National Party of The Oppressed


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National Party of The Oppressed




Eddy Odivwri




culled from THISDAY, January 28, 2005


Politics is consumptive. It kills and saves. Those who fall on the wrong side of the sword get consumed while those who fall on the right side receive the crowns. As in most experiences in life, those who smile are those who win, while those who lose curse and swear. Sometimes such losers refuse to go down quietly; they will put up a fight. At other times, they are desperate to throw some kicks and jabs in the way of their perceived oppressors, or those who stood on their ways, especially when such losses are through unfair and inequitable means. Left uncontrolled, violence sets in and seizes the polity with the attendant consequences.
Six years down the line, a few victims and victors have emerged from the power struggle.
Now the victims are rising from the ashes of oppression and political orphanage to rouse up their kindred in the field, ready to chart, again, a new course for themselves. Those formerly torn apart by political ideologies are now being bonded by a common oppressor. Now they have ignored party marks and identities as they furtively search for new horizon, free from the headmaster-like attitude or a bully prefect. It is a land, they hope that will be free for all, where no man (or woman) shall be oppressed.
In the search of a new platform, the fathers of this initiative usually get motivated by common denominators. There must be some values, principles and shared ideologies that act as the binding strings for the founders. In this case, the principles and attributes of the latest accord, which they hold in mutual regard include, but not limited to, the following:

Resource Control
In a way, the issue of resource control has been a recurring item in the discourse of most governors especially those from the south. They have argued relentlessly that in accordance with the ethos of federalism, the constituent units of the federation should be allowed to own and control the resources in their various domains. Such states shall exploit, process and market such resources and only pay royalties accruing from the said resources to the central government. That way, there will be a healthy competition between and among the various regions or geo-political zones and entities within the federation. This was what obtained during the colonial era and pre-oil Nigeria.
Indeed, the struggle for resource control had become an animated issue in the polity in the first four years of the present democratic experiment. Championed by the Ijaw youths as embodied in the Kaiama Declaration of 1998, the resource control campaign has received the full support of the governments of Delta State, Akwa Ibom and Bayelsa. In fact, the governor of Akwa Ibom, Obong Victor Attah, late last year launched a book — a collection of speeches he made on the singular subject of resource control.
The forum of the southern Governors, at several meetings in the last five years, has generally adopted in principle, the ethos of resource control. Last week, Governor James Ibori of Delta, at the reception held for him by his Urhobo folks in Lagos state, had re-awakened the matter when he announced that the struggle for resource control was far from being over.
A source close to the exploratory meeting for the likely formation of the party had hinted that the issue of resource control “is one issue that we all believe in,” adding that “when we eventually settle the parameters and framework of the party, then we can sort out the fine details of the issue with a view to modifying it to suit the interest and aspirations of all and sundry in the group.”
While it will be very easy for the Southern governors to mouth resource control, it remains to be seen if the other movers of the new accord from the North will wholeheartedly support it.

State Police
This is another touchy resolution that has always featured in the summit of Southern Governors’ meetings in the last five years. But the federal authorities, including the Police high command, have always shot down the idea. Those who push for the establishment of state Police, particularly the Lagos State Governor, have always argued that state police would enhance the process of crime control and general maintenance of law and order in the various states. They have sharpened their arguments with the fact that the Police structure is under a unitary command, which is at the centre and that the police commands in the various states insist on taking orders and commands only from their superior at the centre. That way, the states are pretty handicapped in rallying quick and timely response to social disorder. And in most cases, it has led to ugly situations either getting out of hand or being handled with tepid disposition. Still, they argue that it is even worse where and when the authority at the centre and at the state level is cast on different political platforms.
At the exploratory meetings, it was said that the former AD Governors had bemoaned this fact when they recalled that the Police and army which are under federal control were massively used to aid and abet the rigging that threw them out of office in April 2003.
The case of Anambra state was also used as a compelling reason why states should be allowed to run independent state police. The Police command both in Anambra state and even in the entire zone 9 was said to have been used to undo the political strength of Governor Chris Ngige . It was said to have come to a head last November when the police were accused of having actually participated in the burning down of the various structures and institutions in the state. The source added that “a state police can never be used to burn down the property and structures of a state, no matter the skew of the political persuasion.”
But the counter arguments have been equally strong, most of which are etched on the need to promote the unity of the nation.  The proponents of this position  argue, for instance, that any such thing as state police could be used as terror machine against political opponents. They cite instances where in the first republic, some states had their own guards and such informal formations, which were eventually used to violently pursue political ends.
Thus, both the Police authorities and even the Federal Government have stood resolutely strong against the introduction of state police. Such opinions are given strength by the use the infamous Bakassi Boys were put to in some south eastern states, particularly Anambra, in the days of former Governor Chinwoke Mbadinuju, where the outfit was reduced to an instrument of hacking down those considered to be anti-government.
Whatever the argument is, the quest for state police appears to be one of the main issues which the proponents of the new party seemed to have found a common ground. 

