Nseobong Okon-Ekong dialogues with Solomon Agwana, Chairman, Peoples Democratic Party, Bayelsa State on issues that led to crises in the party, resulting in various court cases; and how Governor Douye Diri is rebuilding the broken fabric of the economic, social and developmental life in the state
Did PDP, in your sincere opinion, follow the rule of law in the gubernatorial primaries that led to this court case?
We are very aware of the processes that led to the emergence of His Excellency Douye Diri as the candidate of the party. The primary was the most transparent primary. All aspirants were given access to all the potential delegates that will determine and decide the candidate. So after we had gone through a very transparent system, it was even on live television. None of the other aspirants questioned the process except Timi Alaibe because he had his own ill feelings. Perhaps, it was as a result of his own consultations that he made outside the shores of the state. He did not consult enough to contest for the ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). So PDP being a law-abiding party regardless of the fact that he defected back to the PDP at a time when he was not supposed to even be eligible to contest, but PDP being a very magnanimous party gave him a waiver that was why he was qualified to run in the primary.
There is a school of thought that says you probably shot yourself in the leg by giving him that waiver
PDP as a party is the party that welcomes all shades of opinion and ideas and we said it before the primaries that whoever wins, all other aspirants have to support the winner to build a better Bayelsa because that is the idea of you running under a platform. If eventually you emerge and subsequently get elected, you have to deliver service and service delivery is the key it’s not an individual business, It is collective responsibility.
Going by the provisions of the law which Alaibe quoted so very well, is it good for internal democracy that the party be allowed to have the final say on primaries?
Certainly that is how you govern a civilized society. You must respect the rules in any platform, in any organization you are given consent because its laws were not manufactured by anybody it was a collective decision after a serious brainstorming session by the founders of the party and the leaders down to the grassroots. We all agreed that these are the rules that will govern our processes of selecting a candidate
The governor, from our observation does not have a pré-season but he happens to be having a good performance in the season
What, in your opinion, are some of the qualities in him you may find instructive?
His Excellency, the Governor of the state is a man that believes in selfless service. Over the years he served people and he has built capacity in the course of those services that he has rendered to several leaders in different leadership positions when he was a younger man. In leadership, you must understand the structure and he has been preparing himself. Little did he know that today he will be a governor but he has served diligently and has prepared himself and if you look at the qualities that makes this governor you will see that he is a peace-loving governor. Besides, if you look at the average politician in other parties, if you look at them carefully you will see that element of violence. This governor is a man that does not believe in any violence. He feels that Bayelsans need somebody like him because he has studied leaders that he has served over the years. Bayelsans need somebody like him at this point in time and it is by God’s design that he came on board. So the pre-season issue, he had already acquired those qualities and experience under the leadership of former governor Dickson. Before he went to the senate, he had worked both in the executive and legislative arm so if you combine these wealth of ideas I’m sure he’s well-prepared for the job. The position he played in the Ijaw struggle is to give proper leadership to our people and I think those qualities are embedded in him. That is why we are seeing what we are seeing just in this few months of his administration.
The PDP has a manifesto and an agenda. How do these apply to the development of Bayelsa state in specific terms?
The agenda of the PDP is to give quality service. When you say quality service, all our social infrastructure where not working before now but when governor Dickson came onboard he revived them and what Governor Diri wants to do is to consolidate on what he has done because the social services is the one that guaranties life. You are talking of infrastructure like hospitals, roads, primary health care, education because human capital is the key and those are the cardinal focus of the PDP administration; human capital, Infrastructural development and social services. So if you provide these, you probably would have addressed 60 to 70 percent of our problems because as we speak most of the items that are in the so-called exclusive list cannot be legislated upon by the state. So those are some of the constraints the governors here have been having but be it as it may, PDP has a clear agenda so who ever steps into governance under the platform of the PDP will have to now understand the responsibility that has been bestowed on him and in general the expectations of our people. So that is exactly what the current governor is trying to focus on, to bring prosperity. A lot of programmes will come onboard I think it is not my place to start outlining them but in due time Bayelsans will see the truth.
Given recent developments in elections if you take the issue of elections in Bayelsa it has been PDP all the way but APC seems to have made major inroads into the state. they have a senator they have a House of Representatives member and a couple of assembly members so do you think PDP is still the leading party and also most widely accepted by the electorate?
Certainly. PDP is still the party that most Bayelsans know. It is deeply rooted in the state. What happened in the last elections that made APC to make some significant inroads was primarily because the eastern senatorial district had a lot of security issues, could you believe that most of our members, most of the PDP loyalists or supporters from Nembe are currently still here as IDPs? There was no election because that is the strategy they used. There was no proper election. When they have communal clashes they have a lot of chieftaincy dispute that resulted to loss of lives and the former governor tried, because we don’t have the Federal Government, you know that the institutions of government belongs to the party that occupies the centre so he tried his best to see that he brought peace back into the region and the leaders that are on the other side of the divide refused to support the effort of the governor. Under that circumstance, we cannot genuinely and correctly say they have made a proper significant inroad, it was due to the insecurity. There was no elections there.