From Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
Former Governor of Niger State, Babangida Aliyu, has stressed the need to have in place a law to check the defection of elected public officials.
In an interview with journalists in Abuja last week, Aliyu said it is a political corruption for elected officials to dump the party on whose platform they were elected and still remain in office. He also bared his mind on some issues in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
2023 is just few months away and the PDP has repeatedly said it wants to regain power; how prepared is the party for the next general elections, vis-à-vis pockets of distractions and crisis in the party?
The distractions are what will help us organise ourselves properly. I just said that it is a mistake, when you say you must have this number of party members. What you need is actually a number of dedicated party members.
We are now beginning to see that the distractions are now becoming what will open our eyes to see that we need to do this and do that to be able to get somewhere.
I am happy you asked this question because I have always told people not to look at the problem in the country and think people will just wake up and vote for you. You have to define the problems properly, to let it sink in them and you have to tell them that you have solutions to the problems. Don’t think because of insecurity, poverty, lack of this and lack of that, people will just wake up and say oh, we are voting this.
You need to define it in your own terms, in your own manifesto and in the people that will be selling the party, so that people can appreciate it and come along with you, otherwise they will just lump you together.
Look at the level of perception now. Ebonyi State Governor left PDP; now, Cross River. In terms of perception, particularly to the common people, they may begin to think that all the people from PDP are running to that party; maybe we better stay where we are or we better vote the way we voted.
But, I am happy that even those joining the APC for fear of the EFCC are beginning to see that that is not the issue.
So, if you leave PDP and join APC because of EFCC, or what you have done that you will escape, you may not escape it. And the law of the land, the limit does not say because you have stayed so many years, therefore, the issue will not be brought against you.
So yes, we have problems, but these are the problems that will define us as we go along to ensure that we correct them.
We have the largest number of former governors; the largest number of former National assembly members. If all the former governors are to wake up and come up properly, many of them are the ones controlling their states and if you have done very well in your state, people are not that forgetful. They say public memory is short, but people are not forgetful.
Talking about defections, you have lost two governors to APC; how do you think that PDP can recover those states in the next election?
If I remember the state that we lost, the way and manner the governors that defected came, I will still say that we will regain them very nicely.
I recall what happened in Ebonyi State because I followed vividly how a deputy governor was being frustrated and how he ended up being our gubernatorial candidate. I also recall how he won that election. Ebonyi is one of those states that will always hold stability strongly and I believe this people and their support, friends and colleagues will do so much for us.
Cross River is a PDP state. We may lose some, but we are going to win that state back. I will love in the future to see either a constitutional provision or electoral law saying that if a party elects you to a particular office, give you a mandate, be it president, governor, national or state assembly member, councilor, chairman of a local government, and you don’t want to go with that party for any reason, you should resign; not to defect with the mandate.
For example, this one that you are referring to, they have defected with the mandate of PDP to APC. That is morally wrong and politically incorrect because the political culture that we are building already have holes of political corruption in them.
So, a law must be enacted to say that if you are elected on the platform of PDP for this period of time, but for some reasons, you find that you cannot go with that party, you should resign your job and wait till the tenure ends for you to get elected on the platform of another party.
Look, corruption is not just about stealing money. I remember Jonathan said so and people misunderstood him at that time about corruption. Corruption is not about stealing money but corruption is even in the behaviour that you display in the presence of your subordinates. Anything that will spoil the procedure and the process of doing things is corruption.
At the last PDP NEC meeting, you moved a motion for a vote of confidence on Prince Uche Secondus-led NWC; what informed that idea?
There are processes; if you want somebody to leave a position, there are ways to do it. You don’t go about in the market place, calling somebody bad names just because you want him to leave. We have a way that we make people resign. We have a way that we query people. If they have done wrong and if things are that bad, we will find a way to advise people on what to do. In the process of thinking you are correcting something, sometimes you destabilise it. After all, our convention comes up in December. How many months to go? So, what would you want to do now that you cannot do in December, if you feel that bad? And like I said, there are processes. You don’t go about abusing the whole party because by the time you think you are only dealing with the NWC, you will realise late that you are actually dealing with PDP as a party.
Getting rid of them or getting rid of anybody in NWC now is creating the lack of confidence in the minds of the people. If people cannot even organise themselves as a party, how do you now entrust them with the governance of the country? PDP has been able to stay in power for 16 years, and in those periods, whether you like it or not, from Obasanjo to Jonathan, the party stabilised the economy of the country. We became richer and the unity of the country was never questioned.
So for me, what is happening now is all temporal. In fact, the moment 2023 election comes and goes, you will find out that half of the problems even by the election itself will have gone.
So, that is my stand and I am happy that the whole NEC members unanimously agreed with me. We need stability now. We need unity now. We need cooperation now. That is exactly what we should be looking for now. Today, we have 14 states, but there was a time we had 26 states. So, I think each one of us should look back to see where we went wrong and start correcting it. But, not to come and say you want to get rid of them; getting rid of people is not the solution. The solution lies in objectively looking at what needs to be corrected.
Do you think that the motion has restored peace to PDP?
The whole idea is that now, those who were agitated, thought and believed that there was a problem now will know that there is a better way to handle whatever problem that exist in PDP.
I think most of the problems we are having is for the supremacy of those members of the party who think they deserve to be there. So, what this motion of confidence has done is to let people know that even if you have to remove people, you cannot remove them with the way you are going.
A motion cannot just create peace but a motion provides the position. On the one hand, the NWC now will sit down and ask, why confidence, why do we have to have a motion of confidence to support us?
And the general people will say yes, we needed this and we should all go back to our villages and our own states to do similar thing. If it is something that you can correct quickly, correct it; if it is something that you cannot correct, try to manage it. So, that is the purpose of that.