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Enoidem: PDP Had 122 cases in High Courts, 44 in Courts of Appeal , 27 at the Supreme Court, We Won 90%

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Okon Bassey holds a conversation with the immediate past National Legal Adviser of the Peoples Democratic Party PDP National Legal Adviser and National Chairman of Maintain Peace Movement, Mr. Emmanuel Enoidem

On his achievements as PDP National Legal Adviser

We thank God for the four years that spanned between December 10, 2017 and December 9, 2021, which is the period I served as a National Legal Adviser of PDP. It was a very challenging moment but at the end of the day, when we look back we can thank God for all the things He has enabled us to achieved.

Without being boastful, I didn’t meet a place that can be properly called a legal department of any organization for that matter. I didn’t meet a single copy of any book on law. I didn’t meet an office space that was habitable but by the grace of God, by the time I left, I left a place that can be called a Law Chamber, a properly, so called law department.

I went and did a fantastic renovation of the office space that was given to us and bought relevant office equipment and furniture out of my pocket. I’m not talking of what I got money from the party to do and we got some law books to furnishe the Chambers to make the office a legal department and of course, there was no single lawyer on employment in the department but by the time I left, I left two lawyers that we recruited. The two of them are more than 10 years old at the bar who are now permanent staff of the legal department for the first time in the history of the legal department.

In terms of litigation, we went round the country, I think this is the first time, and I am not being boastful here, this is the first time that the legal department has been able to prosecute up to 122 cases in the different High Courts in the country, 44 cases in the different Courts of Appeal in the country and 27 cases at the Supreme Court for the first time directly from the legal department.

Before we went there, most of the cases were given out to different lawyers in the country. For instance, we inherited a debt of more than N4 billion out of which more than N3 billion came from the legal department alone, from different lawyers from all over the country. But as at the time I left, I did not leave one kobo in debt for the legal department, not a Kobo was incurred under my watch for any legal fees from any lawyer anywhere in the country. It’s not just about the number of cases I am talking about here, a number of wins were also made.

Of all the 122 cases in the different High Courts in the country, 88 of those cases were done to completion, and then of the 44 cases in the Courts of Appeal, all of them were done to completion. Of the 27 cases in the Supreme Court, all of them were done to completion. The only one that remains in the Supreme Court is one case that is awaiting judgement. We have taken the brief, we have adopted the brief and the case was adjourned to the January 21, 2022 for judgement.

Then of course we won all the 27 cases we had in the Supreme Court, except one. Then we won 42 out of 44 cases in the Courts of Appeal and lost only 2; and then out of 2 we lost, we won one of them at the Supreme Court remaining the one I said we lost. And of the 88 that we completed at the various High Courts, we won 78 of them, and those we lost we won at the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court except one. In other words, we had like 90% litigation success in all the courts across the country.

For me, this is a record that stands challengeable, I want somebody to go there and challenge those records.

Apart from all of these, we also were able to raise the moral of the staff in the department because some of them that did not have promotion, we were able to secure promotion for them which also raised their moral and made them more committed to work for the department. Some may ask what was the process, what did you do to be able to leave the department in a zero free debt.

Another strategy I adopted apart from massive litigation through increase the capacity in the department was whenever we had a case from far flung areas or states that we cannot go, maybe because of insecurity, we’ll call a leader in that state and ask him to fund the case for the party. And I thank God all the leaders, everyone we’ve ever called responded positively and also took up those cases and nominated lawyers for us that is good by their own account and then we appoint the lawyer for that case and then they will fund it.

Most of the states that we couldn’t go and we have to resort to this procedure and they cooperated with us. It was by the grace of God. These were the things we adopted to ensure that the legal department performed optimally and we can look back and say we are very happy for what happened.

On Akwa Ibom State not having an officer in the new PDP NWC

What happened was that the Governor in his wisdom thinks that since Akwa Ibom State is already very strong as a PDP state since 1998 till today, winning all the elections all the way, we are already very familiar with the environment, the terrain, the party is a household name in Akwa Ibom State, there is need to strengthen other states that are not PDP states by allowing them to get nomination into the national offices.

