BY SIMON EBEGBULEM, BENIN CITY
Senator Rowland Owie is a former Chief Whip of the Senate and a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). In this interview, Owie speaks on the crisis in the National Assembly, faulting the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for picking principal officers for the lawmakers. He admonishes the APC leadership to embrace the new leaders of the National Assembly to give President Muhammadu Buhari the right atmosphere to fulfil his promises to the people.
Owie attributes the failure of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to win the March 28 presidential election to betrayal on the part of some PDP leaders while alleging dictatorial tendencies of people close to former President Goodluck Jonathan.
He hints on how the next governor of Edo State will emerge in 2016. He acknowledges that the APC government of Adams Oshiomhole has done better than PDP former administrations.
Why do you think your party, the PDP, failed in the just concluded presidential election?
One is impunity in the choice of candidates. Some party leaders arrogated to themselves the power of God. For instance, look at the Adamawa gubernatorial primary, there was no war in Adamawa but they moved the primary to Abuja and Abuja imposed a candidate on the people. It also happened in Plateau, Abia, Benue, they imposed unpopular candidates, forgetting that the electorate are wiser now, you cannot intimidate them. Above all, former President Jonathan was fenced by a number of unpopular party leaders. Because of what happened to Jonathan, my slogan now is that if a President or governor is elected, he is as good as being in prison unless that President or that governor has the will power to get out of the prison.
That is the type of will power that Governor Oshiomhole has that made him to survive some sycophants who tried to cage him when we were in the party; even though he got out of the prison fairly late, some good people had already left the ACN then. Majority of the governors and former President Jonathan were imprisoned by people who will not allow good people to get near them. I make bold to say that for all the major actors around former President Jonathan, the most truthful person was Oronto Douglas; others were palace jesters who were only thinking about their pockets and not the future of the President or the PDP.
For instance, they was the allegation of over N700million given by a governorship aspirant to some members of the National Working Committee of the PDP. Now, assuming that was true, how can such people attract respect for the party? For instance, the campaign for President Jonathan’s re-election was organized by a body outside the party and, with all due respect, Col Ahmadu Ali, who was made the DG of the campaign, could hardly win his ward, and the party became helpless. And in some states, DGs were appointed for Jonathan’s campaign who don’t have credibility to lead a campaign for a presidential candidate especially when some of them had contributed to the destruction of the PDP governments in their states before then and for which PDP was fighting to regain credibility. There were a lot mistakes made. But the way Jonathan accepted defeat was an indication that we were humbled to look inward and rebuild the party.
Also, those who pretended to be reconciling aggrieved PDP leaders all over the country flying in presidential jets, only to preach peace in the afternoon and privately tell some governors to betray the party and fight Jonathan, know themselves and should steer clear of the party or we will be forced to expose them. I want the Acting Chairman of the BOT of the PDP and other credible members of the body to ensure that there is no extension of tenure for all the executives of the party from the ward level to the national, they should all stand dissolved at the expiration of their tenure. No extension for anybody if they want the party to bounce back. Enough is enough of impunity and imposition in the PDP in Nigeria and PDP Edo in particular.
I thank God I have been in this vanguard since 1979 when we formed the UPN. Chief Anenih, Chief Gabriel Igbinedion, Dr Ogbemudia, Enahoro, Chief Michaeal Ibru, Chief Orikeze, my late maternal uncle, Chief D.N.Oronsaye, and host of other prominent Bendelites were all in the NPN. Myself, Tony Omoaghe, Barr.Eddy Osifo, Clement Edo Osagie, Dr Thomas Salubi, Chief B.O.Imafidon, the late Chief Idahosa (Akakasiaka), Chief V.I.Amadasun, we defeated those big names. It was only Chief Igbinedion that won the Ovia federal constituency, the rest lost woefully. So, by the grace of God, myself and some of our colleagues in the state will rebuild the PDP in Edo and ensure that these impunity operators who call themselves leaders are swept away.
Read full interview on Sunday Vanguard