Emmanuel Enoidem was a commissioner under the administration of ex-Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State. Today he is the National Legal Adviser of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He speaks with ISAAC JOB on various national issues, especially about the prospects of his party reclaiming power in 2019.
Following the successful conduct of the PDP national congress last December, which produced your executive; will you say your party is stable and prepared enough to reclaim power at the centre next year
Well, let me thank Nigerians for believing in democracy in the hope that the present government at the centre will not destroy the fundamentals of democracy by the time they leave office in 2019.
Again, I want to thank Nigerians for the confidence reposed in our party during our trying times. We lost election in 2015 as a political party that was in power for 16 years, the longest the in the history of Nigeria. Before the build up to 2015, many people thought the PDP was not doing well.
They thought they were tired of the polity, tired of the government. Apparently this is the first time that we have been in opposition for 16 years. Secondly, human beings like variety; they like to compare things. And so, they had their government in 2015; the current government of APC.
And between 2015 and today, Nigerians have also had the opportunity in the past 3 years to compare the APC government within the 3 years and the PDP government for 16 years and the difference is very clear. They can see that the prices of the common goods in the market are in the high heavens.
The common man cannot afford these common goods again because of the bad governance of the APC. The price of fuel is very high and sometimes you don’t even know the price you are buying it.
The price of the dollar to the naira has increased geometrically. Things have just turned upside down in the country. And this was why we were able to put together a successful national convention on December 9th and 10th of last year.
You can see the kind of enthusiasm and acceptance the party is receiving all over the country. We went to the North East, the excitement was perfect. We went to the North West, Katsina State specifically and Buhari was in town that day; the excitement was perfect.
So you can see that this is the only political party that has national spread; this is the only political party that is organic; that belongs to the people. This is the only political party that has a foothold in every unit, ward, state and the whole country.
So the political party is bouncing back. And it is bouncing back for the good; it is bouncing back because Nigerians have been able to compare the government of APC for just 3 years and the government of PDP for just 16 years. So there is the likelihood that we are coming back to power in 2019 because the party offers Nigerians a better deal.
Would you say the PDP has cured itself of impunity, lack of internal democracy and imposition, and other factors which caused the party to lose the 2015 election?
Yes, if you are in a school and you took exams and failed on account of an obvious reason, when you take that exams again you won’t want to repeat that mistake.
Like the National chairman of the party said when we had our retreat that the party apologises to Nigerians for the wrong doings of the party; that the party apologises to Nigerians for not obeying the constitution of the party; for not allowing the people to own the party; for the imposition, for the impunity the party exhibited over the years which of course were the reasons why the party lost power in 2015, no other reason.
As new leaders and managers of the party, we are very apologetic to Nigerians for the limitations of the party, and we are saying that we are turning a new leaf.
We are now saying that we are going to do things the way they ought to be done; we are saying that we are going to respect the constitution, the rules and guidelines put together by our party for the conduct of every activity in the party.
Most Nigerians believe that your party is responsible for the economic and security challenges faced by the country today. So how will your party change that perception?
We don’t need to educate Nigerians to see that what is happening in Nigeria today, especially in last 3 years, are due to the ineptitude and cluelessness of the Buhari administration. Nigerians cannot debate that.
There is no way you will come and take over an economy that was booming in 2015 and one year after that economy went into recession and you blame the PDP.
It is as a result of wrong choices; it is as a result of the de-marketing of Nigeria that the President embarked upon as if that is what he was elected to do. So that is the cause of the collapse of the economy.
So Nigerians know who is responsible for the collapse of the economy. Nigerians know that the Buhari and his lieutenants are responsible for the negative differentials in the foreign exchange.
They know they are responsible for the high cost of fuel; they know they are responsible for the high cost of rice, beans, garri, salt etc.
Nigerians know that their suffering is due to the mismanagement of the economy, the wrong choices, the wrong decisions the APC is taking, and the incompetency of this government. We don’t need to explain ourselves because Nigerians are very educated people.
The only set of Nigerians blaming the PDP for Nigeria’s woes is a tiny cabal within the APC. For instance, when the PDP took over power in 1999, the cost of crude oil per barrel was between 8 and 9 dollars.
Go and check the records. The price of crude oil was like that for 2 years of the Obasanjo administration, but we weathered the storm as a party and as a government and we brought Nigeria out of the woods and out of the negatives indices the military handed over to us and we grew the economy.
As at the time Jonathan handed over to Buhari we had the most robust economy in Africa, the highest GDP in Africa. The growth rate of our economy was six points something percent of the GDP, but that is not what is happening now.
