PDP Crisis: No Alternative To Supreme Court Judgment–Ogor

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House of Representatives Minority leader, Leo Okuweh‎ Ogor (PDP, Delta) represents Isoko Federal Constituency in the 8th Assembly. In this interview with AHMED MUSA of Daily Independent, Ogor spoke on the recent face-off between Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna state with Speaker Yakubu Dogara. He also spoke on the crisis in his party and other issues of national interests.

Excerpts:

The PDP is still in crisis, what is the way out?

Yes, I agree to some extent that we are in crisis; but think; first you have a situation where an individual is not even interested in resolving whatever problem we have as a party. I have clearly, from my own observation of the event that took place at the Yar’adua Centre, vis-avis the press comments of Senator Modu Sheriff, head or tail believe the only option now is to wait for the Supreme Court verdict. There is no alternative to it. But it is also important that we point out that it is the people that make a party; not party that makes the people. Whoever thinks he is destroying the PDP is wasting his time, because the membership of the PDP is intact. At the end of the day, as a party, and as a people, we will take our collective decision. We would have loved that whatever the issue is, be resolved, but the action of Sheriff on that fateful day clearly showed that he never wanted peace. I have always said this, and I will keep repeating it. This is my opinion as an individual that Sheriff is a mole in our system. He came in with nothing but destructive motives. I see him as an APC mole that we mistakenly, and I still underline the word, mistakenly brought into our system. It’s quite unfortunate, it is regrettable, but we have made this mistake and we must begin to manage the situation and find a way out of it.

You said Sheriff is a mole but you were one of those who went to his house for talks before you made him your chairman. There was even an allegation in some quarters that you, House Minority Leader was part and parcel of the initial arrangement, so why are you calling him a mole now?

You will not understand the politics that played out on that specific date. He knew from day one, I never supported him; but when the decision was taken and it became a collective decision, as a team player and as a leader, no matter my position, I had no option than to adopt it and work along that line. From day one, I never supported him, but unfortunately, and because the decision was a collective decision where the majority in a democratic setting always have their way, I was left with no option than to back him. But you can clearly see today from his actions and inaction, that this is a man that wants the party destroyed at all cost for one reason or the other. So for me, it is totally inconsequential. I’ve made up my mind that I will not work, and I repeat, I will not work with Sheriff, no matter the circumstance. ‎

You said, the option now is to wait for the Supreme Court decision. What happens in the event that Sheriff wins at the Supreme Court?

I don’t like pre-empting whatever would happen, and I have also told you that it is the people that make a party, and not the party making the people. So I care less about Sheriff, and I don’t want to debate or question the decision of the learned judge at the Appeal Court, because we are already doing that at the Supreme Court. But my only appeal, and I am taking this opportunity to appeal to the Supreme Court that they should make a pronouncement on this case in the interest of our democratic principles and ethos, because justice delayed is justice denied. So, I appeal that the judiciary should take a decision as soon as possible so that they don’t in the process of this delay, create any level of dictatorship in the system. Democracy should be properly nurtured and I believe that at this particular hour, the tripod rests on them, so a decision should be taken whether head or tail, and whatever the decision is from the Supreme Court, we will abide by it.

You said, you are not going to work with Sheriff no matter the circumstance. I want you to be categorical in you answer. What happens if Sheriff wins the appeal at the Supreme Court?

Like I have said before, it’s the people that make the party and not the other way round. I’m a stakeholder in this party, and I’ve said I will not work with him. I’ve made up my mind, because I’m not satisfied with his approach to issue. Respect begets respect, and he disrespected all of us by walking out on us that day. I find it very unacceptable, so for no reason would I want to work with him.

Would you consider the option of joining another party?

That should be my own freedom of choice and opinion.

One of the reasons Sheriff gave for walking out on you that day was that he got a commitment from the former President that he would be allowed to make his case and also be seen and addressed as the chairman of the party. But on getting there, the governors didn’t let that happen and the former President looked on without calling them to order. Don’t you think Sheriff must have felt betrayed enough to walk out of the meeting?

