The Special Adviser in the Akwa Ibom State Bureau of Political, Legislative Affairs and Water Resources, Barrister Ekong Sampson, a lawyer and two-term member of the State House of Assembly, shares his thoughts on the Supreme Court verdict of the PDP National Chairmanship. Excerpts:
How will you describe the Supreme Court verdict that recently validated the election which brought Senator Ahmed Makarfi as the Caretaker Chairman of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP)?
The Supreme Court verdict is victory for law and commonsense. Victory for law in that the Supreme Court reaffirmed basic principles that forms an underpinning for its decision, and as a lawyer, nobody can challenge the legal premises on which the Supreme Court erected its reasoning. The decision also accord with commonsense in that logically, Senator Ahmed Makarfi deserved to win. So, to me the decision of the Supreme Court is victory for law and commonsense.
Can you explain the logic behind the victory?
You will find that Senator Ahmed Makarfi was the product of a larger body of opinion. The National Convention of the party, which is the apex decision making body of the party, had met and took its decision and a lot of PDP faithful lined up behind Senator Ahmed Makarfi. Conversely, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff had much fewer faithful that supported him. The larger body of opinion was in favour of Senator Ahmed Makarfi but principally, outside the vortex of law and logic, the victory of Senator Ahmed Makarfi is victory for democracy. It is not just victory for Senator Ahmed Makarfi or victory for the PDP as a political party, this is victory for democracy. Because one shuddered as to contemplate what would have been the faith of Nigeria if Nigeria had descended into a one party state. People were worried that Nigeria was descending into the abbeys of a one party environment. The Supreme Court decision has restored hope, it has strengthened institutions, and it has strengthened democracy. So, I think it is victory for law, victory for commonsense and victory for democracy.
So, what’s next for the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led executive, in terms of election, reconciliations and all that?
The immediate task before the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led executive is to bring everybody aboard. Everybody has to be challenged to join hands to rebuild the party. The PDP is a party with huge potentials to drive Nigeria. So, there is an immediate assignment for the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led executive and on all of us to come together and rebuild PDP and nobody should be excluded. It is a no victor, no vanquish scenario. So, no effort should be spared in bringing everybody onboard, whether you were with Senator Ahmed Makarfi or Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, the important thing is that the party has to be strengthened so that it can take up its viable position in the country. It is critical. It is not just victory that is limited to a platform. It is the kind of victory that one expects to help reposition the party and drive the system. So, it is good for the party, it is good for democracy, it is good for Nigeria and it has strengthened trust and faith in the judiciary, the country and democracy. It is very important because concerns over a one party scenario were becoming very worrisome. So, Nigeria emerges from this saga stronger, at trust that democracy has also been enriched just as law and jurisprudence.
In Akwa Ibom, were there such scenarios of a dividing house between the Makarfi and Sheriff factions?
Akwa Ibom was firmly behind Senator Ahmed Makarfi. We believed that his path was the path that will help drive the party. So, the PDP in Akwa Ibom State was solidly behind the Senator Makarfi undercurrent. And let me use this opportunity to appreciate Governor Udom Emmanuel. It is clear that our Governor demonstrated leadership during those trying times, standing solidly behind his people, and standing firmly behind Senator Ahmed Makarfi. So, in those trying times, Senator Ahmed Makarfi worked very hard to earn the confidence of a larger body of opinion within the party and Governor Udom Emmanuel stood firmly behind him. Governor Udom Emmanuel stood firmly behind the thinking of his people and at the end of the day, the party is better for it. As I said earlier, it’s a no victor, no vanquish scenario. The winner is democracy.
Can you give us a brief rundown of what your Bureau has been doing?
Our most important assignment now is getting our people to come out and register for their voter Cards, particularly those who did not get theirs earlier. We have been going round to assess the extent of response to the exercise. We are working very hard and moving from place to place to ensure that our people are fully mobilized to take part in the exercise.