By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
Ikenga Ugochinyere Imo is a house-hold name in the Peoples Democratic Party when it comes to controversy. Some label him as a hatchet man when there are turbulent issues in the party. He is the convener of the Stakeholders Forum in the New PDP. In this interview, he explains why Bamanga Tukur should go and why a new convention should be held.
PDP National Chairman has threatened to declare vacant the seat of lawmakers who have joined the factional new PDP, what is your take on this?
Tukur (Bamanga Tukur) is already blocking the chances of resolving this matter, this declaration of war is basically a smokescreen to hang on to office because he wants to draw a war. He is scared of peace negotiation which the outcome will be the termination of his deplored unlawful regime and again a fresh unity convention that will create enabling environment.
So, he will prefer to sink the party than allow peace to prevail. But yesterday’s comment, I must tell you is one of the things I keep saying that shows that Tukur is not in tune with what is on the ground, because if Tukur is intelligent, he would have read the provisions of the 1999 constitution before boasting that he would declare any body’s seat vacant.
Under section 68 (1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, the constitution stipulated grounds upon which someone’s seat should be declared vacant. One, if there is recall of the legislator whether at the state or national level, if he is no longer a citizen of his country, if he denies his citizenship, if he decamps to another political party, if he becomes appointed maybe as a Minister or something.
But under the clause, if he decamps to another party there is a proviso, it says provided the man did not decamp to another political party as a result of division or faction in his former political party or as a result of merger. So, now the question is, is there a division in PDP, the answer is one hundred percent yes.
There is a division and before we even get to the decamping, we have not decamped to anywhere, we are still in PDP, playing intra-party politics of saying that we don’t recognize you as the leader of this party, you have been removed, if the court will decide and INEC will make their recommendation, so declaring seats vacant does not even come in here.
This is just internal operation of PDP versus PDP, but assuming that a senator today or a member of the House of Representatives because of this division announces his membership of PDM, Peoples Democratic Movement) or APC (All Progressives Congress), or Labour Party or any political party, that senator or Rep member is immuned from his seat being declared vacant because he did not move because he wanted to move but moved because his party is being factionalized and this faction is all about in a house where you have people.
Tukur should have embarked on reconciliation, rebuilding of the party but today as it stands, Tukur has destroyed a united house that he met. In the history of the party, he became the only chairman within a space of six months who suspended over 15 members of the party and especially members that he has no right to suspend. One of the key issues that I don’t want people to forget in this struggle is that this fight is about impunity, it is about defending the constitution of the party, it is about illegality.
It has nothing to do with Mr. President deciding to contest or his fundamental human rights or breach any agreement he had with anybody. The main issue is, let there be a level playing field so that everybody can be able to participate.
But this mad ambition that is going on in the party has led to the forgery of the party’s constitution and that is why I keep on saying, two clauses were forged in the party’s constitution in a bid to realize this impunity. One, in the old constitution, it says that the NEC shall meet once every quarter and the chairman shall summon the meeting. Where the Chairman refuses to summon a meeting, with two third resolution of the NEC members, a meeting must be summoned by the chairman. In the new alteration, it says, if even with the two-third resolution being passed by the members of the NEC, the summoning of the meeting will be at the discretion of the Chairman.
Then, another clause that was altered is one that has to do with Article 21, that has to do with the issue of discipline. It says that once you have been suspended for a period of one month, you shall not lose the right to contest any election. You know the reason for this is that, an accused is deemed innocent until he is proven guilty.
Assuming you are suspended for one month and you are later found to be innocent, and you have lost your right to contest any election, you have suffered a personal loss. But in the new alteration, the NEC says that you can be suspended for one month and through which you shall lose your right for an election.
Do you know what that means? That as we approach primaries for an election, Tukur and the President can decide to gang up and disqualify if there is any person contesting for presidency. They can qualify him a week to election.
The implication of this is that he cannot contest the presidential primaries, and the only place he can seek redress is NEC. But the man refused to call NEC and you try to get two-third to force him, when you get two-third, he cannot summon it because the constitution says he is the only person to summon it.
These two alterations are very fundamental to the survival of peoples desire to have equal opportunity in the party and that is why people now said no, coupled with the exclusion on Saturday. So, the impunity was so much that if people did not rise up on that Saturday, there would have been no party called PDP.
What is the way out?
The way out is very simple, I have always told people who are preaching the way out, it is very simple. A unity convention, but then before you talk of a unity convention there must be a grand rule that will be set for the unity convention for it to be truly a unifying convention and a reconciliatory convention. One, apart from Tukur stepping aside, you are going to step aside the outcome of this Saturday’s election of Tukur followers at Eagle Square.
Then, before you go to the unity convention, you have to reverse the illegal dissolution of the Adamawa executive; you have to recognize the executive in Anambra that the court recognizes led by Ejike Ogbuebego which was elected that produced Chief Andy Uba. You have to go to the South West and recognize Segun Oni elected executive and all the executive in South West that he has destroyed, you have to find a way to install Olagunsola Oyinola back to his position in which he was elected at the zonal convention but they gave an excuse that the court said that the zonal congress was invalid.
Was Oyinola a product of zonal congress, no, he should have challenged that court order but the party refused to appeal because they want the man out forgetting that the same Bamanga Tukur was suspended by the North East zonal congress but he is still the national chairman of the party. In RiverState especially, the gangster there led by Obuah should be disbanded.
We cannot because he doesn’t like Amaechi begin to ruffle our party constitution, no. Parties cannot be run that way, find a decent way to deal with Amaechi if you have issues with Amaechi but don’t ruffle our party constitution. You have to restore the executive of Rivers back.
