PDP’s cul­ture of im­punity not yet over - Barr Maidugu

Daily Trust - - INSIDE POLITICS -

Bar­ris­ter Bashir Maidugu is the deputy na­tional le­gal ad­viser of the op­po­si­tion Peo­ples Demo­cratic Party (PDP). In this ex­clu­sive in­ter­view with Daily Trust, he said at the back­drop of last week­end’s NEC meet­ing of the party that it was yet to learn its les­son from the cul­ture of im­punity which led to its woe­ful de­feat at the 2015 polls. Ex­cerpt:

The first Na­tional Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee (NEC) meet­ing af­ter the PDP was de­feated in the 2015 elec­tions held last week­end and there were re­ports of dis­cor­dant tunes emerg­ing from it. As a se­nior mem­ber of the NEC from the North-East zone and was in at­ten­dance, can you give an insight into what re­ally tran­spired at the meet­ing?

Pre­cisely I can­not dis­cuss the sub­ject of our meet­ing pub­licly be­cause it is con­fi­den­tial. How­ever, pol­i­tics is about peo­ple who are sup­posed to know cer­tain things and as politi­cians, we can dis­cuss strate­gies in meet­ings but poli­cies and sub­jects that are sup­posed to be known by peo­ple must be dis­closed to them. This is one of the rea­sons why po­lit­i­cal par­ties en­gage in cam­paigns to ed­u­cate mem­bers of the pub­lic about their poli­cies and pro­grammes.

Com­ing to your ques­tion about the NEC meet­ing, there was an agenda and we dis­cussed it at the meet­ing. One of the things on the agenda was the Ike Ek­w­ere­madu re­port which was dis­cussed ex­ten­sively and adopted at the NEC. Like you rightly noted, that was the first NEC of the PDP since the 2015 elec­tions. I must tell you that af­ter the 2015 elec­tions, PDP mem­bers are gen­er­ally an­gry and a lot of al­le­ga­tions have been laid be­fore all of us. And if a per­son takes any de­ci­sion in anger, he would stand to re­gret it later; it was there­fore good that NEC was not held in the first three months af­ter the elec­tions be­cause it would have led us to tak­ing de­ci­sions that we might re­gret later; which could in­clude throw­ing away the baby with the bath­wa­ter.

In view of that, the NEC that was held last week­end was in or­der. The res­ig­na­tion of Adamu Mu’azu in May which led to the tak­ing over of the lead­er­ship of the PDP by the deputy na­tional chair­man, Uche Se­con­dus, was in my opin­ion a de­ci­sion in er­ror. This is be­cause, what­ever de­ci­sion that was taken that led to Mu’azu’s res­ig­na­tion should have been a col­lec­tive de­ci­sion. All mem­bers of the Na­tional Work­ing Com­mit­tee and the Na­tional Ex­ec­u­tive Coun­cil are to blame for the loss of the party in the last elec­tions; all of us are to blame. The most im­por­tant fac­tor is the vi­o­la­tion of the zon­ing for­mula of the PDP. Re­mem­ber, the party zoned the pres­i­dency of the coun­try to the north­ern part in 2007 which led to the emer­gence of the late Umaru Musa Yar’adua as the pres­i­den­tial can­di­date, who later emerged as pres­i­dent and could only rule for two years. There­after, prov­i­dence gave it to Good­luck Jonathan who nat­u­rally took over with our full sup­port and ruled for an­other two years. And with our un­der­stand­ing, he was given a man­date of four years with a com­mit­ment to han­dover at the end to a north­ern can­di­date which he re­neged and this led to the re­jec­tion of the party in the north. That ac­tion was the sole cause of our party’s de­feat in 2015.

If we had a good north­ern can­di­date, we wouldn’t have lost that elec­tion. In any case, we have so many short­com­ings in the last 16 years but recorded so much achieve­ments. The NEC, af­ter the loss of the 2015 elec­tions, we ought to have dis­cussed the res­ig­na­tion of Mu’azu, who should take over from the North-East which is one of the bedrocks of our party’s prin­ci­ples. In the rec­om­men­da­tion of the Ek­w­ere­madu’s panel that re­viewed the 2015 elec­tions, the over­whelm­ing opin­ion of the panel which led to rec­om­men­da­tions was that the zon­ing for­mula of the party should be strictly ad­hered to. And here we have seen that the North-East is not be­ing asked to re­place Mu’azu. From all in­di­ca­tions, the NWC has no in­ten­tion of bring­ing up this sub­ject for dis­cus­sion. I am from Borno State in the north­east­ern part of this coun­try and I want to make it clear that we will re­sist a sit­u­a­tion whereby the North-East would not be al­lowed to com­plete its ten­ure. This is be­cause, the of­fice of the na­tional chair­man was zoned to the North-East but Ba­manga did only two years while Mu’azu did just a lit­tle over a year. There­fore, what­ever it is, we have to com­plete that ten­ure even if it is only one week; at least we will be in a sit­u­a­tion whereby the na­tional party (PDP) is be­ing led by some­body from the south­ern part of this coun­try.

