OP-UNEDITED | A Tale of Three PDPs: Obasanjo, Yar’Adua and Jonathan – By Babatope Falade

By Babatope Falade

History as an art in its continuous intended and unintended forms has a challenge; the tendency for its writers and moulders to change its content entirely, deliberately omit relevant and critical content because of bias and failure to account for some of its content.

This piece seeks to offer a new perspective on the role PDP has played via its agents in the persons elected to rule between the periods of 1999 till 2015. The PDP rule is often considered in a monolithic form which fails to appreciate the qualitative differences and changes made to our democracy and governance by the active participants within that period.

PDP; the largest political party at a point till 2015 in Nigeria was founded by a group of men who coordinated themselves using the G-34 group. Some of them included;Dr Alex Ekueme, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Solomon Lar, Barnabas Gemade, Professor Jerry Gana etc.

They chose Chief Olusegun Obasanjo to be the flagbearer of the PDP and he started his reign. Olusegun Obasanjo handed over to Umaru Musa Yar’Adua who died due to unfortunate circumstances and the mantle eventually fell to Goodluck Jonathan by virtue of the position as Vice-President and then popular votes in an election he contested.

I will make distinctions and project the contributions of each agent- I mean the various president’s PDP produced. I have also employed the methodology of highlights, which means highlighting landmarks and popular aspects of the tenures. Let’s start with Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.

Olusegun Obasanjo

Chief Obasanjo, a former military head of state, farmer and African diplomat ruled Nigeria from 1999 till 2007.

National Debt

Under him, Nigeria was able to negotiate the over $30billion debt with the Paris club. He exercised a lot of prudent vehicles such as the illegal but established in good faith- Excess Crude Account, whose purpose was to save money for the rainy days.


He saw through the process that liberalized out telecommunications sector and brought in GSM operators into Nigeria and today MTN alone provides 20,000 direct jobs and 1.5million jobs indirectly. This enabled Nigeria to leapfrog in the ICT sector. Today we have over 120million mobile subscribers. We now have about 5 operators with Ntel joining the fray.

Poverty Alleviation

Chief Obasanjo embarked on many programmes such as the NAPEP and PAP, both designed to alleviate poverty. These programmes were awarded billions of naira, but we can say that a lot of contention went into the efficacy of the programmes as the results cannot be felt in terms of documentation of how many people it actually drew out of poverty.


He spent $16billion on power with little results in installed capacity and eventual generation and distribution. Chief Obasanjo initiated the process for the eventual sales of PHCN which is a product of the unbundling of NEPA. This indeed was a feat which will make a successive administration be just a step away from selling.

Democratic Development

Chief Obasanjo played dirty here with the most undemocratic tools such as intimidation of opponents within his party and without. In Lagos, he withheld local government funds because of issues around creation of LCDA’s by Bola Ahmed Tinubu, then governor of Lagos. Even after a court order was given to release the funds he didn’t.

He once said that even Jesus can’t organize free and fair elections in Nigeria. Chief Obasanjo also said during the 2007 elections that it was a do or die affair.

Under him, opposition was not sure that they will ever win states held by PDP and even states they held. It was only in Lagos, that such confidence existed.

By all standards, the only progress under Chief Obasanjo was transition from one civilian government to another. He already purged the military and professionalized it to the point where we could stay assured that the direct role of the military in our democratic lives was over.

Chief Obasanjo would not appear to be much of a democrat at home, but abroad he would be seen as a peacemaker and democrat.

Under him, many senate presidents were impeached. He had a hold on politicians, especially with the EFCC being in control of the president.

There was also a flagrant disregard for the courts and orders in his tenure.


Chief Obasanjo established EFCC and ICPC. It can be said that EFCC under him, with its chief- Nuhu Ribadu was quite effective, albeit, many of those convicted were in antagonism to the president.

While some such as Chief Anenih were linked to issues such as 360billion Naira meant for works which could not be accounted for. Nothing happened in this case and we wonder why the EFCC was selective.

Lastly, EFCC was at its best in operations and execution, but for the evident selection of whom to go after. Yet, corruption was not eliminated or systematically contained. It’s is one thing to fight corruption as it happens, it’s another to put controls in place to stop it from actually happening. 

Umaru Musa Yar’Adua

Umaru Yar’Adua, may his soul rest was president from 2007 till May 5th, 2010 

Rule of Law

This man led the way for the rule of law and respect for courts for the first time in many years. One of his first acts was to reverse the illegal sale of refineries and some national assets to top Nigerian businessmen.

