A former President of the Nigerian Senate, Ken Nnamani, has announced his departure from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, a political platform to which be belonged since 1999, and which, in 2005, made him the third most powerful man in Nigeria.
In a statement made available to PREMIUM TIMES on Saturday, Mr. Nnamani said he was quitting the party because the platform had abandoned “the path of its noble vision and values”.
Mr. Nnamani was elected to the Senate President in 2003, and was senate president between 2005 and 2007.
In his statement Saturday, entitled, “PDP, the Burden and My Conscience,” the politician said he was fed up with the current status and direction of the PDP, and was therefore quitting “without any iota of bitterness” in his heart.
“I do not believe I should continue to be a member of the PDP as it is defined today,” Mr. Nnamani said, “This is certainly not the party I joined years ago to help change my country. I do not also believe that the PDP as it is managed today will provide an opportunity for me to continue to play the politics of principles and values which I set for myself as a young man on leaving graduate school and working for a large multinational in the United States in the 70s and 80s.
“Therefore, today I resign my membership of the PDP. In stepping out of partisan politics for the meantime, I will continue to be politically engaged. I will also continue to support the government and all the elected officers in Nigeria to repositioning the nation.
“I will also constructively criticize them when by commission or omission they take actions that could damage the prospects of transforming Nigeria into a productive, merit-based and honestly governed country.”
Mr. Nnamani later told PREMIUM TIMES on telephone that he was leaving because it had become crystal clear to him that nothing would change in the party in the foreseeable future.
He recalled that on November 10, 2015, he led a delegation of concerned party leaders to the Wadata Plaza national secretariat of the party to push for change.
“We were simply dismissed,” Mr. Nnamani said. “They simply said they would get back to us. We haven’t heard from them since then.”
He said even after the party was defeated in the 2015 general election, he and other like-minded party members believed that that defeat could be transformed to victory.
“We were hopeful and continued to push for reform,” Mr. Nnamani said. “But as you can see, that hasn’t work. Those who led us to defeat have continued to hold the party down.
“In the circumstance, I have to move on and get on with my life.”
Read Mr. Nnamani’s full statement below.
PDP, the Burden and My Conscience
Without any iota of bitterness in my heart, I have decided to disengage from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and consequently step aside from partisan politics in the interim. I wish to express my profound gratitude to the party that gave me the platform with which I attained the height I did in the politics of our country.
How I wish the efforts I mounted with some of my colleagues (many of whom have left the party) to keep the PDP on the path of its noble vision and values had been supported by those who were privileged to be at the helm of affairs of the party, it would have been a different day for the PDP. It would have been a day of victory and pride not of defeat and shame.
I recall that the virus of corruption of values and mission was what those my colleagues and I set out to cure through the formation of the PDP Reform Forum in 2010/11. We worked hard to draw up a new direction for the Party.
This was to help steer the party away from illegality and impropriety so that PDP can fulfill its promise of being a vanguard of Nigeria’s political and economic development. A direction defined by strict adherence to basic rules and morality in the management of party affairs. Chief of these values is respect for choice of party members in electing party candidates for elections.
With more than half a decade of championing such a fundamental but simple idea, I regret that the PDP leadership continues to rebuff internal democracy. The party allowed itself to be blinded by hubris to believe that it will remain in power and influence for 60 years in spite of several gross missteps and grievous misnomer. We foresaw this ditch and prescribed how to avert falling into it. But we were dismissed as idealistic. Today the idealists have become realists.
Recently, even after our avoidable abysmal electoral defeat, I continued to believe that we can still chart a new course and retrieve victory from the jaw of defeat. I continued to urge the leadership of the party to believe that the time of defeat could be the time of renewal, and that renewal requires strategic thinking and bold actions.
I urged that this is a time to reembrace internal democracy and principled leadership to reposition the party for new politics. We are living in different times and we need new tools, ethos and codes of conduct. We need to become a party of technocrats and professionals and not a party of mercenaries and rent seekers.
We need to become the party of young men and women with new ideas and not a party of political dinosaurs. It is clear now that these pleas have fallen on deaf ears. Every day the crisis of confidence and the contradictions in our party deepen. We continue to lose members and morale. The rebuilding some of us had urged on the leadership is not happening. Those who led us to defeat are determined to continue to lead the party as undertakers.
I do not believe I should continue to be a member of the PDP as it is defined today. This is certainly not the party I joined years ago to help change my country. I do not also believe that the PDP as it is managed today will provide an opportunity for me to continue to play the politics of principles and values which I set for myself as a young man on leaving graduate school and working for a large multinational in the United States in the 70s and 80s.
Therefore, today I resign my membership of the PDP. In stepping out of partisan politics for the meantime, I will continue to be politically engaged. I will also continue to support the government and all the elected officers in Nigeria to repositioning the nation. I will also constructively criticize them when by commission or omission they take actions that could damage the prospects of transforming Nigeria into a productive, merit-based and honestly governed country.
As I leave PDP, I wish the leaders a new awakening and ethical revival. I cherish all the friends I made while in PDP and hope the friendship will continue to flourish.
God bless Nigeria.
Senator Ken Nnamani, GCON