By Dayo Benson, Okey Ndiribe, Dapo Akinrefon & James Ezema
LAGOS – As re-alignment of opposition political parties aimed at forming a mega party, ahead 2011 continues, Imo State Governor, Chief Ikedi Ohakim, has dismissed the move, saying there is no opposition against theÂ ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Governor Ohakim, who recently defected to PDP from Peoples Progressive Alliance, PPA, on which platform he earned his mandate, saidÂ members of the opposition parties are aging and are not recruiting young ones to replace them.
The Governor, who justified his defection to PDP on ideological ground, however, pointed out that there was no difference between PDP and PPA as well as other political parties. He spoke yesterday, when he visited Vanguard Office in Lagos. He also saidÂ that he was a co-founder of PPA, adding that he wrote the partyâ€™s manifesto, including that of its presidential candidate in 2007generalÂ elections, Dr. OrjiÂ Kalu.
According to him, â€œ this country has no opposition. PDP has no opposition. And I am not saying that it is not possible to have opposition, we must have opposition in this country. Democracy depends on opposition but who are the oppositions and where are they?
The average opposition today is 70 years-old,Â from Enahoro to Balarabe Musa to Jakande and all that. Opposition is getting poorer, older,Â disorganised, dis-orientated and how many are they?â€
Further he said, â€œopposition is not even recruiting new converts, there is no succession plan in opposition. Therefore, the only opposition is the South African model, where everybody will come into that bracket where you have bad eggs and you make sure that the good eggs are better that the bad eggs. And using the Bisg Bang Theory, there will be internal implosion, where nature will carve out opposition on its own. And that is the only way to go.â€
According to him, â€œthere is no difference between AC, PPA, PDP, nobody can talk of deceit or deceiving anybody about my entrance into PPA, which I, Ikedi Ohakim, registered, and the first address of that political party was in my house.Â I wrote the manifesto, I even wrote the manifesto, with which the chairman even used to contest presidential election without charging anybody anything.
“So, that relationship was formerly discussed. And then, for me to run an election to serve our people, we had to find a mechanical way to be able to interact for me to run that election”.
According him, PPA wouldnâ€™t have won even House of Assembly elections, if there was no understanding between the various political parties that said it must be me.
“You will also recall that I was a governorship candidate in PDP before the problem started. I donâ€™t want to go into the details. But everybody knew why I pulled out and so many other persons pulled out, because there was something that looked like commercialisation of the ticket for the party. And I captured it very well, for those of you that have read â€˜The Courage to Challengeâ€™, why I pulled outâ€ he said.
Explaining his defection to PDP, he said â€œthroughout my 19 tribunal cases, the House of Assembly, belonging to a different party, followed me to court everyday until I won. After that, the leaders in the state came together, including the House of Assembly members, they set up a committee and said it is either all of us move to PPA or the Governor comes to join us in PDP, where all of us belong. And they looked at the pros and the cons, and they presented it to me and gave it to a review committee.
“By the time they looked at it and told me that it is I who will cross over to join them and not them crossing over. Canâ€™t we come together to develop Imo State rather than the House of Assembly trying to impeach me, why donâ€™t we belong to one political party. Then, how long can I stretch my luck in that political environment, which no Governor in Nigeria has.
“From there, we decided to take that decision.We didnâ€™t take that decision because PPA had given this man ticket and then, he has abandoned PPA. Who got the ticket? Who registered the ticket? Who is the owner of the ticket? What is then essence of that ticket?
“It took us one year before we took that decision to be able to cross over back to PDPâ€, he added.