He also paid Lagos State the withheld 20billion Naira that Chief Obasanjo refused to remit to Lagos State.

He interfered less in opposition issues and allowed all and sundry to go about their political activities.

Umaru Yar’Adua also agreed in principle and stated in words; that the process that brought him to power was flawed after his Supreme Court victory against Muhammadu Buhari.

Amnesty in the Niger Delta

Umaru Musa Yar’Adua made a landmark contribution to Nigeria with his amnesty programme which saw militants causing damages to oil infrastructure in the Niger Delta leave their creeks and submit to the will of peace by the federal government. They were rehabilitated and placed on many benefits. This saw to the improvement and smooth operation of oil and gas firms operating in the Niger Delta.


President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua died of a heart related condition. Not much of his fiscal and infrastructural or structural achievements were recorded during his tenure.

Nonetheless, the adoption of the rule of law and amnesty programme were major strides by this great man.

Goodluck Jonathan

Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan became acting president in 2010 after the death of Umaru Yar’Adua. He will later contest and gain another mandate to rule from 2011 till 2015 which made his tenure last for 6years.


This government fell short in the fight against corruption. It appeared like a free for all at the resources of Nigeria.

Social media helped to expose every detail of corruption and waste.

Stella Oduah had to resign because of going outside appropriation provisions to purchase BMW cars.

Upon the exit of this administration several scandals erupted particularly the arms deals labelled Dasukigate. Its still unresolved in the courts and it appears the office of the NSA acted like a channel for distribution of funds.

Evidently, political parties appear to be funded via security votes. This practise happens at state levels and federal level.

One highlight which is positive and has helped to stem corruption and stealing is the introduction of BVN and IPPIS. These innovations by the Jonathan administration that have so far helped the elimination of over 50,000 ghost workers at both federal and state levels.

The administration also put in place the Treasury Single Account which has also helped to mop up monies that were scattered in various accounts which makes them susceptible to stealing.

He mentioned that he was using technology to fight corruption, but no one cared to listen because of other brazen acts of corruption that were visible.

The BVN and IPPIS are systems that will help. We need more systems in place to check corruption. Fighting corruption and stealing after it has happened is time wasting. If it can be prevented, it’s better. 



Nigeria inherited an original 35,000km of road network from the colonialists. His administration rehabilitated 25,000km. The Benin-Ore road that had suffered many years before him was rehabilitated. The Lagos-Ibadan expressway that was in bad shape for many years saw a new lease of life with work commencing on it before GEJ left office.


The airports particularly got some touches and work to expand it commenced.


A lot of work was done with Agriculture using the growth enhancement scheme. Farmers got their fertilizers directly instead of the inefficient means where middlemen were used. The middlemen were eliminated as they used to make procurement difficult and expensive.


Railway projects commenced and some were delivered for the first time in Nigeria’s recent history. The railways were dead for a long time.


Nigeria was finally able to sell the PHCN companies; Generating companies (Gencos) and Distributing Companies (Disco’s) with the exception of Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN). This required a lot of institutional support which the government and administration gave.

Poverty Alleviation and SME’s Support Programmes


This program had a lot of beneficiaries who were able to start business with grants from the federal government. This is one program that worked because it was targeted at private individuals.

SURE-P (Subsidy Reinvestment Programme)

These program was fraught with irregularities and was a failure to a reasonable extent. It was channelled through governments and state levels and the rest is history. The chairman; Dr Christopher Kolade had to resign.

National Security

This government battled the Boko Haram scourge and spent so much on security. We were spending 2billion per day at some point on national security. The major achievement of this era was to redesign Nigeria’s security architecture from being functional for only the head of state to the whole country. Previous military regimes designed it to reduce incidence of coup plotters.

Democratic Development

This administration contributed most to the development of democracy in Nigeria. For the first time in a long time, opposition parties won appeals, they won free and fair elections.

He continuously sued for peace during elections in 2015 saying “My ambition is worth no man’s blood”.

When he lost, he handed over gracefully.


Babatope Falade-Onikoyi is a public policy analyst whose focus is on the knowledge economy. He has written extensively on the subject. He is the founder of Knowledge Economy Africa and the CEO of Walter and Edwards Communications. He tweets via @topefalade


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