Barrister Peter Nwaoboshi, Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Delta State needs no introduction. He is known by different sobriquets; oracle, miracle and many more. He is as bold and as controversial as they come and never scared to take a position on any issue. In this interview with a team of Delta Herald journalist Nwaoboshi was at his controversial best. This fiery lawyer was fuming with rage and anger when the name of Mariam Ali who slapped him in a controversial circumstance was raised. “She is nobody who goes about slapping people. She has no credentials and cannot win election in her ward.” He thunders. Enjoy Peter Nwaoboshi uncut at his vintage best.
We want to know the latest over the rift between you and Mariam Alli.
I don’t know what you mean by the latest. We have complained to the national headquarters, we’ve written our petitions. The 25 local government chairmen have written, the state working committee has written. So, that’s where we are now. The Asagba of Asaba called us, out of respect for him, I went there, the Obi of Onicha Ugbo was there, the Obi of Owa was there. Chief Onyeobi, the Iyase of Asaba was there. We waited for her for almost one hour thirty minutes, she didn’t come, so I left and I went to tell them and they excused me to go. That’s the position where we are.
That means you didn’t storm out as reported in some social media and national dailies.
Any social media or paper that reported that, the reporter has some problem in his head and I ask those media to take time and do what is called investigative journalism. The facts are there, who did you interview, Onyeobi is alive, the Obi of Owa is alive, the Asagba of Asaba is alive, the obi of Onicha Ugbo is alive, they were there, let those reporters quote any of those people who said I stormed out. I waited for one hour thirty minutes, and I rose, went to the Asagba and all the traditional rulers present and I said we have waited for one hour thirty minutes, and they all sympathized with me and they said thank you, you have waited for one hour thirty minutes, you can now go and I left. I heard that as I was going, she was coming in. The meeting was fixed for 11 o clock, I arrived at 10 minutes to 11. They said come with 10 people, I came with 10 people. We waited for one hour thirty minutes, so how can I storm out of a thing I’ve waited for one hour thirty minutes. Those media people are being mischievous. Whatever they want to gain from it, I don’t know. That’s the position.
Being the person that was assaulted at the event, what do you want, you want an apology or what from the meeting?
I’m not expecting Mrs. Alli to apologise because those of us who know her know that that is her character. She slapped the Director of Lands in Abuja, she slapped the INEC officials about five years ago. She wanted to slap Okowa, she was intercepted by some people who came between them. So, it is her character, she doesn’t believe anybody exists, and so I wasn’t expecting apology from her because she believes she is almighty. The only credential she has is that she is a wife of a former National Chairman of PDP. There’s nothing else about her. She is a medical doctor, my wife is a medical doctor. There’s nothing really special about her. I hold two degrees, she holds one degree. The only power she has is that her husband was former National Chairman of the party. The earlier Alli leaves PDP Delta State alone, the better for him. Because all the crisis we’ve been having in the PDP in the past eight years have been Alli and his wife. That’s the position.
Why did you attend the meeting?
I only attended out of respect for the traditional rulers, for them to hear my one side. Otherwise, the 25 local government party chairmen and the state exco members who were there have stated my own side of the story but to respect the institution of the traditional rulers, that was why I went for the meeting. I did it so that it won’t be they invited me and I refused to attend. Not that I’m expecting anything and I heard when she got there, she was so boisterous, she didn’t even apologise to the traditional rulers for being late, she was just saying as Special Adviser to Mr. President, she was busy doing this and doing that. And that her husband’s people are warriors. I’m from Ibusa, if you know the meaning of Isunagbogu, if they are warriors in Igala land, they are not warriors in Delta. I’m happy that the Iyase of Asaba replied, and said this is my town. So that’s the boasting she was busy boasting. She has no credentials that can intimidate people. We all know her style, she has nothing politically. I told the press that came that if INEC conduct free and fair elections in her ward, she won’t win. She is of no political consequence.
There were feelers that at the meeting before she came, you planted your men around awaiting her coming, and at the signal that she was coming, you took leave and walked out.
