By CrossRiverWatch admin
Venatius Ikem is a former Chairman of Obudu LGA in Cross River state. He is also a former national Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and a former Commissioner in Cross River State. Vena, as he is fondly called is very blunt and controversial, and in this interview with CrossRiverWatch, he says, his party, PDP will not survive in Cross River beyond another two years.
Recently, the national publicity secretary of your party, PDP said that, “hates campaigns by over zealous PDP members caused president Jonathan’s failure”. Some have said it’s lack of internal democracy. As a founding member of the party, what do you think is responsible for the woeful outing in the just concluded elections?
With due respect to my friend and colleague, chief Olisa Metuh, I will think that it will be lazy to summarise the reasons for the failure of PDP in such simplistic terms. I think that The loss was as a result of the cumulative effect of very many factors beginning from the presidency of Obasanjo. Some of the major ones being the ceding of control of the party to the Governors. Secondly, the undue and incessant interference with the workings of the party by the executive branch of Govt at all levels . Thirdly, the poor reward system both at federal and state levels. Fourthly, the interference with and lack of internal democracy within the party, which led to impunity in decision making and lack of patience for dissenting opinions within the party.. one can go on and on but if you expanciate on these you can cover most of the reasons. In them you will realise that Good luck Ebele Jonathan had no business being the President or even the vice president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the first place.
How can you describe the all-round performance of president Jonathan?
Ans: In one word dismal. He not only failed those who installed him unfairly, he failed most especially his zone, the South south zone on whose agitation he rose to the position in the first place. I am not sure he saw himself and his constituency beyond his Ijaw tribal enclave. The rest seemed a burden and a distraction. I am not sure looking back he didn’t fail himself going by his irritating appeals for forgiveness.
Do you think PDP would have won the presidency if the former president Chief OBJ was still a member?
Not with GEJ as candidate. The most credible position that would have guaranteed PDP another victory is if GEJ had done the responsible and Honourable thing by keeping faith with his agreement or understanding to run one term and return power to the Northern region because the death of President Yar’Adua interfered with our political planning process and enabled him to become president when it should have been the turn of the north.
During the presidential elections, you campaigned on social media for the APC candidate and the eventual winner. Was it not a crime of anti-party?
I believe in loyalty to party very much but where a party is suffocating you with decisions that are intolerable you don’t have a choice than to revolt. It was clear on my mind that PDP had lost it and I could not help myself. It was more a silent cry than an effort at sabotage. I did not even bother to attend the National convention of the party despite being a national delegate!
There has been this argument making rounds on social media on who really betray the south-south geopolitical zone between Governor Amaechi and President Jonathan. Who do you think is the modern day Judas?
I am incompetent to comment on that. But I know that I have the temperament of Gov. Amaechi and I would have probably behaved the way he did if I was put in the same circumstances. His attitude was an act of great courage not sabotage. People need to have a conviction and most importantly, the courage to pursue it. To me that’s democracy.
You are one of the few politicians who have openly criticized the current administration of Governor Liyel Imoke. Do you think the Governor-elect, Prof Ben Ayade has the needed executive experience to tackle some of the issues you raised in your criticism?
I would rather say I may be one of the few persons who have had the courage to openly criticise Governor Imoke, my boss. Others whisper in beer parlours and in their small corners. That’s not my style. I remember I used to criticise Gov. Duke to his face and almost got fired from his cabinet as I was told. I had the opportunity to serve as Publicity Secretary of PDP under chief Audu Ogbe and Dr. Ahmadu Ali briefly and I know one consistent thread I have is that I am open and critical when I see the need to. I had the privilege to do same with President Obasanjo and I guess he came to respect that contrary to the belief that he brooches no criticism. One of my regrets for him is that he did not heed our early advise to him for instance to lay out a succession plan early in his second term. For Ayade, well, I don’t want to pre-empt him. He is an intelligent young man. He should know what is right from what is wrong. There is always that small voice in each of us that tells you when you are doing what is not right. If you follow it, you can’t go wrong. Ignore it and you fail.
What are your expectations from incoming government-state and national?
Growth and deepening of our democracy; a total overhaul of our perception of democracy. I want to see free elections at all levels particularly within the parties. I want to see a vibrant, robust democracy in my lifetime.
As an experienced man, which sector would you advice the incoming government to pay more attention to?
All sectors. Every sector is important. Growth cannot be in selected sectors because sectors are intertwined and Interdependent. If there is growth in infrastructure there will be economic growth. If there is improvement in education or the entire social sector, all related sectors will improve. Health will. The economy will benefit.
Many people have predicted mass exodus of key men from the PDP in the state. Considering the body language of people like you, the senate leader, Sen Bassey Otu who recently visited the president-elect. Do you think the party still have a good fellowship as it used to be in recent times in the state?
Cross River State cannot exist in isolation. The revolutionary trend in the country will certainly catch up with it too. In any case the state will only be liberated from oppression occasioned by imposed politically motivated poverty that has crippling effect on citizens’ ability to liberate themselves. I don’t see PDP surviving in the state at all for up to two years. Unless the Federal Government of Buhari refuses to give us a Minister who is a politician and understands the politics of the state. If he does, I can comfortably predict that even the present Governor-elect will join APC and leave Imoke as sole undertaker.
Amid rumor making rounds on social and online media about Governor Imoke succeeding the incumbent national chairman of your party, do you think he is the right man to rebuild the party against 2019?
That’s a joke that will be the nunc demertris of PDP in the country. The PDP came out of the last election looking like a regional Party. Any attempt to further emphasise those dubious credentials will finally sink it and we can as well start looking forward to a new party as was the case with AD and the APP
Your final advice for the incoming government.
To do the right things. Give service to the people and deepen democracy.
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