Our constitution must be amended to discourage defection –Salvador, PDP chair

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Moshood Salvador is the chairman of the Lagos State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP). He speaks on the recent defection of PDP lawmakers in the State House of Assembly and stated that members who defect will not be trusted by the ruling party. He also speaks on the need for the constitution to be amended to ensure that leaders who have the mandate of their parties cannot easily defect to other parties.

In the light of the recent events happening in the country, would you honestly say that the PDP done well as an opposition party?

I would say that we have not done well, and it is not because the PDP cannot do well, but it is because of the persecution being carried out by the Federal Government against the party that has contributed to its setback. The FG is just witch-hunting PDP members as if all their members are saints and that is why some of our members our weak and demoralised, but I can assure you that this is a new era for PDP. Very soon, the nation would witness a very virile opposition which will start any moment from now. Did you ever see former President Jonathan witch hunting those that opposed him? The world is watching the way that this government is carrying on. Nigerians are suffering, the GDP and the economic rating of the nation in Africa has gone down, yet they are planning to perpetrate themselves in power.

Your critics say the PDP has made things very easy for the ruling party because the party has not positioned itself as a credible alternative. If you say that members have become weak because of the probing and arrest being carried out by the anti graft agencies, does it mean that the party does not have credible people who can speak without fear of probe?

I agree with you and that is why you see PDP having many meetings to achieve what you have just talked about. It is the internal wrangling within the party that also contributed to demoralise members. But as it is, we have decided that despite the Appeal Court judgment, we would forge ahead with aggressive opposition work.  It is not only the responsibility of the party secretary to defend the party as a credible alternative; it is the responsibility of all PDP members. If all of us keep talking against the bad polices of the government, then they should come and put all of us in jail. That is why it is important for everyone to do this job together.

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What are the ideologies of PDP and do you think that members of the party have conducted themselves as those with principles?

You need to go through the constitution of the PDP and you would know the difference between us and other parties. I want to use the Lagos chapter as an example. When I heard about the defection plans of some of our members in the Lagos Assembly, I told them that it is not in the culture of political parties in Lagos to nominate non-indigenes. It is only PDP that can do that and we demonstrated it by recognising everyone’s uniqueness. After giving them these members our tickets, their actions are now telling us that we made a mistake. You can see that we are nationalistic on our approach, that is one of the things that stands us out. None of our members in the House of Assembly has contributed a kobo to our party except the one we call ‘talk and do’ in Amuwo Odofin. We are using our personal funds to run the party as it is. We introduced the payment of dues, but these lawmakers were the ones discouraging people from paying.

How do they discourage members from paying dues?

In the past four months, I gave out 250 membership cards to each Local Government so that people can pay their money  directly into the party account, but till now, no dime has entered the account. Besides the personal contribution of some chieftains, no one has funded the party. We would keep managing the party till the representatives that we have need our support in future; we would be waiting for that time. When I heard that some of the state lawmakers planned to defect, I called about four of them to confirm, but they kept denying it, even though we were told that the party hierarchy told them to keep denying it. We know the amount of money they collected from the APC leadership to defect. They were given forms of transfer to fill to indicate that they were defecting. The APC connived with them to break the ranks of the PDP because of the forthcoming council elections. The APC will never give any of those that defected their party tickets; it does not work like that. They have caucuses and leadership, and they allocate tickets to their leaders. Can these defectors point to their leaders in APC? If you say you are going to join a particular group, you should remember that there were people there before you who would be given priority.

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So what is their rationale for defecting?

It is selfishness. They claim they are owning banks and the APC gave them money. They think they will go back to their constituents and see happy faces? No one will trust them again, because people in the APC will say that if they can be given money just to defect, then tomorrow, when they are offered a higher amount, they will also leave APC because they are unstable. They have packaged themselves into oblivion because no PDP member in this state have defected and remained relevant. No one will hear anything about them again because they would not be trusted. I advised them as a senior member of the party not to defect, but they did not listen.

Would you say anything is wrong with our political system that makes people defect so easily?

It is lack of ideologies that causes it. Most people you see that get involved in politics do so out of their own personal and selfish interests and not to serve the people. It is the constitution that allows it. As long as it is written in the constitution that if there is a crack in the party, then anyone can defect even when the person has the mandate of the party, then this would keep happening. If it is not there, then such won’t happen. There is no party constitution that can supersede the constitutions, so there is nothing you can do. The worst you can do is to dismiss the person from the party. You don’t have the power to say the person can’t do politics. Many of our politicians lack integrity. When your party has a problem, you should be part of the solution and not to run away from it.

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Is there a mechanism in the party that can thoroughly screen potential aspirants to ensure only credible people who can perform when elected emerge during party primary?

The party screens candidates, but screening an aspirant cannot give you the person’s full behaviour because you are not a psychologist. You just do your best and leave the rest. Unfortunately, the society does not respect morals anymore. Any armed robber can be given a chieftaincy title in his village and the heroes of the society now are people with questionable character. No one asks where the money is coming from. These are the problems we have in the society now and it is not peculiar to political parties.

Source – The Sun

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