It Is Wrong For PDP Govs To Oppose Jonathan – Metuha

Filed in Politics by on September 10, 2013

Metuh1Chairman of the Party for the South-East. In this interview with journalists, including HABIB ARUNA Deputy Editor, Politics, he spoke on some of the issues that have been at the heart of the crises in the ruling PDP. Excerpts:

What is the state of things today as regards the crises rocking your party?

The present crisis rocking the PDP has shown clearly that we do not have credible opposition party in the country. There’s no viable opposition in Nigeria politics. Definitely we have issues and few challenges. The issues have been PDP and about PDP so long as we are able to resolve our differences and we still fight our interest on a common front. Whatever opposition is minimal and insignificant and that of ineffective whatsoever. What the crises had shown is that there is no viable opposition in Nigeria politics. They have no effect on the political setting at the national level except in some local government areas and states. We as a party because we’re big, we had challenges in terms of interpretation of the constitution, procedure to run the party; ideas like people believing this is what we should be doing. We appreciate that some colleagues, governors want internal democracy. The National Chairman is committed and the NWC are totally committed to internal democracy in the party. But it depends on the description of internal democracy. Internal democracy and entrenching free and fair mechanism does not mean complete opposition to the party. People expect that the only time we can show our freedom and independence is when we are completely opposed to the ideas or politics of the government we have in power at the national level.

This is completely not acceptable. It’s not been in practice anywhere in the world.  There is nowhere in the entire world that a party that has a government at the centre will start to fight the government at the center. As custodians of the party constitution, as people who are at the helms of ensuring that the organs of the party are run effectively. We cannot stand by opposing the government that we have at the centre, the president and the elected people we have, especially when we believe the President is doing well. So, we have no reason being at loggerheads. At the state level, these same governors are working very well with the party and state committee. We do not understand why there should be different party from what happened in their state. They have said it with their mouth that their state committee and state chairman are working very well with them and that they are working very well with the party.  The same thing that is working at the state level should also be applicable at the national level. That is where we have a bit of challenge in interpreting different rules applicable. Another area is the issue of how do you determine whether the man is performing. For them, they believe that because our chairman has shown that he is in complete support of the programmes and policies the presidency is implementing, that this might mean he is not performing, that he is not competent – government and politics is not like that. We would prefer that the rules and regulation that we implement are at variance but the question is, should they challenge us on that? Not intent to mean whether he is loyal to the president or not. People should not go to that level. Most importantly, we have noted that because we are big, the government is with us; because we are big and winning election we have lost the sympathy of the people. As usual, Nigerians and the people always side the underdog and those seems to be weak. If you are strong, you lose the sympathy of the people.

That is why all our programmes and achievement of the party get under-reported. Sometimes we become victims of biased views not really biased reporting. Biased view or undue interpretation of what is the truth. A typical case is what has happened this morning. Yesterday, we went to court. The court ordered the so called faction from parading themselves as elected people especially when they claimed they were elected on 30th of August. If you were elected as Chairman and secretary on 30th of August, how come on 31st August, at Eagle Square, they sat down to participate in our own convention. It is difficult to comprehend what they are saying. That’s why we went to court for complete interpretation. We would put them in notice so that we can argue that case, because what we are saying is very straight forward. The judge now says the status given should be maintained. They should stop parading themselves, stop any activity and they should not open any office. Any other thing they do will be in contempt of the court and, luckily, they have been served yesterday evening. We believe, going by the pronouncement of the court, they were not involved in any activity. What we asked for is not what the court granted us. One is then shocked, surprised and astonished when we opened the paper, we started seeing the court refuses application. What is the court refusing when it granted status-quo ante belum? That is exactly what we wanted and it means they cannot take any step. So, because we are big, we end up having such problem of misinterpretation. These are the problems we have politically as a party.

PDP is in great test since its creation in 1998. How far has the elders gone to resolve the deadlock in the current crises rocking the party?

The truth is that our party welcome the intervention of our former President and former Chairman of the Board of Trustee, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, and other elders on the attempt to resolve the challenges and crises that we have. That is why our chairman and our governors have been attending the peace meeting. We have noted that they gave the impression that the party is not in support of the peace initiatives by the elders. It is very far from the truth. If we are opposed to it, there is no way our Chairman, the Chairman of PDP Governors Forum, will be attending those meetings. We have given the peace move our blessing; we have hope they will be able to achieve it. While we hope that these issues will be resolved, our chairman has set the agenda in statement and in speech that we are not opposed to resolution of these crises but it does not make us a weaker party. There are options and we would be waiting for any eventuality. The PDP remain strong and the party will be strong and as our chairman stated, whatever happened, we are willing and able to pilot the affairs of this party with loyal, committed and dedicated party members and we believe that with what we  have seen of the commitment  of our members that we would continue to win elections and very importantly, we will win the 2015 election.

