Omoregie: Better for Nigeria if PDP gets It right
The way I see it, if there is any party in Nigeria that has experience, it is the PDP. In fact, it is the only party that has survived since 1999, virtually all the other parties that came with it have collapsed, so the party is very experienced, it ought to be experienced enough in matters like this, though sometimes when you have political interest you may even push so far that it may not tally with the interest of the party.
If the members really value the party, I expect that they will do their engagements, their campaigns in such a manner that there will be less acrimony. You know all those going for chairmanship have signed a pact to follow the rules so we expect that the party’s convention should be in tandem with the party’s tradition. I am sure that most Nigerians will want to see that there is a strong opposition in this country, failing which we cannot be certain that democracy will be consolidated.
So, I am believing that the party will dig into its experience and of-course with its bitter lesson in the past election, it would be able to hold a convention that will be generally crisis-free.
What do you think led to the party’s near disintegration shortly after the last general election?
I think the party did not look very well in giving the mantle of leadership to somebody like Ali Modu Sheriff, because that is a fellow who was never a member of the PDP, he became a member only a few days before the general election. I don’t think he still has such strong orientation, or believe in the party ideals, don’t forget that the PDP is an offshoot of a group 34 persons coming together in 1998 to challenge General Abacha, who wanted to transmute into a civilian president. Of-course the fellow passed away and these people came together to form the PDP. The party has been so much operational for a ling time and then somebody like Sheriff came with all manner of conflicts over simple issues of who is the chairman, whereas somebody resigned that position and gave it to him.
When Muazu resigned, Uche Secondus became the acting chairman and all these persons gave way for you, so what is the issue? The party said we wanted you before, but now we don’t want you. Some persons will suggest that there were some unseen hands in the whole affair, but I will not be surprised because politics is like that because you will always steal a match on your opponent If you follow that story that Amodu Sheriff was being used… but I think the party placed itself in that position. However, I think lessons must have been learnt by now otherwise it will be very disastrous not just for the party, but for Nigeria as a country because there must be an alternative. It is only because we are running a presidential system otherwise if we were running a parliamentary system, PDP would have been officially recognised as the opposition party, they will stay on the other side of the isle debating and all that, so it is the benefit of democratic consolidation that the party is alive and well.
Has the PDP been able to play the role of a viable opposition since it lost out in 2015?
In the past couple of months until July this year, the party was battling for its soul so the truth is that throughout that period, you wouldn’t expect that the party will be coercive enough to be playing that role very well, but I think since July, the party has continued to identify things not quite right with the government of the day and playing the role of opposition does not mean you will go and just be attacking the government, you have to be responsible even in opposition and I think the PDP has done that, and ultimately it is the country that matters. So, even if you have issues you want to raise against the ruling party, you must be constructive and the PDP has strived to play that role because there could be a backlash if you just continue to reel out all manner of opposing statements, even when there is no cause for it because it will now be regarded as just grandstanding. At least we know what was the living standard in 2015 and what the living standard is now. PDP does not have to go to the rooftop to say that to anybody, we are all seeing it, so I think Nigerians will have the opportunity at the appropriate time to do their assessment.
I believe that after December when the PDP’s convention would have been concluded and you have a full executive, Nigerians should expect more. The national publicity of any party is very vital and of course the chairman must be clear-headed.
A situation where everybody always gravitates to the ruling party, is that good for our party politics?
I believe that that is part of the symptoms of a broken democratic environment. We have been in the doldrums for many years. Even as we became a country in 1960, our democratic system has not enjoyed the sort of cohesion that you will expect from a country that has been independent for 57 years without military interruptions, and so people have not really fully imbibed political ethics so as to be able to stay put in their party and be able to stay focused on the ideals of their party. Even at that, some persons still play the politics of the stomach, so I think that most of the movements you see may be down to just very narrow vested interests, but there are also those who may feel unwelcome in their political parties, even when the party is in power and they will take their exit because at the end of the day, Nigeria’s democratic system is still very nascent, even if you say between 1999 and now our democracy should have grown. I would disagree with that because you are looking at party system and not a human being that you think should be an adult at 18. You cannot compare somebody, who has worked for 18 years and the one, who has worked for 60 years in terms of experience.
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