• Thursday, July 18, 2024
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PDP helpless in Rivers’ crisis because party compromised at all levels – Ugochinyere

PDP helpless in Rivers’ crisis because party compromised at all levels – Ugochinyere

Ugochinyere Imo Ikenga is the member representing Ideato North and South Constituency of Imo State in the House of Representatives, on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). In this interview, he spoke about the Rivers State crisis, six years single term proposal for presidents, among other issues. INIOBONG IWOK brings excerpts:

With the G60, you’ve been in the vanguard of promoting good governance, are you up to 60?

I think now we’re more than 60.

This Rivers State crisis- courts order and counter order, party intervention in the crisis and a lot of confusion. What is your take?

To be frank with you, this is one of the fearful moments our intra party democracy is going through. And without mincing words, party leadership at the national and state level, have been highly compromised, as it has to do with Rivers.

We have a party leadership that has refused to step forward to condemn the key actors who have made the situation very difficult for our party and wants to steal the mandate of the party.

We have a party leadership that deliberately, despite the alarm that was raised, appointed a caretaker committee for a party in Rivers led by members of the All Progressives Congress (APC). If you remember, I raised this issue. They said they were going to step down at the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting but in the middle of the night, they came up and said they have an ex-parte order which none of us has seen and went ahead and published this before as officers of our party.

When you ask me, why is it that so much is not coming from the PDP. I’ll ask you which PDP, because the people that are there are not members of PDP and that is why they cannot stand up to defend the interests of our party. We have a party leadership that is unable to know where to draw a line between their personal affiliation with one of the key actors in this whole crisis, which is the FCT minister and the interests of our party. You are even aware that they were supposed to conduct the election to bring a substantive chairman by August. But while we’re sleeping, they have issued another notice that it is until September. So, deliberately, they don’t want the party to move forward.

They want to destroy the party. Let me tell you, even today, if you remember, the days of Asiwaju, just from Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) to Action Congress (AC), they led a strong opposition movement that crystalised to a mega alliance that defeated our party. Now, you have some of our governors and our party national leadership; they don’t even want to mention it with their mouth because they’re so scared. Maybe, the FCT minister won’t be happy with them. Normally, governors elected on the platform of the opposition party were supposed to have stormed Rivers in solidarity with our party, but they don’t care because they elevate some of their personal affiliation above the interests and survival of the opposition in the country.

So, this whole thing to me is a joke. The party is not doing anything, not even saying much on anything in terms of speaking with a strong voice, coming forward to see each other.

Read also: Rivers’ crisis: Fubara group insists seats are vacant, head to Supreme Court

As a matter of fact, as we’re aware, you saw our party going to the low level of filing an application in court to even say that those who have left our party are still members of our party so that they can help them get legitimacy to remove our party in office in Rivers.

It’s so painful. These are the same people that have sworn affidavits. They swore affidavit in court that on December 11, 2023, they have left the PDP to join APC, but our own party in their own affidavit is saying they’ve not left so that they can get a court order that will help them to remove Fubara from office.

So, this one is a joke and is in low level four position politics in Nigeria; never in the history of opposition politics anywhere in Africa, has a political party abandoned its own vision, abandoned its own agenda in pursuit of interest that is personal and cannot help the growth of democracy.

Do you think they should take sides with a governor or they should intervene in the issue of the party itself?

Need for an intervention? First of all, you have elected members of your party, 27 of them got up one morning without any division in your party said they were no longer members of your party and claimed that because they were discussions for a merger between New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) and Labour Party, they have left, that doesn’t amount to division. They moved to another party.

Change all the laws; they were amending laws that will make sure your party doesn’t survive in Rivers including making attempts to impeach your governor.

There’ll be no intervention; the line has been clearly drawn on this particular matter. You have a member of your party, a former governor who has benefited immensely from the party as a local government chairman, as a chief of staff, as a minister, as a governor, the party almost gave him a platform to reach the heights he’s today, but he decides to walk for the ruling party that doesn’t want your own party to survive and then boldly goes publicly to say that his commitment is to ensure that your political party, the PDP doesn’t come anywhere near winning any presidential election till after 2027.

