Hon. Mathew Iduoroiyekemwen is the former majority leader, Edo state House of Assembly. He was also a governorship aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party in the 2012 governorship election in Edo state and former NDDC commissioner representing Edo state. In this interview with National WAVES’ Edo State correspondent, Rita Ogiemen,he bares his mind on some national issues.
What is your take on the proposed declaration as vacant, the seats of defecting PDP legislators?
I agree with it absolutely. The constitution is very clear on the process of decamping. If a lawmaker belongs to a faction of a political party, INEC must recognize that faction. And if that faction decides to move to another political party as well as a serving lawmaker, the legislator will not lose his seat. But when there is no faction and you move on your own, the constitution is very clear on that.
The mere fact that it happened in the past and nothing happened was because people were not following the rules. This is because some persons became overbearing in the parliament. And at that time, the leaders of parliament slept on their authority. The situation as it is and prescribed by the constitution is very clear, which is the basis for the creation of the parliament. That is, when you decide to decamp to another party. So, when you violate the constitution, you should also be prepared to face the consequences. They have the right to associate with anybody politically, but that right can only be exercised at the expiration of their tenure. The lawmakers may not obey party directives while they are in parliament, but to openly cross carpet, they stand the risk of losing their seats.
What advice do you have for the new PDP chairman?
My advice for the new PDP chairman is that he should be a team player. From what I read of Bamanga Tukur, he was not carrying every member of his committee along. I heard he was absent from the national secretariat for about eight months or in about eight months, he only went there twice.
Being the chairman of the party does not confer on you the authority of sole administrator. You are only first among equals. The positions were zoned to different parts of the country, and the perceived best candidates were sent from those areas based on the zoning arrangements of the party.And for me, the new chairman of the party should try and see himself as the father of all.
What is your opinion about the chances of President Jonathan’s re-election bid in 2015?
I strongly believe that PDP will win the 2015 election. Mr. President has done enough for Nigerians to see reasons while they should re-elect him. It’s not just about sentiments; I think President Jonathan has done better than his predecessors. Take any aspect of the economy and put it side by side with other persons that have been presidents of this country. Is it in the area of roads, agriculture, education, security and national defence? I think any Nigerian who is concerned about the future of this country must identify with the transformation agenda of the president and vote for him. His achievements are enough to give him votes, with or without the PDP. But the good thing is that he is a president and this has added a good advantage for him to win the election.
President Jonathan has received a lot of knocks for his perceived inability to fight corruption. How do you view this?
It depends on how you see the fight against corruption. Nigerians are used to taking witch hunting as fight against corruption. During President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration, he sent the anti-graft agency after persons who were seen as key opposition to whatever programme he had. And it was reasonable for the whole world to see as if he was fighting corruption.How do you fight corruption? The ICPC, EFCC, police have the legal authority to fight corruption. I think Jonathan has provided the enabling environment for all of them to work. We have never heard from them that they are not able to do their jobs or being under funded. We have not even equally seen government interfering or stopping the prosecution of charges against any corrupt persons.
It was alleged that you were romancing the APC after failing to clinch the Edo PDP gubernatorial ticket in 2012. How do you react to this?
My answer to that question is very simple. I am a party member and a leader in my own local government. And whatever it will take for me to ensure that my party wins an election, I will always do.I am not at war with anybody. I may have personal differences on how things should be done at any particular point in time. The mere fact that my opinion was not carried at a particular time did not turn me against the system that I belong to.If I am unhappy with the system at any point in time because things were not done, I will continue to be a party man. That is what it means to operate democracy. It does not necessarily mean that your opinion must be adhered to all the time.
Do you still nurse the ambition to be governor of Edo State come 2016?
Having indicated interest to become the governor of Edo state and it did not come through does not mean that the interest is dead. But in deciding whether to run for election or not, so many factors will come to play. The election is still very far. I will consult with my political team. We will analyze politics as at that time. And if they so wish that they think I can, so be it. Because, ultimately, I may have appeal as somebody contesting for the election, but they are the ones doing the job.
How do react to the disagreement among the Edo political class that stalled nominee for NDDC board?
I think the decision to appoint any person into the NDDC is purely that of the president’s prerogative. But in doing that, Mr. President equally decides who to consult with to give him nominee. It’s not an elective office where you could have been nominated. Whoever the president thinks fit into the programme will be appointed in that state.
But it’s only unfortunate that politics has taken a tone of the appointment in this state. And because Mr. President is not on ground in the state, he still needs to consult with Edo people and take the opinion of Edo people into consideration before appointing anybody.
The disagreement between the PDP and people who are supposed to be representative of the oil producing areas is the reason for the non-appointment. But I don’t think this is a good thing for Edo people because you lose so much when you don’t have a representative -whereas other states have. However, I believe sooner than later, we will have. It cannot continue.