I WANT TO TELL THE PDP STORY -AROH
Barrister Okey Muo Aroh, Peoples' Democratic Party chieftain from Anambra State is worried that his party has always been described in unsavoury terms by the Nigerian electorate. He believes that in terms of service delivery, the PDP has pleasant stories to tell and should not be vilified by Nigerians.
An aspirant for the office of national publicity secretary of the party, Aroh in this interview assures party faithful that he would use the office to inspire confidence of Nigerians in the PDP.
Why are you in this race?
I am in the race for the national publicity secretary of the PDP, simply for one reason: My understanding the fact that my party needs to have its story told in the language that Nigerians will understand it.
PDP is a great party that was formed with very lofty objectives. Basically to rescue power from the military and provide an enabling environment for Nigerians to practice democracy in its fullest form.
Unfortunately, the PDP was hijacked, its ideals bastardized and the concept of impunity was introduced midway into the PDP business that made the Nigerian people to start viewing the party as the monster.
The sole reason why I want to be the national publicity secretary is to tell the Nigerian people the PDP story; that this is a party that was formed with the interest of the people at heart, this is a party that was formed to serve their interest and having achieved power, that we have done a lot of good things that we ought to be applauded for and not vilified.
My business is to rebrand PDP and make that brand more acceptable to the Nigerian people. That's the sole reason why I am in the race.
So, how do you intend to rebrand the party?
Well, rebranding the party like I said, is to tell the story of PDP. A party that controls the Federal Government that controls more than sixty five per cent of the government across the federation has some story to tell. Today in Nigeria, with Governor Fashola in Lagos, ACN is being touted as a model of good governance and infrastructure development, but I can assure you that in PDP, if you go to Cross Rivers State, if you go to Rivers State, if you go to Akwa Ibom, if you go to Niger and Kwara States, where PDP government is in place, you will see the amount of efforts, the quantum of development that is going on in these places.
Therefore, the only thing Nigerians needs to know is what PDP has been able to do in all these areas and the most important thing what was the promise of PDP, at the beginning of this journey, so that Nigerians could cross match what they promised and what they had delivered.
When we started, it wasn't an outlandish, we would take you to the moon kind of business. The PDP promise to Nigerians was quite modest :that is to say, we are going to remove the military, we are going to provide an enabling environment that will make it impossible for the military even to contemplate to come back and we will lay the foundation for infrastructure and human capital development.
We have done all these and more. If you go to Ebonyi State today, the PDP government that has been there in the past twelve years -before, Ebonyi used to be the place where people take house helps and what have you. Today, you cannot source such cheap labour at that place, because successive government in that state has made education such a priority and every responsible parent is taking advantage of that.
We more than as I am speaking to you, more than 2,000 men and women of Ebonyi extraction scattered across the globe, studying such arcane sciences because their government does understand that if you develop the human capital, the development of the state would be just a story to be told in a later date. Ditto Akwa Ibom; you go to Cross Rivers state, you see the vision of a strong man called Donald Duke, what he has done vis.- a vis. tourism in this country and you look at it today, Lyel Imoke and Donald Duke are being touted as a perfect example of how to succeed, because most times in Nigeria the successor government is always at loggerheads with one that was before it . Lyel has keyed into what Donald Duke has done.
So, what I am saying in effect is that it takes the duty of the information manager at the national level to collate all these data and tell Nigerians what the party is doing and before you can do it the person who will tell the story must be a man of credibility and integrity, because if the messenger isn't credible I don't believe that any reasonable person will believe the story.
So, I am coming on this platform to the contest with an advantage of being a very credible voice and a man with impeccable political integrity.
I have been a local government chairman in Anambra state, the records are there for people to see what I did, with even zero allocation and the fact that when I was a local government chairman, I ran an open transparent government telling my people the truth. I was an adviser to governor Chris Ngige and I want to challenge anybody the government of Chris Ngige in Anambra State still remains the benchmark what people say before and after Ngige.
The infrastructural development foundation which we laid in Anambra at that time is still what Peter Obi is probably building upon. So, for, me across the length and breadth of this country, across the length and breadth of people who profess membership of PDP, they know me and I believe that at the fullest of time they will give me their support to help to sharpen and reshape the image of our party in the minds of the rest of Nigerians.
