A chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Anambra State, Dr. Alex Obiogbolu, believes that the party was the architect of its misfortune in the November 2017 governorship election in the state. He speaks, in this interview with OKEGWO KENECHUKWU, on how the PDP lost the election, former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s recent letter to President Muhammad Buhari and the 2019 general elections
How would assess your party’s performance in the November 2017 governorship election in Anambra State as well as the entire process?
I will say that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) shot itself on the foot during the Anambra governorship election. The party leadership had who it wanted to give the governorship ticket to, and in doing so, broke its own rules just to achieve that aim. In that election, former Governor Peter Obi boasted to everybody that he will single handedly win the election and the PDP played the role of he who pays the paper dictates the tune. However despite all these, the party had an ample opportunity to still do an in-house cleaning and reconciliation, but they ignored the opportunity and the consequence was that many people dumped PDP and worked for other parties.
I was an aspirant of the party and I won the primaries. It was evidenced by the rule as established by the party that only those cleared to contest an election should contest. The person that had the highest vote was not cleared to contest the primary election and despite my protest, the returning officer went ahead to include his name. It is clear in law following judiciary pronouncement that only those cleared for an election should participate it but the PDP breached this and that was how the party lost the opportunity to get back to the government house in Awka
How will that affect that fortune of the party in future elections in the state?
There has been repeated betrayal of trust and it has obviously affected the confidence level of members of the PDP. However, some of us who still believe strongly in PDP are working assiduously to reconcile and accommodate the diverse interests.
It appears that your chance of becoming governor on the platform of the PDP is becoming impossible. Are you thinking about joining another party to realise your political ambition?
The question of whether or not I should remain in PDP to achieve my political ambition has not been contemplated by me. I believe that as one of the founding members of the party, we laid a solid foundation of certain ideals and expectations, Which I feel is yet to exploited and I can contribute more meaningfully to the deepening of Nigerian democracy through my advocacy for internal democracy within the party and by extension halting the evil or impunity, which has become an endemic disease on the party system and even governance. As I said, we will fight these anti-democratic forces within the party, but if we are not able to contain them, then we can advocate for a change of platform. However, I can assure you that the problems that affect my party also affect other major political parties in Nigeria.
Having narrowly lost in the PDP governorship primaries, are you thinking of taking another shot at the National Assembly poll in the 2019 general elections?
My primary mission in politics is to improve governance and economic prosperity of the people. I have long believed that a strong Nigerian nation is dependent on how strong the constituents are. A strong and economic prosperous Anambra State as a constituent of Nigeria will aid a strong Nigeria nation. That has been my wish and aspiration. Anambra can truly be ‘The Light of the Nation’ even when 30 other states are nearly insolvent.
One can see vividly what is happening across the country as some states can hardly pay salaries and meet other social needs. It is not a good development for our democracy. However, if it requires me to serve my people in an area such as the National Assembly, I will not refuse such an opportunity even though the way and manner legislators at the various levels have turned themselves to rubber stamps for the executive is against what I believe in, with regards to dichotomy in governance.
There are contradiction in political ideals and principles in Nigeria. How best do you feel the nation can chart a new cause of political agenda that is in line with world best practices?
There are misconceptions in Nigeria’s political theatre that places priority on parochial interest for candidates in public offices. I am of the believe that it is not the best for one to occupy an office when he or she is fully aware that certain factors may prevent him or her from offering the best, thus making a caricature of the electoral process. If you expect me to go to the National Assembly just to go and sit down quietly, collect allowances and ignore my oversight functions to the detriment of the people I represent, then it is not for Dr. Obiogbolu and his Oganiru Anambra programme. Yes, people can leverage on positions to create employment and empowerment, but how much can be done with a subservient National Assembly.
The build-up to the 2019 general elections is gradually gathering momentum by the day as political parties and politicians perfect strategies. What is your take on recent developments in the polity and what do they portend for the nation ahead of the polls?
I am worried because the future of the country is bleak. Any student of history looking back at Yugoslavia, Liberia and Sierra Leone, among others will recognise that when citizens and the government loose respect for the sanctity of life, it shows what is to come in future. If we look at the Nigeria; the killings, menace of Fulani herdsmen, inter-tribal clashes coupled with the look warm attitude of the security agencies, it is clear that we have lost the respect for sanctity of life. For me, every patriotic Nigerian should be looking for a president, who will be fair and just in the discharge of his duties as the president and commander-in-chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The truth remains that we are not fighting external aggression rather we are contending with internal anarchy. We must elect a man who believes in Nigeria, loves Nigeria, in spite of his or her tribe or tongue. Corruption is not a threat to the Nigeria nation as insecurity is. It is insecurity, coupled with injustice. It is government’s action that is propelling the many voices of succession and restructuring. So, give power to a man, who may be weak in fighting corruption but strong in fighting injustice and we will have a Nigeria that will out-live all of us.
The second point I want to make is the mischievous intent of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. Following his antecedents, one can see that his letter to President Muhammadu Buhari was unfounded and is self-serving. Unlike in 2013, when the opposition came together to challenge the PDP, one can quickly read the mischief of creating another opposition termed Third force. I have not seen in Nigeria, where the opposition is divided and is able to defeat the incumbent. Thus, I wouldn’t be surprised if those who have alleged that Obasanjo’s letter is part of another design to stop PDP and by extension lead to another military person as president.
Some political leaders in the South-East believe that 2019 is a sure roadmap to a president of Igbo extraction. What is your take on that?
What worries me most with my fellow Igbo brothers is that we will lose more in a divided Nigeria. Ndigbo are the only tribe with the most investments outside their zone and as such our people should get ready their Permanent Voters Cards (PVC) and desist from their usual laxity during elections to determine and influence who the president would be. It is important to state categorically that the trend of the genocide attacks some have labeled Fulani herdsmen attacks is frightening, particularly, when one sees that these attacks are not localized. It is descending from the Sahara region and will likely assume greater proportion in the Rain Forest region. Thus, a man doesn’t wait and watch his neighbour’s house burn pretending that it doesn’t concern him.
Therefore, if the present government has proven incapable of handling this issue of threat, then we must look for a new government with the only power we have, which is our Permanent Voters Card. On the Igbo chances and 2019 elections, Ndigbo should re
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