The PDP in 2015 didn’t give its presidential ticket to the North, a factor which led to the massive loss your party suffered in that election. Has your party learnt its lesson?
Yes, we have learnt our lessons. It has been my opinion that the major reason why we failed election in 2015 wasn’t because of anything but because the PDP abused it’s zoning formula by denying the North the opportunity to bring out the president in 2015.
And I attribute 75percent of the reason why the PDP lost election in 2015 to that fact. The truth is that it was their turn to produce the president. We cannot run away from zoning in the country for now until things are put right in such a way that anybody can contest election from any part of the country.
The fact also remains that the zoning arrangement is between the North and the South, and if you keep one section of the country far away from power for too long, the same thing that happened in 2015 will repeat itself.
And I still reiterate that the major reason why we failed election in 2015 was because we fielded Jonathan as against somebody from the North.
As a party after we lost that election, we set up a committee to look at the reasons why we failed the election and the committee came up with a report.
When we received the report we decided that we have zoned the Presidency to the North to correct that injustice and equity that took place in 2015 which was the reason why we failed the election. As a party we have corrected that.
We are going to field a nationalist from the North; a truly pan-Nigerian, somebody that believes in the unity of Nigeria, somebody who believes in the cohesiveness of Nigeria, somebody who is not a tribal or religious leader.
The interplay of forces during the last national convention of your party seemed to have pointed to the direction that the PDP is largely in the firm grips of the South-South. Against this background would you say the PDP is truly a national party as at today?
Yes, the PDP is the only true national party in Nigeria today. Please note that we have 24 positions in the national executive of the party.
We have 19 members in the National Working Committee of the party and all of these persons are coming from different sections of the party.
For instance, we have the national chairman who is from the South-South. We have two deputy national chairmen, one of whom is from the South West, the other one is from the North East. We have the secretary of the party from the North West.
The publicity secretary is from the North Central. We have the national legal adviser from the South-South in the person of my humble self. So the party positions have evenly been spread.
And let me say that the best decision the party took was bringing Chief Uche Secondus as the national chairman of the party. I have worked with him in the last five months and so I can attest to the fact that he has capacity, he has experience and he is a proper Nigerian.
He is a man that believes in the unity of Nigeria. He knows everybody everywhere. At the time we had that problem, we needed to hand over the party to somebody who understands the problems of the party so that he would be able to fix them.
It wouldn’t have been proper to go and bring a new person who will begin to learn the history of the party and its problems and begin to proffer solutions.
2019 election is just months away; what efforts is your party doing to strengthen its membership and reconcile members and leaders of the party?
If you remember, three weeks ago, the party set up what is called National Contact and Integration Committee, a 22-man committee. Incidentally, I am a member of that committee.
So that committee has been working assiduously, day and night to ensure that we bring back our members to the party, especially those wandering about in APC and other political parties.
They went to these other parties and saw that the experience they had in PDP is far better than where they are now and that in fact, they took the wrong decision.
So there is a re-thinking now; we are trying to connect back to them; they also connecting back to us. I don’t want to say how many people we have brought back to the party because these are still part of the strategies our party is adopting to return to power.
The committee is working and doing everything possible to bring back our members who are truly Nigerians; who truly believe in the unity of Nigeria and are not satisfied with what is happening in the APC led government; who know that the Buhari government is not the type of government that Nigeria deserves at this point in time.
Would you say that the tempo of development during the Akpabio administration is still being sustained by the current administration of the governor of Akwa Ibom state, Mr. Udom Emmanuel?
Governor Udom Emmanuel is doing very well. My prayer when I was a commissioner in Akwa Ibom State was that let us have a governor that truly loves the state; that has a passion for the state; that has capacity to continue with what was happening in this state.
The current governor has left no one in doubt that he has capacity. He has left no one in doubt that he has experience and is committed to the Akwa Ibom project.
And if he continues like this in the next four years, Akwa Ibom would be the state to beat. The forthrightness and sincerity of Governor Udom Emmanuel is unprecedented.
He is touching areas the previous administration could not touch; areas like Ikono and Ini. He is fixing them. The general hospitals in Ikono, Etinan, Itu Mbang and even the Saint Luke’s hospital that was taken over by the Catholics, he has gone there to fix them.
We decided that we have zoned the Presidency to the North to correct that injustice and equity that took place in 2015 which was the reason why we failed the election. As a party we have corrected that. We are going to field a nationalist from the North; a truly pan-Nigerian, somebody that believes in the unity of Nigeria, somebody who believes in the cohesiveness of Nigeria, somebody who is not a tribal or religious leader.