Former House of the Representatives member, Hon. Eseme Eyiboh, in this interview with Ojo M. Maduekwe, speaks on the 2015 presidential election and other issues of national importance
How do you examine the defection trend currently on-going in the National Assembly and in the country generally?
From the background of an enriched knowledge of the legislature, having been the chairman of the House committee on media and public affairs and spokesperson for the House of Representatives for four years, and another year and half as the chairman of the House committee on donor agencies, when people are discussing about defection in the public domain, I am worried about it, not as a politician or member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), I am worried about it as a democrat; as someone who understands the import and the intendment of democracy, vis-Ã -vis politics and governance. The defection in itself is an infection. It is celebrated as a political plus or minus for one political party or the other, but to all of us as a people, this defection is an infection on our democracy and electoral process. The difference between a democracy and military dictatorship is the presence of the legislature, which is the bedrock of democracy as expounded in chapter four of the constitution. The same constitution says that the people must be governed by the rule of law and the dividends of democracy. By the way, the dividend of democracy is not road construction because this takes place in military government as well, same as the issues of bore holes and houses. The dividend of democracy is the rule of law, free speech, and freedom to move about, the liberty of the citizens and so on.
These are the dividends of democracy and it is anchored on the threshold of law and order, and the National Assembly is the foundation for the preservation of our constitution. So when you begin to hear of defection, if you are a democrat, then you should be worried because it threatens the foundation of the responsibility the constitution has placed on an institution. On the issue of it as an infection, it has altered and brought to the fore, what some of us have been complaining about â€“ the issue of the leadership recruitment process; having the right people in the right places. If our electoral process were to throw up men and women with capacity and pedigree, driven by ideological conviction, this particular defection would not have taken place. The defection trend clearly indicates that individuals are expecting by their actions that their heart is where their mouth is. Majority of the people who have defected are following their governors; they are not doing it on the basis of personal principles or conviction but following where their mouth is. But the defection is also good for our polity because it has taught PDP to rise up to the issue of the management of the reputation of a political party.
How would you describe the opposition All Progressives Congress?
I am one of those people who came out and celebrated it when the legacy parties merged to form the APC. I believed that for one moment, this was going to be a conglomerate that would give PDP a run for its money. But today I am thinking differently because APC has given opportunity to PDP to reinvent itself. The moment Adamu Muâ€™azu emerged PDP had solved half of its problem. PDP had solved half of its problem by those who had some form of grievances but did not exercise some form of patience but joined APC, those interest of theirs that made them leave PDP would be manifested in APC during the convention and congresses. So I can tell you without the fear of being contradicted that in the days ahead, there would be a new APC which would culminate into an explosion. And the presence of Muâ€™azu who has a pedigree, and I stand to be corrected, of being a mobiliser and brand manager, and a man who uses flexibility to get what he wants, is a plus for PDP. This is signal that the days of PDP reinventing itself are here.
About the allegation that President Jonathan reached an agreement not to contest in 2015, do you think he should run for president?
Constitutionally President Jonathan is obliged to run for a second term. And the allegation that he would not run was not on the basis of constitutional impediment; possibly he was saying it on the grounds of personal volition. But it is up to the president to decide whether to exercise his liberty and the constitutional rights of a citizen by running. Also, I think that the president would run for a second term and would win, and he has basis to do that. Inside PDP presently, even those who are saying that he should not run, we are yet to see an alternative to President Jonathan that would defend the indivisibility of this country and be able to offer a stronger economy and enhance responsibilities.
The opposition has not also come out with a policy direction to articulate what is in their opinion an alternative to what the government is presently doing. For example, take agriculture, after the demise of the ground pyramid and cocoa, this is the first time that the sector has been pragmatically approached. We are on the path of a rebirth of the ground pyramid days. Some time ago in this country, they used to buy transformers and give to all the local governments in the country, and the question you want to ask is does the fisherman in Rivers or Bayelsa Stateâ€™s need tractor? But today, the present agriculture reform system created agricultural ecological zones where the implement is given based on needs. Now there is no need of creating cartels; the farmers now get their equipment directly. This is a path to lifting the country to rely on agriculture as its mainstay beyond oil. Also regarding the power sector, President Jonathan has performed. The problem is that heâ€™s been performing but has not been informing the masses that heâ€™s working. Those who have been recruited to speak on behalf of the president have failed him; their utterances are very unpresidential. They take the reputation of the presidency to the public domain. People recruited to speak on behalf of the president must have the character and colour to preserve the integrity of the presidency and not use their utterances to offend the sensibility of the people.
As we approach 2015, do you see a replay of the Rivers State crisis in other states of the federation?
What is playing out in Rivers is a conflict of elite conspiracy. There is a theory that espouses that when a man is climbing up there are a lot of obstacles but when a man is coming down there are less obstacles but most people fall when they are coming down than when climbing up, even with the less obstacles. The reason is because the man tells himself mission accomplished and takes a lot of things for granted. Amaechi has achieved his goal of becoming the governor of Rivers State despite series of obstacles so coming down has made him careless about the consequences of most of the actions he has taken. He is also careless of his consequences on other people, including his supporters. The primary purpose of the two warring party, is expected to be the security and welfare of the people of Rivers State.