After careful consideration of President Muhammad Buhari’s handling of allegations of corruption against members of his cabinet, a Peoples Democratic Party chieftain, Chyna Iwuanyanwu says people were right to conclude that the president condones corruption. He spoke with Adedayo Akinwale who presents the excerpts:
â€ŽYour view on the contest for the PDP chairmanship?
Let me start by going back a little bit, starting with my own personal experience, I contested for the national chairmanship of the party in 2008. After running around the whole country, a magic happened in the night, before 12 midnight, they told us that a group called governors forum who had already hijacked the party, had decided and gave it to Ogbulafor.â€Ž We got to Eagle Square, fat men, big men were being lined up to just go and affirm. There was no courtesy of even calling us, we bought forms, there was no screening, they just came and told us that it was over. Some of us wanted to go to court but I saw the beginning of an end because how can you bring 5,000 delegates from Sokoto, Lagos, Calabar, some of them in very rickety old vehicles, they came and were not even allowed to vote.
At that point, power of the people was hijacked, kidnapped by a group called governors’ forum and it was the beginning of the slide to what happened to us. 2012, I contested for the National Publicity Secretary, simple common sense, the national legal adviser is a lawyer, the national financial secretary is an accountant, national auditor also an accountant, here is a 30 years old mass communication graduate with a broad based experience within and outside Nigeria, well known. I went round the whole country, everybody could testify to that, then the day they were burying Ojukwu, all attention was in Awka, some cabals in the southeast, just beckoned themselves there, went to Enugu and re-zoned it, not just to state but to themselves.
â€ŽNow, If they brought all the candidates there, consensus is acceptable, but they just took Metuh and zoned him my publicity secretary, they took Amachikure, zoned her the national woman leader of the party, they didn’t even have the courtesy of calling us, even if that was a wise decision, they should have called us.
So, I went to town, I screamed hell, I wrote to INEC and I did everything. INEC annulled that 2012 convention and then declared another one for 2013. Like wounded lions, these perpetrators of this injustice, impunity, they now rolled out their tanks against me and said they would not swallow this disgrace. We were doing screening at Rockview Hotel, we saw them, people who were supposed to be umpires were running around. Senator Ndoma Egba was the chairman of the screening committee, by 12 midnight they sent me a text that ‘congratulations you are number one’ and I rolled out my tanks with about forty (40) vehicles with my supporters, we were now going from states, hotel to hotel, giving money.By 6am, another text came that your brothers and sisters from the southeast have said that if it happened, they would abandon Jonathan, they threatened him that it must be as they wanted it. Imposition, impunity, arrogance and none of them ever tried to get back to me till today. So, I fought them and found out I was alone. In my full page article that I wrote about the 2013, I narrated the problems; injustice, impunity, God fatherism, lack of internal democracy that produced a leadership that inflicted the disaster on us, that is called 2015.
The second one which is in 2013, they thought the only way to silence me was not to bring out my name at all at Eagle Square, so they refused to publish the result, which I still have in my phone till today. Both the chairman and the secretary of the committee gave me my scores, so I started hearing all kinds of thing and they did what they did.
I walked out of Eagle Square, within 30 minutes, about 9 states walked out, I didn’t say I took them out. God began to work and they ended up at Yar’Adua Centre, they were calling me to come that they have formed a new PDP, they were calling me to come and become the National Publicity Secretary of the new PDP, I said no I want to be National Publicity Secretary of PDP that I have laboured since 1998 as a member.
No contract, no appointment, when I win election they steal and twist me because I have nobody except my God. So, God became angry with PDP and the result is Jonathan down, Ekweremadu wanted to be governor of Enugu state, it did not work.
All those who were part of that architecture that brought in this character called leadership and the leaders were now massively corrupt. They were interested in stealing, even the money we were bringing out for campaigns never got to project. So basically, that is what happened to us in 2015 because nothing can come out of nothing.
Would you say the scenario is still playing out now?
When they started all their reforms, I told them, we now formed a group called PDP Renaissance Group. Those of us who are victims of the perpetual injustice, impunity and all that, we did not go outside the party, we remained inside the party advocating for change. We were singing, screaming, writing governors, writing senators, they all received my letters that we must get it right and that’s the only way to move forward.
â€ŽHow do we get it right? We must go the original vision of the founding fathers of PDP, great men who under the most vicious military regime of Abacha risked their lives and their businesses. Ekwueme, Jerry Gana, Solomon Lar, Sunday Awoniyi, Abubakar Rimi, some of them from the old NPN stock, some of them from the progressives, but they came together in the interest of Nigeria to arrest military dictatorship.They took a risk and then these things now happened and was as if that vision had been scuttled by people who were basically strangers, they were not there, we were carrying portfolios, we were servants to these great men you talk about, but some people just came. PDP lost the goodwill of Nigerians, so we had that Peoples Democratic Party disconnected from the people, where did the people go, change.
The change we couldn’t get inside, they looked for it outside, it was an emotional decision and what we are seeing is consequence for any decision based on emotion cannot be right. They went and started reforms and I said that the people doing these reforms were those who are actually the architect of our problems. You can’t send a thief to a scenario where people stole, he may actually be the one who stole, got home and then you call him. A policeman who is a thief, you cannot ask him to go and investigate a crime situation and we say the right persons to deal with this change that we want are the victims because he who wears the shoes knows where it pains.
