PDP has enough youths to counter ‘Obidient’ movement – Okowa’s aide

Mr Funkekeme Solomon, a seasonal politician is a one-time Deputy Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, a former Commissioner, and currently a Senior Political Adviser to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State. He speaks with MATTHEW OCHEI on the crisis rocking the party both at the national and state level, threats by the Peter Obi movement, among sundry issues

 

Atiku Abubakar and Ifeanyi Okowa’s presidential candidacy is a source of worry for the party. What is the way forward?

 

First and foremost, the way forward is the good news that the Board of Trustees has waded into the matter, and I think they are capable, seasoned, and experienced politicians and leaders of the party who have the party’s interest at heart. So, I will appeal to all sides to allow the BOT to settle the matter in the interest of all.

 

What we need is a commitment to the party and the ability to sacrifice personal interests for the common good of the party, knowing that the party is on the brink of winning the election.

 

According to the Wike group, the PDP violated the rotational policy that is enshrined in the PDP constitution. Is that not a threat to the party?

 

The National Convention of the party is the highest decision-making body, and the constitution is subject to that national convention. If the national convention says they should throw open the contest, that is superior to what the constitution says.

 

The Wike group also claimed that there was an agreement that Iyorchia Ayu, the PDP chairman would resign if a Northerner emerged as a presidential candidate. Why is it taking so long to implement that agreement?

 

I believe that they’ve asked that Ayu should step aside but you need a convention to come up with new leadership. What is complicated is that, even if Ayu steps down today, it is still the North that will take over from him.

 

The only thing that happened is that there will be restructuring, which means everyone else will be swapping positions between the south and the north, and that is a monumental thing to do on the eve of the general elections. You know that that itself will have its fallout; the selection process itself will be another problem, and so more disputes will arise.

 

So, I believe that the party took cognisance of that and toed the line of peace by appealing to the Wike group.

 

Do you agree that Wike is fighting a just cause?

 

Well, the issue of being just is subjective because, rightly, he feels that the issue is a just cause. What I see is basically because of the antecedents. According to insiders, Wike played a key role in either enthroning or dethroning the party’s successive chairmen.

 

It is believed that he was the one that enthroned Modu Sheriff; he is the one that enthroned and dethroned Uche Secondus, and it is also believed that he was the one that enthroned Ayu. So, with these antecedents, perhaps it raised the question of selflessness. But at no time will the party be subjected to the caprices of one person.

 

Do you envisage a situation where the crisis will remain unresolved into the 2023 election?

 

 

We are hoping that the crisis will not get to that point. The party is working hard to resolve the differences with the Wike group. Disputes are normal, even in a family. You can hear Wike, Ortom, and others saying that they will remain in PDP no matter what is happening. So, it is our hope and that gives us lots of strength. They are not talking about walking away.

 

As you can see now, there is a lot of peace for now and we are no longer hearing reactions and counter-reaction from both groups.

 

The movement of Peter Obi is a source of concern even here in Delta and despite having a sitting governor who is a vice presidential candidate, the “Obidient” followership is overwhelming. What is your take?

 

Every party has its own crowd, and whether the crowd will translate to victory or vote is another matter, but I am very confident that no amount of crowd can overwhelm PDP in Delta.

 

PDP is present in all the 25 local governments in Delta and over the years, has brought good governance to the state. If it is all about youths, this is the most youth-friendly government. Okowa has embarked on so many programmes that bring our youths out of the streets.

 

PDP has enough youths to counter ‘Obidient’ youths. By all means, we are going to the field because each party is trying to convince the electorate that they are not strangers. We are going to the field because we have enough to showcase, especially under the Okowa-led government. Okowa has performed in almost all sectors: education, infrastructure, economy and others.

 

Do you see Obi as a threat in the 2023 presidential election?

Yes, I know that Obi is making waves because of the failure of the APC as a government and as a party. Remember the issue of EndSARS? That is a failure of the government. They have nothing of substance to campaign with.

 

Some appointees of the Okowa-led government are resigning for Obi. What is your take?

 

How many resigned? Only one resigned. I am a senior political adviser; I should know those who resigned from this government. As far as I’m concerned, some people just want to draw attention to themselves. You can resign from any government if you are not satisfied but you do not have to sensationalise it to score a political point.

 

The PDP in the state at the moment is divided, with some members with Oborevwori while some are with Edevbie. Don’t you see it as a serious setback, particularly with the rising popularity of the APC candidate, Omo-Agege?

 

I don’t understand what you mean by “rising popularity.” In what areas is he gaining popularity?

 

Well, overpricing is part of politics but let me say that our dispute in PDP is a legal dispute. It is a family affair. The legal dispute was not based on the quality of our convention.

 

It is the right of any member to approach the court, so that is not dividing us at all. Edevbie has the right to approach the court but that does not mean that the PDP is divided.

 

There are rumours that the Edevbie camp is being funded by Wike as a form of revenge against Okowa. What is your view?

 

Well, I am not aware of that and I cannot comment on the matter. I wouldn’t know.

 

Before the primary, we stopped seeing former governor James Ibori as the leader of the party in all PDP and government functions because he disagreed with Governor Okowa over who would be governor in 2023. What is your view?

 

As far as I am concerned, I don’t have the facts on that matter. Ibori is our leader and Okowa is the governor and the leader of the party.

 

Votes from Delta South (Ijaw Area) have historically been determinant votes for the PDP in Delta, but with heavyweight politicians defecting to the APC, particularly Godsday Orubebe and the recent oil pipeline contract to Tompolo, are you still confident your party will receive such votes in that area?

 

We are very confident that PDP will get more votes as usual in the area. Let me tell you why: First, the Tompolo contract is well deserved. He has worked so well for the stability of the Niger Delta, and he can confront illegal oil bunkers and others. Secondly, Tompolo has not defected to APC, and the contract is not based on the party membership, rather it is based on competence.

 

There will always be defections; there is always movement but no movement is critical enough to alter the way PDP votes in the area.

The Ijaw before the primary said it was their turn to produce the next governor based on a secret agreement with Governor Okowa in 2015, and that the agreement was not honoured by the governor, which is one of their grievances, making an Ijaw leader like Clark to endorse Omo-Agege. Do you think this will not affect PDP?

 

I am an Ijaw man, and the leader of the Ijaw nation is Clark. I am not aware he endorsed Omo-Agege. I am his son. He did not tell me. PDP is one, and efforts are being made to resolve all the disagreements.

 

What is your advice to the Oborevwori and Edevbie camps as the 2023 election draws closer?

 

Let us drop our grievances and close ranks in the view that, by the side of the law and by INEC publication, Oborevwori is the governorship candidate. Let them all drop their grievances and come together to fight the common enemy.

 

The Supreme Court’s judgment is around the corner. If the judgment is reversed, what will be the position of Oborevwori’s group?

 

The PDP is a party and will go into the election. It is the party that contests for office, not an individual. Source

 

Author: Newstopz400

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