By Benjamin Omoike
A former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Bayelsa State, Anthony George-Ikoli, on Friday said he would not quit the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
‘’I have been in PDP since 1999 and this is the second time I am contesting elections under our party’s flag. If I didn’t leave the party then, I don’t think it would be prudent to do so now. I detest the politics of convenience and cross carpeting although it would seem there are more than enough cogent reasons for many of us to have left but there is still an argument for many of us who choose to stay and help with the rebuilding of the party. I personally believe in man’s innate ability to reform and reinvent himself and as such, the need to rebuild through service is uppermost in my mind. I may not have succeeded in my bid to become governor but I don’t believe that should rob me of my desire to deliver service to my nation.’’
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria described politics as a service.
‘’I did rather stay and weather the storm in my party than to jump ship just for the sake of jumping ship. After all, who says there are no issues in other parties as well? Aspirants within the APC are equally in court seeking judicial intervention in their own primaries at well. Ultimately, are we here to serve ourselves or are we here to serve the generality of our people? If we are here to serve the generality, does jumping ship serve that purpose? These are the real questions one must answer in the arduous process of decision making.”
George-Ikoli, an aspirant in the recently concluded governorship primary in Bayelsa State believes that history is on the side of the PDP and that the people are not in a hurry to swap PDP for an uncertain opposition party.
‘’The PDP is a party the people of the South-South and Bayelsa in general have a natural historical affinity for, given the inclusiveness of its politics and the nationalistic outlook of the party and the emotional investment they have in the party. Despite the seeming growing influence of the APC in Bayelsa State, I don’t think the people are in a hurry to swap our party for an uncertain opposition party. In 2015, we swapped certainty for uncertainty at the centre and it is clear as day what the results of that experiment have been.”
The member of the PDP National Campaign Councils for Bayelsa and Kogi States spoke to newsmen in Abuja.
‘’I believe there was a sense of exclusionism within the party from the onset of the entire process as it seemed only a select group within the party had the anointing of the establishment to contest. This I believe had the unintended consequences of degenerating into an ‘’us versus them’’ contest depending on which side of the divide one stood.’’
He argued that the governorship primary caused harm to the party in the state.
‘’The governor as any normal politician cannot be begrudged. He has his rights to participation and to have a favorite in the race. Although it was important to get his buy-in in some shape or form as the incumbent, winning his heart was not really on the cards especially if his heart was set on another. What was more important was ensuring that a process that was fair and credible was undertaken and the party would still remain together, stronger into the elections. The seeming exclusionist environment didn’t support this.’’
The legal luminary called for fence-mending and reworking of the party.
‘’I would be lying to myself if I say the primaries were perfect and everything went according to the spirit and letter of our party’s constitution. A clear indication of this is the fact that court actions have been instituted against the process and not a few people came away feeling aggrieved at the way some things were handled. Is this a setback for the party? Only time will tell. There is sufficient need for fence-mending and reworking of the party.’’
He proposed an aggressive strategy to assuage frayed nerves.
‘’Let’s face it. The primaries were not perfect and there is still a lot the party has to do to reconcile frayed nerves. If asking that things be done properly is rocking the boat, then count me amongst those rocking the boat.. Every boat rocking must have intended positive end and for me, that is strengthening the internal processes of the party.
He also educated the Bayelsan public on how to develop the state.
‘’There is so much to do in Bayelsa. We are so far behind. It is not even funny. One major thing that scares me is the fact that most of the young people in Bayelsa hardly ever have the appellation engineer, doctor or lawyer. Instead, what you hear is politician or youth leader or ex this or ex that. It is dangerous that the state is populated predominantly by politicians.
“People like us who have thriving careers outside of politics must shout it to the rooftops that there are too many politicians and too few in the real sector. We must build that real sector and quickly too. We must get our youth to think of another way of doing things. We must get them into production, teach them value creation and how to better their lives before it is too late. The lure of taking politics as a means of livelihood should be discouraged and politics as a means to service uplifted.’’