Rt. Hon. Emeka Atuma, a former member of the House of Representatives, a lawyer, an Estate Surveyor, is the National Organizing Secretary of the Social Democratic Party (SDP). In this interview he bares his mind on national issues and the future of his party.
Your party, SDP, just released the names of its national officers, what does it portend for the country?
Yes, the SDP just released the names of its national officers of which I am the National Organising Secretary. Being the National Organising Secretary of SDP is quite exciting and very interesting. I believe what Nigeria deserves is social democracy, a social ideology where people will be carried along in the planning of governance and implementation of whatever thing that is being planned in key areas like in terms of socialism; where housing, food, payment of minimum wage will not be a problem. Where there will be the establishment of middle class, where the nation will be planning because social democratic ideology is dependent on planning. We have lost it because Nigeria doesn’t have planning any more. That is why a lot of the leaders look at money to be in excess and that gives them a leeway to stealing because by the time you have an appropriate plan in terms of infrastructure, in terms of human capacity building, in terms of unemployment, in terms of social development, you will realize that is what you call excess money that is available for very few people to cart away will be unavailable.
The SDP is not a new political party, so what has changed that creates this new excitement looking at SDP as the third option from PDP and APC?
The issue is that SDP has not actually been given the opportunity to express its ideology in the past. SDP was the platform upon which MKO Abiola won election in 1992 with the same ideology. They were never sworn in and the SDP went underground and a lot of other ideologies were just scattering. There was the formation of people trying to use a platform to win an election not really having an ideological democracy, whereby there is something that is expected if a particular party comes to power. Like you rightly said, SDP has been there, it got registered with INEC in the last three, four years and within which period Nigerians do not have an influx, there is always a beginning of a thing. Like I said, something would have to happen for people to go back to their consciousness to realise that what they deserve at a time has come.
What has happened now, that has taken us to this new consciousness that you are speaking about?
The PDP woefully failed the country. There was nothing like a democratic setting in the PDP, and there was this psyche of a military marshaled out mentality within the political party. There are very few people trying to control the things that are going on in the party and not allowing it to be the peoples party and that led to the congregation of other parties that came together on the platform of the APC, and Nigerians seeking to see something different voted en masse for this party that has failed Nigeria woefully. They have not kept any part of their promises and at no time have we lost lives in Nigeria like this time. No dignity to humanity again and no value or respect for human life, animals are now better than human beings. The amount of insecurity, social injustice, bastardisation of our economy is so much in this setting that if we don’t take our destiny into our hands, we will probably not have a better Nigeria tomorrow and people of likes minds, people with integrity, people that have seen the evolution of the Nigerian nation had to come together and say what will be done at this time in order to rescue Nigeria from drifting as a nation, considering all platforms and seeing the ideologies they want to showcase something different to Nigerians that they will possibly accept and run with their anticipations, should there be an SDP led Federal Government. Of course, that is what Nigerians are yearning for and I will not be surprised if Nigerians are coming out en masse to embrace the SDP because this has been their suppressed consciousness that has now come to the front burner.
When you talk about Nigerians coming out en masse to embrace SDP, what we have seen happening in the last few days is that few frustrated PDP chieftains like Tunde Adeniran and Jerry Gana are coming over to SDP. That has been the major movement so far. So what do you expect in the next few months?
That is not the only movement. The issue is that Nigerians have actually been observing the trend in SDP in terms of the Steering Committee and there have been an influx of people and groups, there are more than 30 groups that I am aware of are declaring and flooding into SDP. SDP is just on their managerial setting and we just introduced and showcased our national officers to Nigerians. In the next couple of days there are going to be a lot of events to show Nigerians where the SDP is actually headed to. On the 14th of April, 2018, there is going to be a non-elective convention in Abuja that will also let Nigerians know the direction of SDP. When people say frustrated PDP members are coming into SDP, I disagree with that because I was actually elected on the platform of the PDP in the past. Some of us were seeking for ideological platforms but somewhere along the line, a lot of things happened even personally to me that led up to the point of Supreme Court and I believe that is not going to be a place for the Nigerian people to anchor their hope and get those deliverables they desire as citizens of this country. As I said, there is always a rebirth of consciousness and I believe people will give their interpretation, but my interpretation is that in the fullness of time as quoted in the scripture, all things worketh for good to them that love God according to their purpose. I believe the time has come where the congregation of men with like-minds that will provide solutions to Nigeria’s problems and set Nigeria on the path of progress. And the time is now.
Talking about Nigeria’s problems, how will you assess the last three years of the APC-led Federal Government?
Nigerians came out en masse in the last electoral season in 2015 to support the alternate platform, which was the APC. Life is a movement and whatever thing that is constant to life will change because life keeps moving seamlessly like a web. They embraced the alternative and the alternative also failed them to the point that they are not able to recover. Nigerian masses today neither prefer PDP nor APC they are looking for something new, that was what led to the men coming together which I was part of to form a new political order and now putting the political order in shape because our constitution does not have any provision for independent candidacy, we began to seek a platform that is already registered with INEC and has an ideology, and we came to SDP and looking at the ideological setting of the SDP and those of us who actually participated in the days of SDP in the past now had to remember what happened there and putting it together we know it is a proper platform for Nigerians and they have already started embracing the platform.
So in the next few months what is expected of the SDP?
It is going to be a movement, a big sweep, it is going to be the masses party, massive people moving to the party in order to realign and rescue their nation that is why I said what has happened yesterday was just the presentation of the interim national officers that will culminate into a non-elective convention that will take place in Abuja, and when that is done Nigeria will see a different party, different colour and see it as a proper platform with which Nigeria will be redeemed.