For me, it was an unimpeachable wisdom even though I would have loved to have somebody at the national level but for me that reason was very impersonal and it’s also very strong for the party. It’s unimpeachable, something you cannot fault. So that’s the justification for not having someone at the national level this time around.

On PDP losing the 2015 presidential election after 16 years in power.

I don’t like crying over spilled milk. But I believe that as a political party we (PDP) made some mistakes and one of the foremost mistakes we made was to renege on our zonal arrangement in the sense that in 2015 power was supposed to return to the North by our zoning arrangement but the party in fielding Jonathan which was not a very popular decision and apart from just fielding Jonathan, the party also did not take into consideration the sentiment of the North.

And it is not a rumour that there was a gentleman’s agreement by Jonathan that he will serve one term when Yaradua died, it’s not a rumour, it is a common place knowledge that Jonathan had promised that he will do one term but he reneged on those promises by insisting that he wants to go for a second term. Those were the weak points that contributed to the loss.

Then of course, another reason was that the managers of the process of the election also gave out the works of the party during the election to what they called TAN and that was the major mistake of the party because party politics is better run by the managers of the political party at all time. But what happened was that the entirety of the structure and procedures of the campaign was given out to TAN and TAN began to be as if it was an alternate platform, having offices all over the country, in all the states.

For me, that was a very demoralizing decision, it was a major mistake in the prosecution of the 2015 general election and that made us to have the outcome we had. We laid the foundation for it. It wasn’t because Nigerians did not love PDP. It wasn’t at all but it was because PDP made a lot of mistakes. And the third point I will make here is that PDP also did not recognize internal democracy which would have been promotional of local interest, promotional of the best person for any office in the country was not also respected. We behaved as if we were Lords and masters unto ourselves and we are not running democracy.

We’ll go and upturn primary election results in some states even if it was clear that this person won and in those days Ghana-must-go bags were flying about in the national secretariat of the PDP. These were some of the things that contributed to the failure of PDP at the national election and I stand to be corrected.

And that is why when we came on board in 2017, we said we are not going to do things as it used to be. We changed the narrative of the party in terms of internal democracy. We said we are returning to party to the owners of the party at the grassroot. Because the motto of the party is ‘Power to the People’ and if it is power to the people, then the people must also have a contribution in the making of who is to represent them, the people must have a contribution in the decision making of the party at all levels.

So we returned the party to the people and I stand to be corrected and I challenge anyone who wants to accuse us, throughout our four years tenure we have midwived different primaries in different states for the governorship election, House of Assembly election, National Assembly election, and for the presidential election and we stand to be corrected and we challenge anyone who will say that he had given anybody one kobo at the national office in the last four years to change the results of any election for any position throughout the country. It never happened. Nobody will ever say that he came to the national secretariat within that four years to bring one Ghana-Must-Go containing money to the national Secretariat for any result of any election to be altered. It never happened. So these were the legacies we left behind as managers of the party for the last four years that cannot be indicted by anybody.

Measures Put in place by the party to reclaim power

We believe that with the level of unity we have seen of the governors because this is very important because the governors are the highest leaders of the party. So the level of leadership that we saw during the prosecution of the last convention and even thereafter, we believe that the party is ready to give a good fight for the 2023 election.

We also believe that the new leaders of the party under the former Senate President, Senator Dr Iyorcha Ayu, will also get to the field to reposition and continue from were we stopped. They must look at those salient achievements the Uche Secondus administration achieved for the party because nobody can write off that administration, so they must look at those salient things we achieved for the party and continue from there because there must be a continuation of those achievements that we made.

For instance, we conducted the best presidential primary election in the history of any political party in this country and we stand to be challenged.

Twelve (12) presidential candidates went into Port Harcourt to via for presidential ticket of the party in 2018. All twelve of them after the election said the process couldn’t have been better and transparent and they all bowed to the outcome of that presidential primary. There was no protest. All twelve of them came out to embrace the results and the presidential candidate and they all campaigned vigorously for the presidential candidate of the party. We want to have a repeat of that kind of presidential primary in 2022. We want to have a repeat of that, because if we have a repeat of that, whether eventually the party decides that the candidate will come from the South or will come from the West, this is something we must do to ensure that after the primary, the party remains one, strong and united party.