Fiscal Federalism
Many of the members of the emerging group are strong believers in the doctrine of federalism. They argue that federalism in principle and not in practice does not augur well for a rounded economic development of the constituent states. 
“We believe in federalism, even as our constitution posits. But we crave for the practical implementation of the elements of federalism, including fiscal federalism, wherein we can grow our own economy in the various states depending on what we have and the socio-economic advantage we have, which we can develop depending on how aggressive we can be”, a source at the meeting explained to THISDAY.
Like the issue of resource control, the demand for fiscal federalism has also been a contentious issue in the Nigerian polity over the years. Those who support it readily give the example of the first republic, where they say the northern region depended heavily on the economic benefits of the ground-nut pyramids, and the west depended on its cocoa and the east on its rubber etc, as a means of the regional developments. That such competitions among the various zones led to the near even development of the nation, because the regions were in competition.
But those against the practice of fiscal federalism have never been able to give an articulate argument in support of their positions, except that the defence of the status quo is often hushed in claims of maintaining the unity of the nation.
Those who so believe quickly point to the principle of derivation, which they say is provided for in section 162 (2) of the nation’s constitution that stipulates that  “… the principle of derivation shall be constantly reflected in any approved formulae as being not less than thirteen percent of the revenue accruing to the federation account directly from the natural resources.”
But those who support the practice of fiscal federalism, while not discounting the need for national unity, query the rationale for classifying petroleum resources, for instance, on the exclusive list while other resources like solid minerals are on the concurrent list, noting that the law appears skewed to favour a particular section of the nation.
But even then, a state like Lagos, for instance, believes that the said principle of derivation formulae is not sufficiently favourable to it. It argues that whereas the state accounts for over 80% of the nation’s earning from Value Added Tax, which is like consumption tax, it gets far less than it deserves at the end of the day from federation account, while states that contribute very little or nothing to that fund yet get a large chunk from the federation account.
But the source informed that “these issues form the larger framework upon which we think we can aggregate our collective socio-political interest. The details could be worked out much later and if we are able to overcome all the teething problems and scale all the hurdles, then these issues shall be at the core of our originating manifesto as a party.”

It is noteworthy that even though the conveners of the proposed arrangement share a lot of beliefs on different issues, the Atiku factor is ever present in the various calculations. The forced resignation of Ogbeh as the National Chairman of the PDP is a clear indication of the direction is going in 2007. The forces loyal to Obasanjo and Gen. Ibrahim Babangida were responsible for the ouster of Ogbeh, with a view to truncating the presidential ambition of vice president Atiku Abubakar. The raw display of power by the president in forcing Ogbeh out of his seat set many of the politicians thinking. Although the new group may not be all out to work for Atiku, many of them believe that they are trying to save this democracy from going under with the happenings in the polity.
“We’re really worried about the way things are going in this country,” one of the conveners told THISDAY on phone during the week. “The Tafa Balogun case may send the wrong signals to the military. The amount of money involved may make the military guys say things like these politicians are not better than soldiers.”
The group is considering three options. One is that if Obasanjo softpedals on his anti-Atiku moves, the group would go along with the PDP. This option, according to an insider, is not belived to be feasible as Obasanjo does not seem to be in a hurry to bury the hatchet with Atiku. The second option is for the group to move en masse to either the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) or the Alliance for Democracy (AD) and take over the structure and give PDP a run for 2007. The third option is for the group to take over one of the lesser parties and turn it into a formidable force, afterall the relevance of a party is determined by the heavyweights therein.
THISDAY was told, however, that about half of the persons who attended the meetings are Obasanjo’s moles. They report regularly to the president on the proceedings. In fact, the president was said to be aware of the exploratory meeting before it was held last Saturday.