They ignored us, so the same people who captured the party since are still holding it except the few of them. So that is my apprehension and fear. But the event of the last few years ought to have taught us a lesson. So far there is mountain of ‘we would do it right’, we are watching, jealously, cautiously, any attempt to return to the dark days of impunity, imposition, lack of internal democracy, any attempt to return to those things would plunge the party into a crisis. I hail Markafi, my brother and leader, Ben Obi, men of integrity and Adeyeye, the publicity secretary, they have fought like men and they must not allow their victory to be stolen away by all the pharaohs.
There are so many pharaohs in the states who are still plotting to impose their candidates because they want to be President, Vice Presidents and governors so that is the problem. So, our warning at the level of this organisation is that there must be a clear departure, there must be remorse and repentance and they must allow the delegates to choose, that is when power will return to the people and if the people choose, their confidence would be connected to those they choose and then the party can move forward. All we are doing now is writing letters, talking to people, warning, advising but we are also monitoring and watching.
Are you in support of Raymond Dokpesi?
Well, he is the only man who has reached out to me and when I look at his pedigree, I am inclined to but now I don’t have a candidate. I am inclined to support him, he is the only one that has reached out properly to me and explained himself to me. Bode George I have not seen, all of them I have not seen and as you see me here, having been in this party since 1998, you want to walk into my national chairmanship, there are some people you don’t have to see some clique here and there to say you have seen the people, no, the senators are not the people, the ministers are not the people, we are the people, the people are the people and they are not reaching out to us. So I am inclined towards him, if I have a vote to cast at this time today, I will give it to Raymond Dokpesi.
Don’t you think it’s too late for PDP to start mopping up things?
My interest is the re-engineering going on in PDP, if we get it right, it is goodbye to APC and that is why I am praying, singing and begging, let us do it right.This is the party that has been in government for 16 years and a coup happened called amalgamation of parties, that is the biggest fraud in Nigeria because up till today CPC and Buhari have their own agenda. As for the other parties, you can see the fragmentation inside that place and that is why there is fragmentation, agitation, crisis in Nigeria.
â€ŽNational Assembly and the president are not in good terms. We do not have one party called APC. Now PDP is one party, check the origin of the party, a group of prominent Nigerians from across, various political device came together and formed it. It was not a party formed on anger of let us remove Jonathan or that party must go to the north.
â€ŽThe ideological foundation was strong, patriotic, national, we may have gotten it wrong because of some people that we brought into the system, if they sit here with me, I will tell them that you contributed this, we know what they did. Did we have a failure, yes we had a failure, have we learnt from it, that is what we are saying, this is a human mind thing, while we are doing that, some people are already picking tickets in the dream. They are working, manipulating, so that the tickets of presidents, vice presidents and all that to be given to them, those are the ones that are anti-PDP. But because this party has been here for 16 years, before circumstances brought it down, 50% of it was self inflicted by themselves, the wrong choice of leaders and wrong choice of policies.
We have greater opportunity, having learnt a lesson to be able to rise again. Now, if APC has provided a credible alternative, it would have been goodbye to PDP, but unfortunately, my people say if a woman marries two husbands, you will know the one that is better, not when you marry one you start saying this man is a very dangerous man, leave and go and marry another one, then you know the one that is dangerous. Nigerians have married two wives, what we are seeing today is not an APC government, Buhari had his own agenda and rode on the platform of APC and got to where he is. So, the greatest enemy of APC is the presidency and his agenda. You cannot have a political party unleashing pythons and gorillas and hyenas in a whole zone of 5 states when the election is coming next tomorrow, a good political party thinks of winning an election and they don’t say to hell with people.
Come 2019, will the PDP be a credible alternative for Nigerians?
I can tell you that right now in the minds of hungry Nigerians, this would be my worst Christmas. I am sixty years. Economically speaking, in the minds and pockets of Nigerians, which is the main thing, economy. All this GDP, OPD and others are world bank songs that don’t matter, what matters to the Nigerian citizens is how much is rent, how much is garri, how much is yam and we have seen that the foreign exchange situation is very bad. What we are seeing is motion without movement and they have admitted it to some extent. I am saying if we put our house in order, get a credible leadership from our national convention that is connected to the will of the people, there would be a mass movement of people and once there is a mass movement, the rest is history.
Buhari’s administration has been characterized with many scandals, would you say the president is condoning corruption?
Obviously, there is corruption, this president may be an honest straightforward man, but if an honest man surrounds himself with dishonest people and they are destroying his integrity and up till today he has not fired anybody, then something is wrong. A tree cannot make a forest, the government of Nigeria cannot fight corruption because the corruption that is killing Nigeria is perpetuated by government officials.
The only people that can fight corruption are the people of Nigeria. The government must give the ownership of that project to Nigerians, but if it is a government as it is today, government instruments for weeping the bad boys into line has already failed on arrival. No credibility, no integrity and if the president does not see it, it is his own well known integrity that is being rubbished and we are sad about it.