We must avoid making a mountain out of a molehill. What we went for that day was resolving a crisis. The Appeal Court had already ruled that Sheriff is the chairman. And we have gone to the Supreme Court to challenge the ruling and count me in, because, I’m part and parcel of those who believe that Sheriff is not the chairman and that the ruling should be challenged. If he came with sincerity, what is the big deal about addressing somebody as a chairman? What we wanted was the solution. Why can’t we sit as a people in the interest of the party, because the party is bigger than all of us? We always say that the party is supreme, so if all of us want peace, and he came in late while the former President had already finished his speech, the BoT chairman had also finished his speech. And I think it was very disrespectful, first and foremost to the former President and to all of us for him to just come in late to a meeting and insist that he must speak. For Christ’s sakes, let’s call a spade a spade. If he is the chairman and we are challenging his chairmanship, does that make him the chairman? Because the matter is no longer at the Appeal Court, we have taken it to the Supreme Court and the reason is to challenge whether he is the chairman or not, because we insist that the ruling by the Appeal Court was wrong and that is why we went to the Supreme Court. There was no basis for the ruling. We said that the ruling by the Lagos High court stipulated very clearly that there should be no election into some offices, and we didn’t conduct elections. The convention of the party goes beyond mere elections. We have the power at that point in time in the convention to even dissolve the party. That is there in our constitution, except the judges also didn’t read our constitution, but that is the matter for the Supreme Court to deal with. So what we are saying is that our minds have been made up, let the Supreme Court know that justice delayed is justice denied, come out with a ruling, whether positive or negative, we are not bothered. But let it be known that injustice to one is injustice to all. When the truth is told, it would save the whole system. So, the whole system now rests on the Supreme Court, not just the PDP issue. I’m saying that even the democratic system of Nigeria rests on the Supreme Court, because if they delay this, it will not be in the interest of this country as a democratic nation, so whatever it is, a ruling must come out; and let it come out as soon as possible before Sheriff tries to organise his Kangaroo convention.

Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai has by implication and conduct challenged members of the National Assembly, especially, you principal officers to publish your running costs the way he has published his own security votes, what’s your take on that?

I want to say that there’s nothing wrong in us publishing our budget like he asked. There’s no big deal at all, and like our chairman Media committee, Honourable Namdas stated, as soon as the budget is passed, it will be published. But it is also important to note that we read through what he published. El-Rufai published what I call, the security budget of his state. He didn’t publish his security votes. What the Speaker challenged him to publish was his security votes. Why did he publish his security budget? I think for me, we sometimes we create unnecessary crisis where there is no crisis. I think, if he wants us to publish our take-home or salaries and what have you, we will do that. The salaries are almost the same thing, we will bring out everything in black and white. But I pray, this antics of his doesn’t take us back to the Pentascope era where probably, we will have to go back to the Netherlands and to those churches where he sold our national assets to. I’m a bit amazed that today, El-Rufai is telling the National Assembly that we should publish our votes, running costs or whatever. I really don’t know the reason behind it, but I appeal to him to be open-minded and if he wants to publish something, he should publish his security votes, not his security budget. Because what he published was purely a yearly security budget of the state. Let him give us what he takes as a monthly breakdown of security votes for the office of governor every month. I really don’t want to join issues with him. These are minor issues that I believe our committees will definitely handle, because we have agreed to make everything transparent, so it’s a non-issue to us.

Why should we wait for 2017 budget before you make your earnings public?. What is wrong if the leadership publishes even the 2016 budget that is being operated now?

You have the budget, these things are public documents. If what you want is the breakdown of what goes to members, we can go ahead and publish it. It is no big deal at all. You have a copy of the budget, I can bring you a copy of the budget, and you can go ahead and do the publication. It’s not a hidden budget, it’s a public document that is even online. What you should probably say is that, it is not specific. So all said and done, El-Rufai should concentrate more on his own security votes, rather than his security budget, because there is a difference between the two. ‎

You said El-Rufai shouldn’t make you revisit the Pentascope era, otherwise, you will  revisit places in the Netherlands, what exactly is with the Pentascope thing that Nigerians should know about as a way of refreshing their memories?

Pentascope borders on the sale of our Nitel, and I can tell you categorically that I was the person who chaired that investigation where El-Rufai as Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE) hired a company called Pentascope whose headquarters was an abandoned church in the Netherlands. And those are the people who ruined Nitel. Nitel had one of the best state of the art infrastructures with the Sat-3 lines. It was top of the range, but these guys came and cannibalised the place, instead of them repositioning Nitel with competence and the necessary funds, they were busy removing the core facilities which they took away, and when we started the investigation, they packed their bags and baggages and abandoned the country in the night. Then I had wanted to get all of them arrested, but unfortunately, before we could get all the approvals, they had escaped. And I know the pressure that came from very high quarters over that particular investigation. And I indicted him (El-Rufai) then, but you know, how that subject matter became what it is today is a very long story. Maybe probably, we will set aside a specific date for that.

How much was involved as discovered from the investigation?

Ans: Oh, it ran into billions upon billions of naira. It was what ruined Nitel entirely, but it is not a matter for today, and I really don’t want to go into that particular issue.

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