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Ekwueme explodes: Why Jonathan won’t get South-East block votes (Plus: Why Jonathan, PDP take him for a ride)

By News Express on 10/01/2015

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In these excerpts of his explosive interview published today in Saturday Sun, Dr Alex Ekwueme, a former Vice President who co-founded the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) with some other illustrious Nigerians, opens a can of worms regarding his relationship with the party and President Goodluck Jonathan. He also explains why, unlike what happened during the 2011 presidential ballot, the South-East will not likely vote en masse for Jonathan during the February 14, 2015 presidential election.

Question: You envisioned that PDP will be in power for 60 years, but from what you are telling us now it appears this dream is going to be a mirage. So, how can PDP bounce back, or is it shattered already?

Ekwueme: The truth is that the PDP as it is today was not the PDP we founded in 1998; that is the truth, I won’t hide it from anybody. It is not the PDP I risked my life to found in 1998. Now, PDP has been hijacked by peo­ple who have no philosophical or spiritual attachment to the precepts that informed formation of the party in 1998. What I envisaged for PDP in 1998 was that it would be a mass movement, satisfying the needs of the masses and having membership from all over the country.

But at a stage, the political party decided to do registration all over again and every­body lost his membership and had to apply again to register your name and those likely to dance to their tune were registered while the others found it difficult to register in a party they helped to found, so that is it. So, the problem started from day one, election of President of Senate, the first President of Senate was elected by votes of only 22 PDP Senators, all the other Senators who voted were not PDP Senators. Whereas PDP had 66 Senators out of 109, they refused to use their votes to elect the President of Senate and from there opposition started.

From the picture you have paint­ed, it appears that the foundation of the PDP is now shaky, do you think it will be able to stand the opposition of the APC that is strongly rooted in the North and in the West in the 2015 general elections?

Strongly rooted in the North and in the West. Until you get to the ballot box you don’t know where you are strongly rooted because what I can tell you is that the PDP will not have an easy walkover this year as it did few years ago, seven years ago, and 11 years ago; in 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011 be­cause the party is finding it difficult to man­age its successes. The person contesting for governorship in Sokoto is PDP elected Speaker, Tambuwal, the person contest­ing for APC governorship in Katsina is a former PDP elected Speaker, Masari, it’s like that everywhere. People who founded and worked for the party are alienated by poor management of success, and those who do not have the patience, some of us have decided to find new channels to fulfill their political ambitions. I, for instance, the chairman of the party, first chairman of Board of Trustees, first chairman from the civil society to G34 and so on, if I was not myself, I’m not bragging, I am being modest, I have no reason to be in PDP today. All I have received throughout the years is humiliation and neglect.

When there is crisis, they remember that I’m around. The late Yar’Adua, when he came on board as the President, invited me and said he knew our party was in a shambles and he felt that I was the only person, as the person who started it at first place, that could bring people around and together and he put up the reconciliation which I handled all over Nigeria, visited people, talked to those who are disgruntled, people who had issues resolved and made our recommendations. Unfortunately, those recommendations were not fully fulfilled, President Yar’Adua himself passed on.

For the fact that we do not have enough opposition is to my view a natural development. When IBB decreed two political parties, NRC and SDP, he called me and asked what I thought of that, I told him in principle that I am in support of two party system where there are two strong parties. But I have reservations for the two party system being created by a decree. So, now in this dispensation we have the PDP, we have the APC which is the major opposition party which I think is healthy one provided we base our decision making on issues rather than abuses.

Why has the party you formed turned around to neglect you?

I told you that I have no business being in PDP today because I am not a noisemaker. I am not created to be a noisemaker or to create trouble, they are using it to deny me whatever is due to me. Because you are a gentleman, you won’t disturb, rather the people who shout and make noise, they try and accommodate themselves so that they don’t create problems, I think it is an unfortunate approach to life. But those who don’t make noise and don’t create troubles also have feelings as human beings and they should not have been denied what is due to them.

