A member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and a Political Scientist, Dr Isuwa Dogo, on Thursday said the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is an epitome of democracy and the father of true democracy in the world.
Speaking on Sunrise Daily on Channels Television on Thursday, Dr Dogo said it was a mere perception that the party has fallen from grace.
He also said the PDP is not just seen in Nigeria, but globally as the best political system that Nigeria and the world has ever produced.
The Political Scientist explained that the party went to the general election with the sole intention to win, but lost in the elections as a result of Nigerians’ view on geopolitical zoning.
He stated that the PDP lost the presidential election because they did not use a Hausa/Fulani Muslim as their candidate.
The PDP member also pointed that the concept of zoning is not in the Nigerian constitution, noting that it is purely an internal matter of the party, which he expressed to be an issue of reality.
He also revealed that the party wanted to change the people’s perception on geopolitical zoning, stressing that anyone can lead the country irrespective of their tribe or religion.
Dr Dogo, however, said the greatest legacy the party has left is the evolution of true democracy.
A political scientist on Friday said the realities on ground do not support the claims of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that it was ready for the elections if they were held as earlier scheduled.
Professor Femi Otunbanjo, who is also a member of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, said that the INEC had not been able to manage the distribution of the Permanent Voter Cards (PVC) and other logistics well ahead of the elections.
“The card readers and many other technical issues are in ponderables and we are not sure that they will work.
“The INEC promised that they will conduct the best election using the PVCs and the card readers. They have not been able to manage the logistics to distribute the materials,” he said.
Professor Otunbanjo suggested that the IENC should revert to the old way of voting, with the Temporary Voter Cards (TVC).
“There is a problem, but I think that the solution will be to remove the card readers, save time, pick people as they come and let those who have the TVCs come and vote. Really, we can combine both. There is no reason that they cannot be combined.
“In the circumstance, there is nothing bad with going back to the old way. It is not necessarily retrogressing. If you cannot manage an innovation, then you better stay where you are. If you cannot manage it to create a credible election. Already, INEC has issues with distribution of PVCs,” the political scientist.
He said the INEC had failed against the background of the earlier scheduled date of February 14, insisting that the electoral body was responsible for the shift in the election date.
“INEC was still training and distributing PVCs because they were not ready. When will they distribute efficiently. They were responsible for the shift basically because they were not ready.
“As at this week, they have distributed 57 per cent for the whole of the south, that is average and 87 per cent for the north. When will they distribute to enable everybody participate fairly in the election that is meant to be free and fair.
“You cannot claim to have a credible election with the percentage of distribution. The evidence does not support their claims and the reality is that INEC was not ready.”
Professor Jega said that the Presidential Election would hold on March 28 while the Governorship election would hold on April 11.
At a press briefing after the last meeting for the day between Professor Jega and other top officials of the INEC, Professor Jega said that the commission’s decision was not influenced by any group or individuals.
“We have done wide reaching consultations to enable us have as much input as necessary before taking an informed decision.
“In the series of consultations that we had with stakeholders, the questions constantly posed to them for consideration are; in view of the latest developments, should INEC proceed with the conduct of the general elections as scheduled in spite of the strong advice and if so, what alternative security arrangements are available to be put in place.
“The second is; should INEC take the advice of the security chiefs and adjust the schedules of the general elections within the framework of the constitutional provisions,” Professor Jega said.
Professor of Political Science, Femi Otubanjo has called for a better democracy as the 2015 general election approaches, to avoid manipulation.
Referring to the ongoing ward congress crisis at the PDP, the political scientist explained the term “ward congress” as a means of providing three delegates who will subsequently elect officers of the National Assembly, House of Assembly and governor.
He stated that it is supposed to be a democratic exercise but lately it has been “manipulated, because democracy in Nigeria has not gotten to a certain level”.
Speaking as a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Mr. Otubanjo explained that a governor has an advantage because he controls the local government, the party machineries and can get the officers to get him the names of nominees which he can use for his benefit, noting that “when it comes to ward congress its difficult for governors not to manipulate the system”.
“The force of poverty is so prominent in politics that people just concede to anything”.
Mr. Otubanjo noted that a governor is not supposed to fund a party but rather the party should be funded by money raised by the members, with the sale of membership cards.
He also noted that there is lack of consultations between the legislator and his constituents.