The key demand for peace by the break-away governors is that President Goodluck Jonathan should drop his ambition to run for 2015. What is your view on this demand?

You cannot tell the man that you’d deny him his constitutional right except there is a pronouncement by the court or the constitution is against his ambition. There is no way you can tell any man that is a responsible and respected citizen, you cannot decide for him about his rights especially when he is yet to make up his mind. It is completely in his own purview to decide whether to run or not. For anybody to give it as a condition, the person is not been fair, as a matter of right. We frowned at such condition. Peace move should be given things that are attainable.

It was alleged that those of you that were brought back into the party’s NEC are to work for President Jonathan’s ambition. What do you have to say to this?

I am working for the success of his administration. I have nothing to be ashamed of this. I am working in support of the president to achieve the mandate we have given him. If and when he decides to run, my job as an elected official of the party would be to ensure enabling environment for competitors, and whoever the party brings up we’ll support him. Whoever wins the primaries, we’ll support him for election. What amazes me is that some people are playing it up that the president is not having opposition at the national level of the party. The fact is that some governors and some other people are opposing what he is doing. Even at state level, the governors also have some people within the party that are also opposed to them. We are not playing it up. The fact that you are part of the opposition at the national level does not mean some people are not against them in their state. So people should be careful about how this issue is handled, otherwise we’ll continue to have opposition down to the local government level, and to the family level, too. It should not be played up.

Is Alhaji Bamanga Tukur still a member of the PDP, because he was among those that the party expelled in the past.

Excuse me! You cannot just come out and say Bamanga Tukur should go like that. There are mechanisms for achieving that. You cannot say a national chairman of a ruling party should go like that. If you have anything against his person, you need to wait for mid-term convention and you give the man a vote of no confidence by voting him out. Otherwise, the fact that he is working with the president manifest an obvious inclination to support the president  elected by his party to administer the affairs of the country. Those calling for his removal are being unfair. They should tell us what they want and not that Tukur should go because he is supporting the president in The administration of the country. Every president in the history of this country had work with his party’s national chairman. Why should Tukur’s own be an exception? Former presidents in this country have worked with their party’s chairman and the National Working Committee of their party, and the governors at the state level are being supported by the State Chairman and the state executive committee of the party. Why is it now that there is a condition that Tukur should go? Is it because of his support for President Jonathan’s administration? It is undemocratic; it is unfair and un-political for anybody to give that a condition. We should try and resolve our problems with things that are tenable, practicable and things that we can achieve. On Tukur’s membership, let us not go into details whether Tukur is expelled as a member or not. Any member of our party, if he is very much aware, would remember that in 2006 and 2007, we have Ekwueme Reconciliatory Panel that gave blanket amnesty to all members of this great party. Whatever happened in this party pre-2006 and 2007, the Ekwueme’s Panel had pardoned everybody and restored them to their original position prior to that crises. Anybody that is knowledgeable about the history of our party and is truthful will stop talking about Tukur was expelled in the past or not. I am not aware of it and it is immaterial to me because all that happened in the party before the setting up of Ekwueme’s Panel has been overtaken by the recommendations of that panel.

Is Alhaji Umaru Dikko a member of PDP? If yes, when did he join the party as a member?

Alhaji Umaru Dikko is not from my zone, I cannot say much about him for now. But for him to be appointed to be the Chairman of the party’s Disciplinary Committee, he must be a member.

What are the functions of the Disciplinary Committee?

Since I came back from where I travelled to, we have not discuss the matter, because in the past six days I have not been in office due to the pressure of work. However, I believe that the committee is working, having been inaugurated.

It was alleged that President Jonathan reached agreement with the breakaway governors to run for only one term but his body language is showing he is much interested in running for another election. Is the man interested in running for 2015? I want you to clear the air on this. This is something that requires comment and one thing we should be honest with is that one should make a reasonable and honest answer.

This question would have been directed to Reuben Abati and Doyin Okupe who speaks for the president. I am not presidential spokesman. I speak for the PDP. But being the president and the leader of the party, he might be interested. I can only speak for the party; I cannot speak for the president. You know where to draw the line.

It has been confirmed by  ex-president,Olusegun Obasanjo, that President Jonathan did sign a one term agreement with governors, Obasanjo said this at the party’s converntion.

