In this interview with CHIEMEKA ADINDU, a former chairman of the PDP in Cross River State, Ntufam John Okon reviewed the lingering crisis in the state chapter of the party and concluded that there must be a deliberate give and take decision, if the crisis must be resolved.
There are fears that the PDP in Cross River State will collapse if the party’s NWC tampered with the list of delegates for the state congress. What does this mean to you as a former chairman of the party?
As a former chairman, I also believe that compromise and unity is the best way to go. Unfortunately for us Hon. Jarigbe is one of the respectable people we have in the state. But I know that he is also a good politician because even as a young man I have interacted with him, I know him to be nice. He will agree that leaving PDP to any other party cannot help him, cannot even help PDP. To me, everybody must not compete; both our leader, the governor and national assembly members. They must come to a compromise if they want PDP to be sustained. You can also say it this way; with the governor controlling all the house of assembly members, controlling the local government councillors and council chairmen, you will find out that if he also makes a move out of the PDP, it is either that one will collapse because there is no way one would be able to sustain party structure at the national, local government, and ward. It’s going to be difficult afterward. That is why my own appeal is, everybody must accept compromise. After all, whatever that has happened, there is a list on the governor’s plank, there is a list from the national assembly plank. The party must find a political way of sitting together, of making compromise and of making the party to survive.
The argument on National Assembly of defecting is bad enough and you know Nigerian politics- this is 2020 and we are talking about the future, 2023. Mind you, they are going to meet people on the other side that is, APC members who are already in APC, who also want to rise politically. So the best thing is for them to compromise and work together for the good of the party. And I’m happy that Senator Imoke has said it all that the governor is the leader of the party but he also has stakeholders like the National Assembly members to accommodate. So, no matter the political strength you have, it is not everybody that will follow you to the new party so you will be dropping some members who also believe that they are PDP members. I think everybody should work together and accept whatever compromise the National Assembly and the national working committee can do.
The congress has been postponed(cuts in)
I should think that the postponement would yield appositive results because if you investigate, you would find out that the postponement came from the panel themselves when they were confronted with two lists. So which list will they use? So the national has to make sure that there is compromise with whatever list they are going to use because one list will lead to crisis. Imagine you going to be identified and your name is in one list and the other have their own list, so I think the national has done well. They should sit down with the leaders and ensure that there is fairness with the recommendation that the party is for our own interest.
Nobody should deceive you that if you people go to APC, they will recognize you because even in APC, they have their own problem. They have people already on ground, you know the factions that is already there. So which faction are you going to go? In APC, they have two factions which you know, so how can you leave an organized party to go to a place where there are factions? Which faction will you remain? That is what you should ask them, which faction they should go. I think the postponement will make the national officers to intervene between the leader of the party, the governor and then their own stakeholders, the National Assembly.
Mind you, both of them are important for the purpose of PDP, they are very important. I will not encourage anybody to defect. Let us wait as a team and wait for 2023 to come. In 2023, there is going to be another congress in which everybody is fighting for delegates and all these things, so it is a long term thing. How many of them are even sure that they are going to live up to that 2023? So I think everybody should calm down and work together. I will not tell the National Assembly members to go their own, don’t respect the governor, the leader of the party. No. the fact is that he’s the leader of the party.
When I was the party chairman, it was Liyel Imoke that made consultations and Not that I was so powerful, they always give them that preference because you must give them respect because it is not easy to handle a party, arrange a party, it’s not always easy. So I think the governor should be given his own respect and at the same time, the governor as the father and a leader must also see how he can accommodate National Assembly members and other party stakeholders. Mind you, there are other stakeholders; the house of assembly members are stakeholders, those of us here, we are also stakeholders, not only the National Assembly members, because the National Assembly will be in their own polling booth while we will be in our own polling booth. So everybody should be respected; that’s my own advice.
But how did two lists surface in the first place?
It has always been like that, it is not the first time it is happening. The challenge about party primaries is that the national secretariat is training people to come to Calabar but you know, the thing is done at the local government and if you send a five man committee, how are they going to monitor the primary selection, so it is not that you want to blame the electoral body. So I think the only thing to do is for both sides to reconcile because five member panel cannot cover everywhere in a day. It cannot cover all the wards, it is not possible.
I have seen a publication from the party the lists of three persons, all of them very important to us, but there is another list that brings out the name of Eba and you will see the same signature of the party’s organizing secretary in all the list, so that’s a challenge.