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Published On: Thu, Jun 6th, 2013

Anti–Jonathan Niger Deltans shall be Dealt with- Nwuche

Ex-Deputy Speaker House of Representative Prince Chibudom Nwuche


Prince Chibudom Nwuche is the former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives. In this interview in Abuja, he spoke on the crises rocking the Rivers State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the position of the South-South to back President Goodluck Jonathan’s second term bid in 2015.
Excerpts:
Why is Rivers State chapter of the PDP enmeshed in leadership crises? Does it have anything to do with the purported displeasure of the Presidency with Governor Amaechi-led government?
The media has been awash with the problem in Rivers State. And most members of the public are assuming that the problem has external influence. But I will like to say here that the problem in Rivers State has nothing to do with anybody outside Rivers. The problems are entirely internal within the PDP in the State. It began from elections when many power blocs, individuals representing different ethnic nationalities came together to give Governor Amaechi support to emerge as the Governor of Rivers State. In politics, people have interests they try to protect. And politicians will possibly demand a stake to know why they should support or defend a particular government. This party came together from across the country and from the State to support the Governor. That was why we had resounding victory. No matter how popular the Governor is, he is from an ethnic nationality called Ikwere. So, you find out that after the elections, those parties who had a stake in his emergence could no longer access him.
He began a journey of his own that nobody can understand. And the people who had a stake in the State felt left out from the governance process. You know often it is said that, oh, they want to share money. That is a fallacy. People want to make an input in policy and governance. They want to be consulted because they are stakeholders. And for the Governor, if he had proper advice, this issue will have been averted. Somebody will have told him that, Your Excellency, this path you are taking will lead to conflict. But there is nobody who could tell him that around him. I feel that a political engineering process is going on. I feel may be he wants to retire people like Omehia, Okpara and others. He wants them to be irrelevant.
So, you find out that this problem you see is not created by the President or the First Lady. The problems are internal. Don’t forget that people feel the State has not developed to the level it could have reached given the amount of its resources. These are the issues that are coming out. I think the national media is not looking at these issues correctly. There is misconception. The problems in Rivers State are internal and not from anybody else.
But the governor said he was suspended by the PDP over the issue of local government executive that was suspended by the Rivers State House of Assembly …
Well , the point is that when you are a chief executive officer of a nation or a State, the bulk must stop somewhere. To blame the Assembly is not proper. We know that in this country, governors are very powerful. And very often, the Assembly is a rubberstamp, let us be sincere. I watched the Senate debate on constitutional reform at the International Conference Centre where a State Speaker opposed autonomy for the Assemblies. Is that natural? It’s not natural. The Assembly has no money. They are often left without money for a long time. So, what can you do? Also, don’t forget that it is party matter. In politics, the party is supreme. Those who have missions come together to use the platform. So, you pay close heed to what the party is saying. You cannot be seen as undermining party discipline even when you are Governor of a State.
Do you think PDP has done what it should do before suspending the Governor?
It is like your neighbour’s child had an injury and you heard a crying in another compound when your own compound is quiet. What is intriguing is the level of outcry from the opposition parties about the matter. You wonder if they are either defending a PDP Governor or an opposition Governor. I think that angle has to be looked at carefully because all the hue and cry is not from the PDP itself. The bereaved are not crying at all. You see let us be sincere, I may argue with the procedure of his suspension. I may do so. I don’t know whether it was investigated. I don’t have the facts. I’m not a party official. But I’m just saying this from a lay man’s observation from outside. Look at the national media, the hue and cry from the yet-to-be-formed APC is a lot. And I wonder what their interests are. These parties are trying to organize themselves to displace PDP. They should focus on its ambition to offer alternative ideas to Nigerians. They should not be too concerned about the PDP internal matter. I wonder why they are so interested in this matter. Party members must learn to be loyal to the party. I have remained a loyal party member since 1999. I will not watch the party being undermined. If at a point I feel PDP is not meeting my aspirations, I will have to be honest with the party by going somewhere else. But now that I’m in the PDP, I will abide by the party constitution, dictates and discipline. I won’t stay in the PDP to undermine it. I won’t do that. Even in politics, there must be honour. I was not happy about the outcome of the Senate primary election. But I’m still in the party.
