Skip to main content

Author: Suleiman M. Bisalla. Daily Trust, Oct. 2, 2013

Former deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, Chibudom Nwuche, who served as acting deputy national chairman of the PDP in this interview explains why the demand of the G-7 governors on having another convention cannot be met.The PDP faction led by Abubakar Baraje came to the National Assembly to declare that President Goodluck Jonathan would be running for third term if he seeks re-election in 2015. How do you react to this? 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. It was covered live on television and we had a free and transparent election that began from in the morning to almost midnight. 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.

So we don’t have a faction, but we have disagreements which the party in its usual manner will solve. That is why those that are aggrieved do not want to leave the party. On the argument of a third term, the President I know has been President for only one term and he is going to do a second term in 2015 by the Grace of God, if Nigerians give him the support. If he declares for the Presidency and wins the votes, he will do a second term, not third term.

The argument is that if he is sworn in after winning the 2015 elections, he would have been sworn in three times as president…. When he was sworn in the first time as a President, he was sworn in to complete somebody’s tenure. Are you saying that he should do only six years as President of a country and not eight years? He should do eight years that everybody else has done as President of the country. The first time he was sworn in as President, he was finishing the tenure of late President Umaru Yar’Adua who passed on, unfortunately. It wasn’t his making so what should he have done? Walked away? He had to complete the joint mandate that they had and that was another man’s tenure that he was completing. His own tenure began in 2011.

So what do you think should be the appropriate punishment for any party member who shows such 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 sheath their swords. I hope that the agreements will hold and in this instance, we cannot really apply the constitution. 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.

You have said that they reached an agreement to sheath their swords but shortly after a meeting in the villa, the aggrieved PDP members visited the National Assembly. Didn’t it suggest that dialogue has collapsed?

I think the dialogue is still on and it has been adjourned till the 7th of October. We shall keep appealing to people that they should realise the value of the platform they currently are in. Most people who are in politics, their victories, be it landslide in their states, be it by majority vote, owe it to the party they are in. The PDP is a driving force. The PDP is the vehicle they are in. They will be surprised that if they were to leave the party and go somewhere else, they will be walking alone. For instance, in my state, if anybody leaves the party to another party, he will go alone because our people are for the PDP. They don’t care about any new PDP because they know the PDP that we all know, of which Goodluck Jonathan is the national leader. That is what they know about. They don’t know about any new PDP. I am a founding member of the PDP since 1998 and I have been in the party since then till now. The party hasn’t been fair to me in many instances but I’m still in the party. In England, if you are in a particular party like the Labour Party, you will stay there for life.

You served as a member of the national convention committee of the mini convention held on August 31, and we have heard that one of the agitation by the aggrieved PDP members is that they want the convention revisited. As one of the organizers, what were the noticeable ills during the convention? No convention can be perfect because perfection belongs only to God, just as no elections are perfect. Yes, there were minor complaints in very few states but I don’t think they were adequate to affect the overall outcome. I will say that if out of 10 you score 9, then you’ve passed. You did very well and Nigerians have to see this fact. The convention went very well according to international standards. Nigerians saw it clearly on TV and those who were there live saw it as well. So, to talk about it being cancelled, you can’t do that. You cannot have something that you scored over 90 percent and you say it has failed.

The Group of seven governors have said that the President entered into an agreement with them not to re-contest in 2015. As a party leader, are you privy to such agreement? I have no idea at all of any agreement. Agreements that are made between party stakeholders may not have been made with other stakeholders. Agreements that are made secretly), but nobody can verify such agreement and I think people should disregard all such talks. You cannot bind people behind their backs. The President holds a mandate for all the people and I’m not sure the agreement they talk about exists. They haven’t shown us the agreements. Even if they were to show us such agreements, they will not be valid because I’m a lawyer. So, I think those things are mere sentimental distractions.

Some people have said that the problem in Rivers State is between Governor Rotimi Amaechi and the President and others say Amaechi has problems with political leaders of the state including you. What is the true situation?

First of all, I would like to talk about the issue of the police sealing the Secretariat of the so-called new PDP. I think that they should commend the police because they are doing a marvelous job in protecting lives and properties because if the members of the old PDP decide to confront the new PDP in the Secretariat, there will be mayhem and lives may be lost in the process.

On the Rivers State crisis, I think the crisis is internal and it is 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. That is the primary fuel for this crisis. Whatever else happened can be an addition to it but that is the primary cause of the problem in Rivers State. 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.