…Says PDP crisis’ll frustrate the ex-VP
A former chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who was also a commissioner for information in Edo state, Prince Kassim Afegbua, has said he would not want the presidential candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar, to get close to Aso Villa come 2023.
He stated this Friday while featuring on a TVC News programme, Breakfast Show, monitored by Blueprint Weekend in Abuja.
He said further that the crisis rocking the main opposition party, emanating from the former vice-president’s choice of running mate, would eventually frustrate him at the polls.
Asked to share his thoughts on PDP as the largest opposition party considering its present crisis, he said the party under the leadership of professor Iyorchia Ayu was in disarray.
He said, “Well, talking about the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the largest opposition party and all of that, well I think the party presently, under the leadership of Iyorchia Ayu, is in disarray. Just a few days ago we saw the news item that the National Working Committee removed Ayu.
“Although it turned out to be fake news, I can tell you categorically that such movements are in place because some people feel that the chairman of the Board of Trustees is from the North, chairman of the party is from the North, and the 2023 presidential candidate of the party is from the North.
“You cannot have three major positions of the party from the North when we have eight governors of the party from the South and five governors in the North. So, presently if you put the equation together, the leadership of the party should come from the South where most of their governors are.
“But like I told you earlier, I love them to make mistakes so that what I told them about balancing the political equation in the country will come to fruition. We cannot have a presidential candidate from the North in 2019 without a southerner contesting; then in 2023 again another candidate from the North jettisoned the South in the party where you eloquently capture in your constitution.
“Article 7 sub-section 3c states that there should be rotation. So, when you have this kind of scenario where people manipulate and jettison the constitution of the party, you have the tendency to have this kind of situation where people are jostling for positions and horse trading, including manipulations that will continue to sustain crises. And the more crises the PDP comes up with, the better for me because I would not want Atiku Abubakar to smell Aso Villa in 2023.”
Also, baring his mind on the decision of the PDP to zone its presidential ticket to the North despite the fact that the incumbent president is from the North, Prince Afegbua said “this is a product of lazy scholarship; people who cannot dissect issues, who cannot understand the political algorithm in the country that come with this kind of nebulous claim.”
“The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, is not the President of APC. He is called President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. If that is the case why should you be talking that the last president of the PDP was a southerner and the next candidate should be from the North.
“Let me give you this scenario; I have interrogated those people who are coming up with this porous arithmetic and they have not been able to justify it. In 2019, in that realisation that Jonathan was the last occupant of that office of the PDP stock, all aspirants from the South withdrew from the race to allow the aspirant from the North take over the contest and Alhaji Abubakar emerged in the Port Harcourt Convention and all of us supported him in 2019. As soon as the election was over he bolted away to Dubai just the same way he has bolted away now when the Ekiti election was just around the corner. He is all about himself – me, I and myself. So, that sense of collegiate responsibility is never there.
“Then in APC, the APC has a northern candidate who is president of the country. They were trying to manipulate the process for Ahmad Lawan to come on stream until those governors, and I keep referring to them as heroes of our present situation, came together and said no, in order to deepen democracy and eliminate the mistrust that is becoming so obvious, there is a need to zone the presidency in the APC to the South. I expected PDP to do that and every other serious political party. But, of course, because Iyorchia Ayu came with a mindset, a pre-meditated mindset to come and return Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as the candidate, he was not ready to listen to that.”
He said further that, “He set up a committee on zoning and at the end of the day they started selling forms and when they had sold forms mid-way, they said it was too late to talk about zoning because people had started buying forms. They kept working from question to answer and from answer to question and all of that.
“So, whether anybody likes it or not, when you reply to justice with injustice, you are going to have the kind of crises that the PDP is having and these crises will endure, I can tell you that. I am an insider and I know what has been going on, that the crises will continue to endure in PDP and will frustrate the efforts of their candidate in the 2023 election and that will be to my own joy.”
When reminded that Atiku had tweeted that he was going to have peace with everybody in the party and everything would be well and good whereas Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state had said he was going into spiritual hibernation, and Wike was in silence, he said, “I am sure you saw a picture on Dino Malaye’s Facebook wall where he showed Atiku wearing a pair of shorts holidaying in Europe when the Ekiti governorship election was barely a week.”
“When the leadership of the party was to set up a campaign council, mobilise to Ekiti to campaign, Iyorchia Ayu went on holiday, the presidential candidate went on holiday and that has always been my point of disagreement with them – that rather than take up responsibility to confront the electoral challenges and hurdles with respect to contest, they will naturally break way when you need them most. They will not stay put to fight the battle of the electoral contest. That was why you saw the PDP for the first coming a distant third in the Ekiti election.
“I heard them complaining about vote-buying when they refused to campaign. When you have injustices or decisions are taken abusing processes without due process, you are likely going to have what is playing out. Ortom was just capturing exactly what is going on within the party. It is not just about Ortom, there are quite a number of other governors. Don’t forget that Wike is in Turkey holidaying with the governor of Abia state. It is very painful that a panel will be set up by a party comprising 17 people; Ortom was part of that panel and other leaders of the party. Ortom was there on account of being a member of the PDP Governors’ Forum. You made a decision, 14 in support of Wike, three in support of Okowa, then you were looking forward to the following day having conveyed the decision of that panel to the candidate, but what you had was a 360-degree turn and you handed over the ticket to the minority vote. Who will not be angry? So, it is a theory of contradictions, all of these factors will cancel themselves out and PDP will be worse for it.”