Former Nigeria’s ambassador to Canada and onetime peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship contestant in Ekiti State, Ambassador Dare Bejide, in this encounter with ARAMIDE SHANU, speaks on the crisis rocking the PDP, and other issues. Excerpts:
What would be your assessment of the prevailing political situation in the country?
It is very uncertain. For instances, there are crises everywhere in the two main parties. There is a serious crisis within the PDP. Even in the APC, there is quite a lot of instability. So, we are just praying to God that before the 2019 elections, we will be able to have some level of stability within the polity.
Where do you think we should be having a harvest of crises after 16 years of restoration of civil rule in the country?
One, it has to do with the present economic recession. We are all aware that the economy is no buoyant at the moment. The value of our local currency, Naira has gone done against the American dollar. .Coupled with this is the fact that politics appears to be the main thing that everybody is patronising at the moment; though when the elections are imminent, then there is bound to be crisis.
But some of these challenges have been there before the economic recession; the parties have moved from one form of crisis to another, especially the PDP after the 2015 elections?
One, I agree with you. But again, when you look at it, the economic crisis has aggravated the existent political problems. However, I can assure you that if the economy was in good shape, the tension would not be as we have it at the moment.
PDP has been described as a dying baby?
The person that described the PDP as a dying baby also described the APC as such. So, it confirms that both parties are in crises; that it is not limited to PDP.
Why does the leadership crisis in your party appear most intractable, going by the twists and turns in the PDP in the last few months over planned national convention?
The crisis has to do with impunity and lack of internal democracy within the party. Until this is addressed, we will continue to have that level of instability. If an individual can impose a candidate on the people, then you should expect some level of instability. But if the current leadership of the party is able to sanitise the system, I think that at the end of the day, we will have a way out.
How do you mean; you talked about the leadership of the party, as there are two forces contending for the soul of the PDP?
Yes, apart from the two camps, you also have the Board of Trustees (BoT), which is supposed to be the conscience of the party. It is the duty of the BoT to bring the two factions together and address the issue of national convention. Once this critical issue is resolved, and we are able to get a unified executive, then it will be possible for the party to move forward.
Don’t you see the plethora of litigations as being part of the albatross in the quest by PDP to achieve that desire?
Yes, that was why I said the BoT is in a vantage position to bring the two parties together. If we are relying on the cases, they might linger till 2019. But if the BoT is able to persuade the factions to come together and resolve all the issues, especially the issue of zoning has been resolved, the party could be back on track.. The chairmanship has been brought to the South and the presidency to the North. That was one of the major contentions before now. That has been resolved, and I understand that in the last BoT meeting, they are now saying that the convention should move to Abuja, and these are the issues that were intractable at the beginning.
But Sheriff believes that the BoT is not neutral in the whole crisis, hence his call that the body should be dissolved?
Well that is his own opinion, but I still believe that the best body that can resolve the issue is the BoT, which is the conscience of the PDP. Whatever is the position of Sheriff does not matter in this case. The most important thing is that at the end of the day, the BoT should be able to bring the two parties together. And get the convention on course.
Are you not concerned that the South-West could not come up with a consensus chairmanship candidate ahead of the botched PDP convention in Port Harcourt? How healthy is such development for PDP in the zone?
I believe that the other zones should also have an input to be able to have a national chairman of the party. it is not enough to say the Yoruba should present a candidate as he is not going to be the chairman of Yoruba PDP. We are talking about the position of the national chairman of the PDP. So, other zones should be able to contribute to who becomes the national chairman.