By Sam Oyadongha
Charles Dorgu, was a close associate of the late Gen. Shehu Musa Yar‘Adua and member of his Peoples Democratic Movement, PDM as well as a convener of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in his native Bayelsa State. Dorgu served as executive secretary of the Federal Capital Territory Administration, FCTA.
In this interview, Dorgu reviews the issues that led to the defeat of his Ijaw kinsman in the last presidential election and previews the chances of his party in the forthcoming governorship election among other issues. Excerpts:
How would you react to the crisis rocking the PDP at the national level and the defection of its members?
One thing you must know is that defection is a natural thing in politics. Defection does not necessarily mean quarrelling.
It simply means that I differ from your political position on a number of issues and if those issues are so overwhelming and I cannot accommodate them, I move on. That is the way it is.
Now, initially, it will appear that the PDP provided a veritable platform for all Nigerians and by the time, they moved beyond the first election, they discovered that the PDP was the only party. There were other parties but they did not appeal to the people the way PDP did.
So because of that the PDP swept the poll and over 25 states belonged to the PDP. We were enjoying that popular position because of the principle of zoning at the national level and states. We were expecting everybody to respect it.
Even in my community, we zoned councillorship position. It was a culture within the party and anything against it will be simply not acceptable. The party enjoyed relative popularity until Obasanjo served his term.
Presidency went to the North and because in all our human calculation, we did not build in contingency such as deaths.
When it came, we found the doctrine of necessity and it saw us through. And the North was complaining and they said as our own had died and it was our turn, how do we do it?
Our Northern brothers complained that ‘Yes, our brother died and Jonathan had served their term. So, Jonathan should not contest in 2011.
It was a big issue and some people felt since Jonathan was there, why don’t they allow him to be there? After much talk. Family talk I would say, the North agreed and said let us support him.
In 2015, it became an issue again. And politics is about agreement. When people hold a perception and when agreements are broken, anything can happen.
For me, I had my reservations then. And knowing the Northerner, they have a deep mind, when they make up their minds, it is difficult to bend it. It was necessary the agreement be upheld. When Jonathan reneged, we knew we were heading for failure.
When governors started defecting and party members showing anger, all these were signs that things were not right. And any discerning person should have known that PDP was in crises and if not properly resolved may lead to destruction.
Jonathan is blamed for disrespecting the agreement, do you agree?
Well, as President, he will naturally take the blame because he is the leader of the party. He had party exco, the National Working Committee, Board of Trustees under his influence.
If all of these did not help to resolve any of the contentious issues, then the party was bound to self destruct, because I am sure that if a Northern candidate had emerged, we would not have been completely swept out of office. That is my personal reflection. Again, it also boils down to accepting agreement.
Do you mean PDP loss was self inflicted?
Yes. It was self inflicted. And maybe due to the fact that the party leaders have been there for sixteen years. I think the current leaders do not appreciate the level of negotiations and understanding we had before a party like the PDP emerged.
If not so, they would have consented to some of the demands by our Northern brothers. And our situation was self inflicted and I think it would be better, we learn to be in opposition. The PDP era was getting to a situation of impunity.
At the home front (Bayelsa) don’t you see the present crisis in the PDP destroying the party?
What I have seen is a family issue. None of these issues are created in concrete, it is a human situation. If you have hurt somebody, you should go on and apologise. And if all of us are just talking about legal positions, we won’t get anywhere. We should draw the lines. And am sure we are going to resolve it.
With all these misunderstanding how do you see PDP’s chances in the December 5 governorship elections.?
Frankly speaking, the chances of the PDP are quite bright in Bayelsa. I appreciate that APC won election at the national level, and I appreciate that some of their bigwigs comes from Bayelsa. No big deal. But it is not the big name that wins election. It is the people. We have to interact with the people.
Three and half years into the Governor Seriake Dickson’s administration, how would you rate his performance?
It would appear that I am a fan of the Dickson’s administration. Before Dickson came to campaign, he came to me. And I told him that if he will work for the people, I will support him.
I demanded an assurance that his administration will not act the way of the previous one (Sylva administration) acted. We had three administrations, (Alamieyeseigha, Jonathan and Sylva), they thought they were too big and could not listen to the people.
Dickson asked me to package a blue print for Bayelsa development.
The document is there. Myself and some other notable engineers put together a blueprint which he has implemented well so far.
He has shown commitment and performance not just in terms of development or human capital development, he has shown performance in all the areas he has promised to touch.
Three and half years is not too long a time. At least, for the first time, the state had a direction on where we were going in terms of infrastructure, development, education and others.
And I feel the man who has kept his words should be supported. Let him have a second term.
The instability that we have in Bayelsa is a result of this claim that nobody does second term in Bayelsa. Who told them nobody does two terms? We just have to break the jinx this time around because we need some stability
But some people feel if they don’t get anything out of this government, like sharing money and getting jobs, he has not done well.
Those things just simply annoy me. That man is sitting on public money. You are expecting him to share it.
How does he get it out to share it? That is simply asking him to go and steal.
How is the support of the former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan relevant in the race for governorship in the state?
The former President is our leader. On the face of it, anybody can make a claim. If they feel he does not have such influence, that is their opinion.
But among party faithful, we will continue to have respect for him.
He is a former president and will participate in Council of State meetings. What influence do you expect from him? Do you want him to go and be commanding the Army? His silence is the wisest thing to do.
For those his former aides who defected to the APC? It shows you that they are opportunists. That brings the questions that these Senators and House of Representative members, what have they done for Bayelsa and their people?
They spent four years in Abuja, and how has that translated to development? They don’t have political relevance.
They were handpicked and they demonstrated it with no achievements. Let them point to one achievement?