The Faces Behind the New ‘Party’...

By Ike Abonyi, 01.28.2005



Soon after the conclusion of the controversial general election of 2003, it was glaring to political watchers that a major political realignment might take place before the next election which is due in 2007. It was against that backdrop that the move by certain politicians to form a new political party ahead of 2007 did not come as a surprise to many.
Expectedly, a number of variables account for the move, some of which include ideological inclination, commonness of interest and other geo-political considerations. These factors could be deduced from the commonness in background of some of the personalities involved most of who are politically wounded.

Long before the general election of 2003, Governor James Ibori had lost out in the political mainstream of his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He belongs to the group of PDP governors who found themselves entangled in the political web of the Obasanjo-Atiku tango. From the outset, Ibori identified himself with the Atiku group and have had to contend with President Obasanjo's fang. Against all odds, he was able to secure his mandate for second term and when he could not be stopped at the poll since he benefitted from the centralised electoral fraud master-minded by the PDP, the judicial option was brought up, hence the now popular ex-convict case.
Although the governor got victory at the High Court level, the matter is not yet over as his tormentors have taken the case to the Court of Appeal. Clearly aware of who his enemies are, Governor Ibori would not want his political future to be determined by those who in reality have been working round the clock to extinguish him politically. This explains his scheming for a new platform especially against the background that the out-going national chairman of the PDP Chief Audu Ogbeh who has been providing some shield is himself on his way out. For Governor Ibori and his likes, the PDP leadership under President Obasanjo clearly shows that some of the members are indeed strange bed fellows.

Since the January 2004 presidential primaries of the PDP at the Eagle Square, Abuja, Governor Lucky Igbinedion and his Delta State counterpart have come to establish themselves as sharing similar ideological views. During the anti-Obasanjo moves, at the convention, the duo were at the forefront for Obasanjo's challenger, the Second Republic Vice
President Dr Alex Ekwueme. Their yeoman job for Ekwueme then apparently widened a political gap between them and President Obasanjo as they have never agreed on issues since then.
Governor Igbinedion's problem in PDP entered into a new dimension when he found himself disagreeing recently with godfathers of the party in the state, the Chairman of Board of Trustees of PDP Chief Anthony Anenih and the former governor of old Bendel State, Dr Samuel Ogbemudia. The governor's activities in the PDP over time have actually positioned him not to make PDP a comfortable place to realise his political future. This definitely explains why he associates himself with any unfolding political arrangement.

Governor Daprieye Alamieyeseigha has actually not been in the good books of President Olusegun Obasanjo but somehow he has managed his way through. Every effort was made to stop him going for a second term in 2003 and they even went as far as resurrecting his controversial exit from the Nigeria Airforce (NAF).
There was also an aborted attempt to use the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) to stop him. His visible posturing in the Atiku camp caused the other camp to try to unseat him but he was able to scale through. Even today, the ICPC is still on his trail as he is currently in court with them. His situation is even made worse by his continued support for the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) group which sees the Vice president as the arrowhead. Chief Alamieyeseigha's romance with the new party may not be unconnected with the fact that his political future in the new PDP without Chief Ogbeh, the moderating force, cannot be guaranteed.