A Legal Practitioner, George Ekeh, believes that the interpretation of ‘permanent incapacitation’ as suggested by the an aide of Taraba State Governor, Danbaba Suntai, to justify his stay in office is not realistic.
“If we start looking at permanent incapacitation, that section of the constitution can never be invoked. It cannot be because if you start looking at when someone is permanently incapacitated, the person would have been dead.”
Ekeh said that from all indication, Governor Suntai has lost his fitness to cope with the demands of the office of a Governor.
He demanded a contextual interpretation of the constitutional provision on permanent incapacitation as this would be necessary in resolving the matter.
Ekeh also maintained, contrary to Bello’s submission, that the Suntai case is very similar to what was experienced during late President Yar’adua’s illness.
He stated that some level of political morality crept into the unfortunate incident and this is what the Governor’s loyalists are basing their acts on – to keep the Governor in office and help him run the affairs of the state.
He said that the medical panel recently set up by the State Assembly should have been set up long ago as verifying the state of the Governor’s fitness and capacity to run the office would have saved the state all the trouble.
On the need not to portray insensitivity to the leadership capacity of people living with disability through the Suntai matter, Ekeh noted that this should not be offensive as a crippled man with a sound mind can run any office but Governor Suntai, by his observation, has also “lost orientation with regards to time and place – where he was, where he is and where he possibly would be going to.
“On the surface he may look healthy but we are now talking about if he is fit to run and take the demands of that office.”
He maintained that physical and mental fitness make up the capacity of the Governor to remain in office.
Mr Ekeh also said that having waited for about two years for the Governor to recover and he seems not to have achieved the level of fitness expected of a man in the very demanding office of the Governor, the constitution recommends that he should be led out of the office.
A Political Scientist, Kabiru Mato, has described the political logjam between the Taraba State Governor, Danbaba Suntai, and his deputy, Garba Umar, as one of the most unfortunate political scenarios Nigeria has faced since 1999.
Speaking on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, he likened the issue to the situation experienced during the illness of late President Umar Yar’adua in 2009, when according to him, some people within the President’s cabinet decided to shield the true picture of issues.
While he expressed his sympathy for Governor Suntai, he said that a lot of political intrigues have been going on the state, with some of his loyalists taking advantage of his condition to hold the state to ransom.
On October 12, 2012, Governor Suntai was involved in a helicopter accident that has kept him in and out of the hospital for two years.
Mato explained that the House of Assembly, after three weeks of the accident, decided that the Deputy Governor should take over as acting governor and the business of the state has been well managed since then.
While saying that this should have been more important to the stakeholders, he alleged that the reason for the deadlock is that some persons who have personal interests to protect were using the Governor as a tool to achieve their aims.
“Did you see him when they brought him to Abuja sometime last week? He did not look well,” Mako said, blaming his loyalists for subjecting him to ridicule for their own selfish interests.
Mako also noted that politics and democracy are all about attitude, as the lack of the right attitude to handle it would not produce the right results. He linked the adamant attitude of Governor Suntai’s loyalists to the closeness of the 2015 general elections.
Using an indisposed Governor as a tool to protect personal interests and fight political battles is “the most immoral, apolitical and disgraceful” act that should not be allowed in any democracy.
On the need to verify if the Governor had truly become permanently incapacitated as recommended by the constitution before he could be removed from office, Mato admitted that it might be scientifically hard to determine if someone is permanently incapacitated but looking at the condition of the Governor, it would be realistic to accept that he lacked the capacity to carry out his usual activities.
He, however, admitted that until May 29, 2015, Governor Suntai remains the Governor of Taraba State as long as he is still in the hospital recuperating.
The State House of Assembly during the week set up a medical panel to resolve the impasse by proving if Governor Suntai is capable of leading the state or not; a decision Mato said was constitutionally wrong but morally right.
On the implication of the political confusion on the security situation of Taraba State, Mako noted that the while there had been some attacks by insurgents in the state in the past, the majority of Taraba’s security challenges are based on ethnic differences.
He, however, admitted that the weakened state of leadership in the state exposes the state to weakened level of security.
Injured Not Permanently Incapacitated
Former Commissioner for Information in Taraba State, Emmanuel Bello, who joined the conversation via the telephone, however, said that there has been a gap in Mako’s views of the Taraba deadlock because he had been observing the Taraba matters from a distance.
