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PDP ZONING: DON'T CHANGE THE RULE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE GAME – IWUANYANWU

By NBF News
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Recent recant by some PDP chieftains over the existing zoning arrangement for elective offices on the party platform has been generating reactions, depending on the side of the divide of the respondents, within the polarized party. Sun Summit met with Chyna Iwuanyanwu one of the 26 candidates who vied for the office  of the PDP national chairman, two years ago, during the party national convention at Eagles Square.

Iwuanyanwu calls for caution, submitting that stakeholders in the party should not jeopardize PDP fortunes by advocating, or indulging in denials over an arrangement put in place by the party's founding fathers.

Excerpts:
Considering the array of gladiators jostling to replace Ogbulafor in PDP, why is the south- east always bereft of a rallying voice ? You recall what happened two years ago, when the party held its national convention.

I am genuinely as concerned as you. Incidentally, I was part of the 26 who contested that time and what I did most of the time was to bring them together. I facilitated about nine meetings so that we could narrow down to five and some people thought it was abnormal, but I couldn't imagine how twenty six Igbo men could stand up at Eagle Square for the purpose of one position. God did it the way it turned out, and we had Ogbulafor. But here we are again!

By our reasoning now, by our reckoning, we hear that there are over fifty people that was why I now summoned the meeting of all those who contested and I say to them,` look, let us narrow this thing to three.

It is in the interest of the image and perception of the Igbos in Nigeria, because even if we are one thousands there would be only one chairman. So, let us be realistic and find out those who have better credentials. For me, as a person, I am not contesting. The reason, is there are many superior gladiators. So, it is unfortunate, but I can tell you that things are beginning to change. We have a platform now that is coming up with the new Igbo agenda and they are intervening. I am sure that by next week we would narrow down to very few : three or five.

But would you agree as it has been alleged in certain quarters that the greatest opposition to Ogbulafor leadership was from the south east?

No, Ogbulafor was Ogbulafor`s problem. I can tell you, as a coordinator of all those who contested that election. Right from Eagles Square till today, he has never called any of us for a meeting, even his state is in disarray, Abia is in the custody of Progressives  Peoples Alliance  and he has done nothing to bring everybody together. He could have tapped from a lot of proposals and visions by these people.

I think Ogbulafor acted in isolation. He has no problem in the south east as far as I am concerned.

Did he lose because of the alleged financial malfeasance, or it was just the power play that consumed him?

Two of them. There is an allegation; whether it is true or not, it is in the court  and I wouldn't want to comment on that. But if there was no prima facie case, they wouldn't rush to court .

But the question you would now ask is, why now?
But if you go to the history of America, Britian and several other advanced democracies, some criminal offences committed by leaders are dup up 30 years after — there is no time that is ever late. So, I think right now it is political . The role he played in the unfolding political scenario in the last six months didn't portray him as a good politician. He is supposed to be a father of the party, he is supposed to be neutral, even when he has to uphold the principles of the party, it should have been done in a better way. If I were him, I would uphold it in a better way . I think it is a power play which led to their going to exhume either a dead, or non-existent corruption case. So, it is the two.

Obasanjo had said that the PDP zoning arrangement was never concretized, so it is a non issue as far as who picks the party presidential ticket for 2011 election. What is your take on this?

Where I stand is that Obasanjo wasn't a member of this party at inception. With due respect to his person, he wasn't around. So, he can not speak for the founders of the party. Ekwueme has spoken, Jerry Gana has spoken and I have the privilege of being associated with such people at that time.

Zoning was a major critical strength of PDP as a party.

However, as for Ogbulafor's reconfirmation it was not politically wise. The timing was wrong, it was premature and he made it look as if it was personal. That occasion wasn't the right for such a statement; the party should have gone home after Jonathan became the acting president, he should have gone home and then, let the appropriate organ of the party speak. There is a national publicity secretary, but he made it as if it is personal thing. So, it could be part of his problem.

I believe as somebody from the south east, you don't change the rule of the game in the middle of the game. After north, it goes to south east, or  south south.

