Chief Clarence Olafemi is the former acting governor of Kogi state he spoke on several issues as it affect political parties and the nation in general.
What is the current political situation in the country?
First of all, let me take this question from the background of my participation in politics and whatever that might have happened before I became a politician is a history book which i can not speak authoritatively like I will do during the period I started participating in politics.
I joined active politics 1977 when I left the university and I was serving my father land through NYSC, but I became real active politician in 1979 when I became a card carrier of the defunct Unity Party of Nigeria UPN. Through the party I contested house of representative and I lost , I took it in good faith because the people who are managing UPN then did not denied me the opportunity to go through the electoral process of selecting a candidate but they only conspired against me by shifting support and delegate selection towards my opponent and he defeated me by only one vote and that time the entire Okun land only produce one house of representative.
At a point in time I thought that I will be returned unopposed because the incumbent then , Chief Bodunde withdrew for me . After this incident , there were other regimes and the interference or incursion of the military into governance that rested political activities . All through the thick and thin I remained in politics till today.
In the NRC and the SDP which was formed by the military , I was the state deputy chairman of NRC for the whole old Kwara state . In 1991 I contested for the governorship of old Kwara shortly before Kogi State was created. In Kogi state I have contested for senate, governorship twice , I did not win any of these but the process was allowed to go the normal way.
What is happening today in Nigeria politics that cut across virtually all the political parties in this country is the issue of impunity which is on the rise and has gotten to a point that it is being taken as part of process of electioneering during any election which is not correct in any way.
There is no where in the country’s constitution for instance where a party can laid procedure to say this is how to select a candidate for an election . It is a party’s affairs, but during selections of candidates through primaries manipulation arises in the middle of the process and the power that be within the party pick people that did not participated in the process from the beginning.
This scenario happened to me when I aspired to contest for the position of Senate under the platform of the People Democratic Party PDP. I indicated interest and went through all the process with other aspirants , but the power that be , in the party truncated the process and gave automatic ticket to somebody who decamped from APC to PDP not minding that fact that we have been on the field for upward of two years.
The maneuvering was not done neatly , imagine a serving house of representative member under the platform of PDP was disqualified and they said he can not contest for the senate . How can you say that somebody like me who had been a minority leader, a former Speaker and former acting governor can not contest for the senate .
The most annoying aspect of the maneuvering was that no result of the purported primary election was released because they believe that it is only the party that can submit names of candidates to INEC.
Today the person the party took his name to INEC for the senate election is back home and the power of the party had diminished , what remain now is that the interest of the party is secondary as openly demonstrated by the party leadership. Election within the party is no longer base on merit .
So when people are blaming Ebonyi State governor for abandoning PDP for APC , I laugh because if the man can come out to narrate his ordeal in the party, you will not blame him. It is obvious that at the point of taking that decisive decision he felt the pain but that could be the only way out for him and the only way to revench the injustice meted on him by the leadership of the party.
Again , when all of us who are cheated in that senate decided to unanimously withdraw, they moved out of the party with their supporters which of course weaken the strength and popularity of a party.
Even those that decided to remain in PDP did not serve the party with open mind and utmost sincerity as required of a party man and that was the result the party got during the 215 presidential election where PDP lost to the opposition party because we can no longer stay in a party where there is no Justice and equity among members.
As a result of annoyance we made sure that the person in the senate who was given automatic ticket got out of the senate and he was removed from the senate. So the word impunity is the greatest thing that has infected and corrupt the party administration in this country.
What is the way out ?
The only way out of this doldrum is that the people who are being chosen as the national working committee should be the men of high intergrity. Their should be people who will see truth and identify it as truth not people who will put personal interest above the interest of the party and it’s members.
There are room for aggrieved persons to appeal within the party but the leaders will set up the appeal committee and they will not allow the committee to function accordingly because they want to endorse candidate through impunity .
Impunity distroyed a party to the root because if you cut the leaf of a tree it can grow but if you cut the tap root it will not survive that is exactly what happen to political party where impunity is very high like the PDP.
The way I am look at things , PDP has to wake up otherwise the party will be so inconsequential to an extend that another party will come up. Go and look at APC , the party couldn’t have naturally win the 2015 presidential election if not that there was a huge crises in PDP that gave rise to the emergence of the new PDP.
The new PDP as a result of impunity left the party and APC capitalised on the crises and bulldozed themselves into power.
However the solution to this problem is not far fetch, leaders should put the priority and the survival of the party over and above personal interest just like the way and manner Americans practice their democracy.
It is obvious that we need a reformed party administration. I have served as a speaker under legistilature and I also served at the executive level as acting governor of Kogi State so whenever I am talking I know what I am saying.
The irony of it all , if PDP did not wake up on time this nation will become one party system though it may never happen , but if on the other hand it happen and Nigerians make proper use of the opportunity, it may be a way out for Nigeria to review or change the constitution.
What if some political parties merged to form new party?
That can not be rule out but who will be their members ,it is the aggrieved politicians from PDP and APC which means transferring a new wine into an old wine skin.
This shows that the nation is only recirculing politicians that has nothing to offer. Some people had served for several years they have aged and depreciating both in intellectuality , capability and health and such categories of people still remain at the forefront of leadership even when they have nothing to offer the country.
As a legislature , in which area you think the nation need electoral reform?
First , we should emulate the American system of government which we adopted half way. Secondly, our voting process should be computerise, this will reduced corruption drastically and this will naturally scraped the State Independent Electoral Commission . If we must take the local government as the third tier of government SIEC should be scrape immediately.