Governor Bola Tinubu's interest in the new political arrangement can be explained when viewed from various angles. Tinubu's political platform, the Alliance for Democracy (AD), is virtually in disarray and cannot provide the much-needed base for the realisation of his political ambition. Given the heat the Senator Ogunlewe-led PDP opposition is giving him, plus the not-too-impressive performance from his government this second term, the governor indeed require a reinforced support base to forge ahead.
His loneliness as the only surviving AD governor has also heightened his fears for the future. If the AD had remained intact, he could latch on to the anti-PDP sentiment that is getting stronger by the day across the country but the party has been torn apart.
Tinubu's matter is made worse by the fact that the ethnic organ, the Afenifere that has been providing the cover is divided and the Governor is being fingered for it.
More than any incumbent involved in the new party arrangement, Chief Tinubu needs it more to save his pride.
He has been involved in some political brawl with President Obasanjo and 2007 appear to be the deciding factor. The new arrangement will also give Tinubu the opportunity to pursue his ambition after governorship as he is already being touted to enjoy a lot of political understanding with Vice President Atiku Abubakar. The new party might be an honourable burial for the AD rather than see it dissolve from the once formidable political party controlling the entire south-west to an organ without any state in 2007.

Chief Segun Osoba, former Governor of Ogun State, is one of the many political “orphans” created by the fraudulent electoral process of 2003 general election. Chief Osoba, aside losing his second term bid, has found his AD platform totally disorganised with him and his colleagues not having much chance to help.
The antagonism from his successor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, backed by the federal might has also combined to multiply the woes of Osoba. Except for a major political restructuring, there is no clear indication that the AD as a party will be able to make any return in Ogun State, no thanks to the acclaimed performance of Governor Daniel and President Obasanjo's apparent zeal to establish a formidable political base, even after leaving office. Chief Osoba's link with the new political party is welcomed by political watchers who feel that a new platform is needed for him to make fresh inroad into the polity as both PDP and AD have failed to impact in the people of south-west, the type of cohesion and discipline, the defunct Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) of late Chief Obafemi Awolowo did in the Second Republic.

Even through Chief Udenwa has come up publicly to deny any move for a new party involving him, the truth remains that he once showed interest in the arrangement. Nothing behind the scene has come up to show that he actually is not involved in the formative plots.
Although he has not been too directly involved in the controversy of Obasanjo-Atiku feud in the PDP, it is a known fact to close political watchers that his vice presidential ambition has been dictating his actions.
His romance with the Atiku group is also known to the other camp and his inclination to the new party is in line with the thinking for a direction should President Obasanjo and his almighty machine decide to frustrate them out.

Perhaps, outside Governor Chris Ngige of Anambra State, the most embattled state governor in the country today is Joshua Dariye who lost six months of his four year tenure to emergency rule declared by President Obasanjo. The return of Dariye when the emergency rule was lifted would have been frustrated by the President who even lobbied the state assembly to impeach him for corrupt charges. When that could not work, the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) stepped in.
The national chairman of PDP, Chief Ogbeh, who helped to facilitate the return of Dariye has been shown the way out, a development that scares the governor and a clear indication that more danger lie ahead. Against this backdrop therefore, Dariye's romance with the new political party can be rationalised and understood.

Governor Victor Attah is one of the most vocal and consistent state governors in opposition against some very unpopular political decisions of Obasanjo. His role in the resource control battle which he eventually won is known to all political watchers. His role as the chairman of Forum of Governors in pushing through that cause before the President is also known.
Governor Attah's principled role on issues has actually put him in perpetual opposition against his own party. Being a founding member of the PDM for which he has remained all through, his relationship with the anti-Atiku forces has not been exactly cordial.
Even if he was not directly involved in the new party arrangement, political followers of his politics believe that he would have found comfort in the new formation.
The untidy exit of Chief Ogbeh which he stood stoutly in support further strengthens his fear that PDP may no longer provide the needed cover for the governor and his future ambition.

Like his Akwa Ibom State counterpart, Governor Kalu has come to establish himself as a tireless and irrepressible opponent of President Obasanjo. Both in his first and second term, he has been at war with his party, PDP, more than any other state governor.
His problem with Chief Tony Anenih over allegations of threat to life, although resolved, left some sour taste in the party. The governor's deputy, Dr Chudi Nwafor, who helped to create the crisis is still reaping the fruit of his action. Having survived impeachment from the state house of assembly, he is yet to survive the aftermath as his relationship with the governor has come to be that of cat and mouse.
In his first term, Governor Kalu surmised the pressure from the Abuja politicians in his state who were pro-Obasanjo and has been battling to contain them in his second term. This time, it has not been easy as the Abuja group has produced the No. 3 citizen, the
Senate president Adolphus Wabara whose perpetual link with Obasanjo continues to strengthen him to battle the governor.
Even as Kalu tried to play hide and seek in his political scheming for the 2007, the strong root of the Wabaras, the Ojo Maduekwes and Prince Vincent Ogbulafors among others in the other camp has forced him to remain with the anti-Obasanjo group.
Viewed against these backdrop, his link with a new political party cannot be out of place, moreso when he is nursing a presidential (vice presidential) ambition which the PDP does not seem to be a conducive platform for its realisation.

