By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
Erstwhile Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Prince Chibudom Nwuche, famed as The Tiger in his time in the House between 1999 and 2003, was the Acting Deputy National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in the recently dissolved National Working Committee, NWC. Nwuche in this interview reviews the issues that have recently bestirred the polity nay, the PDP and proffers his solutions.Excerpts:
What is your reaction to the factionalisation of your party?
As far as I’m concerned, there is no faction in PDP because Nigerians were witnesses to the very colourful and massively attended convention where every state in Nigeria was represented. So, if a few people felt disgruntled and decided to create an impression of a split by walking out, I think it is not consequential.
In a family as big as ours, if certain persons walk out, even though they may be governors, to me, it doesn’t affect the family because it’s a big family. PDP is a party that has come to stay.
I want to also caution that those who don’t respect the president are showing disdain for Nigerians. You cannot have the president of a country seated in a convention and you walk out. That was a bad behaviour and Nigerians must tell them off.
Disrespect to the president
So, I don’t believe that we have a faction. We have disagreements which the party in its usual manner will solve and people should understand that the PDP has come to stay. So, you must not show disrespect to the president of a country by walking out because by doing so you offend Nigerians who gave him the mandate.
Again, it is also an office that you hope to occupy one day. How will the governors feel if the local government chairmen walked out on them at a ceremony in their states? They will not like it.
You are saying that their walking out of the national convention shows disrespect to the President…?
Not only to the President but Nigerians as a whole. Nigerians have a stake in the Presidency because they voted for the president and if Nigerians want him to be president, it should be respected by everybody, including governors.
So what sanctions should be applied to party members who show such disposition and disrespect?
The party constitution prescribes clear measures. First of all, if you tried to form a faction or to split the party, it is anti-party and the punishment is suspension and expulsion. It is very clear in the constitution. But in this case, our elders have intervened in the crisis and they have agreed that everybody should sheathe their swords. I hope that the agreements will hold and in this instance. We hope that everybody will sit as a family, but we should also learn the lessons that in the future, we should not try to split the party unnecessarily.
What is your reaction to claim by some from the North that the president should not seek another term in office?
There is nothing to talk about there. All I can say is let us think about the country. Let us address more fundamental issues. I don’t think that where power goes to is important. What is important is the quality of governance and what is also important, which we mustn’t forget in this whole stampede is the issue of our structure. Our structure is faulty and must be addressed. It is a hindrance to our progress. That is what we should look at and not the issue of where power goes.
If power goes to the North or comes to the South, there is no guarantee that a southerner will or a northerner will benefit under his own brother’s leadership. There is no guarantee that even the masses from there will fare better. The only guarantee will be if we have the country restructured and governance becomes more meaningful to the masses and our energies are released for production; that is when you can talk about people’s lives becoming better.
But to talk about power shift, I think those arguments are simplistic on the surface as to who takes power or gets power. The issue is what will power be used for? What we need now is to talk about our problems. We have been a country for almost a century.
In every index that you choose, we haven’t fared very well. Why is that? Those are the issues that we should talk about. Those are what should occupy the minds of the elite and not the issue of whether power should go to the North.
What is your reading of the crisis in Rivers?
First of all, I would like to talk about the issue of the police sealing the secretariat of the so-called nPDP. I think that they should commend the police because they are doing a marvellous job in protecting lives and property because if the members of the old PDP who are like 50 to 1 in proportion, if not 100 to 1, decide to confront the nPDP in the secretariat, there will be mayhem and lives may be lost in the process. So, what the police have done is to avert a crisis by ensuring that the status quo ordered by the court is maintained.
If you are 24 Governors in a party with other stakeholders that are over 20 million, and you say some of you have left, you can’t appropriate the name of the party and put up a flag. That is anarchy.
Therefore, the police intervention is justifiable and should be commended because what they have done is to prevent a breakdown of law and order because those people who are in the majority can decide to go and confront those people who are with their flag somewhere else. You can imagine what will happen in that situation.
On the RiversState crisis, I think the crisis is internal and it has to do with the stakeholders of the PDP in the state who felt aggrieved at the manner of governance and lack of communication by those who are in power.
Primary fuel for the crisis
That is the primary fuel for this crisis. Whatever else that happened can be an addition to it but that is the primary cause of the problem in RiversState. No matter how popular a governor is, he cannot be in every local government at a time.
There are stakeholders who worked for him to become governor of the state and it is only a matter of honour that when you get to a position, you should consult those who worked for you to get there. That is the idea of politics. They all have followers who anticipate that they should have an input in governance. But where only one man governs a state by himself after you have secured a joint victory, it’s a recipe for the kind of issues they have in the state.
Do you not think it is one of the major causes of the crisis in the PDP?
It is major in the media. It is not major in my state. I’m from RiversState and people are going about their businesses.