There cannot be an intervention. They’re no longer members of the party. They’ve declared war on the party. They’re committed to destroying the party. So, what you do is to protect what you have. But you are enmeshed with him; you don’t want to even protect your party. You just want the party to be dead.

You don’t want the party to move forward so that they can execute their plan. So there’s no need for any intervention because they have clearly said they don’t want the party to win. They don’t want the party to survive beyond 2027, so what are you intervening? I watched it on your TV during their thanksgiving reception in Rivers. They said it clearly, so it is now left for the national leadership of the party to say no, this is not what this party was set up to do. Because you’re not aligning with the vision of the party, because you don’t want the party to win the election, which is one of the functions of a political party, and because you don’t want the party to be a strong opposition party, give way.

But our own political party is even giving them the legal backing and giving them the enabling environment for them to continue the anti- party activities to the extent of filing cases in court to aid them. So, we don’t have a party leadership. We just have people that APC have imposed on us and want to continue to impose on us with the sole aim of ensuring that we don’t go anywhere beyond the place where we’re today.

What can be done to protect your party?

First of all, I said our governor needs to stop sleeping. If you watch my statement today, it was very clear that opposition bases in Kano and Rivers are under attack.

Some of the leaders of our party are drinking champagne with those who want to kill the party; that our goal was behave like governors of 1999 and 2007 and step forward and provide leadership and stop hobnobbing with those who don’t want us to survive, including the leaders of the parties.

Speak up, stand up, and show solidarity in support of the opposition movement in the country. And as a matter of fact, the national chairman needs to give way for the North Central to assume their rightful position as spelt out in our party constitution so that the process of reforming and rebuilding, reconciling and uniting can commence in the party.

And also more importantly, what needs to be done is that the Federal Government needs to understand that these things that are happening, these people that are claiming to be working for the Federal Government are actually pursuing their political interest and fighting for their political survival, whether in Kano, whether in Rivers, and let’s not have a repeat of the crisis of the 60s and the 1983 where the Federal High Court and the police were used by those who are close to the federal government then that led to the collapse of democracy. Let the federal government be able to call these people to order because they are only on a mission that is personal. They have nothing to do with the Federal Government.

Some caucuses of PDP in Rivers State are not happy with you apparently. That you are meddling in the affairs of the state that is not yours while your state has issues that need to be addressed; what is your response to this?

I don’t want to dignify such things with a response because the authentic Rivers have issued a statement and that is the one led by right Honourable Abiante. He has issued a statement and has disowned that statement.

And I think that statement is out there in the public. And if you Google it, you can see that the Rivers House of Representatives Caucus have disowned it and for the fact that they have done that, they have reaffirmed confidence and appreciation for our many years of sacrifice in defence of democracy. That is very consoling and I won’t want to dignify anybody that is seeking my attention with a reply on that matter.

Can you throw more light about your proposal for a six-year rotational government?

What we’re proposing is very simple. It’s a six years single term presidency that will rotate between North and South and also all elections in one day and the reason is very simple. Our electoral process has been so bastardised; the credibility and outcome over the years is difficult for people to believe in because of the desperation of political actors.

And when I say that if we have all elections in one day, it will save us costs and also bring all stakeholders together. It means that you know candidates, agents of candidates for the 65 elections that would be held the same day.

Everybody will turn out; it will reduce the level with which election materials are being hijacked and ensure massive participation from everybody. There’ll be vigilance and that will also help in ensuring that once accreditation for instance is done, the first segment of the election, which is maybe the state House of Assembly, that puts a cap on the accreditation and you cannot change the time you begin counting the presidential or governorship election results.

That will help us ensure a credible outcome and also we’re insisting that there must be adequate punishment for election officials that announce results that are false or not electronically transmitted.

What feelers are you getting from the House in respect to this particular piece of legislation you are trying to propose?

Well, we’ve been able to reach a lot of our colleagues and the conversation has been positive and we’re doing this ahead of the second reading, which is critical to the survival of these proposals. And we believe that our colleagues also agree that there’s a need for us to find a way to get stability in the system. We’re hoping and praying that our colleagues will help us see this through.