We have only two gov­er­nors from the North and they are from the North-East, and af­ter the pe­riod whereby the of­fice of the na­tional chair­man is sup­posed to be zoned to the South,, an­other south­ern per­son will take over; we in the North have to have a strat­egy of win­ning elec­tions. If we are vi­o­lat­ing the zon­ing for­mula, it is part of the im­punity that led to our de­feat. There­fore, I urge the NWC mem­bers to come out and state clearly that re­place­ment for Adamu Mu’azu would have to be this month.

Are you im­ply­ing that this mat­ter was not tabled for dis­cus­sion dur­ing your last NEC?

It was not tabled; it was not part of the agenda. In fact, I raised my hand and wanted to speak that the North-East have some­thing to say sev­eral times but I was not rec­og­nized, and they even­tu­ally called for clos­ing prayers. This is be­cause no­body wanted it dis­cussed from the high ta­ble.

Apart from the Ek­w­ere­madu re­port that you said was adopted, what were other ma­jor points of the NEC meet­ing?

The other is­sue was the bio­met­ric reg­is­tra­tion which was taken in 2010 but never im­ple­mented. The NWC now found it aus­pi­cious to im­ple­ment it and a com­mit­tee was set up to that ef­fect.

You have blamed your party’s fail­ure in the last gen­eral elec­tions to the NWC and NEC, can you throw more light on this?

We are to blame in the sense that democ­racy is about peo­ple. There were im­po­si­tions of un­pop­u­lar can­di­dates across Nige­ria. Not only that, some of the rules and guide­lines that were laid down were not strictly ad­hered to; they were fla­grantly vi­o­lated with im­punity and this led to our loss. Un­for­tu­nately no­body raised his hand to ques­tion any­thing, which is why I make bold to say that we need to change by telling our­selves the truth. We have to call a spade a spade; where there is mis­take, dis­hon­esty and self­ish­ness, we have to point it out and dis­cour­age it. And to tell you the truth, we need to think out­side the box in the PDP if we must make any rel­e­vance in 2019.

If we con­tinue this way, I do not see us mak­ing head­way in 2019; you have to think out­side the box, bring in new peo­ple and fresh minds to in­ject new ideas in the sys­tem.

Would you then say that the adop­tion of Jonathan as sole pres­i­den­tial can­di­date by your party in the last elec­tion was part of the fac­tors that led to your de­feat?

Th­ese are some of the things I am talk­ing about; I don’t want to be spe­cific. But th­ese are some of the mis­takes we made that led to our loss and there is no doubt about it, we must call a spade a spade. It started with the gov­er­nors’ fo­rum which adopted Jonathan and pre­sented to the cau­cus which then adopted him and pre­sented to the Board of Trustees who in turn adopted him and pre­sented him to the NEC. Af­ter all th­ese bod­ies have adopted him and pre­sented him to NEC, it could not op­pose. That was how Jonathan emerged which was a costly mis­take we made.

Jonathan’s prob­lem in the last four years was his fail­ure to ad­dress three ma­jor things that ac­tu­ally made Nige­ri­ans to re­ject our party. The first one is in­se­cu­rity, the sec­ond cor­rup­tion and the third one was lack of gen­eral dis­ci­pline in pub­lic ser­vice. The point is that im­punity must stop in PDP.

Do you think the party is learn­ing from its mis­takes with a view to forg­ing ahead?

No! There is no sign; from what hap­pened dur­ing the last NEC, I don’t think we are learn­ing from our mis­takes. It is rather back to square one! If we have learned our lessons af­ter the de­feat of the party in 2015, we ought to have told our­selves the truth but we are not telling our­selves the truth.

In­ter­est­ingly, the PDP has also zoned the 2019 pres­i­dency to the North; do you think this is a step in the right di­rec­tion?

Ob­vi­ously this is an af­ter­thought; this ought to have been done in 2014. It is a bad strat­egy but it is bet­ter to be late than never. Let us see how the game will play out. To me, it is very early to come out and say you have zoned the pres­i­dency to the North, it ought to have been done maybe next year or af­ter the con­ven­tion or when the party’s na­tional of­fices are zoned; that is when the pres­i­dency can now be zoned.

Your party has been wit­ness­ing mass de­fec­tions of mem­bers to the rul­ing party, the APC. What do you think is re­spon­si­ble for this and what do you con­sider as the way for­ward?

The ac­tion I have spo­ken to you about is one of the fac­tors lead­ing to mass de­fec­tions from the party. There is im­punity. We have set rules that have been es­tab­lished but they are ob­served more in breach. In ad­vanced democ­ra­cies, you can­not talk of vi­o­lat­ing rules be­cause once you vi­o­late rules, you are an out­cast.

Barr Bashir Maidugu

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