From Diran Odeyemi, who is the spokesman of the Osun State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), was an aspirant for the position of deputy national publicity secretary before the national convention of the party was again put on hold in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. In this interview with ARAMIDE SHANU, he sheds light on some issues surrounding the PDP crisis. Excerpts:
AS an insider, why do you think the crisis rocking your party appears to defy solution going by the botched national convention in Port Harcourt, Rivers State?
It is because the PDP crisis is multi dimensional, as has both internal and external factors. It is being exacerbated by the fact that the party has no definite leadership that could direct and issue specific instruction towards moving the party forward. Members of the Board of Trustees (BOT) the party are not decisive and assertive on party discipline, as well as strict adherence to the party constitution, hence the current total confusion in the party. And I want to add that the PDP lacks a coordinated strategy to reposition itself as an opposition waiting to reclaim power from APC in subsequent elections. Do not forget that we are lost the 2015 general election partly because there was nobody to give direction. So, what we are still seeing now is the hangover of that period.
Be that as it may. The raging crisis also underscores the inordinate ambition of many leaders in the party because of their belief that whoever is able to control PDP structure will be in a veritable position to dictate affairs in the party as we journey into 2019 elections. So, it is so sad that such individuals would not see the need to subsume their narrow interest in the overall desire of the party to rediscover itself now.
Now, talking about the external factor, which is about the governing All Progressives Congress (APC), it will be in its own interest if the crisis of confidence among PDP leaders persists. A united PDP could become a thorn in the flesh of an APC that is yet to fulfill most of its pre-election promises to the electorate. But by and large, if PDP is able to survive its challenges, the impact on the political space of the country can be better imagined, especially in subsequent elections.
One of the claimants to the post of PDP national chairman, Senator Ali Modu Sherif has given conditions that could restore peace, which include holding the convention on a neutral ground. How would you react to his proposal?
Sheriff is on a programmed mission. That is why you see him being represented in courts by certain set of lawyers getting judgments against PDP in a particular court; getting the police to stop our convention at the very last minute. Therefore, the conditions or options he has offered are not meant to solve the problem on the ground but to purposely rubbish PDP and its constitution that vested power in the initial national convention scheduled for May 21, this year in Port Harcourt that gave birth to the National Caretaker Committee with Senator Ahmed Markafi as chairman. If the party agrees to hold the convention in Abuja as being proposed by Sherif, I can bet that he would change his stand that he meant Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State capital, and not Abuja. Don’t forget that he was chosen to act national chairman for three months to pave the way for a substantive one, only for his to begin the process of emerging as the presidential candidate of the party in 2019. His plan is to conduct a convention based on his whims and caprices by naming the organising committee, selecting state delegates and choosing Abuja as the venue for the convention.
Of what relevance is Jerry Gana-led reconciliation committee, given the Rivers State episode, Sherif’s peace option and the one-year period granted the Makarfi committee to steer the ship of the party?
The Gana committee has completed its assignment. With Sherif hard-line posture and conditions, the committee had no choice than to leave him and move on which was why they played an active part towards making a success of the Port Harcourt convention before it was aborted. However, the extension of tenure of Markafi by a year, to me, amounts to postponing the evil day. I don’t see an end to about 15 court cases instituted against the party being disposed of within a year. I am sure that some of the cases will get to the Supreme Court. As it is now, the chances of PDP during the forthcoming governorship polls in Edo and Ondo states is suspect, though we can take a pragmatic step.: let us leave PDP for Sherif and merge with other like-minds to form a new party or rebrand with an existing one. Through this, we can reorganize and give opportunities to individuals, who are not happy wherever parties they are, to form the bulk of a new alliance that can provide responsive and responsible opposition to APC.
Why was it difficult for PDP leaders from the South-West to produce a single aspirant for the post of national chairman that was zoned to the area?
The Makarfi/Sherif crisis polarised the South-West, so adherence to initial zoning agreement reached by the leaders became impossible. It is quite unfortunate and sad that our leaders allowed this to happen. The elders, who could have saved the South-West and show direction themselves became interested in party position. The younger elements in the party decided to queue behind those younger ones they considered ought to be the new face for the party. Ego and lack of sportsmanship spirit also affected our agreement on zoning. I believe that all these will serve as a major lesson in the formation of a new PDP, as it will be an opportunity for all of us to change our ways of doing things by allowing party supremacy to override our personal desires.