By Henry Umoru
Chief Olisa Metuh, lawyer, politician and businessman is the National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. Metuh who was elected at the last March convention of the party has reenergized the publicity platform of the party.
In this interview in Abuja, Metuh responds to issues concerning the prospects of the party in the face of the merger of opposition political parties, the internecine war in the leadership of the PDP among other issues. Excerpts:
What is the position of PDP to the political merger of the major opposition parties?
We are happy with the plans of the opposition parties to merge, we welcome it. We think it is a good development in our democracy.
We wish them the best, but we want them to focus only on issues, no propaganda, no insult, no misinformation to the public. As long as they play according to the rules of the game, Nigerians will be better for it.
The idea of democracy is that there should be a party in power, there should be an opposition that should be vibrant that will tackle the party in power only on issues, policies and programmes.
As long as they bring up policies and programmes for us to debate on it, but a word of caution, they are going to attempt to be big, they will now understand what it is to run a big party.
We will witness their conventions, congresses, primaries and they will understand that it is not easy to handle a big party the way PDP is doing it.
They will have their teething problems, but we wish them well. We are not dwelling on it, as a decent party, we do not want to make noise about their own problems and we hope they get it right for the interest of our democracy.
How is the National Working Committee, NWC of the party responding to the recent challenges against the problems you have been facing?
On the issue of the National Executive Committee of the party, there is no problem that we are having, we had a few challenges, it happens in every company, association, political party and even in family, but it is being over-exaggerated in the media, the party is one, we are totally committed to the ideals and programmes of the party under the able-leadership of the National Chairman, Dr. Tukur Bamanga.
He is the National Chairman of the party, we are working committee members, the governors do not have any problem with the party as Governor Rotimi Ameachi, Chairman Governors’ Forum said and showed in his reception for National Chairman.
We would like the public not to focus on our challenges which we have gotten over, but to focus rather on the programmes, policies of the National Chairman and the impact he has made.
We have seen how vibrant the party has become, we have seen that the National Chairman is defining that a party must get involved in governance, we have seen the National Chairman stressing on discipline, we have seen the National Chairman’s programme, we have seen that he has embarked on the basis to ensure and see exactly what our elected officials are seeing.
These are the things we would plead that you media would highlight on, to show that this National Working Committee is serious about making a meaningful impact in the progress of the party.
How is the issue of BoT chairmanship affecting the convocation of NEC meeting?
With our constitution and convention, before we have National Executive Committee meeting, we usually have a board of trustee meeting and we have a National Caucus before we have National Executive Committee meeting. In the last National Executive Committee meeting, we did not have vacancy in the Board of Trustees Chairman.
Let’s look at the crises in the NWC, have the issues been fully resolved?
On the issue of what happened, it is basically improper for me to start mentioning something that the party has resolved and gone, but I must state here to you publicly that as an elected member of the National Working Committee, I am completely loyal to the constitution of the PDP which I swore to at the convention and that is the first duty that we have.
If a matter has come and has been resolved at the highest level of the party, it will be improper for any individual to bring it out especially when peace has been restored. That matter has been handled at the highest level; I will not wish to comment on it.
What is the party’s position on zoning ahead of 2015?
The best thing to say would have been no comment, but in our usual manner of being very open and transparent with the public I can tell you here that as of today under the constitution of the party and the way we run our programmes, we are going to have primaries in 2015.
We are completely unaware of any thought or any moves to change the constitution of the party. The constitution we have provides that we must have State congresses and national convention.
So, I ask you, is there automatic ticket in the 2012 constitution?
Of course a constitution can be amended at any time if the members decide to do that, if the need arises, I am just telling you what the law says as at now. I want to stress that no single person owns the PDP, PDP does not belong to any tribe, religion, any individual.
PDP is the only party in Nigeria that is fighting corruption; we are the only party that expose corrupt practices among its members or children of our leaders. There is no other party in this country that has accepted that there is corruption amongst their members.
Even when their people in the House of Assembly and Speaker have problem to do with corruption, their party keeps mute and they cover them. Does it mean that it is only corrupt people that enter PDP? No.
However, President Jonathan has decided to engage the fight against corruption by being very open and exposing people close to him no matter how highly placed, we expect other parties, whether they have merged or not, whether they succeeded in merging or not to start this fight against corruption by exposing their members elected and appointed.