the government. And for many Nigerians, the government to be blamed often is the Federal government. Many are oblivious of the other tiers of government, especially the local governments. It is as if the local governments have no responsibilities or may be the people have come to expect little from them. The many years of over centralization fostered on the Nation by the military now makes most Nigerians think and act as if the Federal government is the only government in Nigeria. The 1999 Constitution sustains this misnomer by granting the Federal government a long exclusive list and the freedom to dabble into every other matter, some of which should better be left with the traditional councils in the states. This has led many Nigerians to allow the local and State governments get away with With 'blue murder' while holding only the federal government to account,even if feebly. While it is justifiable to blame government for poor infrastructure, poor education, poor healthcare, high unemployment, high insecurity, and even for hunger, corruption and traffic hold ups, it is beginning to look to me that this is an orchestrated ploy by some Nigerians to take a permanent flight from being held responsible for our individual and group conducts. In the first place, the governments we blame so frequently for failing us are run by Nigerians. Indeed the irony is that some of those who blame government for everything are in government themselves! Sometimes, it looks like that there is a mystery man called 'government'. But no, government is no mystery man, but a collection of persons who are first citizens and who run the government on behalf of and for the good of all the citizens. For convenience, they are grouped into the EXECUTIVE, LEGISLATURE AND JUDICIARY. And that includes politicians, civil servants, public servants, professionals and non professionals of all cadres and categories; from cleaners,security men and permanent secretaries to ministers; from legislative aids to the House Speaker and Senate President; from the court bailiff to the Policeman, to the Registrar and to the Supreme Court Judge; from the gatemen to the Director Generals of Parastatals and Agencies, they are all constituent parts of the government, agents of the State. And that's why they are paid from the tax payers money.Every action, each one of them takes or omits to take reflects on the effectiveness or in effectiveness of the government they are part of. But it looks to me that this realization does not exist sufficiently. Some how, you get the impression that the President or the State Governor alone is the government and everybody else is either the governed, observer, bystander, supporter,complainant or critic. Perhaps this may explain why there is a woeful failure of the"government " to satisfy the expectations of Nigerians. It is practically impossible for only the President to satisfy the 170 million Nigerians or the Governor to satisfy all the over 12 million people in Lagos for example. Everywhere you go,you meet people who work in the government institutions who act as if they care very little about the success or citizen perception of the government they serve in. When you complain about the poor service you are getting,the same people who are part or agents of the government turn around to blame the 'government', absolving themselves of any blame and often the complaining citizen seems to either agree or empathize with the government employee that the problem is with the mystery ' Mr Government ' Early this year, I wanted to make a trip to the United Kingdom and applied for the UK Visa. Few days after submitting my visa application, I received a call from the British Embassy that there was no space left in my passport to affix the visa. I quickly collected my passport and ran to the passport office in Ikoyi Lagos to get a new one. It took me six visits to the passport office over a period of six weeks to collect a new passport.Reasons ranged from missing file to long queues, mismatch of finger prints, the absence of the engineer and late approval from Abuja. It was an ordeal. Mean while I missed the trip to the Uk and was almost missing a trip to the USA because my subsisting US visa was in my old passport which had been 'quarantined' in the passport office. At the end of this rigmarole I was still expected to show 'gratitude' In August last year, I went to renew my driving license and I was told to fill out forms and make payments. Thereafter I was asked to come back one year after in July this year at the FRSC camp in Ojodu, Lagos for what they called 'capture'. I wondered why it would take a year to come for the 'capture'. I was told that many people were on the queue and their 'capture' equipments were few. I was told that a photocopy of my form on which the July date had been written would serve as my temporary driving license until that date. I shook my head and left. On the assigned date and at the stipulated time of 7am, I arrived. First, it took a lot of pleading to let me drive in through the gate. With one year scheduling, I had expected few people but was shocked by the large crowd milling around the place. I moved from place to place and after several hours when I arrived in front of the 'capture' machine, I was told that my name had not dropped. 