Hon. Fort Ifeanyi Dike, who represents Ihiala Federal Constituency of Anambra State in the House of Representatives, is the House Committee chairman on Inter and Intra Party Relations. An engineer by profession, he is also a member of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. Unlike some of his colleagues who had pitched their tent with the “new PDP” following the crisis in the ruling party, he has not yet taken position. He however told Vanguard in this interview that President Goodluck Jonathan’s second term ambition is the cause of the crisis in the party. Excerpts:
BY Levinus Nwabughiogu
No one expected that the PDP crisis would assume the dimension it assumed in the House of Representatives. Do you think that your colleagues made the right call in joining the new PDP?
One will be politically naïve not to expect what is happening. You know in most states whether we like it or not; and that is one of the distortions in our current democratic dispensation, most of the people who came to the National Assembly came with the goodwill of the governors. The governors were dominant in giving them tickets in the parties. Lack of internal party democracy is one of the things my committee is fighting. So, you found out that the governors were instrumental in getting them to the National Assembly.
So, in return, most members of the National Assembly owe allegiance to the governors who helped them. So, in a scenario where the governors are taking sides or joining a particular faction, you would naturally expect that they will take as many members of the National Assembly from their state as possible except those who were helped by the Presidency or who have developed rapport with the Presidency or the national PDP, otherwise.
Don’t you think staging a walkout on the President on a day of a ruling party’s national is an affront on the office and person of the President?
Ethnically and conventionally, it wasn’t the right thing to do. One may be pushed to term it as disrespect to the President. But you also know that we are in a democratic dispensation. So, it depends on how the people were pushed to the wall. It depends on all the efforts they had made previously to get these issues resolved whether those efforts they made were recognized or addressed and so on. So, in a democratic system, people have so many ways of fighting for their right. And what they did is within their right in a democratic system.
Do you see the Speaker taking side in the new development?
I am an observant member of the House of Representatives and based on that I want to tell you something. All the clamour or speculation about the Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal is because of his direction, his understanding of the issues of leadership in this country. Tambuwal is not out to merely promote the party, PDP that he belongs rather he is concerned about the welfare of the Nigerian masses.
So, what drives him is the improvement in the condition of the masses of Nigeria. In doing that, he now finds critical those acts of omission or commission by the ruling party. So, as far as I understand Tambuwal, he is not pro this person or anti this party. He is not pro-APC or Pro-new PDP or anti-PDP.
Where do you belong, new or old PDP?
Personally, I am an agent of change. Without necessary being of new PDP or old PDP, I am not a member of the new PDP yet. And it may not be on my cap to join immediately. I will prefer to stay in the old PDP. But I must make this observation. Nigeria requires change. As the Chairman of the House Committee on Inter and Intra Party Relations, I recognize that political parties in Nigeria including the PDP need to undergo radical changes and reforms. The way they are going about their affairs are not in consonance with the ethic, spirit and modalities of an ideal democratic system.
Do you think the centre will still hold for PDP?
To me, it is clearly an issue of 2015. People have interest, both the current President and other people; they have interest to become President. That is the issue. Each group, each faction, each person will try to put in place condition that will suit and advance his own ambition. In spite of reconciliation efforts, unless certain issues are addressed, they will come to nothing.
The issues that need to be addressed are: Is the President going for a second term? If the President is not going for a second term, all these issues will not arise. If the President deems it right to go for a second term, naturally, he will now have the interest to retain a Chairman that will promote his interest in the party primary. So, it is expected that he will try to retain the present chairman or have in place, a chairman that will be loyal to him when the presidential primaries come.
Now, if he makes the mistake of removing the chairman or in the pursuit of peace, give away the party’s structure to other people who also want to be President, he will be doing himself in. So, he will never give up if he is politically wise. He will now try to hold the old PDP as much as possible and the only condition he will yield to will be to now try to make cosmetic efforts but ensuring that nothing will affect his presidential ambition in 2015.
On the other hand, the other people too who want to be President know that if they don’t fight and remain in PDP and PDP doesn’t have a crisis, they cannot emerge on the platform of the party and they will not emerge on the platform of any other alternative viable platform because they may find that in spirit or under certain condition, they may not able to make it in the APC or the APC may not by their opinion be able to secure as much votes in the North.
So, they will be bent on creating a division in the PDP in order to afford them a platform to run for the Presidency. This is natural. They will be doing it in such a way that if they want to desert the PDP, they will cause a lot of havoc and of course create a lot of factions in the PDP to allow National and state assembly members to be able to follow them to the new party. So, what is happening is a normal scenario that is expected in politics. So, if PDP is indeed, serious about solving this problem, they will go back to basics.
What are the basics? Did the President promise not to run a second term in 2015? Was there any such agreement? If there was such agreement, what are we going to do about it?