North Was Desperate For Power – Dike | Independent Newspapers Limited
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North Was Desperate For Power – Dike

Posted: Jun 26, 2015 at 1:48 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Chief Okechukwu Dike is a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and a former Deputy Speaker of the Imo State House of Assembly. He was also Secretary of the Party (PDP) in the state. He speaks to ANOLU VINCENT on the last general elections and other National Issues. Excerpts… 

You have been in active politics for many years now and you have held many positions. How would you assess the last general elections in the country?

I will like to look at the situation from two perspectives. First, outside my own concept – the international community and the larger percentage of Nigerians who just wanted a change, not that Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan did not perform well, except that a number of things looked disjointed and change seemed imminent. Even when the U.S predicted that Nigeria would disintegrate in 2015, it was not predicted on the fact that if change did not come, there would be chaos and war leading to disintegration. Then, from my own side, the election was free and fair to international observers and these observers had told us that they would not observe the election in the war-torn areas of the North-East. In this case, there was no way to find out what went on in those areas, but the independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) insisted that it was free and fair. INEC proposed the use of Card Readers but if you can recall, these Card Readers were not even available towards the first scheduled dates. Even voter cards were not available. Lagos State was worst hit in terms of distribution of cards while the war-torn areas where many people had vacated their houses had a higher percentage of voter cards. Yet INEC went ahead and declared it free and fair. In the election proper, voters in these places where most of the indigenes had been evacuated, their votes were higher than those of other areas not affected by any crisis. It was also shown from satellite where people locked themselves in rooms and were thumb-printing and under- aged children were also seen voting, yet the election was said to be free and fair. Still, what we clamoured for was change irrespective of how it came.


So, in conclusion, America’s prediction failed?

Today, I will say that former president, Goodluck Jonathan, has slapped Americans and the other Western countries, because what they envisaged did not happen. They had stationed their frigates along the coasts of West Africa, ready to evacuate their nationals should Jonathan decide to remain in power, win or lose, which would have triggered off a holocaust. Jonathan did not want to preside over a disintegrating nation. Today he is a hero of all sorts. The Western World does not appreciate the lives of the people of the black world and so they worked towards seeing crises in Nigeria. But Dr. Goodluck Jonathan refused to let it happen by the way he quietly surrendered. He was not beaten, but he left office for peace to reign.


But what happened to PDP that they lost out?

It was a natural phenomenon and, till today, PDP still remains the largest political party in the black world. There was internal party wrangling, mistrust and greed. There was this desire by every member of the leadership in sharing the booty which was yet palpable. Internal democracy was far from being realized. People put their men and women as delegates without due process and this affected the psyche of those that were changed, and so people were no longer interested in who  won. But many of them went on a vengeance mission.


But some critics claim that the North was desperate to regain power.

The North wanted the Presidency. They wanted it either by hook or by crook and, on this note, we experienced the rain of votes in the North. Even some sitting governors in the North who contested for the office of the President of the Senate campaigned for “Vote for me here and vote for the President there”, and so the illiterate voters on the National Assembly election day in the North voted one line, then the governors lost while a presidential candidate of Northern extraction won.


You sound optimistic that the PDP is still the largest political party in the black world. Are you not worried that the mass exodus of her members to the APC will be the nunc dimitis of the party in 2019?

These defectors are people I describe as “food is ready politicians”. They may not even be aware that they will queue behind the last person in the APC for them to get recognition. These are the people who back some of those leaders who bring in their friends and relations from far and near and gave them appointments where they did not work. They think that the era of “monkey de work, baboon de chop” will still persist. These defectors should not be taken seriously because they are chaffs the party (PDP) may not want to retain. So they are leaving ahead of mass reorganization of the party which definitely would still have weeded them out.


Do you still foresee the feasibility of a president of Igbo extraction now that power has gone back to the North in 2019?

For an Igbo man to become the President under the Present disposition, the North will complete at least 8 years and this excludes 2019 from the picture, which means that after the 8 years and it returns back to the South, the South West having had its slot in the person of Chief Olusegun Obansanjo and the South South in the person of His Excellency Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan,  then the South East will come in. Let the Igbo not continue to feature in the political struggle for the presidency of this country when it is not yet our own turn. It will tantamount to wasting our   time and resources. Let us put our resources together and make friends and build bridges so that when it is our turn, the rest of the zones will support us. But we, the Igbo have a problem which is based on the fact that when it is our turn, every family will parade an aspirant and these aspirants, no matter how inconsequential will pretend to be the best candidate and will refuse to listen to admonition, either to step down for his brother or to support him. We, they Igbo should start now grooming one, two or 3 persons so that we can pick one and give him a general support.


What is your reaction to the process that brought in new principal officers of the National Assembly via-a-vis the complaint of the APC?

I look at the APC which is now the ruling party as an “association of political parties”. The President came from the CPC (Congress for National Consensus) and Senator Bola Tinubu wants the position of the President of the senate to come from the ACN, APC, and ANPP. They APC is looking short changed whereby they are clamouring for Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu to be the Secretary to the Government of Federation (SGF) which he is eminently qualified for. You can see that this statement supports my claim that they APC is an “association of political parties”. The splinter group-APGA, APC is struggling to pick from the crumbs and I wish they get something. The debacle in the National Assembly (NASS) was most expected. The party (APC) should have played an advisory role in case of choosing the leadership of the NASS. For them to state who they wanted in preference to the other is autocratic and non democratic and it is sheer meddlesomeness. The election of the principal officers of the House is the exclusive right of the members in the hallowed chambers and it went exactly that way.