Former governor of Imo State, Dr Ikedi Ohakim, yesterday announced his decision to temporarily withdraw from active participation in partisan politics and quit the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), on which platform he was elected in 2007, citing impunity in the party.
He said his time would now be devoted to mentoring and working with the youths of Imo state and Nigeria outside politics, as well as running his non-governmental organisation, The Clean and Green Africa Foundation.
In a statement he personally signed yesterday, the former governor said the decision, which he described as sad, became necessary following the impunity in his former party and that he could no longer be “part of this circus in the political arena for the time being.”
According to him, following the outcome of the 2015 general elections, he embarked on a series of commentaries, especially in national newspapers, in which he made personal contributions on how his party, the PDP, could reposition itself to play the role of effective opposition and that in doing this, at the back of his mind was the fact that though the party lost the presidential election, the PDP had gathered enough clout and experience to help guide our democracy even out of power, and that he had opined that party men should make the ‘mourning’ period as brief as possible, limit the blame game while waiting for another opportunity to ask Nigerians for another mandate.
“My overall wish was, and still is, that no matter which party is in power, all hands must be on deck to make out democracy grow.”
Ohakim said the desire for the PDP to remain strong was also the wish of ordinary Nigerians who, though desired a change from the status quo ante, still believed that for the needed balance, the PDP had to remain strong.
He lamented that the trend of events since April 2015 indicated that the party, “the largest party in Africa”, did not key into this general optimism.
“What remained of the party’s leadership disregarded all wise counsel to seize the opportunity offered by the unexpected loss to do away with the very thing that led to the party’s defeat: Impunity. One thing led to the other and eventually, a party that was expected to gather itself together imploded. The final result was the split into two factions which have remained irreconcilable despite wise counsels from well-meaning quarters within and outside the party; and indeed despite pronouncements of the law. Simply put, impunity took over the party even more than ever before. Nigerians have watched as leaders of the party take deliberate steps to destabilize it,” he lamented.
The former governor further stated that even outside the PDP, the general political environment had not helped matters, pointing out that contrary to the expectations of Nigerians that the political class had learnt the relevant lessons from the outcome of the 2015 general elections, which was that the peoples’ preference must count, the latter had returned to the old antics of election rigging and violence.
“In the last one year, nearly every election has been characterised by brigandage and hooliganism. Even more curiously, the electoral empire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), became far more vulnerable than it ever had been. A commission that conducted a presidential election that was hailed worldwide, both in conduct and outcome, became a source of acute pain for Nigerians. In the last sixteen months, INEC has been unable to conduct any election to the satisfaction of even the most timid Nigerian. It is from one inconclusive election to another.”
Ohakim clarified that other than the need to have time to pursue other matters of terrestrial interest, there was nothing else behind the decision and expressed appreciation to his political associates and followers for their unalloyed support and love, and urged them to similarly demonstrate the needed courage and understanding. He promised to continue to play his role in shaping the collective destiny of the people of Nigeria.