From Samuel Bello, Abuja
Chief Chyna Iwuanyanwu is a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He accused the federal government of lionisling the Biafra agitators by giving impression that the South- East does not matter in the scheme of things. He also spoke on a number of other national issues.
What is your view on IPOB’s agitation?
If any government in Nigeria has aggravated the Pro-Biafra agitation, it is this government, the government came in and was obviously hostile to the South-East, you can see a whole kitchen cabinet, nobody from the South-East, the whole architecture of security, Police, Army, Navy, nobody from the South- East, so the people are feeling alienated and marginalized, particularly the younger generation. We the older generation is used to it since during the war till now but the younger generation do not see what they did wrong in the country called Nigeria that they are being treated like this. The government did not give them a sense of belonging, so they developed a sense of ‘Let us go,’ that is what IPOB is all about. It is a reaction to feeling of injustice and unless the government sees it like that and responds to the situation, it will only be aggravated.
You can see that immediately the Vice President went on tour when Buhari was sick to the Niger Delta, they have been calm in the Niger Delta.
What actually went wrong with PDP?
It is a foundational problem, the origin of PDP was that the group of Nigerian patriots, Ekweme, Jerry Gana, Abubakar Rimi, Sule Lamido, Sunday Awoniyi, very patriotic Nigerians with impeccable democratic credentials, came together to force the most vicious military government headed by Abacha out, Abacha was the most vicious, but this people came together, they had the courage, they took the risk and formed G34 that transformed into PDP.
The time we got into the first convention to choose the presidential candidate, the army regrouped, instead of giving Ekwueme, a core founder of PDP and a civilian, a democrat, the presidency of the federal republic of Nigeria, the army that they were about to chase out refused to go out and quickly reorganized with Babangida, Abdulsalam, TY Danjuma, and brought Obasanjo out of prison and made him the president. So that was the beginning of the problem of PDP, the militarization, the hijack of the democratic process at the foundation level by the military. And that is what led to the third term agenda, because Obasanjo wanted to perpetuate himself.
Do you think PDP would ever bounce back in the next election?
It is not what I think, I am a political activist, I am not interested in positions, some people are in government, in politics to see what they want to eat, I want to seek the opportunity to serve, to express my passion for the country. I have written to all the stakeholders, if Sheriff loves PDP, he should not allow it die, the same thing for Makarfi. We all fought very hard to setup this present democracy, if anything happens to PDP, it is the end of this democracy because we will end up with one party state, and you can see the despotic, tyrannical disposition of the APC –led government, it is feudalism, so it would mean back to square one, that is the number one danger.
Therefore, anybody who loves democracy, who loves PDP, who loves Nigeria, should be ready to make the necessary sacrifice. What are those sacrifices, Sheriff steps down, Makarfi steps down, nominate ten people each, that makes it 20 people, they do a convention in three months and the problem is over. But the moment Sheriff wants to sit down there to do a convention, it would never work, the moment Makarfi wants to drive Sheriff away and stay, it will never work, it must be no victor no vanquished, and the moment they are waiting to end it in the court, you will get judgement in the court, but you won’t get justice.
What Sheriff has now is a document called judgement, that document is an empty shell, the real substance is the other side, but they lack legitimacy, and it is unfortunate that this is happening. But it is what happens if a party goes against its regulations. Constitution says that leadership should be elected through a convention, we will not allow a Supreme Court of five to ten people to impose leadership on us, if it is allowed, it is the end of the political party, so sacrifice is the key word, that problem can be solved, and I have told them that the only way is for everybody stoops to conquer.
Particularly for Sheriff, I told him he has an opportunity, he has a date with history; he should choose to be known as a man who killed PDP and killed democracy or the man who saved PDP and saved democracy in Nigeria. If I were him, I would want to go on the positive side.