Are you saying that if the opposition parties see anything wrong in the PDP, they should keep quiet?
The point I’m making is that the ACN as a party has its internal problem just like the PDP. You heard of candidates being imposed. But as a party, PDP hasn’t dwelt into those issues. We haven’t said that this man Alimosho shouldn’t be the one to be there. The ACN should put somebody else. This is internal party matter.
In matters of this nature, PDP always says that it has its own internal mechanism of resolving crises. Do you think such mechanism has been explored in this case?
I’m not part of the party executive. So, I can’t speak for the party. But I’m sure that they are exploring ways and means of resolving this amicably. I’m sure they must be doing that. The PDP is known for being able to resolve its internal conflict, no matter how complex it may appear to the outsiders, amicably. I’m sure at the end of the day, it will be resolved. And besides, the case is suspension not expulsion. So, there is still plenty of room for dialogue and settlement.
Why is it difficult for the PDP to respect rule of law in the re-election of Amaechi as the chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF)?
On the issue of lack of discipline among members with regard to the election of the NGF chairmanship, I think that if the party has taken a position and any person goes against it, will amount to anti-party. That is very clear. If the party has supported a candidate to emerge as the largest bloc in the NGF and that is not followed, that is definitely anti-party. And the party should have the courage to act against such person. That is one. Then number two, I think we have made too much noise on the governors forum. The Governors Forum, as far as we are concerned in Rivers State, is not our problem. Of course, there is too much hue and cry about a Forum which is voluntary. The Forum is voluntary. Why is it important to be chairman of the NGF? Besides, look at the issue of balance- when the country’s President is from a particular region, should that region produce the chairman of governors forum? We will like our governors to apply statutory derivation and money accrued from the Internally Generated Revenue to development. There should be a difference from a state that has so much money and those that don’t have. For an average man in a village, he doesn’t care who the Chairman of the Governors Forum is. He doesn’t give a damn. He just wants development. The woman wants to have food on the table for her children. She wants to put them in school. She wants to travel and have security. She wants a better life.
On the issue of rule of law and the party, the elections from what I saw, I will say, were conclusive. Or rather, it appears to have produced different results. I don’t know which one is correct. I was not there myself. But the party’s position is very clear. Whoever the party backs is the chairman of the Governors Forum.
Since this Forum has no constitutional backing, will you subscribe to point that it should proscribed?
No. The Governors have individual rights as citizens of this country. And they have a right to form body. From what we heard, the Governors Forum was formed to enable them liaise better among themselves, to share ideas for development and to impact positively on the masses of this country.
Do you think the All Progressives Congress (APC) can make any inroad into the South-south?
On the APC and the South-south, you see, get it clear, the PDP controls the South-south. When you have another party in the South-south, it is an aberration. The South-south is a PDP zone entirely. The party has begun to cleanse itself under Alhaji Bamanga Tukur. There is more internal party democracy now. If the PDP gets its acts together, does not impose candidates on the party, and allow people who are popular to emerge, I don’t see any chance for the APC.
Amaechi is seen as an opponent of President Goodluck Jonathan’s second term bid. What is your take on this?
Our people’s sentiment is that for the first time since independence we have our son as President- a God-fearing man, an humble man with due respect for the country. He must be allowed that right to have a second term. That is very clear. Politics is about the people. The people of South-South want the President to continue. They are fully behind him. That is the collective view of the South-South. Anyone who undermines Goodluck in the South-south will suffer consequences. I assure you. You should understand that if you do that, you are a saboteur of a collective cause. So, our people are fully behind Goodluck.
Source: Daily Trust

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