The Asagba of Asaba after the first one hour, I called his attention that I had waited for one hour. Asagba now said, in the presence of other traditional rulers that we should give them another five to ten minutes. We now waited for another five to ten minutes, Asagba now rose, went into his inner chambers, myself, the Obi of Owa, the Obi of Onicha Ugbo, and Iyase of Asaba now went into the chambers and met with Asagba and there, he told me my son you have waited, you can now go. So, they are lies, how can I storm out of the meeting, why? Because of Mariam Alli? If you know my history, what does she have that will make me storm out of the meeting for her. Then who is saying that does not know anything about me, they are just being mischievous.
You are going for the senate,…
Cuts in! I’ve not told you I’m going for the senate. I have not declared my intention; the party has not released the guideline.
Even though you have not declared but do you think you can make a good senator for Delta North?
The people of Delta North shall decide. Let them look at my antecedents. They voted for me for the state secretary of the party, I discharged my functions effectively, in my state chairmanship, they also unanimously voted for me. And I’m the longest serving Chairman in the history of PDP in Delta State. And by the grace of God I’ve not disappointed them. So, it is now left for them to judge if based on the tow positions they have placed in my hands, if I have been able to do the jobs well. They will now decide whether I served them honestly or not. But I think nobody from Delta North is doubting my physical capability or my intellectual capability because if you talk about my academics, my records are there from the university. I didn’t attend university outside Nigeria, they are just around here. But who will decide the person is the people of Delta North.
Will you be ready to serve if you are called upon?
Of course, why not? Why won’t I serve my people? What do I exist for? I must serve my people when I’m called upon. If it is their wish that I serve them why not? If it is not their wish why will I force it upon them? I’m not like those who will want to impose themselves on people. Abuja said. President said. I was this and that. It is Delta North people that will decide for me, I don’t want to be imposed on people. I don’t want to brandish people’s name. President say, President’s wife say. If I must serve I will like to go for a free, fair primaries. The people of delta North will decide who will be their senator.
You said you are the longest serving PDP chairman in Delta State. What’s responsible for that?
I thank the people of PDP, Delta State, for having confidence in me. Secondly, I will thank His Excellency, the Governor of Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, and other leaders of the party for having confidence in me. And of course I think I have made my mark as chairman in this state. Here was a state that was divided into two when I came, it was divided into factions but today I can boast that PDP, Delta State, beside the little distraction from Mrs. Alli, is united PDP. Of course, it’s not a distraction, she only came to exhibit whom she is. No real PDP leader in the state is with her. It’s only the miscreants, that are with her. No member of the state executive, no member of the BOT, no member of the caucus, nobody is with her. So, we take her as a distraction. No local government chairman is with her. In fact go to the police, the local government chairman made a statement that she was not invited to the venue. It’s there in the police record. So, we are one family. And it’s out of the respect that I give them as members of the party and the respect they give to me, as the chairman of the party and of course the unalloyed support and loyalty and assistance I derived from the leadership of the party in the state. These are the reasons why I’ve stayed for so long.
Sir, from what we have seen so far, we observe that the party is tilting towards consensus candidates for the local government election. Why, why not allow the people to go to the field and test their strength and popularity?
Consensus is acceptable everywhere. It is not a new thing in Nigeria. Even in America, it got to a point where all other contestants stepped down and Obama continued. It is not a new thing. PDP, Delta State is going for primaries on the 7th and 9th of August. Where the leaders do not agree and there is no consensus or even where they agree, we still do the primaries. In which case we would have endorsed that candidate in that congress. You have a right to come there and say you don’t agree. Consensus doesn’t mean there wont be primaries, there will be primaries. The only thing is that they may not do a normal voting, they will just adopt the candidate by a voice vote, with a proper motion, moved, and adopted. But when somebody says no, I don’t agree, then they go for a full blown primaries. So, consensus doesn’t mean there won’t be primaries.
We understand that PDP placed N1.5m and N300,000 for chairmanship and councillorship positions respectively. People see it to be on the high side. Why did PDP place such money on these positions?
