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PDP crisis: I am for rule of law - Uzodinma

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Senator Hope Uzodinma, representing Imo West in the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly, while talking to some re­porters at the weekend, urges members of his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to hold on to the rule of law as the only panacea for the current challenges facing it.

Distinguished Senator Uzod­inma, there is so much anxiety among Nigerians over the crisis in your party, the Peoples Dem­ocratic Party. Are you not wor­ried?

Of course, I am worried. But what I find even more significant is that, as you rightly observed, Nigerians are anxious. They are anxious because they want the matter to be resolved for the sake of peace and stability of the poli­ty and we have taken note of this. I can assure you we will not fail Nigerians.

But for how long?The crisis is deepening every day. How long more can it last, or how long more can those who wish the party well wait.

I believe that every crisis would always run its course and end. The current challenges in the PDP will soon be over.

Some people are wondering why you pulled all your weight behind Senator Ali-Modu Sher­rif.

I am for the interest of the party as a whole. I believe we all mean well for the party. What is in contention is how to go about it.

Then why do you think any­body would accuse you, either rightly or wrongly, for not want­ing peace to reign in the party.

Nothing can be more erro­neous than that. I have always worked for the interest of the party. I am a pioneer member of the PDP and all my political energy and resources have been channelled towards the party and I have been a beneficiary of its awesomeness and wide ac­ceptability. So, it is inconceiva­ble that I could work against any moves to reposition the party. Those who point accusing fin­gers at me do so out of lack of proper understanding of what actually led to the current stale­mate. I try not to take it person­al because I believe that if they get properly informed, they will hold a different opinion.

Ok sir, can you state your own side of the story?What infor­mation do you think people out there do not have?

You will recall that following the outcome of the 2015 gen­eral election, the party set up a post-election review commit­tee, headed by the Deputy Sen­ate President, Ike Ekweremadu, to review the election, the events before and during the election, with a view to finding out how the party can be repositioned for the future. The committee lat­er came out with a report which recommended that for the next general election, the party should source its presidential candidate from the North, while the na­tional chairman should come from the South. At that time, we had an acting chairman, Uche Secondus, from the South who took over following the resigna­tion of the then national chair­man, Adamu Mua’zu.

You would also recall that along the line, Ahmed Gulak got a court ruling to the effect that Secondus should step down for a fellow from the Northeast geopo­litical zone, to complete the ten­ure of the zone. The party lead­ership decided to comply with the court’s ruling and that was how Sanator Ali-Modu Sherrif from the North-east geo-politi­cal zone came on board as chair­man. But, at a point, the gover­nors came up with the idea that the office of the national chair­man can only be filled through a national convention. So, prepar­atory to that, the North-east zon­al congress unanimously elected Sherrif as their candidate for the national chairman. And no oth­er person from that zone or any other part of the north bought the form to run for the office. In PortHarcourt, where the con­vention was to hold, Sherrif was the only person screened for the election. But while we were al­ready there, we received a letter from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) with a federal High Court judge­ment to the effect that the par­ty should not conduct elections into the offices of the National Chairman and national secre­tary because they were not va­cant and that we can only con­duct election into those offices in 2018. In obedience to that judge­ment and coupled with the di­rective of INEC which was to monitor the convention, the only logical thing to do was to either do the convention without elec­tion or suspend it pending when all the issues in the court were resolved.

But since the election of of­ficers was the main item in the agenda approved by INEC, the National Working Commit­tee met there in Portharcourt on behalf of the national exec­utive committee and resolved to postpone the convention and immediately addressed the press to that effect. But that did not go down well with the gover­nors who decided to constitute a caretaker committee against the judgement of the Federal High Court.

So you think the governors did the wrong thing?

Definitely. I am a lawmaker not a law breaker. I like my par­ty and I will support everything that will make it stronger with­in the purviews of the law. So, I am on the side of the law. The moment the issues at the court are resolved I will follow. There is a court ruling which upholds Sherriff as national chairman even as I am talking to you now. The ruling has not been vacat­ed and I believe that that should be the only instrumentality with which to resolve the differences. In the past, our party was right­ly or wrongly accused of pro­moting impunity. I believe that this time around, we should no longer give room for such insin­uations. We are the only oppo­sition party and Nigerians have a lot of expectations from us. If we made any mistakes in the past, we now have an ample opportu­nity to correct them, especially now that the good will of Nige­rians for the party has been com­pletely re-kindled.

In the quest to take back pow­er, nothing can be more assuring than to let the people know that we will lead by example and in democracy, the basic thing is the rule of law. That is where I stand. As I said earlier, all the parties mean will but for me the best way to address this well-mean­ing is to keep to the rule of law.

Beyond the issue of rule of law, are there things that you find in Sherrif as a person that makes you believe he can car­ry on?

Nobody has a monopoly of wisdom but I can tell you that in the short period before the aborted convention that led to the current stalemate, Sen­ator Sheriff piloted the affairs of the party with utmost can­dour and dexterity. The party headquarters at WadataPlaza in Wuse Abuja, which used to be a ghost place, began to bubble again and activities were com­pletely restored. All the leaders of the party including the gov­ernors became excited and that was how the NEC agreed and re­solved to receive the result of the North-east zonal congress and we were all in PortHarcourt to con­firm Sherif as national chairman until the court judgement came which led to disagreement. Sen­ator Sherrif as a person has a lot of charisma and I find him a trust­worthy fellow. That does not mean he is the only fellow in the party that possesses those quali­ties but the truth is that there can be only one national chairman at a point. But going back to the is­sue of legality, my worry is that with the forthcoming governor­ship elections in Edo and Ondo States, we may be shooting our­selves in the foot because only a substantive national chairman and national secretary can for­ward the names of governorship candidates to the Independent National Electoral Commission, as stated in our constitution, not an adhoc or caretaker committee.

You think the other groups don’t realise this?

I believe they do. That is why I am worried because it is like something is wrong somewhere.

So, what do you think is the way out?

It is not farfetched. Let’s hold steadfastly to the rule of law. First, there was a court ruling that stopped the election into the of­fices of the chairman and secre­tary. Second, the convention was postponed by the NWC on be­half of NEC in obedience to the court ruling. The two are the only scientific bases for resolving the current crisis. Any other thing is guess work or playing to the gallery. If the court stopped the election into those offices because they are vacant, which offices are the caretaker committee mem­bers occupying?

Are you not clinging too tena­ciously to your position?

No, I am not. I am only trying to canvass the truth and what I believe, like many others, is the best way to go. We are not being rigid but we believe that our fel­low party men and women who do not see with us today will do so soon.

Is time not running out?

No. Time is not running out. We are on course. As you know, the national chairman has already announced the date for the gover­norship primary in Edo State, this Saturday and that is very much within the INEC timetable.

What of the one held early by the Markarfi Committee?

If there had been any previous primary in Edo State, the chair­man would not have announced a date for a governorship prima­ry election.culled from The Authority

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