Opinion: Why PDP under Damagum Cannot Play Opposition Roles

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Tyehimba Godwin writes from Markurdi, Benue State.

Before I talk on the current state of affairs in the Peoples Democratic Party under the Damagum led National Working Committee, Nigerians must understand how the party was formed in 1998 and the sacrifices made by many prominent citizens of this great country.

Prior to the formation of the ones vibrant, meticulous and highly respected Peoples Democratic Party in 1998, Nigeria was passing through a phase described by some analysts as “the dark ages”. At a point, it seemed no one could stand in the way of this rampaging dictator, the then General Sani Abacha who was bent on entrenching himself and transmitting from a military ruler to a civilian leader in the country.

While this disturbing state of affairs was holding sway, a group of talented Nigerians under the auspices of the All Politicians Summit convened a meeting in 1997 to discuss the way out of what was fast becoming a festering dictatorship.

This meeting which was led by the late Dr Alex Ekwueme and six others was brutally dispersed by the security forces of General Abacha.

Undeterred by the violence and intimidation of the Abacha regime, the Turaki Committee headed by the former President, Alhaji Shehu Shagari met at the Guest House of the late Abubakar Rimi in Kaduna, Kaduna State, and discussed ways on how to deal with the military to civilian transformation of Abacha.

The seven men, Mallam Adamu Ciroma, Alhaji Abubakar Iro Dan Musa, Alhaji Lawal Kaula, Prof. Musa Yakubu, Alhaji Ali Baba, Mr. Wilberforce Juta and Alhaji Abubakar Rimi, decided to float a political movement to challenge the menace of Abacha. The group later became the G-18, comprising of other agitators from the south, especially the Alex Ekwueme committee.

In one of their meetings, the G-18 decided to write a letter to General Sani Abacha, saying that the eighteen of them were opposed to his metamorphosis from a military head of state to a civilian president. In February 1998, the G-18 mandated the pioneer Chairman of PDP, the late Chief Solomon Lar to deliver the letter, which he courageously accepted.

The group later became G-34 as the struggle against oppression and dictatorship continued until General Sani Abacha died mysteriously on June 8, 1998. Before his death, many members, relatives and friends of the G-34 were arrested, detained, tortured and jailed without trial.

Shortly, on August 8, 1998, the different groups that led the movement for the ouster of General Abacha, resolved to form a political party known as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The new Party, the Peoples Democratic Party was officially launched after its registration with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), at a colourful ceremony at the International Conference Centre in Abuja on August 31, 1998. The Party had Dr. Alex Ekwueme as Chairman of the Steering Committee while Professor Jerry Gana was the Secretary.

Fellow Nigerians and concerned members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) nationwide, this was how the PDP was formed in 1998.

It is therefore unfortunate that, a political party like the PDP that won 21 out of the 36 Governorship elections in January 1999, won the Presidency and later increased their majority and popularity in Nigeria till its ouster in 2015, is today a toothless political party that cannot even bark nor bite.

Under the Damagum led leadership, the PDP has become an annex of the ruling party, with the full control of the former Governor of Rivers state and now minister of the FCT, Chief Nyesom Wike.

Today under Damagum, the PDP cannot even defend itself or its members across the country from the rampaging holocaust of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

From echoes and stories emanating from Wadata Plaza, the Damagum led PDP cannot take any decision without an input from Minister Nyesom Wike. No wonder, the PDP is lacking behind in carrying out its agenda as the main opposition party in the country.

On this note, Ambassador Iliya Damagum must step aside as the Acting National Chairman of the PDP and a new chairman that will not serve the interests of Minister Wike and the APC be installed.

The PDP must immediately and without further delay begin to implement all the measures necessary to prevent anarchy and violence, by defending the people of Nigeria from bad governance and corruption of the APC.

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