If you don’t want to pay, you are not coerced. Every organization has its own rules and regulations. The constitution allows the party to formulate its rules and regulations. PDP is a political party, it’s an association. You have a right, if you think you are popular and you cannot pay, you can go to another party and buy their form. As far as we are concerned, it is the rule and regulation of the party. You are not forced. Nobody is forcing you. If you think you can abide by the rules, then you come and buy our forms. Governorship forms, some of them paid N25m, to take governorship form, senatorial N5m, why are you quarrelling over this one? If you think you have the money to pay then pay. If you think you are popular and that the money we are paying is too much, you go to another political party. Pay N5 in that party, then come and meet us in the election. Very simple, it is the rules and regulation of the group. You have an option to either abide or leave it, you are not coerced. It is so simple.
Some persons say the high fee is a way of disenfranchising some persons who have Deltans at heart from buying the form.
I have said it if you are popular, go to another party. Why are you asking me this question? The party secretariat we built we didn’t build it with our teeth. I stand to be challenged whether there is any state party secretariat that is big like our own. I bought 25 cars for the 25 local government chairmen of the party. Where did I get the money from? Is it from my money? If we had told government to give us money, you the pressmen will be the first to say Uduaghan is using the money of the state to fund his own political party. Now, we are doing it with our own money you are saying it’s too much. Party members are not complaining, it is the press that is complaining. You people should leave us alone na.
Now, let’s go to APC, how do you—-
Cuts in! Abeg! Abeg!! Don’t discuss that party, it does not exist. Talk about other things. What is APC? They went to a church to organize a congress, do they have structure? Tell me which politician in Delta State that is worth his onions that is in APC? I’ve been in this Delta and Edo State politics for the past 35 years. Tell me who, tell me. What do they have?
Do you mean PDP has no opposition in Delta State?
Tell me now, let me see the person. Tell me. Tell me who is worth his onions in the politics of Delta State that is in APC? Just like some political party, they only have signboard and other things are in their boot. Abeg!
People have consistently accused PDP of rigging elections. How do you react to that?
Where did they rig election? Did they rig in Ekiti. The whole world said that election was free and fair. In 1999 when all of us started from nothing, did PDP rig? We all started on a poor footing. It is weak people that say those things.
People of Delta North are clamouring for zoning of power to Delta North. Do you subscribe to this zoning or the best person should come from anywhere?
I have spoken so much about zoning from 2006 to today and I’m not going to speak about it anymore. The only thing I can assure you is that our primaries are this year, come to the primaries, we will do a free and fair primaries. I know where the governor will come from, the area but I don’t know who is going to be governor. After that I will leave you to judge whether there is zoning or no zoning in Delta State. As the state chairman of the party, I said I know where the governor is going to come from, the area he will come from but I don’t know who is going to be the governor. But at the end of the primary which will be free and fair, the people of Delta State and the press will be the people to judge.
You said it very clearly in the past, people in government also alluded to it that PDP is working towards producing the governor. Are you still committed to it as the party chairman that PDP will produce the governor?
I’ve spoken much about it. I dont want to talk much about it again. I said come to the primaries na, free and fairooo! If they like, let them bring people from America to come and conduct it, the primaries will be free and fair. If you don’t trust people of Nigeria, bring people from America or anywhere in the world to conduct the primaries. We will do it in the open field, see me, see you. I know the good people of Delta State and the majority of the people know what is good for them. I’m the Chairman of the party, I don’t want more controversies again. I don’t want to say there is zoning or no zoning in Delta State, let PDP members in Delta decide where their governor will come from. But from what I know and the feelers I have as the state chairman I know where the governor will come from, but I don’t know who is going to be.
What is the situation of things now between you and Macaulay?
Oh, he is my very good friend. Before and even now we are friends. In politics, you can disagree with your friend at any time. It was just a minor disagreement between two brothers, we’ve made up. The governor brought two of us together, we aired our views. We are very close friends, he comes to my house and I go to his house. We’ve normalized our friendship to what it was before that issue.