A former Vice President of Nigeria, Alex Ekwueme, has lamented that despite being a founding member, he has been subjected to “humiliation and neglect” by current leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Mr. Ekwueme, who said this during an interview with the Sun Newspapers, also asked President Goodluck Jonathan to accord him his due recognition as a founding member of the PDP and a former Vice President of Nigeria.
He decried the refusal of the Mr Jonathan to attend his 80th birthday celebration despite being invited; but said his relationship with the president is cordial.
“It (his relationship with Mr. Jonathan) is cordial, but maybe he doesn’t appreciate that without my risking my life there would have been no PDP and the popularity that made it possible for him to become the President of Nigeria,” the octogenarian said.
“Okay, I know, for instance, my friend Braithwaite of NAP had his birthday, the President went to Lagos to celebrate with him but I had my 80th birthday and he did not come.”
On whether the president was invited, Mr. Ekwueme said: “the whole Nigeria was invited. Of course, he was invited but he did not appear personally at any of the events, even the ones in Abuja. So, it is a matter of style.”
He said the PDP of today is not the PDP he risked his life to help to form adding that the party has been hijacked by people who are not in tune with the original ideal of the party.
“The truth is that the PDP as it is today was not the PDP we founded in 1998; that is the truth, I won’t hide it from anybody. It is not the PDP I risked my life to found in 1998. Now, PDP has been hijacked by people who have no philosophical or spiritual attachment to the precepts that informed formation of the party in 1998,” he said.
“What I envisaged for PDP in 1998 was that it would be a mass movement, satisfying the needs of the masses and having membership from all over the country.”
While stating that the injustice in the party has chased prominent members of the party to seek their political ambitions elsewhere, Mr. Ekwueme said outside his emotional attachment as the founding member of the party he has no business remaining in the party in its present form.
“People who founded and worked for the party are alienated by poor management of success, and those who do not have the patience, some of us have decided to find new channels to fulfil their political ambitions. I, for instance, the chairman of the party, first chairman of Board of Trustees, first chairman from the civil society to G34 and so on, if I was not myself, I’m not bragging, I am being modest, I have no reason to be in PDP today. All I have received throughout the years is humiliation and neglect.”
He said the party only does the bidding of those he described as “noisemakers” adding the party has an “unfortunate” habit of neglecting the gentlemen among its members who desire to play by the rules.
“I told you that I have no business being in PDP today because I am not a noisemaker. I am not created to be a noisemaker or to create trouble, they are using it to deny me whatever is due to me,” he said. “Because you are a gentleman, you won’t disturb, rather the people who shout and make noise, they try and accommodate themselves so that they don’t create problems, I think it is an unfortunate approach to life. But those who don’t make noise and don’t create troubles also have feelings as human beings and they should not have been denied what is due to them.”
On Mr. Jonathan chances in the South East in the forthcoming election, Mr. Ekwueme said that the president is taking the support of the region for granted and this may cost him votes as he has alienated some of his supporters in the region.
He said he doubted if the president would be able to garner block vote in the forthcoming election like he did in 2011, as he feared many of those who voted for the president then might boycott the election.
“Now, we have election in less than two months, people are disgruntled. At the last election, the state voted overwhelmingly for President Jonathan, we had the highest per cent of all the six geo-political zones for the President. In less than two months when elections are held, many people from South-East may not vote for Muhammadu Buhari for reasons which I will not go into now, but it does not necessarily mean they will vote for Jonathan because of how things have evolved.
“Many will not vote at all. Not casting their votes at all is a minus for the President, so he shouldn’t take the South-East for granted that it will be the same 99 per cent votes that will come from the South- East in 2015. It might not be.”
He said the PDP is in disarray in the South East and for it to make headway in the election it must make efforts to reconcile all aggrieved members.
“Well, because the leadership of the PDP in every state in the South-East does not have coherency, well organised PDP structure today. Ebonyi is in disarray, Enugu is abdicated, Abia, Anambra have about six different factions, Imo is not serious at that, so it requires hard work for PDP to bring together the South-East to how it was eight years ago. My worry is that many of them in the leadership of PDP don’t even realise that there is this danger, they think it is business as usual, so they take South-East for granted that they will vote that same way they voted, 90 per cent of vote to President Jonathan, it may not happen.”