Chief Peter Ameh is the National Chairman of Progressive Peoples Alliance, PPA. In this interview, he bares his mind on the recent development in the nation’s political scene. Ameh while x-raying the controversies which characterised the recently conducted National Assembly leadership election concluded that a bi-partisan legislature is good for the country.
How would you react to the controversies generated by the election of presiding officers in the National Assembly?
There have been a lot of intrigues behind closed doors among the various blocs that came to form the All Progressive Congress, APC, that gave it the power it now has and the ability to have the national spread that gave it the advantage to take over power at the centre.
These power blocs have been pitching opinion against opinion and interest against interest, and that is what has really made this thing very difficult. But nevertheless, we know that there is a good intention from the elected president. But APC as a party is making very serious mistakes maybe from the leadership.
I thought that based on their popular slogan of Change, that they would be an all-inclusive party, a party that has respect for internal democratic process, a party that has respect for the interest, wishes and aspirations of it members. But so far, APC has fallen short of that and has failed to achieve that in a lot of areas.
Because one, if you say a member who wants to contest for the post of the Senate President has an interest and that member is a member of your party, and that member has contributed financially up to date, the member has contributed personal manpower by moving from one state to another campaigning for the victory of the APC. You said that member should not run that you have a preferred candidate, what have you done? Have you not infringed on the right of that person to participate and have you not refused to create a fair playing field for participation for all your members? Have you not refused to create an all-inclusive process of election?Like the National Assembly elections, I want to sincerely fault the leadership of the APC. While we commend the President, Muhammadu Buhari for accepting that he would work with any person that is chosen as leader at the National Assembly level. We want to fault the negative influence of the APC as a political party in the leadership process of the National Assembly.
These were all the things that the previous political parties like the PDP were doing that were wrong that caused the party to crash and yet APC claimed change. APC would have allowed its members to elect the leader or leaders of their choice without any imposition.
As the national chairman of a political party do you think Senator Saraki and Speaker Dogara violated party discipline by contesting against the party’s nominated candidates in the leadership contests?
I want to tell you one thing, our party the PPA, had people like Senator Uche Chukwumerijie of blessed memory elected to the Senate in 2007 under its platform, Chief Ikedi Ohakim became the governor of Imo State under the platform of our party, Chief Theodore Orji, the immediate past governor of Abia state became governor under the platform of our party. I think when the position of the party becomes too stiff; you push your members away, and the damage that would be done would be too much to recover from.
If you say party discipline, you must create a system of fair hearing, you must create an equal level playing field for all those persons that you want them to follow party principles and party policies; you must create that equal playing field.
You cannot be a judge in a matter where your interest is already known, there is no way you can judge that matter fairly because from day one the party was known to favour some candidates as the choice candidate of the party; Lawan-Akume and Femi Gbajabiamila tickets. So there is no way if I were involved in the process, if a member of my party is involved in that process that he would want to participate because there was no equal level playing field.
And there is nowhere that you will create a straw-poll for leadership of the Senate before they go to the floor of the senate because you have no right to do that. The leaders as stipulated by the constitution and all external rules said that the elected leaders of this Senate and House of Representatives will elect a leader amongst themselves on the floor of the Senate. So the party went above the normal thing.
PPA adopted former President Goodluck Jonathan as its candidate in the last presidential election. Why did he lose?
Internal wrangling, betrayal here and there caused his loss because Jonathan as a person did well for this country, he has served this country well. Indeed, we formed a committee; issues were reviewed. Before we adopted Jonathan, we took time. We were the last set of people to adopt Jonathan, we took our time, we reviewed a lot of issues and sincerely, lawyers were involved in this process. We discovered that Jonathan was the best candidate for that election from my own point of view.
We became happier when despite losing an election Jonathan became a celebrated individual; he became more celebrated than even winning because of his approach to the election after he lost. He called President Buhari before the final result was collated, they have not even announced some states.
So at the time we took our decision, with all the relevant information at our disposal, it was the best decision we took at that point in time. So for Nigeria that has come and gone, we are now engaged in nation building. In politics you align, and you re-align and you continue to create an alliance for a better Nigeria and that is what we are doing. We are here to build a better future for our people, so it is not a personal thing.
The governorship election in your state, Kogi is expected to hold by October this year, will your party field a candidate for the governorship election.
If I don’t feature my interest to show how much I am on the ground in the state. You know the last election, Senator Abetemi Usman, as serving senator contesting on the platform of my party lost by just a slight margin because of the Buhari syndrome.