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Influence Of Godfathers Is Worse In APC — Senator Uzamere

Senator Ehigie Uzamere
Senator Ehigie Uzamere

In this interview with The Punch, Senator Ehigie Uzamere told journalists why the Peoples Democratic Party deserved a second chance in Edo State and why he decided to return to the party he once derided.

You defected from the Peoples Democratic Party to the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria. Now, you say you are defecting from the ACN to the PDP. Why?

You see, the first responsibility of a leader is to define reality; and the reality today in Edo State is that despite all the razzmatazz and media visibility, it is an unfortunate situation that we find ourselves in the present party and government in the state. I make bold to say that the people of Edo South are actually a people in bondage. And this is unacceptable. Many people see through all the façade but lack the courage to speak up. But now, I am showing the way and I expect my people to follow so that together, we can build afresh. Our people have a saying, ‘if you do not enter a house, you will never know the internal contradictions therein.’

What has changed in the PDP to make you want to return to a party you once described in the worst of terms?

Number one is the issue of godfatherism. We have now discovered that it is a cankerworm in all the parties and that certain people blew that of the PDP out of proportion for their political aims. Soon after acquiring power, they slide into that very whirlpool that they criticised so bitterly in the past and upon which they shored up their support base and popularity. But we have to see through this syndrome of godfatherism proper.

You must have the leader. And we have raised the consciousness of the people to draw a thin line between genuine leadership and godfatherism.

So in the past in the PDP, the way the godfather was perceived as dishing out instructions is not what we have today.

The PDP leadership has gone through turbulence. I have met with its leaders and we now have an understanding on due process, transparency in the emergence of candidates as well as internal democracy. You can perceive the change of demeanour; lessons have been learnt. You talk about tokenism, there is no perfect house. But even this is not as rampant as before.

Closely linked to this is the culture of impunity. This has led to a situation where a lot of people left the party. The PDP of today is now more accommodating. There is a new national chairman. Free primaries are being conducted. In fact, from verifiable facts, it is now the APC that is now imposing candidates. We saw this during the last April local government election. The PDP has reformed and the party is putting the government of Edo State on its toes. We saw that in the widow abuse issue, the proposed sale of Edo House in Lagos as well as the sacking of 800 teachers without due process. These are people who have done over 30 years and you are asking them to write competency test instead of retraining them.

To be specific, you once described the Edo PDP ticket as worthless as (if not) more worthless than the Zimbabwean dollars…(cuts in)?

When I speak, it is because I want people to trust me. From what we can all see, the PDP, Edo state chapter, has been re-engineered and repositioned to deliver on good governance. With a politically contrite heart arising from its former outing in the state, the party is now equipped mentally, morally and politically for good governance. Secondly, Mr. President’s transformation agenda has impacted significantly on the party’s readiness and credentials.

I believe very conscientiously that the reformation is genuine and that the party deserves a second chance. Even Almighty God will not despise a broken spirit and a contrite heart.

Another reason why the PDP deserves a second chance is the need to take Edo South Senatorial District to the mainstream of national politics. Edo South indigenes have not been able to make in-roads into the Presidency whether in military or civilian regimes. I believe firmly that the PDP remains the only party for now that can give us this opportunity. The effort of the All Progressives Congress is significant but may not endure in this regard. Even in the APC, the people of Edo South are not in the first and second eleven of its national players. The APC will only condemn our people to local government, senatorial and impotent state players. The party holds no prospects whatsoever for Bini people in their quest for political ascendancy.

Therefore, the PDP remains the best route to our political emancipation. As an advocate and supporter of President Goodluck Jonathan, I am sure that during his second term as President, Edo South will make the needed breakthrough.

Can you be a little more specific?

First, let us admit that the PDP ticket in Edo State, which was once worse than the Zimbabwean Dollar, has now significantly appreciated in value, having been re-denominated by the repositioning efforts of the party itself and Mr. President’s transformation agenda, people should be able to see the big picture always. I will also like to emphasise here that the ACN, to which I belonged, is defunct. I will not join the APC because I consider its aims, objectives and philosophy to be inconsistent with the socio-economic and political interests of our people. Remember, my political vision has been and remains a state or nation where every segment gets what it deserves within the limits of its contributions to the whole and where everyone, whether individual or group, is free from domination and oppression.

In the exercise of the mandate freely given to me by you in my first tenure on the platform of the PDP, I protested and fought against the domination of the people of Edo South Senatorial District by the forces, structure and dynamics of the party and government of that time. The heat generated by the resultant friction led to my inevitable exit from the party. I said then that the PDP’s ticket in Edo State was worse than the Zimbabwean Dollar. My movement from PDP to ACN was smooth due to my policy of putting state interest above partisan considerations.

We genuinely believed that the ACN would approximate ideal democratic culture in the conduct of governance and its internal affairs. Consultation, rule of law, collective decision making, team spirit, accountability, etc, were expected to be the hallmarks of the party. But that was not to be.

What in your estimation is wrong with the APC which is now in charge of Edo State?

I believe that a party organised around a sole administrator, who overturns and overturns, depending on his mood, desires, whims and caprices, cannot dispense justice, equity and fairness in a heterogeneous polity. The people of Edo South Senatorial District have been criminally short-changed by the current party and government in Edo State. Let us consider the following questions. Apart from statutorily provided appointments that should reflect the geo-political character of the state e.g. commissioners, how many positions of critical importance are occupied by Edo South indigenes? In the location of projects, how many projects are sited and executed in Edo South considering the population, landmass and resources of the district? The reality of our political system is that every government empowers a new class of people through patronage. How many indigenes of Edo South origin are in the new class created by this government vis-a-vis the number of indigenes of other districts? A dispassionate analysis of the above questions would reveal a grand deception against Bini people never before known in our political history. Let us say no to this grand deception. Our people are considered good only for crumbs or left overs (called Izobo). That is why they are given petty contracts. It dawned on me that the ticket given to me was perceived by them to be a ticket to an errand boy, who would be ordered at will to perform given assignments without questioning, without consultation and without refusal. This amounts to slavery by other means.

I know that the journey would be rough as the road would be laid with mines, the weather would be inclement. But those who contend with us contend with Him that created us with great destiny. I am a Christian and I would quote here from the book of Psalms chapter 20, verses 7 and 8 which tells us, “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we remember the name of the Lord our God. They are brought down and fallen: but we are risen, and stand upright.”

I am not afraid to take the lead and show leadership in this regard because as we say, one with God is in the majority!

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