Governors responsible for APC, PDP woes – Fidelis Tapgun

A former Governor of Plateau State, Amb. Fidelis Tapgun has said state governors are the architects of the crisis facing the country’s ruling party, APC and the main opposition party, the PDP. For the PDP, he said the party needs to be returned to the people at the grassroots to own before it can take its rightful place again. Delving into the June 12, 1993 election debacle, he said until the Federal Government declare late MKO Abiola as elected President of Nigeria, celebration of democracy day on June 12 would have no meaning. In his interview he noted that he told President Muhammadu Buhari two years ago at Aso Villa that Abiola should be declared president posthumously and listed among Nigeria’s Presidents.
He blamed PDP Governors for the state of things in the party and said the implementation of the report by the Alex Ekwueme Committee set up by late President Umar Musa Yar’Adua will end the party’s challenges and put it on the path of victory in 2023.
People believe that like-minded individuals conceived the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Your served in the Alex Ekwueme PDP reconciliation committee, has the party implemented your recommendations since then?
They have not been addressed. This is one of the greatest things that have been disturbing my life in this world. PDP is very solid in this country, there is nothing you can do about it, it has its ups and down, yes, so there is nothing you can do to uproot PDP. It was formed from the grassroots and not from the top. After it was launched in Abuja, we had the first elections, it was local government elections and we swept this country. There was no money anywhere and people were asking us how did we do it. Anywhere we were going for campaign, the people there will contribute their money to entertain people, they took the party as their own property and that was what we meant when we said it is the people’s party. That was how we went into that election and when we won, some people started running into PDP, so it is a solid party. Obasanjo was the first President himself and Atiku as VP under the party. Mistakes came up when the Executive started interfering in party politics. It started during the Obasanjo campaign, he had coordinators all over the country, I was his Coordinator here in Plateau State, and we were campaigning before the primaries for the Governors, when the Governorship candidates emerged, so how Obasanjo and Atiku decided that the Governors would become the coordinators of the party that is where the problem started. We protested, we were just working and clashing because we refused, in Plateau state, Joshua Dariye became the Coordinator. When the Government established itself, the President who was voted on a platform of a political party and instead of working with the political party, he was working with the Governors, instead of asking the party what do we do, they will ask the Governors and the Governors started giving instructions to the party which was the first major mistake and it continued like that. During SDP and NRC period, Chairman of the party was supreme at the national level and the Chairman of the party at the state is supreme at the state, so also at the Local Government and Ward level. The Governors were answerable to the chairman of the party in the state and the President was subject to the National Chairman of the party. When we were Governors under SDP, we went for meetings in Abuja, it is the Chairman of the party that sits to conduct everything and not the President, the President and Governors will sit down with everybody. Infact, when you want to ask a question, a governor will have to wait until the party Chairman gives you chance to talk, and that was what was happening in the states. The chairmen of the party were the bosses in the states and not the governors, we will go for meeting with our party chairman, he will decide that I should talk otherwise I can’t talk, anything they wanted from the national they will call the party chairman and then he will call us and we will discuss the issue and then take a decision and send to the national. The party was raising own money by itself, the national level was sending money to the party in the states to function, to maintain the office and pay staff and so on. But the mistake that was made this time was to turn the whole thing the other way round by the Governors and it became a big problem and that was how we were moving. At the national level, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo became the leader of the party, there was this clash between him and the national chairman of the party, at the state level the Governor will say he is the leader of the party, at Local Government level the Council Chairman will say he is the leader of the party and at the ward level the Councilor will say he is the leader of the party, how do you do that kind of thing for heaven’s sake. It continued like that until Umar Musa Yar’Adua came as President; Yar’Adua was a foundation member of PDP and we were in SDP together, when he came, he said the system that brought him to power was flawed, he didn’t believe in the system that brought him to power, that was why he said he will set up a committee to look at why PDP is behaving like this, this is not the PDP he knows. He set up the Alex Ekwueme committee, which I was part of, he asked us to go round and find out what was the matter. You know the committee was very powerful, all the prominent people were there and we were lucky we served in that committee, we went round the six geopolitical zones and people expressed their views and we discovered the terrible things that were going on in the party. One of the issues was about the leadership of the party at the national and the state levels, where the Governors will say they are the leaders. We said if PDP must function, all these things must stop, it is a political party and not an executive party. Part of what happened was that it was the Governors that were funding the party, if something happened, Chairmen of the party will run to the Governors and say we want money, the party Chairman at the local government level will run to the Executive Chairman at that level, they were controlling and the party became toothless.