In this interview with JACOB SEGUN OLATUNJI, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, a former National Publicity Secretary and member of the National Caretaker Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), speaks on the crisis in the party, the national convention in Port-Harcourt and other issues. Excerpts:
What is the position of the National Caretaker Committee (NWC) of your party on the insistence of Senator Ali Modu Sherrif that the only way peace can return to the party is to sack the national caretaker committee, and fix a new date for a convention at a neutral ground?
I am not aware that he (Sheriff) made the two demands that you have just mentioned. Last week, we had a very long meeting which lasted till the early hours of the next week, discussing his demands. These ones were not mentioned and they are actually not negotiable. We can’t discuss the sack of the Caretaker Committee put by a convention of the party which is higher than all of us. It is the highest organ of the party, we can’t vary whatever decision it has taken. The Caretaker Committee will windup, hopefully with the successful conclusion of the convention on August 17.
Are you not worried by the number of court cases on the neck of the party and do you think going to court is the best solution?
It is not the best. People have been taking the party to court and using the courts to resolve problems, which should not be the case. They are even using the courts to impose executives on the party from ward to state and even the national level. They believe that the whole idea of participatory democracy is not necessary. If we continue toeing that path, democracy would be jeopardised.
I will like to enjoin the incoming National Working Committee and NEC of the party to look into the issue and sanction those who go to court without even exhausting the process of the party for redress. They need to exhaust all the mechanisms of the party for resolution of conflicts before rushing to the courts. Those who rush to the courts every now and then should be sanctioned . It should be clear that these people should face expulsion. It is unfortunate that people continue to take the party to court and now we are saddled with serious of court cases.
I have been in party politics for quite some time. Before this time, even from the days of the then Social Democratic Party (SDP), did you see anybody going to court? Even when candidates were banned, did you see anybody going to court? They accepted it, so I don’t see this kind of thing happening in any other political party, not even the ruling party, APC. It’s pure indiscipline and I believe that there are some people who are engaging themselves with external forces to destabilise the PDP, so we wouldn’t be able to come out strongly to challenge this non-performing APC come 2019.
You mentioned sanctions, but even the Nigerian constitution recognises any aggrieved person going to court…
We are saying that every organisation, whether it is Rotary Club or Boys Scout, has a mechanism for resolution of conflicts and those things must be exhausted before you resolve to go to court. Now, where there is even no conflict at all, people rush to court to put themselves in charge. We are now getting to a situation where people don’t even participate in the congress of their state; they don’t even offer themselves as chairman, but they go to court and say it should recognise them as chairman. Is that democracy?
The courts are not doing a good job. In fact, if they are not careful, they will be the institution that will destroy this democracy. This won’t happen in another country of the world. See what is happening in America now; they are not going to court. But if it were to be in Nigeria, people would have gone to court to stop Donald Trump in the Republican Party.
Do you think tomorrow’s convention would end the crisis?
It will go a long way in helping us to solve the problem. Let us put a NWC in place, let there be court cases. They have a fresh mandate for four years and will begin to settle a lot of issues. Those who are not working for the good of the party wouldn’t want this convection to hold so that we can continue a session of crises. We don’t want that.
Do you suspect any external forces in the crises?
Of course yes! It is very clear that the APC always wants PDP to be in pieces because they know that the peace of the PDP means their own demise. The people of Nigeria are fed up with APC. Let’s be factual, if we conduct a credible opinion poll in this country today, this government will not score up to 10 per cent. The masses are suffering, people are in disarray. Nigeria’s unity is falling apart. The government is insensitive to so many matters— religious matters, ethnic matters.
Nobody is happy. Even the Northerners are embarrassed by the appointments the President is making. I can tell you that I have Northern friends who are not happy with this. They feel embarrassed. This is a very complex society and you don’t just behave as if you are operating in your family. The people are not happy, and the APC believes that in the next election, they cannot campaign on their records, a complete failure. I can say it even right now they are a complete disaster, they cannot compete on their record. They can only hope to succeed if there is no opposition and that is their strategy. Of course, if Nigerians have no alternative platform, they would have to continue living with them.
Modu Sherrif is still insisting that he is the authentic national chairman of the PDP based on court pronouncements, what is take on this?
Court pronouncements? You journalists, court pronouncement has also said he is not the chairman; judgments, not even orders. Let him display one full judgment of court that says he is the national chairman. There are two court judgments that say he is not the chairman, so which one do you want us to continue to obey? Let him obey the Court of Appeal judgments, let him go on obtaining court injunctions upon injunctions. It’s his headache. I can tell you that.
