Sunday, 18 December 2016

We Don't Have 2 Factions of PDP in Benue State - Sir John Ngbede

The Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), in Benue State, Sir John Ngbede, in this interview expresses opinion that the crisis rocking the ruling All Progressives Congress, (APC), may to its extinction in 2019.

Do you see the PDP wresting power from the ruling APC in 2019 with the barrage of crises rocking it even at the national level?

When we get to that bridge we will cross it. When we get to 2019, you will know. The PDP has mechanism of resolving its own crisis. And the crisis you are hearing about is resolvable. Don’t forget that there are moves to reconcile Ali Modu Sheriff and Ahmed Makarfi. And I think that move is still in place. That is why I am telling you that PDP has its own way of reconciling its members. So, I don’t think there’s anything wrong yet and by God’s grace, we will overcome.

There are also crises in other political parties. You should be hearing that the APC is also having its own crisis. The Tinubu group is not happy with what is going on. By the time we get to 2019, there will be so many calculations, so many formulas to be adopted, and so many alignments and realignments and at the end of the day, the face of what you are seeing today may even change tomorrow. And may be the APC may not even be in existence again. Another political party may just take over.

Does that also imply that the PDP may not be in existence?

PDP will be in existence. The APC may also be in existence. But then, the face of things will change. You know things can change. Nobody believed that APC would win the 2015 election in Benue State. At a point, almost everybody decamped from the APC to the PDP. But as you are deciding your own, God’s decision is final. That is why whatever the APC is doing today to suppress our members, let the APC not forget that it is not only the PDP members that cast votes in elections, the voters are there.

Even though our members also cast votes, they should know that it is not all the voters that are members of political parties and these voters are still there. So, whatever the APC is doing today, thinking that they want to extinguish the PDP, they should not forget that the voters are watching.

Are you insinuating that some bigwigs in the APC might return to the PDP?

Are you not aware that some bigwigs in the PDP also left for the APC during the senatorial repeated election of Benue South because they learnt that the APC is in power? But, go and ask them how they are faring in that party now.

At the moment, it appears that there are two factions of the PDP in the state. What are you doing to reconcile these factions?

I don’t believe that there are two factions of the PDP in Benue State. You may hear people say there are two factions but to us in this office, we don’t have two factions. Somebody cannot just wake up and come from another party to claim leadership of the party in the state. We are all aware that the man who claims that he is the chairman of the Sheriff faction is in the APC. So, how can he jump from the APC to become a factional chairman in the PDP? Then, don’t forget that the leadership of the PDP in the state today was inaugurated by Sheriff. At the time we were inaugurated, there was nothing like any faction in this state. There was not even a protest of any sort or a petition written against the leadership of this party at the time we conducted the state congress.

How would you describe your experience and challenges after assuming office as Benue State PDP Chairman in the past few months?

The experience has been great. I’ve been into politics for a long time now. So, when I assumed office, I know there were going to be many challenges because I had never been in the position of the executive of the party before. But I have been an active participant in the area of politics in Benue State. I have been in different political parties right from the Nigeria Peoples Party days when I was in the youth wing, down to Social Democratic Party and so many other political parties before now. Since coming into office, I’ve been trying to look at many things that had gone wrong which made people to leave the party.

So, all we are trying to do is to make sure that we do everything humanly possible to make sure that those who left are able to come back and ensure party discipline. There is need for every member to subject himself to the leadership of the party both at the local government, state and even at the national level. We should be able to know that the party hierarchy is there.

What is your assessment of the ruling APC?

I leave that to you people to judge whether they are doing well or not. Ask the ordinary man on the street and he would give you a honest assessment, whether he is happy or not. Whatever the opinion of the ordinary man on the street is, is also the decision of our own party.

What is the view of your party on the suspended local government elections in the state as well as the appointment of 23 sole administrators to man the council’s affairs?

We were not happy that the local government election which we were preparing for was suspended. We kicked against it but as government in power, they had their way. They had asked the directors of local government areas to act for a certain number of months because they exhausted the limits to which the caretaker chairmen could remain in the council areas. However, the tenure of the directors could not go beyond a certain number of months, so they came up with the idea of sole administrators which is against the constitution, even though the amendment of the local government law was passed by the House of Assembly. As a party, we are also against the appointment of the sole administrators and we are going to challenge that action in court.

How do you perceive the fight against corruption at the federal level and in Benue State?

Nobody would ever support corruption and no member of PDP should support corruption as far as I’m concerned. What President Muhammadu Buhari is doing is also receiving the blessing of the PDP but what the party is against is when the fight is only targeted at its members. Some members of the APC are also accused of corruption and that’s where the problem is, otherwise as a party we cannot fault what the president is doing. However, it should not be one-sided because there is every need to eradicate corruption in this country so we must give the president all the necessary support. Don’t forget that our members are also giving him necessary support, especially members of the National Assembly to make sure he succeeds.

Apart from the fight against corruption, the Buhari administration seems to be clamping down on Boko Haram. How would you rate his performance in this area?

Buhari has tried in this area but the former President Goodluck Jonathan too tried his best to a certain level. During the campaigns, the APC said when they come, they would immediately eradicate terrorism in Nigeria, but then the fight has taken up to a year plus now, so that shows the level which Boko Haram was rooted in the country.

Would you say the APC has lived up to their electoral promises?

I don’t think the APC has been able to live up to the change they promised Nigerians. People will tell you these days that the change has turned to chain, so when you hear the ordinary man crying, it means that the party has not lived up to its promises. We also hope for when the APC-led government will live up to its electoral promises to the people of the state. But, one aspect that I must commend the government is in the area that it has not abandoned most of the projects started by the past administration. You don’t just come and abandon what your predecessor had started but you come and continue. When Akume left, Suswam continued with his project and now, Governor Ortom is continuing with some projects of his predecessor. I’m happy about that

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