Mr Matthew Iduoriyekemwen is one of the few members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo state who have remained in the party since 1999 after the party lost power both in Edo state and at the national level. In this interview with Saturday Vanguard, Iduoriyekemwen, who was the governorship candidate of the Ali Modu Sheriff faction of the PDP in the September 28, 2016 governorship election in Edo state sokeon the current crisis in the PDP, accusing Governors Nyesom Wike of Rivers state and Ayo Fayose of Ekiti state of being behind the crisis rocking the party.
He also said that Chief Dan Orbih was no longer the chairman of the PDP in the state following the Appeal Court ruling on the case between Senator Ahmed Makarfi and Modu Sheriff just as he commended Governor Godwin Obaseki for doing well presently in Edo state.
You have been quiet since the governorship election in the state, how do you see the crisis rocking your party, the PDP?
The elections came and we saw how it ended. After the elections, litigations have been going on over the control of PDP and like you know I identified with Ali Modu Sheriff. I believe strongly that he is the right chairman of the party which recently the Court of Appeal affirmed. I will not say I have been too quiet because recently Modu Sheriff came to Edo state, he went to Delta state for a town hall meeting and he came for General Ogbemudia’s burial. And I have been with him throughout. I talk when I need to talk and not just to make noise. Again I don’t want to make comments that will be considered prejudice. But I think it is time that the PDP must realize that we must show example of obedience to the rule of law. As a party that had led this country for sixteen years and still have governors in some states and as the main opposition party in the country today, we must show some respect to the rule of law. And for the court of Appeal to come out and state the position of the law as it relates to the chairmanship of the party, I think it is the proper thing whether people like it or not you must obey the law. But this grand standing and exhibition of rascality that we are seeing today were the kind of things that led to the down fall of PDP in Edo state and Nigeria as a whole. If this issue is not resolved, PDP will remain in coma for a very long time to come. The party does not belong to any body, it does not belong to the governors. The governors are just members of the party like all of us, all they owe this party is to ensure that the party does not sink. But in a situation where they are taking a stand that unless the court pronounces Makarfi as chairman of the party they will not work with Sheriff, then we are not serious. Now they are talking about the Supreme Court as if the Supreme Court belongs to them, that it will upturn the decision of the Appeal Court. We cannot have a PDP constitution and yet people will come and disobey the position of that constitution because you are a governor. People like Makarfi should also face reality. Makarfi has never presented himself for chairmanship of this party, whether you like it or not Sheriff presented himself before the national leadership of this party and they elected him to become the chairman of the party and these governors were part of the process that elected Sheriff to complete the tenure of Muazu. Funny enough Governors Wike and Fayose will be shocked what will happen to them. Because of PDP crisis, we lost Ondo and Edo elections and if they don’t take time, Ekiti will follow, then Wike will lose re-election and all their noise will end. You cannot be disunited and expect to win an election against a ruling party.
Why have your group not set up your own State Executive of the PDP?
Everything has to do with the observance of the rule of law. Before the Court of Appeal ruling, I felt it would create more crisis to a house that is already in crisis to start creating another group of Executive. But after the Court of Appeal judgment, you saw that the same people were still parading themselves as state executive but we all know that Dan Orbih-led Executive is no longer in existence in Edo state. We are already in the process of setting up another executive based on the Appeal Court ruling which stated that Ali Modu Sheriff is the authentic National chairman of the PDP. As long as it is the PDP that paid for the secretariat where Orbih is occupying now, they will quit the place and a new Exco will take over the place, we don’t need to look for another office, PDP is one. Just the same way Sheriff took over the national secretariat of the PDP, that is the same way we are going to take over the secretariat of the PDP in Edo state and other states in the country. Orbih is not the state chairman of the PDP here and he knows. The chairman of the Edo PDP will be made known in the next few weeks by the national leadership of the party.
Any hope for PDP in 2019?
There can only be hope for the party if the leaders are sincere in their moves for reconciliation. In a situation where some persons have hijacked the party and see it as a personal property then we have a problem. They sit down in the comfort of their homes and decide who becomes this and that. Until you stop that impunity in PDP, PDP cannot be said to be a serious party for 2019. You can see the mass defection of PDP members to APC, that shows failure of leadership. A cabal took over the PDP and had continued to negatively affect party members. But thank God for the emergence of Ali Modu Sheriff who stood up to say no, impunity has to stop in PDP.
You were accused of being too close to former governor Adams Oshiomhole which was seen as always working against your party?
I have never hidden the fact that Oshiomhole was my friend but very many of the people accusing me of being close to Oshiomhole were even closer to him than myself. But I cannot deny my friends simply because we don’t belong to the same political party. The day we went to Uromi for Chief Anenih’s thanks giving service, Chief Anenih told Oshiomhole that there was a cook that made good Okro soup for himself and Oshiomhole and that Oshiomhole should still come and eat the okro soup since the cook was still there. Does that not show friendship, do enemies eat together? Why is it that my own is different, I have more of my friends in the APC today than the PDP. Most of the people in PDP today were people who joined the party along the way. My being a member of PDP does not mean I should abandon my friends. Apart from that, we know those who gave Oshiomhole four Commissioners, drinking Champagne with him when ACN ousted Osunbor in the Appeal Court. So tell me who is more closer to Oshiomhole?
Have you buried your gubernatorial ambition?
We have a new government in place in Edo state, like I always tell people, my interest is Edo first and if a government is doing well in Edo state, why will I want to truncate the path of progress. We will always express our ambition when we feel that things are not going on well. For now, I feel that Obaseki has just started and from what he is doing now, he is working hard. I am a very sincere person even though I am in the PDP. But I am seeing a lot of jobs going on here and there and he is not making noise about it. And I think that is the way a serious government should actually operate. But it is still early now, let us remember that we may feel comfortable in other parts of the country but Edo state remains our own. The priority of every good politician should be the general development of this state considering the overall well being of our people and how well our people can be better served so that they can get the benefits of having a government in place. And whoever is doing well we must support the person because it is for the over all good of our people.