Although he served President Obasanjo as a Senior Special Assistant, in the first term, his political inclination within the party has been more on the anti-Obasanjo group. His romance with the Atiku group within the PDP fold is not hidden. He is known to have been stoutly against certain actions of the President especially as it relates to the controversy surrounding the forceful ejection of Chief Ogbeh from his position. As a first-term governor, realising his second term bid is tied to how correct he gets his political calculation and he is one of those who believe that his political inclination must be in relation to the future. His link with the new party is therefore not unconnected with this fact. With a possible tutelage from his father who is known to be one of the nation's foresighted politicians, Governor Saraki's next move must be guided by the experience of the man who rightly doubles as his biological and political godfather.

Governor Boniface Haruna of Adamawa State can easily pass as the most loyal and committed of the Atiku group for obvious reasons given how he came to be governor. His loyalty is not in question at any given time. Of all the cases of electoral fraud in 2003 general election, his was the only one nullified by the tribunal, but many believed then that his mentor and not him was actually the target. The Appeal Tribunal came to their rescue. The governor is most certainly to go to anywhere his mentor tilts to.
If therefore a majority of politicians sympathetic to his master gathers and decides to realign their forces, Haruna is bound to be involved. The truth is that if the pro-Obasanjo group goes ahead to ensure the frustration of the ambition of the Vice president out of the PDP, Haruna will be at the forefront of any new party that could help him pursue his ambition.

Governor Niyi Adebayo is one of the victims of the PDP capture of the south-west in 2003 general election. His political future has remained uncertain, following the crisis in the AD that further weakened the political platform. His matter is made worse by the presence of a very strong successor who is ready and determined to deal decisively with opponents. During the last local council election when an attempt was made to resurrect AD, Governor Ayo Fayose resisted it. The military was mobilised to cage Adebayo and his group which included Governor Bola Tinubu and former Governor of Ogun State Chief Osoba. Since then, Governor Fayose has been operating freely, as it were. The situation has further sidelined Chief Adebayo in the scheme of things. Any new political arrangement that could help him confront the weight of PDP in the state would be a welcome one.

Like his other colleagues in the AD, former Governor Lam Adesina is in dire need of a new platform to extend his political career which is being truncated by the continued factionalisation of the AD.
Even though his performance as governor did not meet much of the people’s desires in the state, his successor, Rasheed Ladoja, has not fared better but he enjoys the might of the PDP to put Adesina in a disadvantaged position.
The thinking of both Adesina and most chieftains of the AD is that a new political platform that could unite the old AD and the remnants of ANPP and other Awoists is the only antidote to confront the might of the PDP and they would gladly jump at it.

Former Governor Adefarati has actually been at the receiving end from the PDP government in Ondo State. The Segun Agagu government has been on his trail over alleged corruption during his time. Even with such political heavyweights like former Secretary to Government of the Federation and presidential flagbearer of the ANPP/AD ticket in 1999, Chief Olu Falae, Adefarati has been finding it difficult resurrecting AD in the state. Like his colleagues, he was quick to jump at the mention of new party because that remains the only option upon which they can extend their career in politics.

Former Governor Akande of Osun State has actually not featured in any discussion for the formation of new political party but with the body and soul of his AD faction which he leads deeply involved, it is as good as saying that he is involved.
With Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola still pursuing him over the contract mix-up in the Bola Ige secretariat during his tenure and Senator Akinfenwa still challenging the legitimacy of his own AD, it makes real political sense for him to join his colleagues in the AD to seek a new platform to pursue their ambition which appear glaringly truncated in the factionalised AD.



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