‘Our leaders messed up the fortunes of the PDP’
Last Wednesday’s nullification of the 2014 amendment in the Constitution of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has further deepened the crisis rocking the party. In this interview with NIYI BELLO, Vice-Chairman of the party in the South West, Olorogun Eddy Olafeso, insists that the only way to resolve the crisis is for the factional Chairman, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, to obey the decision of the Port Harcourt convention.
Getting out of the crisis
The Abuja Court decision is a reflection of the aspirations of majority of our members. With our defeat in the 2015 elections the PDP has been going through phases of challenges that culminated into the coming of Senator Ali Modu Sheriff. Many party leaders kicked against it because we were looking for a clean man with high integrity. A few of the leaders brought in Sheriff and foisted him on the party. Port Harcourt thought differently that our party must rise beyond that level to survive. The entire 16 years of the PDP is not a total failure as there are certain things we did that should not be allowed to go down the drain.
The Port Harcourt convention was the best attended in the history of the party. Everybody came from everywhere and being the highest organ of the party, we took a decision on Sheriff that he could no longer lead the party at this time of our history. We appreciated his leadership for the period he was there and congress set up the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led committee.
The confusion was caused by the insistence of Sheriff not to leave and not displaying statesmanship as he continues to disrupt the smooth running of the party. What authority does Sheriff has to go to court. He was just completing Adamu Muazu’s tenure, which terminated March 23. That is the honest truth and that was the reason why the convention in Port Harcourt took place and we said since the tenure of Muazu is over, we have to start all over again and the interim committee was given 90 days to conduct an election where we will elect our officers.
It is rather unfortunate that somebody that said he was coming for only three months now wants the soul and body of the party. If he is not dancing to the tune of those wanting to destroy the party from outside, he should show his love for the party by stepping aside.
Are you saying he might be playing the fifth columnist?
As things are, one would be forced to look further than his actions. If all we said is that you cannot take over from yourself, allow Markafi to be because the North East had had its chance from Bamanga Tukur to Muazu, why should that create any problem if there is no hidden agenda? You remember I once told you that the real losers of the 2015 elections are not the members of the PDP but the ordinary Nigerians who would be denied of the good governance that our party was providing for them. The political leaders have actually messed up the fortunes of our party and that has now come to haunt us.
Can the PDP provide the kind of opposition it faced to the current Federal Government?
It is true that the current situation within our party is hampering our ability to play good opposition but I want to assure you that we are going to get over our problems and provide the needed platform for Nigerians to voice their rejection to any anti-people policy. This is a very difficult juncture in the nation’s history. At no time was the future so uncertain as it is today. The economy has gone to the dogs, social life is dead, and infrastructure is non-existent with high unemployment. Almost everything has been destroyed. For us in the PDP we want Buhari to succeed. We want Nigeria to take a leap forward for the betterment and improvement of the nation and the people. That is the reason why we are telling the APC to leave our party alone and let us get organized. But whether they like it or not we are going to break away from them and stand firm on the belief that we have a role to play to ensure that this country is properly governed. What is happening today is against the hopes and aspirations of Nigerians when they voted APC last year. We are confident that we are going to stage a big come back because not all of us in the PDP are corrupt. Not all of us are rogues as they are trying to portray us. Many of us are pristine-clean like any other incorruptible man in the rest of the world. We have the people, the structure and everything to assist the ruling party to do the right thing so that Nigeria can move forward.
Strengthening the PDP in the South West
As at this moment you could see that the situation in the South West is not encouraging. This is the Awolowo country where in the early fifties to mid-sixties, everything was working. This is where we were first in almost every area of human endeavour; in education, social and infrastructural development, healthcare and agriculture, not only in Nigeria but also in the entire continent of Africa. Suddenly we were brought to a situation that even at WAEC standard, except for Lagos State, we are now beginning to take the back seat. I think we need to redress this situation and the region, being at the forefront of the national conference that we had, we should restructure our federal system. What is happening in Nigeria is centralism and not federalism. States must be allowed to control their resources and people must have to put their destinies in their hands. We are confident that our people will understand the fact that they fare far better under the PDP than under the APC.
When you look at the entire states of the South West, you will discover that Ondo and Ekiti, without being partisan; are still a lot better than the rest. In Lagos where they have a huge IGR to match up the federal allocations, I still believe that with the resources the state has, it could still have done a lot better than it is doing now. So our people are watching and by the time we get over all these problems within our party, we will set out on our sail. You have known me for a long time. We are not in this game to enrich ourselves.
My Spartan lifestyle has been sustaining me in politics. I am convinced that in the Nigerian commonwealth, the Yoruba man is proud to have a very rich history of advancement in all spheres of life and we cannot allow that history to be rubbished to the point that we become a second class citizen of this country.
I want to appeal to the ruling party to please stop being too partisan in their fight against corruption because I think it is unwise to be hunting individuals, trampling on the freedom and constitution of Nigeria. Why have they incarcerated Fani-Kayode for almost two months without stating exactly what they are holding him for? Why did they freeze the accounts of Governor Fayose without first securing a court order? Why is the EFCC a judge in its own court condemning people before they get to the Judiciary? If they continue this way they are going to muddle up the entire country. We want them to succeed but in doing that there must be equity and we are all looking at the role they are playing.
Prosecuting Ondo governorship election.
The PDP was no longer in control at the centre when we had the Rivers and Bayelsa elections. We believe that once the people have spoken nobody on earth can change it. And we have a lot of things to showcase as the advancements that the PDP government has put in place in Ondo State. In the health sector, few states can actually beat Ondo State. We have the same story in urban renewal and agriculture.
There are also other things that our people are taking for granted in this state like the hundreds of buses that are taking our children to school everyday. And where is the opposition? Where are they coming from? I don’t see them existing in Ondo State. Even at the federal level, what have they done?