Hon. Ogbonna Nwuke is representing Etche/Omuma Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives. He is one of the members who defected to the Abubarkar Baraje’s led faction of the new Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP). In this telephone interview with Vanguard, he explained the idea behind their decision and said it will be a mass exodus from the old PDP to the new PDP. Excerpts:
BY Levinus Nwabughiogu
Nigerians are yet to fully know why 58 lawmakers in the House of Representatives, including you, chose to pitch tent with Baraje’s new PDP.
I think what is clear to us all is that we want democratic principles within our party and we want to ensure that what was left by the founding fathers of the party are restored and respected. Basically, those are the major prongs upon which we are agitating.
And you know that we have had situations where the so called Tukur and those who have run the party behaved like dictators, where opinions were not respected, where platforms were thrown out over night under whatever guise. And those are actions that were not worth the while.
They became too powerful and acted with impunity with disregard to the party’s constitution and it was becoming unbearable and so, something had to happen. And true democrats within the PDP who were not happy with the way things were going kept on urging for some understanding, kept on urging for some caution but no body listened to them.
Would it be right to say that your own case in Rivers was to give solidarity to Governor Chubuike Ameachi who was among the seven defecting governors?
Now, the point is why is Amaechi being persecuted? Ameachi is being persecuted because of his sound belief in democratic tenets. In some quarters in this country, he is seen as a symbol of democracy.
Amaechi wasn’t fighting a cause that was unique to himself but to many Nigerians including those whoa are within the PDP. So, that must be understood.
The issue of solidarity you can take for given, but it goes beyond that. What we are talking about here is the expression of our belief in the principles upon which our governor has fought. We have decided to carry on with the original principles upon which the PDP was founded.
So, how do you react to the threat by Tukur to declare your seats vacant?
This is the point that we have been making that the chairman is totally out of thoughts with democratic realities.
The issue is that at the time that well-meaning elders of the party, even the Presidency is considering discussions with the new PDP in order to restore normalcy within the party, how can a man who claims to be the father of the party think in the manner that he has thought?
It tells you clearly that many people who have said that the National Chairman is the problem within the party are correct. It is not the attitude of a father.
It is not the attitude of an administrator; it is not even the attitude of a well grounded politician. It is the attitude of somebody who has totally lost thought, who doesn’t even appreciate the modus operandis as it is now. This is the point.
In your declaration statement, you said there were other members whose names couldn’t make the list for reasons of distance and absence. Does that mean that Nigerians will still witness more exodus of members from the old to the new PDP?
It is obvious that what you heard is a mass movement. It is a mass movement fuelled by acts of political highhandedness by people who claim to be exercising power on behalf of the party.
Break in communication
If you have been following trends within the polity, you should ask yourself, how come PDP has the majority in the National Assembly and some of the policies that are coming down from the presidency are not sailing through?
It shows you that there is a break in communication. There is an attitudinal problem within the party with some persons thinking that they are up therefore others are children in the classroom and must take instructions from some persons whether they are right or wrong.
It does not show that those who are holding on to the reins of power have bothered so much about inclusive politics and so to answer you straight, there will be more defection from the old PDP to the new PDP because the new PDP offers a ground of freshness.
Aren’t you afraid that what is current happening might slim down the chances of the party in 2015 elections?
The battle in the PDP is between the old ways of doing politics and the new ways of doing political business. And those who are asking for some level of transparency, some level playing ground, some respect for each other in the way we conduct ourselves are the ones with fresh, new ideas.
Those who are talking like totalitarian leaders, like Tukur belong to the old chip and they don’t understand that there should be a mix between the old people and the new.
What is constant in life is change but it’s unfortunate that the man who parades as our national chairman, who insists that he is the only one who thinks that political matters are settled by security agents going by what he said.
What should Nigerians expect from the leadership of the House of Representatives on this?
What is certain is that the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker have demonstrated some level of maturity and I am sure they appreciate the fact that there is a PDP caucus within the National Assembly and to rally the caucus, they would need to wait until the House reconvenes.
Now, the action that you have seen thus far shows that people have the right to choose and those who have chosen to go along with the new PDP have taken their destinies into their own hands.
Now, whether or not the PDP caucus in the House will deliberate on these issues and decide on the best way forward is another matter. I am aware that the speaker and perhaps, his deputy, all are considering options that are open to them.
My take, is that they are perhaps, consulting at the moment in order to know what steps to take but those steps might only become manifest when the House resumes sitting.
I think also that our leaders in the national assembly will respect the rights of legislators to take decisions that only them and their conscience can defend.