People like Obasanjo is not interested in democratic arrangement, Commander in Chief will give instruction and everybody will follow, so basically if democracy dies, it is to their own interest, so it is the civilians, civil societies and the media that should make sure that we do not throw away what we fought for. There was a conspiracy with APC, the civil society and the media plus the military class, they all conspired with APC to bring down the government of Jonathan, the American government was involved and at a point Obama invited the northern governors to America and they had discussions, Jonathan did not get this signals, but some of us saw this signals and saw the danger and he was gallivanting and the people around him were talking recklessly until he was betrayed by people who were very close to him. We have all made that mistake, Jonathan’s government collapsed, but PDP should not collapse, Nigeria should not collapse, that is why everybody should be involved in making sure PDP does not die.
The question is why can’t two governors from the north, two Muslims, what is it that they cannot reconcile, are they struggling for a woman or something, in the interest of Nigeria, in the interest of democracy, in the interest of PDP, they should say I hereby make this sacrifice, history would never forget it, and that is what I am expecting from them, anything outside that is not a solution, winning in Supreme Court is not a solution, so I do hope that by the grace of God, common sense would prevail.
What is your take on the APC as a party?
I see danger, if anything happens to Buhari, God forbid, it is going to be real danger because APC, as I see it, is heading towards implosion internally and if it is heading towards implosion and PDP also implodes, then democracy implodes, there must be a fallback position where Nigerians would say ‘well, there is an alternative,’ that is why PDP must put its house in order to benefit from what is likely to happen in APC whether they like it or not, it will happen.
Is PDP trying to form a new party?
PDP is not trying to form a new party, I am a member of PDP till today, but I am not a member of any faction of PDP that is the feeling of most genuine, patriotic, neutral people in PDP. They do not want to be part of this or part of that, they want to be part of PDP. Coming to 2019, there are many alternatives, one alternative is the problem is solved, everybody gets back into one family, we embrace each other and we move forward, one faction wins, the other faction moves away, you can see that no part will be greater than the whole, then those who move away can either join another party or they form another party, that is what you are hearing. There are many options available, the doors are not closed, but the architecture for 2019 is going to be a lot of realignment and it is already starting even in the APC, change is a constant thing, I think that it is too early now to predict what will happen, but any moment from now, as soon as this PDP problem is resolved, then we can make some predictions.
For us in the PDP, it is the Governors Forum that brought us to where we are, our democracy was hijacked by the governors, the governors produced Jonathan, one of themselves as President, Namadi was a governor, everybody in the system was a governor and it is this Amaechi that is now complaining about Jonathan, it is the Governors Forum that hijacked the entire system.
Even in this quarrel now, it is Governor Fayose, Governor Wike, Sheriff former governor, Makarfi former governor and of-course Bayelsa governor has entered the race with his own intervention and Jonathan who also is one of the governors, so you can see that it is a problem governors inflicted on us.
Do you think Ali Modu Sheriff was planted by the APC to destroy PDP?
That is nonsense, it is not true, the problem of PDP started since, imposition started since, but they wanted to deal with him the way they have been dealing with some of us and the man said ‘no it can never happen,’ that is the truth. Sheriff was not planted by anybody, Sheriff left APC because his own candidate for National Chairman Tom Ikimi was rejected and they took John Oyegun and he left with anger, so it is not true.
Do you think the Present Administration is on course?
In terms of economy, the present administration is not on course, it took six months to appoint ministers and they promised to get us the best in Nigeria and eventually we got some of the worst that are there, they promised us that the economic blueprint has just come out after two years, no economic ways is good for investors, they ran away, there is no template for reactivating dead and moribund industries, the power sector was not seeing anything, they were asking all of us to go and farm, farm does not bring prosperity, it only brings food to the table. Young people are not attracted into farming, this kind of farming, hoe, matches and other farm tools, if it is commercial farming, that one government will have to sponsor it. They have not done too well, but in terms of corruption, there has been some movement and success but it may not have been holistic or perfect, but there has been some movement and some fear.
They have done very well in the insecurity situation, at least the Boko Haram are no longer occupying territories and rampaging our place, so security and anti-corruption, I can see what looks like some resemblance…, it could be better but in all other ways, I find it difficult to give a pass mark. I attribute the whole thing to the internal conflict within the party there are so many parties that make up APC and they don’t seem to give up their identity. You can see ACP, ACN, CPC, the contentions there are the major problems not PDP or any outside party.