2 par­ties may emerge from PDP – Don­ald Duke

A former gover­nor of Cross River State, Mr Don­ald Duke, is one of the prom­i­nent mem­bers of the Peo­ples’ Demo­cratic Party (PDP). He was in Enugu re­cently for a func­tion where he spoke to se­lect jour­nal­ists on the party and other is­sues.

Sunday Trust - - INSIDE POLITICS - From Tony Adibe, Enugu

What’s your take on the on­go­ing cri­sis in the PDP?

The PDP sit­u­a­tion is a very, very sad one not just for the party but for the na­tion it­self be­cause right now there’s no vi­able op­po­si­tion; the op­po­si­tion is in dis­ar­ray. And what we have in the PDP now is ego at play; it’s just the ego of a few in­di­vid­u­als that is bring­ing down the roof of the en­tire house. Maybe we need to take a deep breath, step aside and say, lis­ten, what is best for the party and not what is best for me.

We made a mis­take, and I say this bluntly. I be­lieve that former gover­nor Modu Sher­iff should not have been in­vited to lead the PDP in the first place. Why? For 16 years, he was in the op­po­si­tion party. He joined the PDP and within one year of join­ing it, he be­came the leader of the party. If you were a mem­ber of the PDP in Borno State, who for 16 years Sher­iff was your ad­ver­sary, I don’t think it would be a pleas­ant ex­pe­ri­ence for you that he be­came your boss overnight.

But hav­ing made that mis­take I re­peat, hav­ing made that mis­take - we have to learn from it. I be­lieve that in Au­gust or there­about there would be a na­tional con­ven­tion. Let us all come to­gether be­cause a lot of ef­fort went into build­ing that party. So, if in the next cou­ple of months there is a con­ven­tion and we guide our­selves prop­erly, we can put all these be­hind us. But all this run­ning back and forth to court and all that will not solve the prob­lem be­cause even­tu­ally, what will prob­a­bly hap­pen is that we are go­ing to have two par­ties emerg­ing from the PDP - what Modu Sher­iff is hold­ing and what Makarfi is hold­ing. And when you want to fight an in­cum­bent, you gather strength, you come to­gether, don’t di­vide the party.

The APC de­feated PDP in 2015, be­cause they came to­gether; the amal­ga­ma­tion of var­i­ous par­ties and not the dis­in­te­gra­tion of par­ties. And so, PDP is still a very strong brand that has of­fices and net­work through­out the coun­try. That is the strength, right? It should come to­gether, put ego aside and build the party. Un­for­tu­nately, ego is the biggest prob­lem in deal­ing with politi­cians. Each one wants to ‘show you who I am’ and at the end of the day, we are noth­ing, ab­so­lutely noth­ing; it’s the coun­try that makes you some­thing.

In one of your in­ter­views with the BBC (Bri­tish Broad­cast­ing Cor­po­ra­tion), you iden­ti­fied

il­lit­er­acy as one of the banes of Nige­ria’s elec­toral pro­cesses. Look­ing back at the elec­tion in Rivers, Ondo, Edo and the forth­com­ing Anam­bra gov­er­nor­ship poll, what would like you say?

Well, elec­toral pro­cesses fail be­cause there is a lack of aware­ness among the elec­torate; so we need to ed­u­cate them, and the best way to ed­u­cate them is ex­pe­ri­ence. We need to have elec­tions even more fre­quently. Elec­tions are like events in Nige­ria; ev­ery four years, we go for this event. But in a democ­racy, the elec­tion should not be an event; it should be the norm. So we need to have a check­ing sys­tem where ev­ery two years or there­about, we go to the polls. It al­lows the elec­toral body, INEC (In­de­pen­dent Na­tional Elec­toral Com­mis­sion), in our case to im­prove on their per­for­mances. It also al­lows the elec­torate to learn and be­come more ex­pe­ri­enced, more aware of what will hap­pen.

I think we should also stag­ger elec­tions be­cause one of the prob­lems we have is that the en­tire coun­try goes for elec­tion on the same day. That is not right. We should stag­ger it, so that may be the house of assem­bly or and the leg­isla­tive house goes ev­ery other two years. And so ev­ery two years or there­about, we have an elec­tion. That way we are con­stantly test­ing the process and bet­ter­ing it. That’s what I mean by the aware­ness. Not re­ally il­lit­er­acy. It’s not about go­ing to school too much. It’s about aware­ness. But some peo­ple say it will lead to dom­i­nance by the rul­ing We made a mis­take, and I say this bluntly. I be­lieve that former gover­nor Modu Sher­iff should not have been in­vited to lead the PDP in the first place. Why? For 16 years, he was in the op­po­si­tion party. He joined the PDP and within one year of join­ing it, he be­came the leader of the party

party?

Not nec­es­sar­ily, be­cause if the aware­ness is very strong by the elec­torate, they also be­come less tol­er­ant of the dom­i­nance of the rul­ing party.e if they know that in two years they will be tested, that keeps the rul­ing party con­stantly on its feet.

When you were gover­nor of Cross River State, you es­tab­lished TINAPA and the Obudu Cat­tle Ranch. But to­day, those projects seem to be ghosts of their old selves. How can those in po­si­tion of author­ity sus­tain projects to pre­vent them from turn­ing into huge waste?

Well, two things; we have weak in­sti­tu­tions. If our in­sti­tu­tions were strong, they will not de­pend on the whims of an in­di­vid­ual re­gard­less of what of­fice he may hold. The rea­son there’s a fail­ure of con­ti­nu­ity in gov­er­nance is the weak­ness of our in­sti­tu­tions. So ev­ery­thing falls within the whims, within what the gover­nor or the head of the in­sti­tu­tion may want to do.

I tell peo­ple that the re­sources we used in de­vel­op­ing Obudu Cat­tle Ranch, for in­stance, which was at a time the best re­sort in all of West Africa, and TINAPA which we spent al­most half of a bil­lion dol­lars to de­velop, were not Don­ald Duke’s re­sources; they were re­sources of the peo­ple that had the ap­pro­pri­a­tion of the state House of Assem­bly; so it was spent by law. There­fore, it is al­most crim­i­nal to al­low such en­ter­prises to go to waste be­cause of po­lit­i­cal pro­cliv­ity, and it’s dif­fi­cult to ad­mon­ish legally those who fail to build on struc­tures left be­hind by their pre­de­ces­sors. As I said be­fore, the in­sti­tu­tions are weak but the loss is col­lec­tively ours.

I tell folks that gov­er­nance is a shift sys­tem. For four to eight years I am the worker, then the next four to eight years is an­other shift, and an­other worker comes on board. If each time there’s a shift we start from the be­gin­ning, we will never com­plete the struc­ture, and that’s the weak­ness of the sys­tem. To­day, we look at the United States and I feel peo­ple are con­cerned about where is Don­ald Trump tak­ing Amer­ica to. But I said there is noth­ing to be con­cerned about. The Amer­i­can in­sti­tu­tion is so strong that re­gard­less of who is the leader, the coun­try will still make progress. It will not fail be­cause it does not de­pend on a Don­ald Trump or who­ever it is.

It may be like the chair­man of a board, giv­ing some direc­tion but the in­sti­tu­tion is so strong that re­gard­less of who is there, it will suc­ceed. Ours is the re­verse, and that’s the bane of a de­vel­op­ing so­ci­ety. So we need men of good­will to strengthen and build our in­sti­tu­tions.

In your pub­lic lec­ture themed ‘Now is Your Time,’ you spoke on the con­tri­bu­tions of the pri­vate sec­tor to ed­u­ca­tion…?

(Cuts in) You know, there are cer­tain sec­tors that all hands must be on deck, and ed­u­ca­tion is one of such sec­tors; health­care is an­other where it can­not be left solely to pub­lic author­i­ties. Pri­vate en­ter­prise and men and women of good­will must in­vest in. In my lec­ture I said that this is the pe­riod of the Nige­rian dream, like where we have a so­ci­ety that is lit­er­ally in need of ev­ery­thing and so they (par­tic­u­larly the Nige­rian youths) have vast op­por­tu­ni­ties of plug­ging into var­i­ous sec­tors. And do you know I ended up my lec­ture by say­ing ‘he who dares wins?’ The truth is, the real fail­ure is not the fail­ing in en­ter­prises; the real fail­ure is fail­ure in trial, and so my mes­sage to the stu­dents is ven­ture forth, strive, don’t be afraid to fail, right? The sur­prise of this time is that the world is lit­er­ally at your feet.

Mr Don­ald Duke

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