We will reform PDP and return – Bassey | Independent Newspapers Limited
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We will reform PDP and return – Bassey

Posted: Apr 13, 2015 at 12:45 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Chief Gershom Bassey was returned elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party in Cross River State for the Southern Senatorial District. This was trailed, however, by controversies. In this interview with CORRESPONDENT, NSA GILL, Bassey talks of the defeat of PDP by APC at the center and his plan for his people as a Senator. Excerpts…

From the just concluded presidential elections, what lessons are there for PDP to learn after the defeat?

Chief Gershom Bassey

Chief Gershom Bassey

Yes, the PDP has been handed a lesson by the electorate. Nigerians have sent a signal to the PDP and as far as I am concerned, that signal is for us to go back and reform and come back again.  That’s my understanding of what the electorate is telling us.  And like all good political parties, the PDP will go back and reform by looking at itself, the issues, what the public liked and what the public did not like and address those issues and then we will see what happens.

As it stands, the PDP is going to be in the opposition and you are entering the Senate at this time. How will you cope?

Well, I just believe that it’s good for democracy and that from time to time, the people should decide who they want as their leader.  Yes, PDP has ruled for sixteen years, but the people have changed their minds and there’s nothing we can do about it. We just have to keep moving and that’s democracy for you.

… as it relates to Cross River State?

Well, I think we are satisfied with the elections in the state where PDP won all the seats in the state in the March 28 elections.  So we are very satisfied with the outcome of the polls in the state and we are also satisfied with the votes we gave to the President.  However, we are a bit sad that PDP did not make it at the national level.  But our President has conceded defeat and congratulated the President-elect, so we stand by it.  So that’s our position.

Cross River state was supposed to have given the President more votes.  What happened?

Well, if you look at it, Kano state had more than five million registered voters but they were only able to return about 1.9 million votes.  So, you can see that there was voter apathy across the country.  It wasn’t peculiar to PDP states or to Cross River State.  Even Kano which is an APC state could not come up with up to 25% of the registered voters for the President-elect. So, it wasn’t unusual, it was a pattern across the country and I think it has to do with some issues about the accreditation process where some people came out and were not able to vote while others could not be captured by the card reader.  So there were a lot of logistic issues which I think INEC will have to look into it because a lot of people were unable to vote for one reason or another.

In the last election, people were voting PDP for presidential election and Labour Party for senatorial election.

Well, in my senatorial district, PDP won five out of seven Local Government Areas.  We tied in one Local Government and that was Calabar Municipality and then we lost one.  So, you can see that the electorates voted for PDP.  So, I am not sure that voters were oscillating.  Maybe in Calabar South, other than that there was no oscillation anywhere.

Before the senatorial election, there were speculations that Senator Bassey Otu under Labour Party was more popular than you.  Can you say something about this?

If a person wins six Local Government Areas, which other test is there on popularity?  Of course, I am more popular than any person that contested election in the Southern senatorial district.  I won over 70% of the votes and with over sixteen thousand votes.  That was a winning gap; so, I don’t know what else is the test of popularity.  Anybody saying that is clearly clouded by sentiment.  Look, we went to the field, one of the people said let the masses decide and masses decided and they decided in my favour.

The speculation was that you were playing a kind of elitist politics and that you were not really a grass-rooter?

That was the mistake they made and they met their waterloo.  Of course, I have been playing politics in the state since 1992.  In this house here, Clement Ebri was living here before he left for government house and I have been playing politics for a long time.  So, if anyone thought that I have been playing elitist politics, they have seen the outcome of the election.  Look, I am a politician and I don’t think there are many Politicians in this state that have the kind of reach that I have.  That’s the truth. They are not many.  I play politics at every level, from top to bottom.  I have run PDP campaigns in four general elections in this state and we have won all four.

Now, can you shed more light on why you’ve been at the background all these years?

Because I am not a selfish politician; I am in politics for myself and that is the mistake a lot of politicians make.  Politics cannot be about you, it must always be about us.  When you play the politics of us as opposed to the politics of you, it is more sustainable, makes more sense and it is more penetrating.  But when you play the politics of me, it is short-lived.  That’s my own idea, I may be wrong, but that’s my philosophy.

Now that you have been elected, what will you do for your people?

Well, as a general philosophy, I like to leave the political landscape better than I met it.  That’s my general principal. But because I do not know what I am going to meet in the Senate, I cannot start making pronouncements.  But you can be rest assured that the people of my senatorial district will be better off with me as their senator.