What are your plans for the PDP?
To reconcile, to reorganise and revamp in order to bring the party to its proper place. We want the party to be transparent and have internal democracy in all our operations, embark on new membership drive, instill discipline but ultimately, our objective is to see that come 2019, we will win majority of the state and the centre.
What is the party going to do with members that caused this problem?
We have said that no victor, no vanquished. We will not look at the past but the party will frown at current indiscipline. Whether such acts are coming from those who previously disagree with us or even those who were in agreement with us. The issue of discipline is not intended for any class or group of people, it’s a total policy issue affecting every member of the party, irrespective of the position they might have taken in the past.
Is the PDP going to merge with other parties?
We will go beyond that. Alliance is a different thing from merger. In alliance, parties maintain their identity but in respect of specific elections, you come together and agree on a common candidate. But for merger, it means the parties merging will lose their current identity and assume a new one which is cumbersome. I don’t see much appetite for that because it requires lots of steps to be taken and we don’t have that much time. I think what the party can do now is to bring back disenchanted members, bringing in new members and talk to other parties and see how we can work together without going into a procedure that is cumbersome and a procedure that might be used against us one way or the other. We are politicians and we know how it all works.
What informed the decision to hold a mini convention?
The time giving to the caretaker committee will expire on the 17th of August and there is not enough time to conduct a convention. The constitution of the party says that, a mini convention can be held at any time to consider specific matters but not for elections into party offices or any elective position like president. With that and the electoral act that requires shorter time to give INEC notice, the mini convention becomes necessary now because that is what the party can do before we prepare for the main convention.
There were reports that the PDP has zoned the president to the north, what will happen when persons from other zones indicate interest?
The party has zoned presidency to the north, it doesn’t mean that others can’t contest.
Is the PDP going to maintain its zoning formula?
That is the decision of the 21st convention and the Supreme Court has said that the convention was valid and all decisions taken by the convention are supreme. The decision of the Supreme Court shouldn’t be limited to the leadership alone. Why Supreme Court dealt with the leadership issue was because, that was the specific issue placed before it. But the general question was also on whether the convention was valid, and whether the decision taken there is supreme and the Supreme Court said yes. Now, you can go down and apply it to all the decisions taken at the convention. We have zoned the party chairman to the south and presidency to the north.
The APC has said there is no vacancy in the villa, does this scare the PDP?
That was what we said when we were in power, but didn’t they come in and take over?
In the course of the crises, some political office holders defected, what will happen to them?
They are not many. When PDP was in power, you can say that so many Members of Parliament moved to PDP but now, a couple of members in PDP move to the party in power. They will be welcomed if they come back. If they moved because there was a faction, now the Supreme Court has said there is no faction. They are the ones that run a risk because their constituents and state party can take action against them, may be in a court of law that they might find it difficult to wriggle out from. But my position is that of reconciliation, so that they can come back for us to work together.
Are you going to contest for the chairmanship at the main convention?
No, absolutely not possible. My role is limited to chairman, caretaker committee up to the time of the main convention.
Coming back to the state of the nation, some northern youths gave the Igbos three months to vacate the north and some fear that this could lead to a bigger crises if it is not properly handled, what is your take on this?
We, as a party, condemn it. We did an international press conference to express our displeasure. We didn’t limit our displeasure to that statement alone but to all hate speeches coming from all across the country, from the north, south, east and west. If we isolate one and don’t make it comprehensive, rightly or wrongly, it will send a signal of taking sides. If things are coming from all directions like this, you need a holistic approach to deal with it and I am happy that leaders from all parts of the country have been playing the leadership role required of them by talking to one another. We are matured enough to talk to one another and chat a course for this country that will have a positive impact on everyone, not negative.
Is PDP in support of agitation for restructuring?
We support it but it is how we get there that matters because restructuring means different things to different people. It is when we sit and talk like matured people, not insulting each other or calling each other names, that we can form a general agreement on what should be restructured because restructuring can be territorial, political, financial or economic. It can be political where some will prefer we go back to zones because some zones can be homogenous such as south west. South east, to some, east and north west, but you cannot find a homogenous in north east or north central. It is the decision of the majority that we will have to take, not minority. But let people talk and let’s see what is workable and what is not.
Should Nigeria remain as one?
I have not heard anybody say anything contrary. But that is not to pretend that there is nothing wrong in Nigeria. But let us talk, let’s not be afraid to sit down and talk.
Are you worried with the dimension herdsmen and farmers’ clashes have taken?
Off course and our party has made a statement concerning this issue some time ago. The legitimate issue of animal rearing is not the problem. But the Fulani have criminal elements among them that are criminally inclined. We have to work as one people to deal with them. We also have to work with the Fulani themselves. We have to make them understand that they are hurting those who are doing their legitimate business of rearing animals. If we can win their confidence which I believe is possible, and involve communities because these issues are community based, then it can be resolved. We need to look at this use holistically and take decisive decisions in order to take out the criminal aspect from it and deal with them decisively.
Is the FG government doing enough to solve the herdsmen/farmers’ clashes?
There are three levels of government, the federal, state and local governments. If the three are not working together, you can hardly achieve meaningful impact. There are also the localised authorities, the traditional establishments and institutional. If there is no synergy among them and they leave it to just one arm, that it is the responsibility of the FG alone, then it won’t work. As a matter of fact, the states are in the best position to handle it. The centre can only support by deployment of necessary personnel. If the state is not deeply involved in it, hardly will you see any impact.
There has been renewed agitation for state police, do you support this?
There is the positive and negative side to it. The disadvantage of this is that if you leave the state police in the hands of chief executive officers, tendencies are, they might abuse it. So, when you talk of state police, you have to take it out of the control of state governors. We should go back to look at where such systems operate and is working well so that we can emulate them. Let’s borrow what is working for them and see how we can domesticate it. But to leave it in the hands of LG or state governors, it means we are only transferring aggression from one point to the other.
Anambra State is warming up for its gubernatorial elections, what are the chances of the PDP?
We have published a time line and the sale of forms is open. We will run open and transparent primaries to nominate our candidate. The process is ongoing.
IPOB has said there won’t be election in Anambra State, will this affect the chances of the PDP?
They are talking to the federal and state governments. I am absolutely confident that the state government, working with the center, should be able to deal with this threat.
Going back to the senate, does the faceoff between the senate and executive bother you?
Everybody should be worried but then you have to commend both sides because the senate recently confirmed the RECs nominees that were sent to them. We should encourage them to make peace, not take sides. We should commend the progress they are achieving in making peace. I commend the executive and national assembly for talking about the issue that divided them.
Is the PDP in support of calls on the president to resign and tend to his health?
It’s immaterial because the president has done what is required of him, to transfer power. He is not exercising political power now. When President Jonathan was acting president, he dissolved cabinet because the full powers of acting president is not reduced by the power of president. The responsibility now is on acting president Osinbanjo, not on Buhari. We should continue to pray that the president should get well. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that the person responsible now is the acting president.
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