Unless zoning applies in PDP, then something is wrong with the country. You have to finish it in all the zones, before we can now say we have matured enough, but everybody must partake. You can not after the west, north west then somewhere along the line you say you have changed zoning. I think it is fair, decent and proper for all the zones to take their turns. Let it go round before we can change it.

But Obasanjo  has said it isn't in the PDP constitution, but a mere convention.

The British constitution isn't written, yet everybody knows it and abides by it! Common sense, dignity, integrity. When we zoned it to the west, it was on the basis of the injustice meted to the west during the Abiola election and we said, no, these people were offended.  I think people in their honour and integrity say, look south east has been out of this thing for long and you now want to change it in the middle of the game. No, we will continue until we zoned to south east and south-south, zoned to everywhere, then we can sit down and talk about it, whether to change or not .

I, as a person, think that zoning is undemocratic, it is primitive, but it is a response to our own peculiar political environment. So, let us round it up when everybody has had a share of it before we now start going for neutralization.

Your group, the PDP national chairmanship candidates for 2008 national convention has submitted that one of you should be picked as successor to Ogbulafor, because you were short changed  two years ago when Ogbulafor was imposed in the name of consensus candidate; but don't you think what you are canvassing for equally contravenes the party constitution?  It says leadership must emerge through election.

Well, I can see what you are saying is that two wrongs don't make a right. I agree with you entirely, but again nobody anticipated the position that we are now so it couldn't have been in the constitution of the party. But what we are saying is that, the national chairmanship is supposed to be an elective position, not ministerial, not  by appointment .  Now, the abracadabra that happened at Eagle Square that day—no voting, no ballot boxes, nothing. But some people have fulfilled the condition : we had bought the form, filled the form, went for screening, ran around the country presenting our manifesto. So, if you go in terms of the constitution, we are nearer to the constitution than anybody else who just jumped out . We have been injured, but as party members, we remain loyal.

So, what we are saying is that to correct the injustice of 2008, they should first of all pick one of us. But there is a mechanism, if you go to Barnabas Gemade, go to Audu Ogbeh, they were first appointed, thereafter there was a convention to ratify the appointments. So, that same situation can apply now. Pick one of us, call a convention in the next one month and ratify the situation and the party moves on. That's what we are saying.

Nigerians and members of the opposition parties  are watching what is happening within the PDP with excitement and are saying: let there be an implosion within, that it would help to finally remove the vice grip the PDP has on  Nigeria .

Well, that's is wishful thinking. Unfortunately there is no opposition in Nigeria. If there is, PDP wouldn't have been mustering the strength that it is mustering now. I believe in competition, very healthy competition. But most of the opposition parties are just limited liabilities companies. They don't function like parties and most of them are parties created by discontented members of PDP. Discontentment isn't an agenda, it isn't an ideology to sell to Nigerians and that's why they run in and run out. There is no constructive opposition. So, if they are wishing for implosion…. Some of them ran away and came back. So, it is wishful thinking, because this is the party in power and has a political largesse to distribute and people aren't joining parties on basis of philosophy, or agenda, they will remain in PDP!.

When they go out, they must come back. So, I congratulate them and wish them well in their wishful thinking, but the best thing is for us to evolve a constructive opposition.

On a final note,  do you agree with the perception that Jonathan is acting Obasanjo`s  script ?

Well, that would be ascribing too much to Obasanjo. What I see is divine intervention in the life of this country. If it coincides with Obasanjo`s agenda, he will never take the place of God. When our people were crying about zoning I told them that no zoning arrangement can be more important than the will of God for Nigeria. We must know that this is a country in God hands. Several times we have got to breaking point, what I call spiritual junctions : June 12, civil war, they were all developments that could happen to other countries and they would go, but here we are together.

We would be making Obasanjo too important, by saying that it is his agenda or his wish, but then if we look at the element of what is unfolding—a minority, Jonathan never printed a poster one day, he didn't address a  rally,  yet became a president.

It is a lesson for each and all of us as politicians to surrender our ambition to the will of God, not the will of Obasanjo. It is the same thing that happened in America when Obama, a black boy, broke through man-made inhibitions and became the president. Look at what is happening in Kaduna today; a micro minority, in Kaduna of all places has become governor!

So, whatever is happening in the country today I don't think it is Obasanjo, I give it to God.