In this interview with NAIJA CENTER, Mr Chris Nehikhare, the Edo State PDP Secretary reacted to the exit of one of its core members, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu who announced his exit few days ago back to the All Progressives Congress.
Nehikhare alleged that Ize-Iyamu’s wanted more after the party had given him many opportunities to excel.
By Ehi Ekhator
Read excerpt below:
What is the state PDP doing about Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu’s defection?
It is not the first time we are losing members. It won’t be the last time someone would come or go out of PDP, it is a regular occurrence in Nigeria political space.
As much as we regret what had happened losing members of the party, at the same time, it is not the end of the world because the party is well focussed and very well organized, plus it is not built around anybody, it is a party of equal joiners and equal owners.
The positive from Ize-Iyamu leaving is that the party is going to return to its original state. A state whereby the membership know that their loyalty and not to an individual. Ize-Iyamu came with a few people to the party and even before this time, the majority of those who came with him had left the party when he lost in 2016.
So, as a party, you don’t stop people. It is voluntary membership and he has decided to leave to look for greener pasture. We wish him well and also hope he understands that PDP gave him a lot of opportunities to excel.
When he came in 2014, we made him the Director-General of Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s campaign, a few years later, he was the party governorship candidate and just this year, he was the DG of Atiku’s campaign. We did all these to build a solid person and a party where people can say everyone is an equal joiner. Unfortunately, Ize-Iyamu wants more or believes that he can only achieve his aim by joining the government’s party.
With the exit of Ize-Iyamu, we have a more cohesive party, where the members are no longer in a different direction but in the same direction. Quite frankly. it is a blessing in disguise. From the news we read in the newspaper, it was discovered that it was not everybody that left with him because a lot of them complained that they only attended the meeting when they thought a leader of the party was calling for the meeting and they attended and signed the register and it turned out that they put their names on one of those resigning. Even as at yesterday stakeholder’s meeting, not more than 15 members stood up to say that even though their names were there, they didn’t resign.
We are going to audit that list until we receive letters from members, we will know those who left, so that is the situation in the party right now.
When Ize-Iyamu came to the PDP, he was one of those that went to the media to apologise for bringing Oshiomhole to Edo State but his last exit statement seems to insinuate that the PDP cannot win an election. What’s your take on that?
The PDP used him as a candidate and maybe that was why we lost the election. Now, without him as a candidate, I can tell you, we will probably do better. I don’t think it is PDP that cannot win an election, we have two senators and many Rep members. We won elections in spite of the usage of police, the army and thugs of the APC. I think it is the PDP that is a party that is ready to win the election, not like the APC that cannot win an election unless people are dressed in fake police uniform and thugs to intimidate electorates.
Now that Ize-Iyamu has gone to APC, if he were to be the APC candidate backed by Oshiomhole, who would challenge him?
PDP doesn’t prepare people, all members of PDP are qualified to run for governor. We will go through our primaries and whoever emerges as the candidate will get our supports and backings. Right now, we have at least 3 candidates that have signified interests to run for governor of the state, those three candidates are qualified and anyone who gets the nods will challenge the APC candidates.
PDP leaders claimed that there is no internal crisis in the party, but some members have disclosed to Naija Center that there is a crisis, couldn’t this be one of the reasons members are leaving?
Ize-Iyamu group were the ones who instigated a form of crisis in the party. They wanted to weaken the strength of the party, they wanted to plant members of their group into the members of the state executive, so they came up with the fake notion that the tenure of the state executives had expired. Now, the plan was that, if they could shake the party hard enough, they will plant some of their members into the members of the executives. Meanwhile, their long term goals were these moves they made now so that whenever they were leaving, they could say we took some members of the exco and so on.
Unfortunately, the party resisted it and went on the part of the truth that the tenure of the executives expired in March next year and as such, no congress will hold this year because they were pushing for congress to hold this September. That was their aim, but that plans failed and with the failure of that plan, they have nothing where else to do so they had to fast-track their leaving because they couldn’t wait till March and left with not one single executive both on the local government, ward or state level.
Whatever tension their crying was creating, the tension ceased the day Ize-Iyamu was excluded from participating in PDP activities. PDP knew that the plan was a long con to create tension within the PDP, the leadership is very strong.
Are you saying apart from the alleged Ize-Iyamu’s instigated crisis, there is no crisis in PDP?
There is no crisis in Edo PDP. Ize-Iyamu instigated crisis was the only perceived crisis that the tenure of the chairman had expired and they were trying to create a new impression that the congress must hold now. You will notice that a day after their defection, the timetable for the new executive was released which begins in January and end in February for the handover in March. We had to do that deliberately because we have the fifth column and we have to be very careful.
What is the implication of Ize-Iyamu’s exit to APC?
I don’t know the implication to APC but for us, it has given us a peaceful party that is focussed in winning the next election. I am sure you are aware that Ize-Iaymu is pursuing a personal agenda and there is nothing wrong with that, it is politics but PDP is strong enough that the exit of one person does not change the dynamics. It is not built around one person but the people and the state. We are glad that we have been able to manage our party even though we have been the opposition for 12 years and I am sure people know that we are the only vibrant opposition party in the country. We have been able to produce senators, house of reps in the state and the only elections we have lost are the elections whereby there is massive intimidation, like the election of the House of Representative. That election was a result of the re-election of President Buhari, not because the people rejected the PDP.
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