One of the mandates given to your Committee at the convention is to reconcile aggrieved party members and to organize processes that would lead to a credible convention. How far have you gone in fulfilling this mandate?
We did that. We tried to as much as possible to reconcile so many warring factions in different states of the country, and we tried tremendously, 99 per cent of the party is united today. Don’t forget that when we were in Port Harcourt the last time, there were people in Abuja holding a parallel convention. The members of the BoT were in disagreement with us, everybody was in disagreement with us. Very powerful forces in Abuja were saying no, they wouldn’t cooperate. All those people have been brought on board and that is a big credit to this caretaker committee.
We have been able to bring all of them on board, the only person with his two members still against the unity of the party is Modu Sherrif. Everybody else has come on board and that is a major credit to the caretaker committee. I will say, without being immodest, that we can pat ourselves on the back for the great reconciliation work we have done in various states. Today, it is even the people that were in Abuja holding a parallel convention that are now in the forefront, fighting for the unity of the party.
Have you ever reached out to Senator Sheriff ?
Yes, we have made several attempts reaching out to Senator Sheriff to come over and even as I speak to you, our hands of fellowship is still being extended to him. Let him meet us half way and shake our hands. If he genuinely loves PDP, if he genuinely wants PDP to take over power in 2019 from the hands of people who don’t know how to manage it, then he should make the sacrifice. Whatever your grievances, please bury them. We all have grievances. Bury them and come on board for the unity of the party rather than making unnecessary demands. There is noting too big for you to sacrifice for the good of the party.
The Caretaker chairman, Senator Ahmed Makarif and even yourself stated that none of you would contest for any office at the coming National Convention, but there is this rumour that two of your members are contesting and have not resigned. Can you clear the air on this?
It is no rumour; they are and they have resigned since over a week ago; we are only five now.
Who are those people?
They are Barrister. Kabiru Usman who was put in charge of Legal and Hadjia Aishia Aliyu, the only woman among us. They have resigned and both of them are contesting at the convention.
Are they not going against the rules of engagement?
Well, it was an understanding at Port Harcourt that members of the Committee should not contest, because we were supposed to be habitats to midwife a new system and if you are mid-wifing a new system and you are contesting, people will doubt whether it can be free and fair, people doubt if the whole thing wouldn’t be in disarray because then you will not be in a position to really do a dispassionate job. That was the understanding in Port-Harcourt but then it was not part of the resolutions. The resolutions are legally binding, that was not part of the resolutions passed in Port-Hacourt. if it was part of the resolution then of course, they cannot contest but the argument now is that it was not a legally binding thing, it was just an understanding and these people felt that they want to contest, and they went to their various states and zones and their zones adopted them and encouraged them, of course, we cannot force them not to contest, so they have resigned, we are now having five members of the committee working.
What will be your advice to party members, those who are still aggrieved for the Unity of the Party?.
A: My advice is that people should see that this party is bigger than all of us, that without this platform even our various hopes and ambition, we cannot archive , we can only succeed individual and collectively if we have a very strong and viral platform which the PDP provides but if we destroy this platform, individual ambitions, collection ambitions will be destroyed as well. So, bury your individual grievances, make sacrifices because noting is too much to sacrifice for a party like this, at the end let’s work together to rescue Nigeria from these people who are trying to destroy the socio economic and political value of this great country, the unity of Nigeria is already at stake, people must realize that, all sense of scientifically forces have been unleashed, again people are agitating, as if we are back to those dark days of Mandiaco, you see a lot of things are happening and if that trend continues Nigeria unity is affected, of course the Nigeria Economy has loss die and they seems to be no coherent policy to revive the economy, initially, they were complaining and complaining, Nigerians don’t want their complain no more, you say you are going to fix the whole things, we have seen you in one and the half years doing noting in fact the work they met on ground was still a very robust economy, they destroyed it completely in terms of exchange rate, in terms of fuel price, in terms of everything, Electricity, Road infrastructure, everything they have destroyed and they are not giving Nigeria any hope that the situation will improve soon, taxes have been raised, unemployment rate has increase temediously, companies are retrenching staffs, look at it, the Buruea of statistic came out and said the inflation rate has doubled, Nigerians has never had it so bad, we never heard at any point of time a woman will deposit her own daughter just to collect a bowl of garri and then she forget the daughter there, because they are all going to die of hunger, it’s terrible and nobody is talking, they are no palliatives these people came on board and said they are going to give money to the poor 5000 naira every month, one and the half years in your regime and you have not started, when will you now start it, how many times do you have left ok are you going to cover the ideals