Senate Minority leader, Godswill Akpabio, speaks on preparations for the forthcoming national convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), state of the nation’s economy and the way forward. Excerpts:
What is the position of Senate Caucus of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on the party’s forthcoming national convention?
We are happy with the arrangement made so far. We met with the national leadership of our party last week and we agreed that the time table so far remains sacrosanct. So, the convention will take place on May 21, of course to elect new leaders for the party. And I think it will be a normal process.
We are democrats and I believe strongly that there will be no imposition, there will be no impunity. And of course, we showed that we are democrats during the general elections in 2015. We lost the presidency but we congratulated the winner and we peacefully handed over power.
Today, other countries are emulating the example of the PDP. During the recent elections in Benin Republic, the loser also congratulated the winner just before the final announcement of the result. What it means is that Nigeria is becoming a beacon of hope to Africa and we have shown other African countries the example of what democracy should be.
So, I will expect the same thing to happen at the PDP convention and all the congresses that will take place in the next few weeks.
Do you believe the present administration has what it takes to lift the country out of economic doldrums?
Well, you have seen that the economic down turn affects not just Nigeria but the whole world; it’s a global affair. And Nigeria’s problem had been that we had depended more on one economic source and that is the crude oil. So, the volatility of crude oil price affects our economy, when the price goes up Nigeria will rejoice, when the price goes down Nigeria will groan.
So, what has happened here is that with the massive failure, what we call oil glut in the market, the oil price has reduced what we expected in the last 20 years and that has automatically affected our economy. So, it has nothing to do with which administration is in power.
It has something to do with resources to be able to deliver the dividends of democracy. But I think all hands should be on deck, those in opposition and those in position to work together to salvage the situation. The country belongs to all of us and if the country collapses on our heads, it means that we will bequeath nothing to our children.
I will like to bequeath Nigeria to my children and that is why I said we must look at the economic situation in an apolitical manner and not point blames on any political party.We must work together to diversify the economy and get other sources of revenue, go into mining, go into agricultural ventures, encourage entrepreneurship ventures and at the same time bring foreign direct investment and encourage local industrialisation to enable our people to have jobs.
It is not something you can depend only on revenue from crude oil to resolve. It has shown us now that it can fail us any time any day. That’s the reason I said we need time, Nigerians must be patient with government irrespective of whether it is at the federal or state levels.
What is the position of PDP senators on the trial of the Senate President at the Code of Conduct of Tribunal (CCT)?
PDP is not in charge of the trial and the PDP as a party is not in charge of the Federal Government. I think the Code of Conduct Tribunal is a federal establishment. So, if it were something particular to say Abia State, where the PDP is in charge I would have been able to make a comment. But I will rather say that the PDP has no comment.
What is your assessment of your successor, Governor Udom Emmanuel, vis-a-vis your achievement as Akwa Ibom State governor, which is still a reference point of good governance till date?
Every politician should have love in his heart and then determination in his mind. If you don’t love your people you will not be able to give them the best. If you are not determined, it will be nothing because when I remember the celebrated blind Helen Keller, who was taught people how to read signs through the brail and passed at the top of her class, when she was going for the convocation, they asked her what could be worse than being blind and she said what could be worst that being blind is to have sight but no vision.
So, I want to pray that every government whether state or federal level should have vision; vision to develop; vision to see through the yearnings of the people. What happened to Akwa Ibom State under my administration was that we had the enablement and we had the vision and we ensured that we exhibited the vision to the fullest and that’s my prayer for the whole Nigeria.(Culled from New Telegraph).