Ighoyota Amori, the Political Adviser to the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Uche Secondus, is the arrowhead of DC-2023, a political pressure group canvassing for Delta Central to produce the next governor of Delta State. A top notch politician and philanthropist, Amori in this interview with AUGUSTINE AVWODE, x-rayed last week’s NEC meeting of the PDP, saying the party can’t afford to gamble with zoning the presidency.
He speaks on the drive to secure the governorship for the Central District in 2023 in Delta State. Excerpt.
How would you react to the development at National Executive Council meeting of the PDP in Abuja?
Nothing unusual happened at the meeting of the Peoples Democratic Party’s National Executive Committee meeting last Thursday. The PDP in its wisdom, considered the zoning report from the committee constituted for that purpose and which was headed by Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, and I think what the party has done is very much in order. It was to just swap positions. I think it is fair because that is what we want in this country; to rotate offices between the North and the South. All the offices held by the North in the party before were moved to the South and vice-versa. So it is fair in my own opinion. The NEC decision is in order, and I want to praise the members of the zoning committee for a good job. Remember the committee was made up of all members across the country. They must have taken so much into consideration before arriving at that conclusion which I think has gone down well with all and sundry in the party.
Many people expected the NEC to make a pronouncement on which zone produces the party’s flagbearer in 2023. But that didn’t happen.
There is a big difference between executive positions and party positions. For party positions you can zone but the executive positions you cannot. I mean it is difficult do because of the country’s constitution. The nation’s constitution allows everybody to contest. When it comes to executive positions, you’re no longer talking of which geo-political, state, senatorial or local government would have what. You are looking at the whole country as a unit. The constitution, it would seem, envisaged the fact that if you zone the presidency to one local government or senatorial or state or geopolitical zone, such an area may be bereft of qualified individuals for the office. It is when a winner has emerged or a candidate has won that the rest offices are distributed to meet the federal character or geo-political needs of the country. The target for now is to get the best man or woman for the job. This, I think, is the best approach for now because when you micro zone the presidency to a particular local government, senatorial or geo-political zone or state, you are depriving other qualified people from having a shot at such a very high office. So PDP cannot afford to gamble with zoning the presidency to any particular area. It has not happened before in PDP. Even when it pretended to happen, nobody respected it. You see that in the last convention of the party in Port Harcourt, every part of the country participated both from the North and the South. Even in the time of OBJ (ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo), even though it was done in a way to assuage the people of the South West because of the fallout of June 12, people still went ahead to contest. So, it is almost becoming a tradition in PDP that such a high position should be allowed to be made open.
“PDP CANNOT AFFORD TO GAMBLE WITH ZONING THE PRESIDENCY TO ANY PARTICULAR AREA. IT HAS NOT HAPPENED BEFORE IN PDP. EVEN WHEN IT PRETENDED TO HAPPEN, NOBODY RESPECTED IT”
If you were to look into the future, what do you think the PDP is most likely to come up with?
Well, it is difficult to say for now, who is most likely to emerge as the candidate because up till now many people were just speculating or aspiring individuals but I think the party will most likely say whether you are from the South or North as long as you have what it takes to become the president of this country under the PDP, you are free to contest.
You are the arrow head of the DC 2023, a group in Delta State that is canvassing for the emergence of the governor of the state from Delta Central. How has the journey been so far?
It has been a huge success. We have gotten good responses from all the people we have gone to meet. The leaders, movers and shakers in local governments, senatorial districts and all those whom we have gone to consult, they have been very responsive to our lobbying demands and have appreciated us in the state. What we have done is to ensure that we play our part faithfully. Such a high office, everyone who is desirous of occupying it should go out and ask for it. You know the Bible says ask and it shall be given to you, seek and you shall find, and knock and the door will be opened for you. And I think in all, we have asked, and we are being given, we have knocked and the doors are being opened to us. We are seeking and I believe eventually we would find. That is the position and we have not gotten anything negative from anywhere. We have even gone to the territory of our brothers and sisters who are also interested in the position, which is normal, and they know that we have made it clear to all that we are not fighting anybody because we all have the interest of the party at heart. We don’t quarrel with anybody who shows interest in the governorship. All we are saying is that it is our turn, it is our right, and we are canvassing it, we are not antagonistic, we don’t have any malice in mind, we are just pushing that it will be better for the PDP in the state to go by the senatorial rotation because that is the highest office in the state and because that is how the PDP has been doing it. It moved from Delta Central to Delta South and then to Delta North. And for the PDP, it has been working for us. You don’t change a winning formula or a winning team. Many people who are new to the party may not know the history from the beginning so we need to tell it to them and educate them so that they can appreciate it.
Many people are wondering how the PDP has managed to remain in power all these years since 1999 in the state.
It is all about ensuring fairness, justice and equity. That is what has been responsible. The party was able to find a formula round these three things in the form of a rotation of the governorship among the three senatorial districts in the state.
But people from other districts have always been involved at each and every point along the way.
Yes, of course. But the party leadership knows what it was doing in all those moments. You cannot decree that somebody who wants to contest should not; it is a right that they have and you cannot deny them. But the leadership of the party in the state has always ensured that the policy of rotation was strictly adhered to. Chief James Ibori was the first governor of the state in 1999 from Delta Central and by the time he ended in 2007, the governorship moved to the South even though people from the Central then were also interested in continuing from where he stopped but we said no, let it move around and it moved to South and by the time he (Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan) was finishing, we said it has to continue in the trajectory of going to the next senatorial district, which was Delta North and of course it went to Dr Arthur Ifeanyi Okowa. So, by 2023, when he will complete his tenure, it will come back to the Central where it all started.
But there are feelers that people are no longer willing to wait for rotation?
By the time Governor Okowa completes his tenure, every senatorial district would have waited for 16 years before it gets to your turn, this is what we are preaching. Delta South finished, in fact as at today, less than eight years ago, Dr. Uduaghan finished in 2015 and from then till now is just six years. So they cannot come back again and begin to claim that they should be given the opportunity again. What of the Delta Central that finished in 2007, what should we be doing, waiting? It doesn’t work like that no matter how anybody tries to rationalize it, it doesn’t work. Besides, they have also been contesting like any other person. Right from the time of James Ibori, Dr. Uduaghan and Dr. Okowa, everybody has been contesting, so it isn’t new. But for us in PDP we know where we are going, we know our winning formula and we are focused. We know the gospel we preach to our people, the gospel of fairness, equity and justice. So for us in Delta Central we are preaching for ourselves and preaching to others too because by the time we finish in 2031, it will be very unfair for anybody from Delta Central to ask for it because we are the one who has been preaching fairness, equity and justice. So everybody should wait. We are trying to establish a system, a legacy that every senatorial district after eight years should let it move to the others and wait for its turn no matter how big you are or how rich you are, you have to wait for 16 years like Delta Central has waited and the 16 years is almost finished, isn’t it?
How is the Uche Secondus issue going to be resolved? Is it through the court?
For now, we have an acting national chairman of the PDP, who is Elder Yemi Akinwonmi. Uche Secondus has not been removed as the chairman because what the courts have done in a way was just to stop him from functioning for now as the chairman, not that he has been removed. Though the matter is in court, but I believe that PDP will finally resolve that issue. There are challenges which are normal with political parties. If there are no challenges, then we have no reason to exist as a political party. In the past people thought PDP was going to go into oblivion, but today PDP is waxing stronger. So we still regard Secondus as our chairman until his tenure comes to an end. And his tenure will end when the party elects a new chairman to take over from him.
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