There must be objectivity, there must be un-indictable transparency in the process so that we don’t return to the precipe, we don’t return to the past where after every primary, people will begin to go into different camps and form blocs to impede the process of the general election. So these are my personal expectation that the party will try and be as transparent and above board as much as possible.

On MPM being a platform to actualize the Governor’s 2023 succession plan

What is wrong if the Governor puts in place a structure to midwife his succession plan?The person saying that is saying that out of ignorance. If the Governor says let this group manage my succession plan, it is everywhere and across party lines. It is not peculiar to PDP.

I want to say that anybody who denies that in Akwa Ibom State that in the last six and a half years, you have not enjoyed unprecedented peace and security in Akwa Ibom State is denying the truth and sitting the truth on the head. Peace today is very palpable in Akwa Ibom. You can feel the fact that we are enjoying peace in Akwa Ibom State more than before compared with other states in Nigeria.

And we can not deny the fact that this came during the time that Governor Udom Emmanuel as the Governor of Akwa Ibom State. We cannot deny that fact. Security issues are not issues you talk in the public but if you find time to corner the Governor for him to give you privilege information, a buy in of the details of the things he has done to maintain this peace and security in Akwa Ibom State, you will be amazed and not be able to open your mouth.

So when you see such a legacy, it is only pertinent for people to begin to promote such a legacy of peace. There is nothing that can be done in the absence of peace. There can be no progress, nobody will go to the farm, market, or their businesses in the absence of peace. So if we have peace in the state it is only proper that people take out steps to perpetuate, to sustain, to maintain it. That is what MPM.is all about and if anybody wants to colour it with politics, there is nothing wrong about it. So what is wrong for the Governor to use MPM to come and produce a Governor that will come and perpetuate the peace we have in Akwa Ibom State?

I will be happy as I am to manage a process that will bring out a Governorship candidate that will come and maintain the peace. It means we have taken the case of peace as a creed in Akwa Ibom State. We have taken it to the centre of politics. It will mean everybody aspiring to be Governor of Akwa Ibom State must be interested in the peace and wellbeing of Akwa Ibom State like the peace of Jerusalem that is spoken of in the Bible. And if politics is the gravitating point for every action then what is wrong if we bring the message of peace to the centre stage and it becomes the gravitating point for the next electoral process?

And we also challenge the APC to also ensure that the person they are bringing on board is not a violent person because if he is a violent person of course Akwa Ibom people will reject that person. He must be somebody that has a track record of peace. Because even in APC Akwa Ibom people will want to scrutinise your track record in terms of peace. What have you done in the past to promote peace. It is important. So nobody should politicise MPM as an organisation. If you want to politicise it, politicise it fairly because if you are saying the next Governor must leverage on peace, then nobody should fault that argument.

How he is coping in his role as National Chairman of Maintain Peace Movement, and at the same time a Senatorial aspirant for the 2023 Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District election

The two are not inconsistent. The two positions work seamlessly because Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District is one third of Alwa Ibom State. Let me make this very clear, my appointment as the National Chairman of Maintain Peace Movement met my Senate ambition on ground. I had already expressed my intention to go to the Senate before I was appointed MPM National Chairman at the instance and grace of the Governor. So he knew I was going to the Senate when he appointed me MPM Chairman. He also knew that I was going to be able to manage the two positions when he appointed me MPM Chairman.

I have managed the two positions simultaneously. MPM is not wanting in my role as their Chairman. All the meetings we used to do, we are doing them. All the decisions we need to take, we are taking them. We have rolled out our timetable for the next phase of MPM activities for 2022 and I’m doing this side-by-side with my Senatorial ambition. All I need to do was to stretch my time longer than I used to have so that I don’t allow my activities for consultation to coincide with the activities of MPM. So that is exactly what I’m doing and by the grace of God, I have the physical and mental strength to handle those two positions equally.

