Hon. Eddie Mbadiwe was a member of Imo State House of Assembly and House of Representatives. In this interview with RUTH CHOJi, the PDP chieftain spoke on some topical issues in the polity. Excerpt.
What is the state of the PDP in Imo State?
Well there are factions, but people are talking and I hope that by the end of the day, we will come to an amicable solution. If we don’t resolve it now, we might lose it again because a house divided against itself cannot stand. If we want this governorship, we have to come together as one united family.
Recently, some members of the National Assembly abandoned APC for the PDP.
What is your take on this?
I am not surprised but I am totally displeased because it is unfortunate and a total disgrace. The provision in the constitution has not been properly harnessed to stop this kind of things. When I was in the National Assembly, I and Hon. Sam Tsokwa presented a Bill on the need to amend the section of the constitution which says that, a member of the Senate or House of Reps shall vacate his seat if he becomes a member of another party but it goes down in section D to say, be it a person whose election was sponsored by a political party, he becomes a member of another party before the expiration of the period for which he was elected. So if it stops here that, once you defect, you go back to your constituency. The Bill we brought was to remove this section which says, provided his membership of the latter political party is not as a result of division, which is where the problem is. Anybody can get up and say there is a division. So the Bill we sponsored was that, anybody who defects should go back to his constituency. When we brought the Bill, some people shouted us down. They said we can’t do that, that we are shooting ourselves in the foot. But we were thinking of the interest of the country when we brought that Bill. We wanted some sanity. What prompted me to draft that Bill was because somebody just stood up in the House from the Labour party and said, he has crossover. Just like that! To me, that statement didn’t mean anything.
Nigerians should canvass that, that section of the constitution be amended so that anybody that wants to defect can do it, but he must go and get a new mandate from his people. This is very bad. We are being ridiculed all over the world. How can you just get up one morning and say, some people have defected. It is very bad for the country. The legislators should have an executive session, lock up themselves and tell each other the truth.
Are they really building democracy in Nigeria or they are destroying it?
What is happening now for me is a disgrace. I can understand one or two people but not this massive gale of defections. The whole thing is just to get a ticket to return. Until we educate our people to at least secondary school level, so they will understand what is going on. But right now because of the level of poverty and illiteracy, anybody you give N5,000 will sell his vote for you.
Do you also think that the APC is running a dictatorial government?
Well, I talk about institutions, if they are strong, there can’t be dictatorship. But I think the judiciary should start doing its job. It is wrong for the executive to make laws without the National Assembly. I know the President was a General and was used to giving orders but this is democracy. If we let it go wrong, then we will blame ourselves. The legislators must get more involved in governance. Let us stop thinking about what will come to us as individuals. Our problem is that many good people are not in government because they don’t have the money to contest elections. Until we reduce the salaries of legislators and ministers, these problems will not reduce. Some see service as a means of making money.
The President recently complained that the National Assembly tampered with the 2018 budget. Is that not part of their mandate?
Yes, it is but they don’t have the right to move money from one place to the other without justification. The executive will bring proposal but if you put money that does not go to public service, then it is wrong. It’s not as if the money they add will be used to build a bridge somewhere, instead you will find out that they are used to buy cars. They will give 30 vehicles, 100 motorcycles and the rest. Where is the money coming from? In the House of Reps, we didn’t have that kind of leverage. There was something for constituency projects, which was around N20m and was disposed by the MDAs. But now you see people buying hundreds of cars when people are dying in different parts of the country. Look at the killings that is going on. Nothing is being done to stop it. Lives don’t matter in Nigeria again. Look at America, they want to impose sanctions on Turkey for just one person and yet here, hundreds are killed and daily properties are destroyed. Yet nobody has been arrested and prosecuted. The primary purpose of government is to protect lives and properties, any government that cannot do that has failed.
What is your view on the current 8th National Assembly?
The whole system need to be revamped. It need to be sanitised. I am not saying anything new, but good people who want to serve should vie for positions so that the system will be sanitised. Right now, it is a war.
What do you think will be the impact of returnees to the PDP as a party?
They have to fight for their positions. They are not just coming to take over the party. I believe we have to change this government because it has not done much. When they came I gave them benefit of the doubt but they have not performed. Nigerians deserve something better.
Do you think the PDP can give Nigeria better deal given its previous performace?
The PDP has to be reformed before it can get the mandate of the people. The PDP did a lot of things that were wrong. So, if the people now want to change and give power to us, then we have to be a new PDP. The APC has asked the South-East to support President Buhari for another term afterwhich the zone will have a shot in 2023.
What is your take? Do they have the power to hand over power to anybody?
They don’t. In a good system, you earn power because people will see what you have done. Right now in the South-East, the APC is very unpopular because we have seen what they have done. You can’t force them to vote for APC because they have done nothing for the South-East.
So, how can they hand over power? Is it their property?
If you do well in government, people will beg you to come back. The South-East one day will have the presidency. You can’t keep them sidelined for too long.
Coming back to you, are you going to contest for any position?
No, I am not contesting any position because the system as of now is corrupt. I have been through these elections twice and I won. But the way it is now, I don’t think I want to bring myself to that level now. It is so corrupt, people tell you plainly to bring the money so they can share. I went into politics early because I believed we can have a better society. I have been writing in the papers because I believe that Nigeria can be much better than it is now.
Do you think that INEC is capable of giving Nigeria free, fair and credible elections?
Yes but they need to do more than what they have done. Prof. Yakubu must be decisive in Imo State. There was a time the governor took all the electoral personnel to the Government House and gave them money and instruct them on what to do. But educated Nigerians must come out. People must get involved by speaking out.
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