Former Imo State Governor, Dr.Ikedi Ohakim has penned down reasons behind his decision to withdraw from active politics.
Following the outcome of the 2015 general elections, I embarked on a series of commentaries, especially in local newspapers, in which I made personal contributions on how my party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), could reposition itself to play the role of effective opposition. At the back of my mine was the fact that though it lost the presidential election, the PDP had gathered enough clout and experience to help guide our democracy even out of power. I opined that our 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 our democracy grow.
Of course, I am not the only Nigerian, both within and outside the PDP and especially among members of the political class, to so desire but even more enthusiastic about our collective democratic future was the ordinary Nigerian who, though desired a change from the status quo ante, still believed that for the needed balance, the PDP should remain strong. But the trend of events since April last year shows that our dear party, the largest party in Africa, did not key into this general optimism. Instead, its key gladiators became overwhelmed by the burden of the defeat and failed to appreciate the good will it still had among Nigerians despite the challenges of its 16-year long role.
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. Party faithful have watched helplessly as the leaders undermine each other in pursuit of self-serving interests. They have watched as their leaders take sides on issues that needed just a little courage to stand on the side of truth. Since April 2015, it has been from one internal sabotage to another.
Outside the PDP, the general political environment has not helped matters. Contrary to the expectations of Nigerians that the political class has learnt the relevant lessons from the outcome of the 2015 general election, which is that the peoples’ preferences must count, the latter has returned to the old antics of election rigging and violence. In the last one year, nearly every election has been characterized by brigandage and hooliganism sponsored by politicians, and cutting across parties.
Even more curiously, the electoral umpire, 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. In my home state, Imo, for example, the electoral body conducted the election to fill a certain House of Assembly seat four times; and for a senatorial seat three times.
In view of the current situation, I have come to the sad conclusion that I will no longer be able to be part of this circus in the political arena for the time being. I am therefore by this statement announcing my temporary withdrawal from active participation in politics until such a time I feel that the situation has become conducive for me to return. I am also by this statement urging my teeming political followers and associates to similarly make a withdrawal from active partisan politics for the time being. I shall, henceforth and until the situation changes otherwise, devote my time to mentoring younger ones outside politics; as well as in running my Non Governmental Organization, the Clean and Green Africa Foundation.
Let me hasten to emphasize that there is nothing behind this decision other than the need to have time to pursue other matters of terrestrial interest, outside politics. Of course, I have no doubt in my mind that by the mercy of God Almighty, I shall return at the appropriate time to continue to play my own role in the shaping of the collective destiny of the good people of Nigeria. To God be the glory.