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New PDP governors have no case – Tapgun

The crisis in the PDP has reached a stage where the party has been split into two. What do you make of what is happening…

The crisis in the PDP has reached a stage where the party has been split into two. What do you make of what is happening in the party?
It is an unfortunate development within the PDP. The PDP has been a very large family, and we have gone through a lot of crisis in the past and we have overcome them.  I think there is no crisis that has not been settled within the PDP family. Overstretching this one is very unfortunate, especially involving governors that were founding fathers of the party. I think they should look at themselves and look at the interest of the country. Serving their states is all part of Nigeria. So think they should be looking at the country in general. The demands they put, as far as I am concerned, are not things that cannot be sorted out within the party itself.
From what I read in the papers, I don’t see anything that cannot be sorted out. The only important one is the one they said the President cannot contest in 2015. I don’t see their reason for it. They are a PDP family, they are seven out of 23 PDP governors, but are holding others to ransom. The president has done just one term. For them to say he was a vice to Yar’adua, that he took an oath is not right as he has only gone for an election once on his own. The next one is the one coming in 2015 and that is the one we are expecting him to contest. Even though he has not come out to say he will contest, but we expect that he will contest.  
They said he signed an agreement. Even if there was an agreement, the man can change his mind. He is a human being. But I don’t even believe there is an agreement to serve one term. For me they have no reason for this thing they are doing.
Your appeal is more to the governors’ side. Is that to say that the way the presidency and the national leadership of the PDP have handled this matter is ok?
You see part of what the chairman of the party has been talking about is reform, which is what they don’t want. I know one of the things they said is that the structures of the party in the states should be given to them. That is part of what they are saying. But I know as a member of the Ekwueme reconciliation committee, I know we had said the governors should hands off running the party in their states. They should allow it to run as a political party. That is what we said and I think that is part of the reform the chairman has been trying to introduce which they have been resisting.
But they are the ones that fund the party in their states….
That is what we are saying. It is because they do that that there is no internal democracy in the party. They appoint people they want into even elective positions; they don’t allow people to elect people. This has been the problem. Like I said the report we submitted is a comprehensive report about this problem.
But the President runs the affairs of the party at the national level. Why do you want to apply another measure on the governors?
We have said this is abnormal even at the national level because once the president wins an election, the president becomes a leader to everybody, not the leader of PDP. The party leader is the leader of PDP. That is the way I see it. So at the states level, the governors cannot be  leaders of the party, because once you are elected the governor, you become leader for every political party in the state. Party chairmen and the officials should operate the party at the local, state and national level.  During the NPN and the SDP periods, the parties were run this way. The chairmen were overall bosses of the parties.
So when you were the governor of Plateau State, you were not the leader of SDP?
I was not. The chairman of the party calls for meetings and I sit like any other person. If I raise my hand to speak, until he allows me to speak, I will not say anything. I don’t preside over the meeting.
The PDP crisis has become more complicated, how can these issues be resolved?
Like I said, there is no problem that can arise within the party that cannot be sorted out. If we are sincere to ourselves, among all these things, there is no one that cannot be sorted out.
In the case of Adamawa, do you agree that Bamnga should be removed as PDP chairman as a way of solving the crisis?
No, no. in a lot of places we have said we can harmonise. If there is an agreement among them, then they can harmonise.
As far as I am concerned, we can sit down and agree. This Adamawa you are talking about is one thing that has to do with internal democracy. And it is because he has put in people that will support whatever he does, which is what we don’t want in the party itself. The party should be able to allow people to decide on what they want at each time, at each day of the election.
And you know once people have power in their hands, they don’t want it to be taken away. But there is no problem in Adamawa that cannot be sorted out between Tukur and Nyako.
Some people have suggested that one sure way out of this crisis is for the national leadership of the party to expel those seven governors. Do you subscribe to that?
No I don’t subscribe to it. Like I said, the problems that have arisen are individual problems from the governors, and I think they can be resolved within the party itself. And like I said, this crisis is making the party stronger. It is now you know everybody’s stand, you know the position of everybody. You know who is supposed to do what and who is not suppose to do what. Elders are coming into this problem. Elders are in now. They have been able to come in now and solve the problem and I think both sides are suppose to listen to what the elders say so that the matter would be solved.
It will be better for all of us to be together as we have come all the way together towards 2015 than to split now. Even though the political party is not a religious organisation, it is an association. People can come in and go. But I don’t think it is necessary for the party to expel people from the party. If people want to go, it is a different matter, but for the party to say go away, no I don’t think it is suppose to be. But you know the elders have come in Babangida, Obasanjo, all these elders have come in now, let the matter be sorted out among the elders. And once the elders have taken position now, both sides should respect it. This is a Nigerian tradition that the voice of the elders should be final in this matter and everybody should listen to it.
Will you support the idea of automatic ticket for President Jonathan?
Yes. You know part of what we are saying; if you are really copying American democracy, if we truly want to copy it, why can’t we copy it fully? The president of a ruling party never stands opposed by anybody in the party. Obama stood against the opposition straight. Nobody from the Democratic party challenged him . That is just the straightforward thing to do.
The president of the ruling party should come back unopposed during re-election, so that we can face opposition directly. That is what Tony Anenih is saying. He should come back directly because he is already in the ruling party itself. So he doesn’t need people to challenge him. That is what the American system does.
What will be your appeal to the seven ‘rebel’ governors?
They are all people I know very well, all of them. I appeal to them to look at the interest of the country and try to resolve this matter amicably within the party itself. The efforts we are using in settling this matter, should have been used in focusing on Mr. President’s transformation agenda, but he is spending time now on other issues.
If any of them wants to be president, they should be patient, they are all young people, they can still contest after 2015, in 2019. They are still free to contest. But they should look at the overall implication on this country.
Forming PDP 2 is not helping matters, you know. Because this new PDP, is PDP 2, that is what we call it in plateau. We are all members of the same family; we are All Nigerians. This country is bigger than everybody, we should look at the interest of the country.

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