By Obinna Ejianya (9News Nigeria – Melbourne, Australia)
It is good to give honour to whom honour is due. While many are now parading themselves and enjoying the success recorded over the years by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), it is worthwhile to remember those whose sacrifices and sweat underpinned the foundation of the party.
The untold story of Orji Uzor Kalu’s selfless funding of the PDP in 1998 sheds light on the sacrifices made by individuals to establish and sustain a political party aimed at bringing positive change to Nigeria. Kalu’s decision to fund the PDP during its early years when funds were scarcely available to run the party, served as a catalyst for its growth and success. It is important to honour and acknowledge the contributions of individuals like Kalu and the founding fathers of the PDP, who selflessly dedicated their time, resources, and energy to shaping the political landscape of the country.
History of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) holds a significant position in Nigeria’s political landscape.
Following General Sani Abacha’s death in June 1998, the government announced that democratic elections would be held the following year, ending 16 years of military rule. In preparation for the election, political parties were formed, including the People’s Democratic Party (PDP)
Established in 1998, the party was formed by a group of visionary leaders who aimed to bring about positive change in the country. The PDP founders, including notable figures like former Vice President Alex Ekwueme, Jerry Gana, Chief Tony Anenih, Chief Solomon Lar, Chief Barnabas Gemade and others, played a crucial role in shaping the party’s ideology and objectives.
The founders and members of the party had a vision for a better Nigeria, but they lacked sustainable financial resources to turn their dreams into reality.
In the early years of the PDP, financial constraints posed a significant hurdle for the party. The founding fathers and members faced a lack of funds to cover basic expenses such as meeting halls and refreshments. Despite these challenges, they remained steadfast in their commitment to the party’s cause. Their determination and unwavering belief in the PDP’s potential propelled them forward, even in the face of adversity.
The dedication and determination of these early members cannot be overstated, as they believed in the power of the PDP to bring about positive change.
As the party gained momentum and popularity, it also faced intense financial challenges. The funds required to sustain the party’s operations and activities were scarce, and the leadership had to find innovative ways to overcome these obstacles. It was during this crucial time that a selfless individual stepped forward to make a significant difference.
Over the years, the PDP has seen various leaders rise to prominence within its ranks. PDP has recorded numerous successes in the political landscape of Nigeria having produced three successive presidents, numerous state governors and lawmakers across the nation. PDP won every presidential election between 1999 and 2011 and only lost to the rival All Progressives Congress in the 2015 election.
While many of these politicians now boast about being the strong backbone of the party, it is important to acknowledge the sacrifices made by those who laid the foundation of the PDP. These founding fathers faced numerous challenges and had to navigate through difficult circumstances to establish the party as a force to be reckoned with.
Orji Uzor Kalu, a prominent Nigerian businessman and politician, played a pivotal role in the PDP’s survival during its early years. Kalu’s selflessness and commitment to the cause of the PDP were unparalleled. Recognizing the financial struggles faced by the party, he made a bold decision that would shape the party’s trajectory.
According to Chief Dan Nwanyanwu, while speaking as a guest on the AIT TV Kakaki program, he said that it was Orji Uzor who was footing the bills during the early days of PDP.
Chief Dan Nwanyanwu narrated that he was involved in all the meetings held in 1998 before the formation of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He said, “In 1998 before the formation of PDP, I attended all the meetings, all the meetings at the Muson Center with Jonathan Zwingina and others.”
Chief Dan Nwanyanwu who was one of the chieftains in the PDP before becoming the chairman of the Zenith Labour Party said that during those days of the formation of the PDP, at every meeting, there would be no money for the hall and entertainment.
He said, “People didn’t have money then. Orji Kalu picked most of the bills.” “I must be Frank with this. Orji Kalu picked most of the bills. He is not my friend, as per relating, but I remember on three occasions it would be announced that ‘Orji Kalu has picked the bills’ because people didn’t have money then.”
In an act of unparalleled generosity, Orji Uzor Kalu decided to personally fund the PDP in 1998. Despite the financial risks and uncertainties, Kalu believed in the party’s vision and understood the importance of providing the necessary resources for its growth. His contributions went far beyond financial support; he also offered invaluable guidance and mentorship to the party’s leaders, fostering a sense of unity and purpose within the PDP.
In the midst of this political transition, Orji Uzor Kalu saw an opportunity to make a difference. He recognized the potential of the PDP and believed in its vision for a better Nigeria. Despite facing skepticism from some quarters, Kalu decided to throw his hat into the political arena. He joined the PDP and quickly became an active member, working tirelessly to promote the party’s ideals and gain support from the people.
By Obinna Ejianya (9News Nigeria – Melbourne, Australia)