Another issue is that my aspiration as a Senator is not an aspiration to be a Governor of Akwa Ibom State. A lot of people are making a lot of mistake about this and I need to correct this. Part of the role of MPM is to ensure that we midwife the process of succession in PDP for the Governorship. It has nothing to do with the Senatorial ambition of the Chairman of MPM. Those positions are not in conflict but a lot of people behave as if I’m PDP or MPM is PDP.

MPM is not PDP. There is a State Chairman of PDP and there is a structure of PDP and when we formed MPM and inaugurated all the organs of MPM, we carefully removed all officers of the party from the MPM structure because we expect the PDP as an institution to be neutral in all process of nomination but not MPM. MPM will not be neutral, nobody will expect MPM to be neutral in the process of nomination. We are very very biased in MPM when it comes to nomination for Governorship and we stand with the Governor.

We have said it openly on the rooftop, on the tree top, we have said it on the streets, we have said it on the market square that we are standing with the Governor to produce his successor and we owe nobody any apology for that.

His assessment of the Governor Udom Emmanuel led administration

Superlative in performance. A lot of people don’t understand phases of development. That is the problem they have. When His Excellency, Obong Victor Attah came here as Governor of Akwa Ibom State, of all the things he did, when he left office, a lot of people criticized him that he did not perform. But today, if you are a keen observer of Attah’s tenure, you will discover that laying a foundation is the most difficult process of development. Foundation laying is like planting time. In planting time, you don’t expect food to be in abundance on the table as harvest time.

Attah laid the foundation for Akwa Ibom State development which the subsequent Governors built on it. But a lot of people judge him unfairly as not to have performed. But we knew it is not easy to lay foundation much less a sound foundation like he did. His Excellency, Godswill Akpabio came once the foundation was laid and built on it and you can see physical infrastructures everywhere.

Now the next phase of our development as a state is His Excellency, Udom Emmanuel. He came at a time Akwa Ibom was laying a new foundation for the economic development and economic renaissance of the State. So another foundation laying moment came for economic development. So you won’t see physical infrastructures because we already have that.

In most of the cases, it has to do with buidling on the mindset of the people, rejuvenating the mindset of the people, igniting the potency in the people. It involves going to get Foregin Direct Investment so that people will come and invest in Akwa Ibom State. That is not an easy thing in an economy that is manned by the most clueless President in the history of Nigeria. Buhari is the most clueless President in the history of Nigeria because how can you run a country for six years without an Economic Adviser. The first time the President has deemed it fit to appoint an Economic Adviser is just last week in six and a half years.

So as President you are not an economist, your education background is very challenging but you don’t want to bring in people who know to work with you. That is why we have failed as a country under the watch of President Buhari.

But Governor Udom Emmanuel in spite of those challenges including fiscal policy challenges of the federal government has been able to midwife a process where Akwa Ibom State consistently either comes second or third amongst the 36 states that brings in Foreign Direct Investment after Lagos. That is not something that is easy. When you say you want to break into industrialisation, it is the most difficult and most challenging thing.

Where there is insecurity in the country, investors will not come. But today we can count on a number of industries that have been established in Akwa Ibom State on account of the sound policy thrust and confidence people have in the government of Udom Emmanuel.

Today we have seen industries that have been set up by the state to encourage locals to know that this thing is also possible. Today in Akwa Ibom State we have seen agricultural products that were not producable in Akwa Ibom State in the past being produced now in commercial quantities. Today Akwa Ibom State has taken the lead in the aviation industry. These are major achievements of the government that even the federal government cannot record.

So anybody who comes and says the Governor has not succeeded does not know what he is talking. It is either he is ignorant of the fact on the ground or has not been interested in knowing what the government is doing. The Governor has done well. Apart from that, the inclusiveness in the governance of the State, getting representation from all sectors of the state represented in the government is another major ingredient that has brought in the peace we are talking about and this is part of his 5-point agenda of his first term. The Governor has done extremely well in all sectors of the state economy.

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