Mba Ukweni, SAN, a member of the PDP in Cross River State is not happy with what is going on in the party. He puts the blame squarely on the table of the governor, Prof Ben Ayade, who he accused of plotting the early retirement of his opponents from politics. He spoke with CHIEMEKA ADINDU.
How do you see the unfolding drama in the PDP in your state?
If a particular person feels that they cannot shift ground, it will make it difficult to reconcile. The governor has a personal interest in bringing his aide, that is Barr. Alphonsus Eba to be the chairman of the party in the state so that he can make it easier for Dr. Odey to go to the Senate and hold fort for him. So those are the personal interest in the issue on the side of the governor. Whether there is reconciliation or not, it will not stop the two bye-elections in the state from holding. Once INEC is set, it will not stop the elections from going on. My advice is, I know politics is interest but the party should as much as possible allow election to go on normally. This issue of people sitting down one place and having selections, and they pick their candidates who are not even interested in the contest and were not even interested in the position is why we are having the problems we are having now.
Democracy should start from the internal experiment of the parties themselves. You’ll discover that the parties are not practicing, are not showing good example by practising internal democracy. So long as the parties themselves, the political parties, are not able to come up with proper arrangements with regard to instilling and imbibing the culture of internal democracy, it will be very, very difficult for us to have proper democracy in the country. So what you saw and what led to the postponement is not far away from what I’m talking about.
A particular person became apprehensive that it might not go his way and he feels that it must go his way by all means. So it is that fear that might have led to the advice to the national executive committee of the party, PDP. It is this congress that will make or mar PDP in Cross River state. When guidelines have been provided, or there is no consensus, they should allow the elections to go on the way it should be done. They shouldn’t go back and collect money from a particular person and impose somebody on the people. If they do that, it may spell doom for the party. The presentation of candidates should be made in consultation with all the stakeholders and not just the government alone. The governor did not win election by his own might alone; he was not in all the places. In fact, in the first place people brought him and then created a structure on which he worked to become the governor. So, he should also recognize the fact that as he is leaving, he shouldn’t create a situation whereby he wants to retire other people from the politics. We did not know him in the party.
When the party was formed we did not know him. Even when we were fighting here for Atam Congress, we did not know him. I was in the central working committee in the Atam Congress and bore most of the brunt of the Atam Congress that he has now come to enjoy the benefits. That was the congress we formed during Donald Duke’s time–Atam Peoples Congress. It was meant to fight for equity that we have three senatorial districts, and the governorship must spread across the three senatorial districts which he is now enjoying because the original arrangement of the power brokers that time was not for the governorship to go to the north. So, one of the major objectives of that congress is to ensure that there is equity in the distribution of power. So, he should allow equity and fairness to take place in this(PDP) congress. He should allow the popular choice of the people to emerge. The party structure is not being funded by one person, people contributed from the time of the creation of the party till now.