When you have done all these things including the North West zonal Chairman senator Giri that was illegally dissolved and then all the suspension especially the illegal one; he has done that to Andy Uba, done that to Amaechi, done that to a lot of people and he should reverse all the suspensions, when these are done, we return back to the convention, let Sam Jaja and Uche Secondus lock hornsand anybody that wins becomes the Deputy national Chairman of the party.
So, our condition is very simple to revert to what it was in 2012, summon a unity convention and re-emphasize one man, one delegate, one vote, hence there is enabling environment for one delegate, one vote without any exclusion there will be peace in the party I can assure you that.
It is alleged that some of you are working for the PDM, hence you want to destroy PDP
Well, this is a political period where people can speculate, but I want you to take one thing. if we are actually working for one party, we would have joined that party immediately without wasting time.
But for us to remain in PDP means that we love PDP so much and want PDP to remain in the right direction, but let me let you know one thing, if a thief comes into your house today, you are not going to jump through the window, you are going to fight to regain your house, if a man kidnapped your lovely wedded wife, you cannot say let me go and remarry another wife, I don’t want problem, if somebody takes your wife, what will you do, you will fight and retrieve your wife.
Why we are fighting is to retrieve our wife which is the constitutionality of our party, we are not going to go to any party neither are we working for anybody but let me tell you something, in politics, there is always plan B, if they do not want peace to return and reconcile and they push us to the wall, we will have no other option than to react, everybody has and option, but that option I pray we do not get there.
We are not leaving to any party, we are members of this great party, we will remain in PDP, we are going to retrieve the party from these impostors and restore order and normalcy and let me tell you at the first NEC meeting of the Baraje-led executive, you will see the outpouring of NEC members, 33 NEC members, the quorum will be formed and critical decisions will be taken and including not excluding bringing Bamanga to pay for all his sins against the party.
But the new PDP is not recognized by INEC, will it contest election in 2015?
First of all what you will ask yourself is, what constitute a political party. What constitutes a political party is legally elected officers of the party and a legally elected executive council.
As it stands now, the executive committee of the party has been divided into two by the time we have more statutory members especially now we have eight or nine governors, by the time we have 15 governors, we have 15 state chairmen of the party, we have 15 ex-officials, the Senate and the Reps you have formed the quorum of the NEC, it means that INEC is bound by law to recognize the NEC because it is the same NEC.
The NEC that met in Wadata house has Amaechi, has Nyako, has everybody, if they decide to move away and we say this is our leader, this is where we are meeting, INEC is bound by law to recognize those valid exco so there is nothing like that, the matter is in court and we expect INEC to respect the matter which is in court, the court is going to make pronouncement and I can still tell you before the court makes the pronouncement, realignment is going on before the first meeting of Baraje the required two-third of valid NEC, that same NEC that Bamanga presides, they will pledge their loyalty to Baraje that means that Baraje is the acting chairman of the party pending when there will be convention and INEC is bound to recognize that
But INEC was not in the convention that brought up Baraje
The same Electoral Act makes provision in 85 that says INEC may with or without notice, monitor any meeting, convention called by political party for the purpose of electing its executive committee. So, INEC might have been there or might have not been there that is on one side but the point I am making is, once the valid exco is fully in place and INEC checks its record and see that the people who are here are the people who consists the NEC of the PDP, where will they give their recognition to, they will give their recognition to NEC, the same people they have been recognizing, so INEC will continue to recognize the original NEC of the party which will not have Bamanga as its chairman
Why is it that you are always being used for hatchet jobs in the PDP?
I won’t say this is unfounded neither will I say this is lie or true but there is something I will tell you on this matter. For an aggressive democrat like me, an advocate of intra party decent, my voice is always loud, my mouth is always loud.
Don’t be surprise that somebody who my mouth is running against will feel the pain of what am doing and the easiest thing he can say is that somebody has hired him and ask yourself, when you use the word hatchet, hatchet means when you are pursuing something that is illegal and the man who knows how to pursue illegal something is hired to come and do it the question you ask, trace all my fight in the PDP and name which of those fight that is hatchet, is it that I went to court and said Anyim should not contest an election because he decamped and joined DPA party with Olu Felaye and came back without re-admission, is it that I asked that Nwodo should not be appointed party chairman in view of him leaving the party to head Atiku’s campaign in mega party and ACN and latter came back without re-admission, is that I moved to court and said Babanga Tukur should not be elected party chairman because he has not returned back from expulsion there is nothing hatchet about it, but then because of the tension soaked with those battles the people who are benefiting might be seen as people who have aligned with me, but the question is, assuming somebody is aligning with me, align with me for what? To fight an injustice that has been in the party’s constitution.
Every fight in this world must benefit somebody, the fight America is waging in Syria must benefit somebody, that is why some countries will still not agree like Rusia even if today the PDP constitution is abused, it must benefit somebody, even if is due process is done now, there is somebody that will benefit so there is no fight that I will fight that it is only the angels that will benefit, somebody must benefit, but the question is, is Ikenga doing what the law requires, is Ikenga doing what is written in accordance with the constitution, if the answer is yes, then I don’t think that there is anything hatchet about it, it is a mere defeatist attitude of people, okay look at today, there are people I have fought in the past who in this new PDP are working inside with me and today they will call me a hero because it is benefiting them, tomorrow if I come after them when the breach the law they will say I am a hatchet man, there is nothing hatchet about it, it is a normal thing.
But you seem to be controversial
Yes ofcourse when you dabble into controversial matters, when you dabble into battles that political buccaneers are benefiting from, they will tend to label you controversial and they will tend to say all sorts of things about you but the point I am making is that all these fight are for the good of the party, if you obey the PDP constitution, I will not come and start fighting you, okay don’t give me the room to do hatchet job, obey the party constitution and let me see if Ikenga will come and fight somebody, that is the issue.