As the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, holds two parallel conventions in Port-Harcourt and Abuja today, a chieftain of the party has cautioned against the continued hijacking of political parties by elected officials, to the detriment of party discipline and internal democracy.
This he noted, is responsible for the fissions which led to a breakaway from the party by a splinter group which subsequently culminated in the ouster of the party during the 2015 presidential election.
Former Chairman of the PDP in Abia State, Architect Benson Ezem who was speaking to newsmen in Abuja yesterday, noted that the scant regard of elected officials at various levels was responsible for the travails of the party today. He noted that even the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, has also slides into the same manner of impunity and injustice, which was the Achilles heel of the PDP.
Ezem, an industrialist and former senatorial aspirant in Abia North Senatorial zone, who said that he recently conceded the party’s chairmanship position in Abia State for the sake of peace and party unity, noted that disregard for the principle of party supremacy harbours dire negative implications for Nigeria’s democracy.
”There is a wrong approach in the running of political parties in this country; a governor comes in and becomes the leader of the party in his state.
“The leadership of political parties is supposed to be separate from those who are contesting elections because they provide the platform for contestants to ride on for elections; it should not mean that the platform must become your property once you win an election.
“Having the President and governors as leader of the party is a wrong seed planted in this republic; it was not like that during the UPN/NPN days, the party was strong, there was party supremacy and they can call anybody in the party to order.
According to the party chieftain, whose business interests traverse real estate, hospitality and manufacturing businesses, he would rather concentrate on his businesses, while also making his experience and goodwill available in the pursuit of reconciliation of factions in his party, rather than fighting those who manipulated to deprive his local government area of the Abia state PDP chairmanship position that was earlier zoned to it.
Emphasizing that lack of party discipline fosters various forms of impunity by those elected into executive positions in government, Architect Ezem urged Nigeria’s political elites to strengthen Nigeria’s democracy by evolving processes for effective intra-party discipline and a sense of sacrifice among leaders. “However, impunity is wrong, especially when it has been allowed to go on for so long because now, you will be fighting an arrangement that most of these people benefited from.
“The implications are not for PDP alone but for politics and democracy in this country; party leadership must be different from those elected into political offices.
“There must be party discipline by party leaders who must be firm men who have the fear of God, not contractors or people who go cap in hand to beg those in government for contracts.
“Now, nobody disciplines anybody and it is not right; it has implications for our democracy and it is part of reasons why you are seeing allegations of impunity, including billions of naira changing hands from the presidency to some chosen people in the party,” he added.