We should be honest here. Is there any recording, any tape or video recording that shows that President Jonathan, when he was campaigning, said he would run for one term? Has he ever said so? Are you aware that the issue of whether he can run again or not is in court waiting for judicial interpretation? Why can’t we wait for the court of our land to give their interpretation on this issue? If the court says he can run, let him make up his mind. People may be talking about moral burden. Assuming he had taken the decision last year or two years ago, he would have become a lame president, he would not be able to have taken series of decision he has taken, nobody will obey him, his policies would have been truncated. So, there is no way you can come on board and start to make up your mind that you will not run. Lets us leave the President alone to make up his mind, come up with his decision before the issue of interpretation of his decision.

The police has sealed up the New PDP Secretariat in Abuja. What’s your reaction to this?

There is nothing wrong with the Police sealing up the secretariat Because, by the decision of Justice E.S. Chukwu of the Federal High Court, Abuja, that granted status- quo, no other person or group of people is authorized under the law to take any other office apart from our office, or to hold any other assembly or any meeting and called themselves PDP, apart from the PDP led by Alhaji Bamanga Tukur. That is the implication by the pronouncement by Justice E.S. Chukwu.

Don’t you think the sealing up will aggravate the problem at hand rather than solve it?

Let me ask you a question. Are you saying what will solve the problem in your mind is that President Jonathan should not run? Or, is it that Tukur should go?  What is right is right. You cannot change what is right.

Why did PDP refuse to reinstate Olagunsoye Oyinlola despite the fact that court has not voided his election?

Oyinlola’s matter is sub judice and the party has stated that it would wait for the decision of the Federal Court of Appeal. Because the Appeal is in court, there is no way the party can take decision on it. The truth is that Oyinlola is my friend. I am one of the people that believe Oyinlola should be our National Secretary. He is a competent man, you can quote me. I know he did well while in office as National secretary. I sympathize with him. The fact is that his own brothers, his people, went to court against him. And the whole thing started from his state. It has nothing to do with national. We hope the issue is resolved. Now that he is saying he was elected, I don’t know the whole; the whole thing would be resolved.

It was alleged that there was an agreement within the party that members of the NEC that were directed to resign would be absorbed, but party leaders reneged on that agreement.

No, no, no!  There is no such agreement. Let us be fair and let me tell you the truth. Before we resigned, we held a meeting and we were told because of the INEC problem we should resign and come back for a National convention. That they will encourage all of us to run and they, the people that will not make it would be given appointment. We were not given automatic tickets. When you see the unify list, you think they just sat down that day and wrote the list? No. The campaign is not what happened a day before the convention or what happened on the convention ground. It is pretty difficult. I can tell you I had sleepless nights. There were too many issues, some that are political and some that are not. Some people felt I was not competent as a spokesman. So many things were said about me by those that were opposing to my candidature. Other issues were involved. At the end of the day, my own people in my own zone adopted us. Even when we got to Abuja, we still encountered problems. It’s not come back, as some people might be thinking. It entailed serious politicking, dealing with super delegates, it is a serious matter.

Why has the PDP failed to reinstate the suspend Rotimi Amechi after three months, according to your party’s constitution?

It is a matter I would not like to comment on because the matter is still in court. It’s true that our constitution says if you are suspended and after 30 days the NEC did not give the ruling, the suspension lapses. But the constitution did not make pronouncement on what happens if the matter is in court. This matter is sub judice because it is still in court.

What is your view about the seven governors that broke away from the mainstream of your party? What can you say about them?

As governors of our party, they have done so well in their respective states. They have used the resources available to them judiciously for development purposes. My grouse with them is that they should have shown same commitment used in developing their respective states for development of our party. No doubt, PDP is proud of them. The only challenge before us is that they should show commitment and love for the party too. As far as I am concerned, when one looks at the popularity being enjoyed by Governor Babatunde Fashola here in Lagos and the whole country, one will want to believe that he is the best governor in the present dispensation whereas he is not comparable to some of the PDP governors. With the high IGR being generate in Lagos and the publicity enjoyed by Lagos government, I didn’t see the effect when I arrived Lagos. It is almost 10 years that I left Lagos but I have not seen much difference here. For those of us that travelled far and wide across this country, we have seen a lot of development in many PDP controlled states like Akwa-Ibom, Jigawa, Kano State and others, but people there are not making noise.

Have you noticed APC’s influence in the on-going crises in PDP?

APC is not significant in the crises in our party. I can tell you this without mincing words. The APC is not important in the scheme of things in Nigeria. We are not paying attention to APC as a body because we know full well in PDP that the party is not significant.

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