The state of the nation prior to 1998 could well be described as near comatose. The human rights record of the military administration was appalling.
The nation’s economy was on a steady slide to a disastrous perdition. There was near hopelessness and uncertainty.
In the political terrain, the nation was served with strange concoctions that would have ultimately led to national suicide.
In the international arena, Nigeria which once stood tall as the giant of Africa was reduced to an inconsequential midget with the suffocating tag of a pariah nation tightening round her neck.
Hitherto brave men and women became cowards overnight, groveling at the throne of the one who had wished to become the absolute emperor of Nigeria.
For each passing day, the light of hope dimmed in Nigeria.
The height of despair was achieved when the five registered political parties aptly described by the late Attorney General of the Federation, Chief Bola Ige as the “five fingers of a leprous hand” strangely adopted a serving soldier and the incumbent Head of State, General Sani Abacha, as their presidential candidate.
The Conventions of the ‘parties’, which were supervised by the goons of the regime were sad symptoms of a decadent nation on the brink of disintegration.
The regime capped up this comical idea with an unprecedented show of self-amusement in a forum of waste tagged “One Million Men March” where politicians, respected ones at that, professed to the whole world on national television that no other human being in a country of over 100 million people was qualified to rule the country.
What a calamity. What a damming verdict on a population known for its industry, resilience and ingenuity!
This was the state of affairs in 1998. The nation 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 who was bent on entrenching himself in the country.
While this sordid state of affairs was holding sway, a group of politicians 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.
That meeting, led by Dr. Alex Ekwueme [right] was brutally dispersed by the security apparati of the Sani Abacha’s regime.
Dr. Ekwueme undeterred by the brutish antics of the regime continued rallying key political figures of different ideological persuasions under a new platform called Institute of Civil Society.
THE BIRTH OF PDP:
The idea of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) started in 1997 when these elder statesmen noticed that there was a grand attempt by the then military government to perpetuate itself in power.
They first held a meeting of the Turaki Committee, headed by former President Shehu Shagari and after the meeting, most of them were dissatisfied with the outcome.
They then decided to float a party to challenge the military under General Abacha.
Seven of them held a meeting in Abubakar Rimi’s guest house in Kaduna to float the Idea.
The seven participants at the meeting were:-
1. Mallam Adamu Ciroma
2. Alhaji Abubakar Iro Dan Musa
3. Alhaji Lawal Kaula
4. Prof. Musa Yakubu
5. Late Alhaji Ali Baba
6. Mr. Wilberforce Juta and
7. Alhaji Abubakar Rimi
At the meeting, they looked at the state of the nation and the future of democracy in Nigeria.
They looked at the dangers that the continued military rule under any guise posed to the country and decided to form a party that is all encompassing, a party that de-emphasizes previous politics of ethnicity, religion and other forms of sectionalism.
They wanted a party that is so big and so popular that everybody could join.
They changed the venue of the next meeting to the residence of Mallam Adamu Ciroma to beat security surveillance.
They decided to expand the meeting to broaden participation.
Twenty people were invited to the second meeting out of which eighteen people attended.
That gave birth to what became known as the G-18.