'From where ?' I asked. I made three other visits over a period of five weeks, because either, my name was still traveling from wherever to the 'capture' machine, or because there was no 'network' to capture me. I finally got another temporary driving license. And so I will have to return to Ojodu in 60 days when it expires or wait to be called to come and collect the permanent driving license when it is ready and who knows how many more trips that will take, because I saw People who had been called to come and collect, and they came, only to be told that the license was not yet ready. I do not know of any other country in the World where citizens are subjected to this kind of torture just to obtain a driving license. When my son-in-law heard my story, he sympathized with me because he went through an 'agent' and got his with ease! I suffered the same fate in trying to renew my plate numbers as demanded by FRSC. I have completed my registration for the National Identity card at a special unit set up by the National Identity Commission at an interaction in Lagos. I was given a temporary National Identity card. I do not know when I will get the permanent one. Now I have been asked by the Central bank to go to my bank and obtain another Universal identity card. I do not know how many trips I will have to make to obtain a temporary card before I struggle to get the permanent one. I will still go for my voters card and do biometrics and for my Pension, another set of biometrics and identity card. How many Identity cards is a normal law-abiding Nigerian expected to carry?.Why the National identity card can not suffice for all these is what I am asking. I am searching for Mr Government to ask him, because that is what I am asked to do. Can't these government agencies and officers who are asking for these many identity cards share information ? Or is it the fault of Mr government ? Why do we relish in making life difficult for fellow Nigerian citizens and then blame government. Any where Nigerians are to receive service from a government agency, the story of misery and denigration of human dignity is repeated. Who is government? What can be the problem? Is it a matter of lack of a compelling vision, or lack of motivation, or lack of empowerment or plain lack of commitment. What ever it is, I believe that something must be done urgently and in a holistic manner to remedy this anomaly which is creating a lot of problem for the citizens in Nigeria. The unnecessary suffering to which Nigerians are subjected to at every point can not continue this way. What is worse is that the pains intensify when people are doing their best to obey the laws and be responsible citizens. This backlash may seem to promote deviant behavior or corner cutting. Some are 'compelled' to 'settle' police on the highway than go through the torture of trying to get a driving license. All those who are part of government at all levels will need to undergo a fresh orientation to make them understand that point, that a chain is as strong as its weakest link. That Government is not about a single person but a chain of persons who deliver service to the Citizens and that the best President or best Governor will achieve little if all other parties are not playing their roles with the same efficiency and consistency. The leaders of our Governments must therefore take appropriate initiatives on building this consciousness in all persons in government. For empowerment and motivation, the leaders must ensure proper skilling up and motivation of all those involved in the governance process. The right persons must be put in the right positions to ensure the integrity of the chain.For commitment,the leaders must demand evidence of performance down the line. This must be measured and rewarded so that the unskilled for the assignment, the unprepared and the indolent are weeded from the system, so that the impact of good governance can be felt by citizens leading to improved quality of life and the reduction of the misery index. It seems this is perhaps the most critical responsibility of the leaders of the different tiers and arms of government and may actually be the differentiating characteristic of the effective government leaders. Sitting at the capital and hoping that all the 'beautiful' policies, projects and programmes are yielding the desired result will not do. If those who are part of government are blaming the government,one can then understand why some other Nigerians make a past time of blaming government for every problem. If the gutter overflows, it is the government that must be blamed and nothing to do with the citizens who throw pure water satchets and sundry rubbish into the gutter. When the road is blocked, it is the government and nothing to do with the indiscipline of citizen drivers who refuse to give way to each other. In those Countries that we admire and aspire to be like, most Citizens regulate themselves and accept responsibilities for the good order of the society, thus allowing the regulatory enforcement agencies to effectively contain the few deviants. If everybody is a deviant, no government can effectively manage public order. That is my point and it does not in any way absolve the government in power from its statutory responsibilities. There is a role for the government and there is a role for the citizen. Any dereliction on either side will create problems for the society, just as we are having,Period. Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR