***PDP is not ready for 2019 polls
***Lack of preparation is reason for third force
***I don’t recognise Governors’ Forum
Ex-chairman Fresh Peoples Democratic Party, Chief Olukayode Akindele, who at the beginning of this year reintegrated his group into the mainstream party says though the impunity his group came to fight is still intact there are recalcitrant members of the group who may wish to carry on the with the fight. He spoke with EMEKA NZE on sundry issues such as the third force, the PDP Governors Forum amongst other issues in the polity.
What is the status of the Fresh PDP which you were the initiator?
In any gathering, you must have recalcitrant people. Fresh PDP was something that came in order to fight impunity, imposition and abuse of electoral processes.
In PDP which I am a founding member, we have rules and we have ways of reconciling ourselves when we have disputes. But what we don’t have in PDP is measures for addressing impunity and crime. For some of us, what happened at the Eagle square on the 9th of December, was a crime, electoral crime and the party hasn’t got the mechanism for it and it shouldn’t really have because we are not a law enforcement agency. If it has been done else where, the EFCC or other bodies must have come in. And it is about time that we stood up and some of us speak against it so that we find a way to ensure that it doesn’t happen because people do it but because they know nothing will happen. If they can get away with it, all well and good.
I was very disappointed by what happened but a few others who felt the same way, said we wait and see, you go we come to join you. I got millions of calls but that did not deter us.
However, when that group came together, the first thing I insisted on was our exit position. It was not intended to kill PDP. However if PDP wants to die, we will help it to die.
What is our exit position, what are we looking at? We were looking for a party to accept that they have done wrong and commit themselves to correcting it. That was our exit position.
We also mentioned that we shall not do any anti party activities, we shall not allow the opposition to use us and do our best not to affect the fortunes of the party come 2019.
Therefore this thing can be as quick as possible but if we don’t do it now, it will happen during the presidential primaries and we shall be in the worst position.
Fortunately, the party took us seriously, they sent people of high caliber to us. They had meetings where this matter was discussed, they were disturbed about the bandwagon effect it was having on those who were trying to decamp, and they sent people like Dr. Nwodo who was the first secretary of the party and former National Chairman, a former Governor. They sent the party’s Spokesman Kola to us and a few other people. That was the main purpose, to recognise that they have done wrong. Immediately they did that, we needed also to accept that we can live by that. Whether they are going to keep to their word is another issue.
Before that, we had one or two issues about the infiltration of the enemy camp. I tried very hard as the Chairman to make sure that we did not get carried away by inducement, by greed and by avarice shenanigans.
I can say that we succeeded to a point, only one or two people refused to fall in line. And of course, they are human beings, they can choose to do what they like.
If you notice the day we called a halt to it, everybody was there. Every member of the Fresh PDP apart from just two people, and we know that they were not really going to be there and it did not really matter because anything after that day does not really matter but they have the right to do what they are doing.
Sir, one can notice that you were not very visible in the group but on the day that the reconciliation was made, you were very visible. Why was Obi Nwosu speaking for the group?
You see, we are all members of the party. It is not everybody that is a governor, it is not everybody that is the President, it is not everybody that is a Senator.
It is a mistake we are making in Nigerian politics. Membership is more important than office holders. And people when they become office holders, they become uncontrollable.
When Fresh PDP was conceived, I was the Chairman from day one, I put the whole thing together from the idea that came up. Nwosu was chosen as the Spokesman because he has a flair for it.
When you have executive council meeting it is not the President that speaks, they pick the spokesperson, they pick Lai Mohammed or a minister.
PDP has a spokesperson Kola, Nwosu was made the spokesperson. He is not different from any other person. There was no time that Nwosu addressed the press that I was not seated by his side. Everyday I was in that Secretariat, I managed it until we collapsed into the main PDP. There is nothing strange that he is the spokesperson of the group.
Do you see the PDP living up to the agreement you made with them?
The Bible says ‘he who trusts man, woe be unto him’. We are human beings, it is not what we have done that will make PDP live up to its commitment. It is the support of the broad based party. We have spoken for a very large number of persons who would not like to show their face. One of the first thing we accepted was yes you like us but you don’t want to show your face.
Some of us, we want to leave a legacy, this is Nigeria, some of us must speak. We have senators, we have people that are with us but they don’t want to show their face. These are the people that will ensure that PDP actually meets their commitments and I can assure you that we are privy to a lot of meetings held at very high levels where some who were saying forget about them were told, no no no, don’t try that.
In fact it went to the extent that not only us, they had to start meeting members of the BoT who used to be very active and because of this thing, they stopped being active.
I won’t mention names but they had to pay them a visit and say, well are sorry. PDP as far as we know, they never rejected the claims of impunity and imposition and electoral abuse and therefore, the circumstances around us in Nigeria today means that they themselves will address it.
Look at all those aspiring to be President today, am sorry if they don’t address it, there is going to be war, there will address it.
Sir, the narratives out there is that some of you especially the aspirants have been settled. How much were you paid?
I will tell you categorically, no body has given me or the Fresh PDP that I know, a kobo. It was financed solely by us.
However, if aspirants are compensated, why not. I am not aware of anybody being compensated yet, am not aware of any aspirant being compensated yet.
If Fresh PDP is compensated, why not. We spent a lot of money to prove a point and that money has been well spent. It is a sign of recognition and humility if they say, ‘fine we will offset part of your expenses and costs’. But right now no body has offered us, we did not demand for it, we did not ask for it.
They are still talking to us in various issues. My brother, let us not get into that shenanigan of money, money, money, it is not the issue.
Was there any disagreement between your group and Nwosu’s group that led to his absence at the reconciliation meetings and made him constitute a National Working Committee for his group?
People don’t have to agree on 100 percent. Intentions, may exist that you don’t know. But what is important is that everybody except two fell in line. I will not speak for those who did not fall in line, and today in my opinion, the so called Fresh PDP only exists in the media.
Go to their secretariat if they have one, who are those on the Working Committee, it is not even as issue for me. I don’t Speak for the PDP. We came up publicly, you talked of the time it took before the meeting commenced, negotiations take time.
I will have to give a lot of kudos to Dr. Nwodo, a very experienced party man, because at every point, he spoke to the Chairman of the Party, he spoke to the Chairman of the BoT in order to carry them along, even when they were not present, they were carried along. It is not something you will rush and that is where our assurances were.
As presently constituted, do you think PDP is ready for the 2019 elections?
PDP will not be ready. There are so many committee reports that have been made, one was led by Prof. Jerry Gana that implementation has not been done. It is our hope that implementation be done. It is our hope that the leadership of PDP will call all the stakeholder’s and ensure that we get ourselves prepared.
It is lack of preparation our preparation or seriousness that is bringing about the so called third force.
PDP needs to do a lot of work and I believe they will do it. We have been a beat away because if the burial if our leader, Vice President Alex Ekwueme who is a true PDP man. He was there at the beginning, he took the risk of his life, and despite the impunity that he suffered, he never left PDP for one day. Even up to the last Gubernatorial election in Anambra, where he was seriously embarrassed, he never said, forget PDP. Those are true patriots we have in Nigeria.
What do you think the PDP can do so that what transpired in the last convention will not repeat itself?
I don’t think that what we did and by the grace of God was bold enough to do has died down, it has sent messages to people. That is why people like Obasanjo is speaking today.
Because we collapsed quickly to PDP, I want to believe that they were not happy. Those who want to shred PDP are not happy but those who want to sustain PDP know that this is an opportunity to correct issues and I’m sure we shall do that.
Sir, this issue of writing letters, we saw Former President Obasanjo writing one and now former Military President Babangida to the sitting president, is that the right way to grow our democracy?
To the best of my knowledge, General Babangida has not written any letter, his Spokesman wrote on his behalf. He is not the type of person to do that. He is a very disciplined and a very forthright leader. He is bold enough to talk to anybody, at the same time, his spokesman can speak for him. As far as President Obasanjo is concerned, he is an elder statesman, someone I respect so much, not just because of his age but because of the offices he held. But I disagree with him totally in his methodology of doing things.
Letters, letters, letters, you are strong enough, you are accomplished enough to meet anybody, to knock the door and they will open the door for you. But if he chooses to write letters, let it be. However, there is nothing he said in his letter that is strange to any of us. Even a secondary school student knows what has been going on in the country, it is all over social media.
One thing I will give him kudos for is that he is bold enough to speak out. If our elders, if our leaders can speak out, we will not have all these problems that we are having. They keep quiet until everything collapses on their head. Obasanjo speaks, it is a good thing.
I remember some years ago when we were trying to reconcile him with N’aba Ghali, he said, “Why do you think I have a big stomach, I swallow insults.
However, I disagree with his conclusion. I am so disappointed and taken aback because a man of his calibre, of training, a gentleman, a trained soldier, a General. Are you going to tell me that if a battalion does something wrong, that you will dismember the battalion and start another battalion? No, a General should know that.
Obasanjo in particular and his immediate lieutenants like Oyinlola and Donald Duke are people who have benefited most from PDP, they have been Presidents, they have been governors. Are you telling me that as you are no longer President or governor, you must kill the goose that laid the golden eggs for you which is wrong. In fact all of them should have put their hands together and said, the party that brought us up must not die.
The party is a creation of man, it cannot be perfect. People like them who have occupied places of authority, of honour, of respect should use that position even after office to repair what is wrong. I am not saying that there is nothing wrong with PDP, what have they done since the left office for PDP?
If President Obasanjo did not tear his card, attended PDP BoT meeting or NEC meeting, will he speak and people not hear? Will anybody shout him down, will anybody tell him to shut up? Could he not have gone there and corrected it?
He was the first beneficiary of those who fought against military tyranny, he wasn’t a founding member of PDP, he was retrieved from his home and brought to Lime light. That was enough all the days of his life to ensure that PDP does not die, that is why I disagree with him, similarly with Oyinlola, similar with Donald Duke.
For me, any patriotic PDP member that joins the third force or the fourth force, that one is anti party, is it disloyalty. We have many political parties. A Yoruba adage says, when your son is bad, your son is bad, are you going to give him to the lion to eat?
Therefore, I want to appeal to my elder, to President Obasanjo, to reconsider his position, to come back to PDP and join hands. If Obasanjo was in PDP to fight the impunity, those rascals we are talking about will not have the guts to stand up to him.
When he was President he handpicked his own chairman, he used them as he wishes, he handpicked his Senate President, he handpicked this, he handpicked that, why can’t you continue that in order to sustain that which brought you to lime light. That is my view.
Do you see any ulterior motives in what they are doing?
We are all human beings, we all have ulterior motives, I don’t read the mind. However, it is clear from his antecedents that whenever his cronies are not placed in positions, it is not good enough. It happened in Jonathan’s time, it happened in Shagari’s time, if his cronies are placed well, he doesn’t know how to step back.
That is why I have a lot of respect for President Babangida, he allowed all those who succeeded him to have a free hand in my opinion and he keeps on doing that.
Even the comments by his spokesman yesterday, if it was his own, it was very mild, it was very welcoming, he is an elder he should be able to speak at any point. I welcome them speaking.
On the just concluded meeting by the party’s NWC with the Forum of PDP Governors, why was it held in Delta state instead of the party headquarters?
I don’t know what you call Governors Forum. As far as I am concerned, our constitution does not recognise governors forum. It is a misnomer. That is one of the things Fresh PDP stood against, that is part of the impunity of the party. There is nothing like Governors’ Forum in our constitution. If they want to give recognition to anybody, there are many organs of the party. There are women forum and all that, why particular attention to the Governors’ Forum.
The privilege of being a governor has been conferred on them by the members of the party. Therefore that should not bring about superiority to other members of the party. That should not make them dictatorial. How many people can be governors?
So to me, any meeting the NWC has with the governors forum is a non entity, it doesn’t exist. And the sooner we realise that it doesn’t exist the better for our party and our nation. It was a mechanism Obasanjo devised at that time to divide and rule.
Will you say that Secondus is under the tutelage of these governors?
I don’t want to speak for Secondus, he is the Chairman of my party, but however, show me your friends and I will show you who you are. He knows them they have been friends all these years, we all have friends among the governors. But he needs to be careful and do things according to the constitution of our party. I will appeal to My chairman, Mr. Secondus to please hold unto that. He is in a delicate position and he needs to do something.
In 2015, he was the National Chairman of the party, we lost an election while we were the ruling party. So this time that we are not the ruling party, he needs to be more careful. I don’t know what he can do now that he did not do in 2015 but however, he must have an agenda and that agenda must be all encompassing.