Chief Joseph Avazi is the national chairman of the Alliance for Democracy (AD). In this interview by ADEMOLA ADEGBITE, he explains reasons behind recent suspension of party leadership in six states of the federation, as well as steps taken so far to take over the mantle of leadership in Ekiti and Osun states in particular and Nigeria as a whole.
AT the just concluded National Working Committee (NWC) meeting of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) in Abuja, the party suspended the party leadership in Oyo, Osun, Ogun, Edo, as well as Akwa-Ibom and Anambra states. Were they given fair-hearing before their suspension?
Suspending the leadership of the party in those states is nothing peculiar or so special. Article 12 of our constitution says: “All leadership of the party must be democratically elected.” They actually have failed in this responsibility. Now, like in the case of Oyo, a state cannot allocate itself the powers of the national secretariat or the duties of the national chairman, the duties of the National Executive Council (NEC), the duties of the National Working Committee (NWC). If there is a vacuum, it is the duty or responsibility of the party and its decision making organs to ensure that there is continuity. Who set up the Caretaker Committee in that state? If you claimed that there was an election, who conducted the election? What is the name of the national officer that monitored it? Was the national secretariat aware? Who invited the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) there? So, the procedure for a valid congress is simple, when a vacuum exists, the national body takes note of it. If you are going to order a congress, we will now write and set up a committee to look into it, not just to go and conduct a congress, because in case there are crises that arise after the congress, we will set up a panel to look into it.
All the legal requirements towards having a stable and legal leadership do not exist in those states.
Also I want the general public to be aware that we are not only dissolving those states and setting up caretaker committees, a step has been taken further to look at the all the states of the federation. You see you can’t have a state executive council that doesn’t have local government executive council, that doesn’t have anything to show in the last two years, no party registered, no membership card, you don’t partake in activities, that is a fraud.
Parties are registered to represent their people; parties are registered to serve the interest of the nation; parties are registered to take care of governance, and I think we must get it right because we are going towards 2019. We are revamping; we are reengineering and of course, we are repositioning the party. And all things that are not done well have to be put right; that is why we have started in that direction. It is going to go round the states; a committee has been set up which will look into all the states of the federation. All the things that have been affected would have to be handled according to the law. So, we are right in those states.
Immediately after the suspension, the NWC set up a committee for only Oyo and Osun states. What happens to other states?
That is what I am saying in the course of taking decision on any state, local government or even national level. There is what we call consultation, and as at the time of that announcement, consultation was still ongoing. As soon as the lists of other states are ready, we will present them to the public.
How do you intend to reposition the party in less than one year to the 2019 general election?
We are a political party, a party made of people. We have to ensure our membership thrives; we have to ensure internal democracy. When we talk about internal democracy (not just I’m a party member), we are saying the leadership goes beyond that, it should represent the interest of the people. Leadership position should reflect the interest of the people; we can’t say you are having a caretaker for ten years, is it possible? That means those people do not exist; you can’t tell me that you were elected since 2015 and I ask, show me your party register and you don’t have any? How many party members do you have? Nothing! Show your register of activities and you don’t have. I don’t have reports on those states and that shows we don’t exist there. Even if such states were elected in the first place, it was a fraud, it has to be corrected. The party decision is supreme and a decision has been taken to reposition the party. We should get the structure in place; we must ensure we have internal democracy; we must equally ensure we are gender sensitive; we should also ensure we go back to our manifestoes; we must go into our tenets, the derivative principles that built up the party. We have education as our priority; agriculture is there, so also power tops our lists. We are to ensure that even when we take to the instrument of governance we are going to deliver to Nigerians? Now we have to embark on mobilization, build internal structures to ensure internal democracy and of course do lot more that will ensure the party structure before 2019.
How cordial is your relationship with the former national chairman of the party, Senator Mojisoluwa Akinfenwa?
The relationship is cordial. He plays his role as a party leader.
How prepared is your party for both the Ekiti and Osun gubernatorial elections?
We have put all machinery in process to ensure we have a smooth participation. Not only to participate but to see it as an opportunity to grab the instrument of governance to serve the people better. We have a vision to eradicate poverty; we have a vision to encourage hard working Nigerian youths and equally encourage the younger ones to join the hard-working ones. We have the vision to make Ekiti economically viable and I believe AD will sweep the ruling party during the elections. But the people of Ekiti should be more resilient, be more patient, tolerate one another; they should work within the project called Nigeria. Nigeria will survive, they should pray for the survival of this country, pray for its leadership, pray for the economy to revive; Nigeria will boom, the so called potential of Nigeria will be realised so that we can take our appropriate place not only as the pride of Africa but in the whole world. Our party members should not lose faith; we are going to make our party the best not only in Africa but in the whole world. The global stage has something to learn from Nigeria. You and I are Nigerians and AD is a Nigerian party, so our members should do their best to mobilise, go to the manifestoes again, have faith in the party, work hard and ensure the leadership is taken so that we can serve Nigeria better.
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