BreakingNews 18/5/16 - Ali Modu Sheriff Should be Supported to Rebuild PDP -Senator T. A. Orji

[ Masterweb Reports ] - Senator Theodore Ahamefule Orji, representing Abia Central Senatorial District at the Red Chamber, in this interview with journalists in Abuja, speaks on the just concluded PDP ward, local government and state congresses, the party’s forthcoming national convention, the candidacy of Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, problems created by Fulani herdsmen, among other issues. 

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ward, local government and state congresses held without any rancour. As a good party man, what were your observations?
Well, as a good party man I participated in the congresses at the ward, local government and state levels. And my impression about it is that this concept we have about rebuilding PDP is working. You see that our own was peaceful, there was no fight, there was no rancor. I believe that that should be the spirit that should, at least, guide PDP, now that we want to rebuild the party. Because we have learnt from our previous mistakes. You cannot bring a candidate and insist it must be this candidate. No. You don’t do it nowadays because this is democracy. Even if you have a candidate in mind, you have to bring a candidate who is generally accepted, a candidate that will perform, a candidate that the people will vote for. That is what democracy is all about. It’s not about impunity, it’s not about imposition. So, I think we are learning now and we are learning very fast.

But PDP at the national level seems to be having some problems as some groups are calling for the cancellation of the planned national convention of the party. What is your take on this development?
These things are things that are expected in a party that has a lot of people with diverse interests. In PDP, we know that we now have an Acting National Chairman in the person of Senator Ali Modu Sheriff. If he participates in the election for the party’s chairmanship position in the forthcoming national convention and emerges victorious and his victory is ratified, in accordance with PDP laws, he automatically becomes the National Chairman. When such happens I will implore all members of the party to support him, to move the party forward. If he doesn’t win, he knows the right thing to do, which is to hand over to the winner of the chairmanship position. So far, we have seen in him that he has the passion to rebuild the party. Let us give him the chance to try his best, especially now that he has agreed to be with the PDP. He has come with all his mind and heart, so we should accept him and give him all the support to rebuild the party. This is a time to rebuild and not to diversify. Therefore all I’m saying is that we should allow Sheriff to rebuild this party and let us watch him. If there is anywhere that he is not doing well, he should be cautioned and if he continues, the laws are there to remove him. But as at now, let us squarely focus on rebuilding the party and not creating different factions in the party that will divide us the more. All the factions should come together to build a united PDP.

What are the qualities that you see in Senator Ali Modu Sheriff that makes you think that he will deliver at the end of the day?
He has the experience. This is a man who has been governor. This is a man who has severally been elected senator and he has been in many parties. This thing they are saying that he has been to many parties, is an advantage to us in PDP, because he has garnered experience in ANPP and other parties. At least he knew and knows, as of now, the problems in those parties. And certain things will continue recurring in political parties as far as political parties are concerned. So if it occurs in PDP, with his experience he can handle it.

Now, a man who has made up his mind finally to come to the PDP, we shouldn’t seriously doubt his sincerity. And apart from having the capacity, the mental capacity and the experience to lead the party, he has the resources also to assist PDP now that we are no longer in the central government where people can help you out voluntarily because you are in central government. So I know he can help the party out to the extent that he can.

Recently, the Fulani herdsmen wreaked havoc in some parts of the country killing and destroying properties worth millions of naira. Some people are suggesting that grazing land should be allocated to the them. What is your position on this?  
My position on this is guided by the position of my people where I come from. I’m a Nigerian, I agree, but I come from the South-east. And if you go around the South-east, you will know that there is no person who supports this issue of allowing cattle to come and graze freely because they come and destroy the farms. We are basically farmers and we guard our farms jealously plus the land, because land is very precious to us. We don’t have that expanse of land, so whichever that is yours, you guard it jealously. So it is very painful when you see cattle coming to graze freely on your limited, scarce farmland. And these cattle rearers come with impunity, carrying guns, threatening to kill you if you disturb them. That shouldn’t be tolerated in this country. Cattle rearing is a private business. Cattle rearing I know very well, when we were very small in Umuahia where I was born, there was one Alhaji Bako Mohammed. He lived in Umuahia, his business was selling cattle. He will go to Kano and buy a lot of cattle, put them on the train, because the railway was very efficient then. So, they will transport them straight to Umuahia, they will off load them in Umuahia Gariki. He had herdsmen whom he pays, who will now take care of the cattle. These cattle will graze and there wasn’t any trouble here. We lived harmoniously with them, and after grazing they can now transport them to Port Harcourt and sell and kill and the meat will go to every person. That was the system that time. Even if any cow strayed and entered any farm, you don’t start fighting with the herdsman. You just go to Alhaji Bako Mohammed, he will call them to order. Why is that type of thing not happening again? And the point I want to stress here is that these cattle are owned by wealthy people. They are not owned by these people who follow the cattle and take them to graze. Rich men own the cattle. Do you know how much AK47 costs? It’s wealthy men that buy these guns and give to herdsmen. So I don’t support the idea of free grazing. What I know is that cattle rearing is a private business; they should leave the private sector to drive it. These wealthy men who own these cows should go and buy land and develop ranches where these cattle will stay and feed and people will go there and buy thecattle for their use. Or if the government wants to come into it, then government sh
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