By Ayodele Fagbohun
The national convention of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has come and gone alongside its concomitant intrigues, fall-outs and other mind-boggling features inherent in the erstwhile ruling party.
All the despicable acts and indecent behaviours were remorselessly in display to the outside world and ran its full course whilst the convention lasted.
No thanks to the leadership of the party from the South West for taking hardline stance, utilised the resources (from known and unknown) at its behest and ensured fair or foul the exalted national chairmanship position of the party earmarked for the south west by convention or by right as lost to the zone.
What must prick the conscience of every rational mind was the dirty and odd job and the role of Uncle Tom usually assigned to Yoruba personalities in the top hierarchy of the party to defeat the genuine aspirations of the South West people when the Kangaroo election was in full swing.
The immediate past Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Ondo State, Mr Eyitayo Jegede (SAN), former governorship candidate of PDP Ondo who ran neck-to-neck and lost to the incumbent governor of the State, Arakunrin Odunayo Akeredolu (SAN) was the ‘right person’ out of the whole lot, saddled with administering oath of office on Mr Uche Secondus, a late comer in the race from the South-South who just appeared from the blues and awarded the chairmanship of the party on the platter of gold.
Never mind the huge money that exchange hands for yuletide and to make mince meat of the electoral strength and asset of the South West vis-a-vis the insignificant and negligible registered voters in the two geo -political zones of South-South/South-East put together.
What a gratuitous insult on the integrity of Yoruba nation as rightly pointed out by Chief Olabode George, a PDP chieftain and serious contender for the chairmanship slot as he withdrew from the race before the spectacle of shame called convention.
In the First Republic politics in a trumped-up charge of treasonable felony to checkmate the rising political profile of Chief Obafemi Awolowo and put him out of circulation outright, his kinsmen, Professor Sanya Onabamiro, an Ijebu man from Ago-Iwoye was the first prosecution witness subnorned by Balewa led Federal government to nail Awolowo.
Other instance of betraying Yoruba interests through the handiwork of Yoruba of no mean order still fresh in the minds of the people and should be a lesson for the present crop of politicians was the Abiola saga.
In a desperate bid to thwart the inauguration of the acclaimed winner of June 12,1993 presidential elections squarely and fairly won by the business mongul, Chief MKO Abiola of the evergreen memory. The military president, General Ibrahim Gbadamosi Babangida (rtd), a founding member of PDP still vibrant at least in PDP internal affairs, quickly dangled the title of head of state on another Egba citizen, Chief Earnest Shonekan which the latter swallowed hook, line and sinker. Thus, threw spanners into the ambition of fellow Egba man and put in disarray the collective goal of Yoruba.
It is hightime this ugly phenomenon calculated or skewed to dent the image of Yoruba as a united national group within the federal union of Nigeria was stopped for the race to take its rightful place as a pacesetter and bastion of democracy for rapid development, progress and unity of the country.
It is worthy of note that since the inception of PDP in 1998, south west has not been privileged to produce the national chairman of the party in spite of the yeoman efforts of some notable politicians of Yoruba extraction who were the real founding fathers of the party.
For instance, and to straighten the records, Chief Bola Ige (SAN) singularly wrote the constitution of PDP and worked assiduoulsy alongside other patriots in packaging the political party for the redemption of the country just emerged from the travails and iron grip of military dictatorship. Alas, prior to that build-up, PDP was hijacked by the retired military top brass and their self serving cronies turned politicians who were major beneficiaries from the decay of long military rule.
Simultaneously, this led to mass movement of the people from the south west in particular and exodus from PDP to All People’s Party (APP); and Alliance for Democracy (AD)m; and the man, Bola Ige, the inimitable political warhorse and of ecumenical mould was the author of three registered political parties that midwived the political transition to civil rule in 1999.
This writer is in no way a sympathiser of PDP as prevently constituted. Far from it. Even though from abinitio the tap root of the party was firmly entrenched and watered by the sweat and blood of late sage, Chief Bola Ige (SAN) and his group that frontally confronted the naked brutality of Gen. Sani Abacha’s junta in the face of bayonets at the eve of transition that subsequently led to this on-going political experiment otherwise known as the forth republic politics.
The south west comprising in the vast majority rare breed of cultured, homogenous and highly sophisticated articulate Yoruba ethnic group having traits in politics dated back to Herbert Macaulay, a Yoruba rated the father of Nigeria nationalism whom the Zik of Africa, late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe venerated and chose as his polticial God-father. This added to the glamour; drew and boosted Azikiwe fervid political sympathy and influence that reverberated with full echoes in the nooks and crannies of Yoruba land.
Young Obafemi Awolowo went further a field in his political exploits to consolidate on the early works of Herbert Macaulay and gave Yoruba a district and unique political identity that remains indubitable and unsurpassable in the annals of the nation’s history.
If the PDP persists in its grand error to opt for politics of brigandage as a way of life, the choice for any decent Yoruba in the political party is to abandon the sinking boat and join hands with the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) which is the natural habitat of Yoruba.
Ayodele Fagbohun writes from Akure.