Talking about reshaping the image of PDP in the minds of Nigerians; how do you intend to do that with a party with credibility problem: lack of internal democracy, as result of imposition of candidates, failure of governance at the centre, which leaves people with impression that marketing PDP would be an herculean task?
Well, it is true that it is going to be very difficult job to market the PDP, if the story, the propaganda matches with reality.
You see, more often than not, because the opposition has a well oiled propaganda machinery…today, I call it a one-man machinery army led by a well schooled General, called Lai Mohamed, who understands the
dynamics of public relations and journalism, having practiced the profession and knows it well. He knows the underbelly and the weakness of the PDP so at every point and at every turn he hits the target. To market PDP, therefore, means to get out those things which are positive, those things which the party do which can be verifiable.
When we talk about internal democracy and PDP not being democratic, the simple truth is, how democratic will a political party be, if it intends to win an election?
When we talk about imposition of candidates and what have you, I still take people back to the Supreme Court decision in the case of Onuoha and Okafor , where the Supreme Court in its wisdom says that a political body is a body sui generis in the conduct of its internal affairs, vis. a vis. selection of candidates for election, it is law unto itself, because it is a political party in its wisdom that knows the capability and the capacity of the individual member and the needs of particular constituencies who will better deliver its message to the people and win an election.
Popularity, mere demagoguery doesn't on its own and how much money you have alone doesn't make for a good candidate; it needs the sober reflection of the leaders of that party to take that decision and bring what they think is good. It is now left to the generality of the people to judge and say that's their referendum on the people that was selected by the party.
When we say imposition of candidate and the so called imposed candidate goes ahead to win an election, it gives a lie to the allegation that he was imposed, because if a candidate is imposed, the rest of the people will go away, go to another party and vote against your candidate.
So, the story, is that most people go to contest election just to seek attention, make noise and because of the amount of noise such character make, when at the end of the primary exercise they don't win. But I can assure you, yes, there may be pockets of imposition of candidates-- nobody is perfect , but today in Nigeria the only party that has been democratic, both in name and in practice is PDP. Since ACN started so many years ago from the first convention they had in Kaduna, it has been Bisi Akande as chairman, Lai Muhammed as national publicity secretary and that is it.
They hold their convention, probably in the comfort of the house of their leader and take their decision and come out to tell Nigerians that this is what they are doing. Whatever convention that you hear other parties do is to just ratify what has been done in the living room of their leader.
Should PDP talking a cue from that…?
No, PDP hasn't taken any cue from it, because, you see, I am talking to you, because I want to be the national publicity secretary of PDP-- there are about six, or seven of us who are making efforts-crisscrossing the country, consulting, talking to people, because we want to be. At the end of the day there probably will not be an election, by the delegates; there probably will be that the party will look at our antecedents and credentials and say, this is the man who will do the job better.
And you will be comfortable with that?
Definitely, there is no way I wouldn't be ,because I believe that my records speaks for itself. If there is somebody who has a better record and the party leaders decides to choose the person, so be it, because going to the floor of the convention… Well, democracy in its true action, but if the party can decide either through majority of its members or through its leadership I happen to be part of the leadership. If I am judged by my peers and found to be worthy, so be it; if I am found not to be, so be it. That doesn't mean that I wouldn't subscribe to the idea, where elections is thrown open.
A confident candidate can always subject himself to the generality of the party to vote, but I can tell you in going through this type of election you are giving an undue advantage to those with very big pockets to go and canvass to be national publicity secretary across the country. You will appreciate and know how much that would cost.
So, the party in using consensus arrangement looks at the candidates, because the amount of money that will be used to do this campaign and get to individual delegates will be colossal. When a man spends so much money to get into an office where he will serve his people, the only thing that you will find is that most often than not, he will be serving himself. So, the party in its wisdom decides more often than not to consult, assess and analyse the candidate and come up with more credible option.
What is the level of consultations that you have done, in the south-east?
Well, I have at least try to reach every leader in that zone: the governors, the senators, the members of Board of Trustees and the generality of our leadership, spanning from Chief Alex Ekwueme to the smallest man in the wards. The reason why it is so is that I believe that these are people who will ultimately take the decisions. That you consult somebody and speak to him on phone or visit him doesn't mean that the person will automatically support you.
I don't know why this is different; I have not attended every meeting of the NEC in the last one year; there were six meetings, I attended four maybe two of this six, they discussed this matter, I cannot remember.