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2019: People Will Vote Individuals, Not Parties – Ikhiogha

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Chief Diekivie Bovie Ikiogha is a former Commissioner for Agriculture, and former Chief of Staff, Government House, Bayelsa State. Chief Ikiogha is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state. In this interview with newsmen in Yenagoa, he speaks on divergent political issues including the recent defection of some APC members to the PDP in the state and other burning issues. OSA OKHOMINA was there

What is your reaction to the defection of some top members of your party (APC) to the PDP?

Judging from the population of the party, their is noticeable decrease in membership. It seems as if nobody is there these days. When I say “nobody”, I mean no one of political astuteness. Members are leaving the party for one reason or the other. I find this very disheartening, but in all, the party still stands. APC is a party that has made its mark and has come to stay in Bayelsa state and Nigeria at large. The purpose of a political party is to contest elections and oversee governance .The party is still very strong in the state.

Why is it that politicians keep defecting from one party to another in Nigeria. Are there no spelt out ideologies that drive these parties?

I believe politics in Nigeria is growing and whatever grows will experience challenges. The problem is not the absence of political ideologies but the selfish interests of individuals which in turn informs their decision to defect from one party to another. They do not leave because they want to change the ideologies or change the system. In my opinion, they hold the notion that they are going to a better playing field,with better chances of carrying out what really drives their intent for politics in the first place. These defections you see are mainly because there are no individual candidatures and there is no structure to conduct elections individually. Therefore, people run from one party to another striving to actualize their political dreams. And if they experience pressure in one party they simply go to another. I do not support this display of irresponsibility. There are of course, other reasons for these defections we must put into consideration but I speak in a general sense. I believe that all political parties have something to offer. So, the question remains, if one believes in a party why move?

Timi Alaibe, Nathan Egba and others are seen by some as political heavyweights in Bayelsa state. What does their exit from your party mean to you?

To answer this question, I would like to put things in their right perspective. The people of every land are rightfully those to judge the significance of their leaders. We may have handled one position or the other, either at the federal level or in the state, but the evaluation of how best we performed our duties remains the prerogative of the people we lead. The fact that journalists may rate me as a political heavyweight remains inconsequential if the people I lead think otherwise of me. With that said, maybe the likes of Timi Alaibe, Nathan Egba and others supposed they could not actualize their political ambitions in APC and so decided to leave for the PDP. That was their decision to make. I believe at this time, what is crucial for the state is not the dealings of political platforms. It is the performance of individuals of credible and upstanding reputation that the masses can look up to.

What is your advice on nurturing internal democracy amongst parties, considering the bickering following the primaries all over the country?

You see, we are growing to a stage in politics where people will no longer consider parties but candidates. If you study carefully all the ideologies of the political parties you will observe that they are similar. In fact, truth be told, they are almost the same. We are in a capitalist system. So, they are all almost alike. I would like to emphasize that it is not the party but the individuals who make up the party who are of primary importance. For instance, if you consider events across the country, you will understand that it is not all PDP governors that are performing satisfactorily. Some are achieving amazing results while others are not. Yet they are all of the same party with supposedly the same ideologies. The same applies to the APC. Some states are working while others are not. You will therefore agree with me that the onus lies with individuals to make the difference, irrespective of their political platforms. Let’s say I contest an election today, win, and I’m sworn in as governor of Bayelsa state, I will not forget some of my friends who are now in the PDP, especially those capable of effective service. This is because governing a state is beyond the pettiness of working with only members of ones political platform if we must deliver the dividends of democracy. Individual performance is of key interest in leadership. I can not stress this enough.

In Edo state, the governor who is a member of the APC, came to power and within one and a half years, built one thousand five hundred housing units. In comparison to other states,Edo state does not possess that much in terms of resources, yet we see all the governor has achieved. This is just to buttress my point. PDP governors are also performing commendably in different places.





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