by Oke Efagene
The ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), has come under fire for its recent claims which rubbed off many respondents as inappropriate.
The party attracted public outrage for comparing its founding members to Nelson Mandela, the late anti-apartheid leader.
The Party argued on its Facebook page that just as Mandela fought and won the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, so also its founding fathers achieved a similar feat that ‘liberated’ Nigeria from the chains of dictatorship.
According to reports:
Although the party did not make mention of any of its “founding fathers” that can match the late South African President, it wrote on its Facebook page that liberating Nigeria from the “vicious clutches” of military rule, which it described as “tyranny”, could be compared to Mandela’s strides in ending apartheid.
“While Nelson Mandela, the greatest African of the living memory, ended the inhumanity of apartheid, bringing freedom to South Africans, the founding fathers of PDP liberated Nigeria from the vicious clutches of military tyranny and ushered the nation into democracy,” the PDP argued in its tribute to Mandela.
The comparison sharply contrasts the position of President Goodluck Jonathan who opined that “never in recent living memory” has any leader advanced the cause of liberation as Mandela did.
Jonathan had in a Facebook tribute written, “My dear friends on Facebook, the news of the passing of the great Nelson Mandela to ‘ancestorhood’ has left Africa and the rest of humanity with a deep feeling of loss. Never in recent living memory has a leader mobilised the consciousness of human existence to the cause of freedom and the advancement of world civilisation as did Mandela.”
But some Nigerians have said the comparison being made by the PDP is out of place, with many arguing that the assertion amounted to irony of the true position of things. Those who dropped comments on Facebook accused the party and its members of plunging Nigeria into poverty rather than liberating her as it claimed.
According to many of them, the PDP has no basis to make comparisons between its members and Madiba because it does not represent anything close to his vision of freedom and liberation. They also criticised the party for taking glory for the end of the military rule which brought in current democratic dispensation and advised its members to learn from Mandela’s life of selflessness.
A Facebook user, Aluko Abiodun, urged the party to stop hurting the sensibilities of Nigerians with what he calls an irony of a comparison. Abiodun said, “Who were those founding fathers? Are they those who plunged Nigerians into abject poverty? Anyway, please, stop this irony you called comparison.”
For Ibrahim Abdulhamid, the PDP has nobody in the rank and file of its membership and leadership who possesses the traits exhibited by the late Madiba. “So, this is what you can post about this hero that your party cannot produce a leader with half of his character. Shame on you,” Abdulhamid wrote.
Another Dogo Nanzing, who also disagreed with the party, said the comparison was simply unimaginable. “There is no way on earth any right-thinking human being will compare Madiba with PDP. It’s unimaginable. Is it not this same PDP that has the likes of Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah; former Bayelsa State Governor, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, and ex-convict, Olabode George, as high ranking members? I am ashamed of even identifying myself with this party because it has lost it completely,” Nanzing stated.
Another visitor to the PDP Facebook page, Abayomi Dunmoye, urged the party to internalise some of the exemplary and sterling qualities of the late Mandela. “You(PDP) and other Nigerian leaders are supposed to learn a lesson from this legend and at least stop corruption.”
Despite the criticisms which trailed the development, the party went ahead to list President Goodluck Jonathan, former presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Ibrahim Babangida, alongside eight other past Nigerian leaders, as those it thinks may be considered as “Nigeria’s Mandela.”
The other eight Nigerians are the late Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, Ahmadu Bello, Umar Yar’Adua, Shehu Shagari, Murtala Muhammed, Mohammadu Buhari and Abdulsalami Abubakar.
The party then went on to ask Nigerians to choose who it thinks should be regarded as Nigeria’s own Mandela. But as Adedotun Johnson-Adebusoye puts it on Facebook, “Nigeria has yet to have a leader in the standing of Mandela. All we can point to are bad leaders.”
Also, Eghweree Ovie replied the PDP, saying, “Such a figure like Mandela is hard to find in Nigeria. All of them (leaders) in the past are either ethnic champions or tribal figures and religious fanatics. Others are military dictators, and the present one is more or less a person who lacks vision or focus. Believe me, PDP, if you make the mistake of taking this question to a national television, you will be will at the level of embarrassment you will get. What difference would your question make in our country? Your question has no answer.”