Shehu Gabam, former chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and campaign director of the Prof Tunde Adeniran in the PDP chairmanship race at the party’s last national convention, is the national secretary of the Social Democratic Party (SDP).
In this interview with EMEKA NZE, he explains why his camp left the PDP for the SDP and other national issues
After the PDP national convention, your political camp felt aggrieved with the process and moved to the SDP despite participating in the reconciliation process, what actually provoked your decision to move? First, I must say that the choice of the Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson as chairman of the reconciliation committee was apt.
He is a very dedicated and committed man who loves his party.
So last December’s convention was absolutely developed to be a rigging convention.
What happened at the convention ground was against the rules of a proper convention.
It was a mark of complex by people who felt defeated already so they had to manipulate and short-changed the core values that are known for the conduct of convention in any political party.
We had stated that this convention must be transparent.
There must be a show of remorse, a departure from the old ways of doing things.
Sadly, we couldn’t conduct a convention that will elect principal officers of the party through due process and the laws that established the convention.
You can imagine serving governors going around distributing unity list at the venue of the convention and they knew that international community were watching.
We all knew the European Union had urged for free and fair elections.
They knew that we had a ruling government in place that we were hoping to defeat.
They knew we were defeated because of rascality, arrogance, disregard for rules and regulations.
They also knew that after we lost the 2015 election, a committee was established and headed by the deputy senate president, who went round the county to find out why we actually lost election.
The committee went round the six geopolitical zones on a fact finding mission.
The report was brought back to the party, the National Executive Committee (NEC) approved it.
Thereafter, as if that was not enough another committee was constituted called strategic committee and inter-party affairs headed by Prof Jerry Gana.
I participated in three committees.
Our recommendations on how to remodel and restructure the party were well accepted.
The NEC also approved it.
But again it was jettisoned.
At the convention, there was no single semblance that everything that was generated by the committees was imbibed.
There was no sign of remorse.
The PDP wasn’t built by people who were short-sighted.
It was built by great visionary leaders and politicians, who during the dark days of military regime damned the consequences and formed a formidable national party.
If you remember we had parallel structures by late Sunday Awoniyi.
We even had a parallel office opened at Jabi.
That was when the whole crisis started.
We had subsequent ones.
Not too long ago, we saw great personalities of the party move out to join the APC as a result of impunity.
Yet, with all this consequences, and all the fact findings we did, collected and imputed in a document, some group of people still felt that they must have their way.
In order words, this is all about the rigging that took place and the conventions? It is all about the rigging at the convention and lack of remorse that we are seeing in the party.
We generated ideas on why we lost election and we agreed to stop those things that made us to lose election.
None was implemented and there was no sign of remorse.
No decent person will love to be part of the party.
Does that mean you did not accept the reconciliation process at any time? It is not about accepting the reconciliation, it’s about the facts.
I have told you that Dickson is one of the gifts PDP has.
He started the reconciliation but from nowhere they went to constitute another reconciliation committee, ignoring or forgetting there is an existing one.
If you don’t want him to do the job why then did you give him the job?
Having fought for this party from the onset as one of the youngest founding fathers, how does it feel to be edged out of the party by two governors? They didn’t edge me out of the party.
I have to tell myself the bitter truth.
I am a politician, I didn’t join politics because I am a blind person, or because I have no vision or ambition.
As young as I am I have my own ambition.
I want to reach the peak of my career like any other person.
It is not a religious organisation.
It is not a church or a mosque.
So what you are saying is that you have explored all the avenues for reconciliation in PDP? We have explored all of avenues to redeem the PDP.
We have appeared in all media organizations in the world trying to defend this party at all cost, not at the cost of the party but at our own.
There is no media programme in which I defended PDP that I was paid for.
I did it simply because I love the party passionately.
I am more of an investor in the PDP than most of them.
Perhaps, only the founding fathers of the party have made more investments in the PDP than me.
If I was looking for money I would have gone to APC.
But I am a disciplined person.
We were trained to build institutions.
If you build institutions, you may not benefit from it immediately but future generations will benefit from it.
Those who built PDP are not benefiting from it today.
Those benefiting are not founders of the party.
So if the founders didn’t sacrifice for the party where would we be by now? Who would have restored democracy back to the system?
So in essence you are saying PDP is irredeemable? Yes, the PDP is irredeemable.
There is no one with the capacity to redeem the PDP right now.
The people that have the capacity to do so have all left.
And I can tell you that we are some of those who have the capacity.
We have the capacity to deal with any issue with any individual.
I am not reducing anybody but I can tell you that if at this material time the political colossus like Prof Jerry Gana, who is the custodian of the power and oratory the party, who has ideas flowing like water and a commitment to defend the party at all cost, has left the party then it tells a lot.
Another political juggernaut, Prof Tunde Adeniran, took the PDP to the South-west.
Can you have one person that can replace him in the PDP today? None.
Who is that person that has the commitment and acumen of Adeniran in the PDP? So, it is not about personal or parochial issues but personal interest.
The country is tearing apart politically and we need a rescue team.
And we have come as a rescue team to
salvage the country.
Are you worried by the interpretations that your camp defected because your candidate lost out at the convention? These are infantile interpretations.
I can’t be worried about people’s perception.
I am worried about who I am as a human being We put them in offices.
I have not gone to any governor or minister to beg for any favour throughout my life, even when we formed the party.
I have never done that.
I am a principled person.
I stand by what I believe in.
It is God that gives and takes power.
What is critical for any citizen or politician is to do something that will protect the system, not be part of a group that will undermine the system because you don’t know who will come in.
The successor generation of the party derailed.
The younger generations betrayed the older generations in the PDP because there were no tutoring systems.
People who didn’t know the core values of the PDP, didn’t know the core fundamentals of the party came in with greed and selfish ambition, which are the things that derailed the party.
Part of what affected the PDP convention was presidential ambition of aspirants.
How sir? Everybody was positioning to have the structure of the party at the convention.
They all wanted to be president, including those that can’t even mention that they want to be president.
Some people mortgaged the convention because they want to be president.