If I am a trouble maker, Obasanjo would not have been civilian President because that Jos convention where he was elected, after the returning officer announced the results, I had in my pocket a copy of the NEC decision of November 1998 showing that to qualify you must win your local government. All I needed to say after the candidates’ result was announced is ‘I’m sorry, this election which we just finished there is supposed to be seven candidates but in fact only six, the person whom you said had won is not a candidate and cannot be because the NEC has taken a decision and only a convention can change that decision and no convention has been called to change that decision, so I expect that of the six candidates left, Don Etiebet, Francis Ola, Philip Asiodu, Jim Nwobodo, myself and Douglas, of these candidates left I scored the highest votes; so I expect the party to forward my name to INEC as the candidate of the party and Secretary of the party then was Dr. Okwy Nwodo and the constitution which the party was operating at that time for the administration of the party, the secretary of the party is the chief executive of the party, the chairman was just like the chairman of a board of a company. It was later that we changed it and made the chairman chief executive of the party. And if I had done that, Nwodo would have been bound to forward my name to INEC. And Solomon Lar who was instrumental in Oba­sanjo running in the first place by asking the screening committee to give him provisional clearance, which was never substantive before the election, would have forwarded Obasanjo’s name to INEC, so PDP, which was a frontline party would have had two candidates and there might have been crisis and the military might have postponed exit for us to resolve.

And I don’t want my personal ambition to be the reason for prolonged military rule in Nigeria, which I risked my life to fight against. So, I embraced Obasanjo and greeted him. Three weeks after that, at the dinner fund raising for him, I chaired the dinner at the conference hall of Hilton and in the East here I paid for broadcast in all the nine FRCN stations in the former Eastern Nigeria, saying that they should support Obasanjo. So, as I said maybe because I am not a troublemaker I have been taken for granted, anybody can step on my toes and I’m not given what is due to me but there is a limit to one’s acceptance of humiliations and provocations and one will come to say enough is enough.

How is your relationship with President Jonathan?

Well, if I should describe, I will say the relationship is cordial, but that doesn’t mean that he gives me my due or that I endorse every action he takes, that’s how I can put it. I try to make our relationship as cordial as I could.

But he has been going around seeing some of the party leaders, recently he was in Minna and we have not heard that Jonathan came to see Dr Ekwueme, yet you said you have a cordial relationship with him?

It’s a good question to ask him because Obasanjo was here in this house in No­vember 1998. While he was President and on visit to Anambra State, he slept in this house in my bedroom. He came here and we had dinner with Anambra leaders, traditional rulers, political leaders and others and he spent the night here and the next morning he went on visit to some projects and he left. When he came again on a state visit, he couldn’t sleep here because the governor insisted that he sleep at the Government Lodge but he came here for lunch. I’m giving you examples, Jonathan since he became President has visited Anambra State severally but he hasn’t come to this compound, so I’m using it as an example.

Does it not mean that your relationship with him is not cordial instead as you claimed?

It is cordial, but maybe he doesn’t appreciate that without my risking my life there would have been no PDP and the popularity that made it possible for him to become the President of Nigeria. Okay, I know, for instance, my friend Braithwaite of NAP had his birthday, the President went to Lagos to celebrate with him but I had my 80th birthday and he did not come.

Was he invited?

The whole Nigeria was invited. Of course, he was invited but he did not appear personally at any of the events, even the ones in Abuja. So, it is a matter of style . . .

Now, we have election in less than two months, people are disgruntled. At the last election, the state voted overwhelmingly for President Jonathan, we had the highest per cent of all the six geo-political zones for the President. In less than two months when elections are held, many people from South-East may not vote for Muhammadu Buhari for reasons which I will not go into now, but it does not necessarily mean they will vote for Jonathan because of how things have evolved. Many will not vote at all. Not casting their votess at all is a minus for the President, so he shouldn’t take the South-East for granted that it will be the same 99 per cent votes that will come from the South- East in 2015. It might not be.

•This interviewed was conducted and widely advertised before President Jonathan paid a courtesy call on Dr. Ekwueme yesterday while on a campaign tour of the South-East. Photo shows Ekwueme.

Source News Express

Posted 10/01/2015 7:37:58 PM





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