PDP, like NPC/NCNC and NPN/NPP, its forebears is a party embraced largely by the majority of those who share Hausa/Fulani and Igbo mainstream political tendencies. The party suffers a common affliction with her grandparents- intolerance of opposition. In 1962, NPC/NCNC destroyed AG, sending Awo the opposition leader to prison in Calabar. Following pressure from well-meaning Nigerians, the ruling coalition gave Awo an option between renouncing politics and relocating to the UK or the US for a couple of years or being in prison while they run the country according to their world view without opposition. Awo rejected both options claiming such opportunism would amount to betrayal of his supporters in the West and among the marginalized minorities across the country. He chose to remain in prison until war over sharing of offices between the Igbo elite and northern elite who had separately approached the military for support ended in a military coup that swept the warring allies away in January and July 1966. In the Second Republic, the warring partners metamorphosed into NPN/NPP in 1979. As it was in the First Republic, the coalition was destroyed by haggling over the sharing of offices and resources. To outwit NPP, its main rival and ally, NPN massively rigged the 1983 elections awarding itself landslide and ‘seaslide’ victories even in opposition strongholds. It is also on record that the massively rigged 2003 and 2007 elections supervised by PDP and Obasanjo were the worst conducted elections in our nation’s history. Yar’Adua the beneficiary of the 2007 massive rigging was so scandalized that he had to set up the Justice Uwais Commission to review the electoral laws.
But Stalwarts of PDP who publicly swore their party would rule uninterrupted for 60 years, as part of their strategy, seized control of restive groups’ agitation for justice, fairness, and equitable share of the resources of the state, all of which were fallouts of the betrayal of our nation through the dumping of the 1963 republican constitution and the running of an heterogeneous society like a unitary state by the military. Thus MEND whose stated goals ‘are to localize control of Nigeria’s oil and to secure reparations from the federal government for pollution caused by the oil industry’, became an ally of PDP with its leading members cornering of mouth-watering multi-dollar contracts. The Oodua Peoples’ Congress, formed by some Yoruba elite for the actualisation of the 1993 annulled MKO Abiola’s mandate after securing contracts to monitor oil pipelines also became an ally of PDP. Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State recently asked Chief Ralph Uwazuruike ‘to tell his audience why MASSOB went to bed throughout the period Jonathan was the President, only for MASSOB to wake up from their deep slumber now that Buhari is the President.” Echoing similar sentiment, Ohaneze has also alleged that ‘those sponsoring the latest agitation for the creation of the state of Biafra are corrupt Igbo politicians who are trying to hide under the agitation to avoid prosecution for their alleged crimes.’
Greed, dishonesty and desperate bid to hold on to power which underlined the above action of PDP leaders also explains the motive for unleashing those ex-Governor Suswan of Benue described as ‘Fulani mercenaries going around with AK47 wreaking havoc on Benue people’ on behalf of Fulani real owners of the cattle. It is instructive that while in the last six years, Nigerians wake up daily to reports of orgy of killings of scores of innocent women and children, torching of their houses by so-called Fulani herdsmen, a situation that led to open lamentation of ex-governor Gabriel Suswan of Benue that his “people have congenially been displaced from their homes by these Fulani herders on a daily basis’ and that ‘some of our children have not been to school in the last two years’, none of these heavily armed herdsmen has been arrested , successfully prosecuted neither has their sponsors be found.
Yet while Jonathan and his PDP pretended to be helpless, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, MACBAN in February 2014 , as the election drew near argued in a letter to Jonathan that their free movement across the country with their cattle is guaranteed by Section 41, Subsection 1 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which states “every citizen is entitled to move freely throughout Nigeria and to reside in any part thereof and no citizen of Nigeria shall be expelled from Nigeria or refused entry thereof or exit therefrom.” They also referred to Section 42, Sub-section (1) (a) which ‘forbids the imposition of any disabilities or restrictions on any citizen by any executive or administrative action against any citizen of any ‘community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion…”
A segment of the Fulani political elite who make fortunes from the misfortunes of their less privileged compatriots as owners of the cattle heads on whose behalf the armed Fulani herdsmen operate suffer the same affliction with a segment of the Igbo elite, with whom they jointly ruled the country since independence until Buhari’s emergence this year. This dishonest and greedy segment of the Igbo political elite also unleash poor largely uneducated Igbo youths on the streets of urban centres hawking imported substandard and sometimes banned items. The uneducated Fulani herdsmen and their Igbo street traders counterparts often serve as canon fodders for their dishonest and greedy elite who egg them on to pillage other peoples’ land in Port Harcourt or desecrate other peoples’ culture in Lagos citing section 41, subsection1 and section 42 subsection 2 which are aberrations in a federal constitution.
The way forward is a return to ‘Path to Nigeria Freedom’, with the coming together, for the first time in our nation’s history, a segment of the northern political elite represented by Buhari’s CPC and the mainstream Yoruba political tendency represented by Tinubu’s ACN who share a common view of society. They must first seek the kingdom of politics as Kwame Nkrumah would have put it. It is only after that the ongoing economic war can find meaning.
We must restructure. There is no alternative with the failure of all the social engineering efforts of the military such as establishment of NYSC scheme, creation of unviable states and LGAs, establishment of federal government secondary schools and universities and quota systems of admission to federal institutions and civil service. Except for those benefiting from our nightmare, we have seen how a workable federal arrangement liberated people and groups from the tyranny of the state in the defunct Western Nigeria , India, Canada, Russia, former Yugoslavia, and Europe after the horrors of two world wars. Enemies of restructuring are those who instead of investing in the future of their impoverished compatriots want to live on their sweat and blood by condemning them to 12-14 months in the forest herding cattle they do not own or hawking smuggled goods whose labels they cannot read on the streets of our major cities. (The Nation)