After putting his weight behind the capacity of the State Governor, Danbaba Suntai, to remain in office, he said that Nigerians need to understand that the issue had become more complicated with a lot of illegality going on the state.
He stated that Taraba State had become an illegal state at the moment with two governors, two SSGs and in addition an illegal panel set up by the House of Assembly.
He also quoted the Nigerian Constitution which states that a governor could only be removed from office when he is permanently incapacitated and not when he is injured, adding that only doctors can determine that.
He added that there are many seemingly healthy people who are not healthy, including the Deputy Governor who has his own health challenges as well. Therefore, it would be unideal to consider Governor Suntai incapacitated.
Mako agreed with Bello that indeed there were more to the Taraba issue than meets the eye but disagreed on the capacity of the Governor, claiming that incapacitation in the case should be seen as the inability to carry out the regular activities one used to engage in.
Mako said further that the whole issue in Taraba State was built around religious sentiments as having the Deputy Governor fully take over would amount to a power shift which some persons are not willing to allow.
Bello commended Dr. Mako for his theoretical view of things but maintained that there were major errors in his analysis.
He noted that religion is indeed a strong factor but in Taraba State, the people are more united as most families have a mix of both religions as reflected in his own name – Emmanuel Bello.
He added that the strongest antagonistic to Danbaba’s return has been the Speaker of the House of Assembly who is a Christian like Governor Suntai, likewise many Muslims are in support of the Governor.
He also added that the case of Danbaba and Yar’adua were very different as Danbaba is still very “alive and kicking”.
Mr Bello submitted that the reality was that Taraba has a Deputy Governor who has been trying to tear the state apart along religious and ethnic lines without any regard for the constitution, court injunctions and loyalty to Governor Danbaba whom he owes his political rise to.
He expressed his displeasure at the medical panel set up by the Assembly claiming that the State Executive that set up the panel was illegal based on a court order that barred the Deputy Governor, Garba Umar, from setting up a new executive.
He also said that the Governor’s loyalists were not happy with the make-up of medical doctors in the medical panel set up by the House of Assembly.
He recommended that the first way to find a solution would be to respect all court orders and for the Deputy Governor to stop being in charge since the constitution has said that this should be the case as soon as the Governor returns.
He also called on all Nigerians and the Presidency to condemn the illegalities in the state.
Dr. Mako, however, noted that it remains the duty of the state to solve its own issues, adding that there could be no illegality in the setting up of an Exco.
He had some words for the Governor’s loyalist saying they should be honest to the themselves, the people of Taraba and Nigerians and stop using the amiable Danbaba Suntai as a political guinea pig.
A political scientist, Professor Femi Otubanjo, has compared the APC and PDP to the proverbial devil; and deep blue sea, adding that the newly registered merged party is not different from the ruling party.
In an interview on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Mr Otubanjo said that although the APC is a major threat to the PDP, it is not the ‘alternative’ it is being touted as.
“The APC is not an alternative,” he said, adding that, “it’s just a different party”.
He said that the term alternative should mean that the party is offering an ideological alternative or programme alternative.
“What is it about the APC that would be different?” he asked.
The APC, he said is made up of the CPC which is “conservative,” ANPP, “which has never pretended to be progressive” and ACN which is only “marginally progressive”
I don’t see what ACN and other governors do, that PDP governors don’t do.
He debunked claims that the PDP was responsible for staging the party bearing the name Africa People’s Congress, adding that they are ‘speculations’. He added that as a result of the size of the ruling PDP, that initiative may not have come from the top.
“There are so many members of the PDP. Everything does not come from the top. Even if it was, it’s legitimate political maneuvering to try to dampen the enthusiasm of the opposition.”
The paradigm of politics in Nigeria is different from America. “In Africa we marry democracy with her despotic paternalistic instinct.” This explains why we have “leaders who manipulate all the time to be in power and to stay in power”.
These people, he said, believe that “once you have power, you must maintain it and use it to oppress.”
He said the new party’s major challenges would be tension created by appointing officers into the different leadership positions.
This will make some members leave the party in frustration. “Nigerians do not have a losing spirit”. They will have the normal party problems which PDP seems to be the only one having.