(In an exclusive interview with former Wing Commander P.Y. Biakpara, who was one-time commissioner of Agriculture in Delta State and now the chairman of the Peace and Reconciliation Committee of PDP Delta South, he spoke on the commitment of the committee to reconciling aggrieved members of the party, Sheriff Oborevwori victory and Atiku/Okowa presidential ticket)
What is your name and position sir?
My name is Wing Commander (RTD) Peter Yerindideke Biakpara, a former Commissioner of Delta State and I have held other several positions in the state.
_You were inaugurated as the chairman of the Peace and Reconciliation Committee PDP Delta South. Why is it needed?_
Yes, I was appointed as chairman of the Delta South Peace and Reconciliation Committee. The committee is to look into some disagreements among members of the party ahead of the 2023 election.
_How do you describe your appointment as Peace and Reconciliation committee chairman?_
I’m very comfortable about it because I’m a man of peace. I only feel threatened when being oppressed or when I feel people oppressed, threaten also means either fighting or making peace and I prefer the latter option, ” Making peace”. Therefore, when I heard I’m appointed, first as a member, it was at the venue of the inauguration I knew that I’m the chairman of the committee. I didn’t feel surprised because I felt am delegated to address matters of my heart, making peace for PDP to win this election coming 2023 both at the Federal and the State. And looking at it, well I feel very happy that I was considered fit to handle such a lofty assignment and for this singular reason, I promise not to disappoint Deltans.
_How do you intend to achieve your objectives?_
Way forward, first, you all know that I have been a manager of people, almost all my life, even in the military I was managing people, and since I came into politics as a leader straight from 1992 to today I have been managing people. I have managed so many difficult people, and since I’m a man of peace, we will succeed. A peacemaker doesn’t make plenty of mistakes. His job is to amend the mistakes. I have done it before and I’m not strange about it. I think God will guide me in the job.
_What do you think may have formed the basis of the grievances among the members of the PDP?_
A lot of people think that the grievances were a result of the outcome of the party primaries in the state and they kept talking about it in that manner. No, it is not the contestants who lost out alone we will be looking at, of course, the contestants who lost out have brought to the fore– some of their grievances but we will go deeper than that. However, we won’t go too far so that in the limited time we have, we will be able to solve the problems that will be brought before us, as to reconcile us ahead of 2023.
_What are the areas of preference or mandate?_
I told you earlier, our mandate is clear, the committee, first identify who are these aggrieved party men, and what causes the grievances. Some of these grievances may arise among members of the party at various political Wards or LGA structures of the party. Either, they may be treated wrongly by a political leader in the various parts of the state or by the party at a particular level.
It generally revolves around how we have been governing ourselves as a Political Party at the Ward, the Local government and the State levels.
_What are the criteria to identify who is aggrieved or not?_
There are no particular criteria to identify aggrieved people in this assignment. But anybody who feels aggrieved must look for us, of course, that doesn’t mean that if I had already known, particularly in my area who is aggrieved we will not invite him or her.
Presumably, there are aggrieved members of the party in every area of the Delta South. So we shared responsibility among ourselves, for example, in Isoko we have a former Isoko Development Union Chairman to identify any Isoko person that has not been carried along. Dr Joseph Otumara and Hon. Daniel Mayuku will cover Isoko and Itsekiri. Myself and Mr Trophy Kirifagha, who is from Bomadi will look at Bomadi, Patani, Bomadi, Warri Ijaws, and Burutu. Mr Trophy Kirifagha knows the Bomadi people very well, he has even contributed already. He has given me an inside of those that are aggrieved and he goes beyond like I said those who contested, so we will not go too far but at least we will do a thorough job to make sure that all aggrieved people in the whole of Bomadi, the whole of Patani, the whole of Burutu, the whole of Itsekiri, Warri Ijaws and Isoko in PDP are harmonized. We will hear out those who feel aggrieved rightly or wrongly. We will find a solution and suggest such recommendations to the authorities to look at and within the next few weeks, am sure that PDP Delta State will be a better PDP.
_Have you or your committee started meeting with these aggrieved persons?_
We have not met with them but we have started meeting among ourselves. However, when you say meeting, a telephone call is also a meeting, in that aspect we are meeting because we have started establishing contacts. We are developing the list of those with that we will be engaged but we have not sat with them to act and interact one-on-one.
_What is the time frame for your committee to complete this assignment?_
We were given four weeks and today one week is already gone. I may ask for more time because I want to do a thorough job, three weeks are not enough, some of us are still busy with one activity or the other, take Mayuku, for example, he is also preparing for his election and therefore to manage time will be very difficult but we are not dismay, if it is necessary, we may ask for time, I don’t think we will finish in the next three weeks but we will try.
_How do you describe the recent defection of God’sday Orubebe from the People’s Democratic Party?_
I have not spoken with him, so whatever am going to say which I even don’t want to, because you know everybody is entitled to his or her right to express his or her mind and if that’s the way he has expressed his disappointment with PDP, we will also try to reach out to him. So far he has not told us where he has gone to, therefore we assume that he is still redeemable. We will try to redeem the situation but I must tell you one thing I know that happens because he is from the same constituency as I am that during the selection of ad-hoc delegates, he was not given a chance to nominate even one ad-hoc delegate from his ward, which I think is a monumental disservice, having been a leader of that ward for so many years that I know personally. I do deal with and interact with him. He contested for governor and being a minister, not that he did all that agnostic but he was very active and yet he was not considered to produce a delegate. I am sure something went wrong and that is an omission and we will find out what happened. And I know that God’sday Orubebe if he has not already entangled himself and I tell him my brother come back, I know he will come back.
_Do you think your committee will be able to stop further defection from the party?_
Yes, we are combing all the Delta south to see those who have already started the process of defection and we are giving them calls to stay the action and meet with us first, telling them there is enough time to defect even though they want but hold on until we reacted, so I am hoping except those who have entangled themselves, there will be no further deal, but first, until we finish our job to conclude.
_There is this impression that Okowa imposes deputy/ governorship candidates in the PDP of Delta state, what is your take on this?_
I have seen imposition in PDP in Delta State, right from Ibori to Uduaghan, so if people are now today saying that Okowa imposes rightly or wrongly, I will disagree with such persons because the governorship election in the state was free fair and credible. It was given live coverage and there was no case of manipulation. I’m sorry am not apologetic about it. However, where it may be wrong. People must make decisions for the people, some decisions count, others don’t count, an imposition that is not done in collusion with leaders of the ward, are a few exceptions, and every other imposition, if some are in collusion with the leaders of the ward, is deemed a popular decision. Somebody has to make a decision for the people, everybody in the market will not announce the closure of the market only one person will announce the closure of the market. So, as I said, it is not a new thing and we will find out if there is any particular case of such, of course, we will say we are sorry, there is nothing else we can do, maybe it has been done, we will only say we are sorry and, of course, that is why it is the responsibility of the reconciliation committee to know what went wrong. It doesn’t matter who did the wrong, even it’s the governor, it is the party, it is the people. We must recommend ways to accelerate the feelings of such people that have been wronged.
_Are you confident of Sheriff Oborevwori’s victory in the 2023 general elections?_
It’s going to be like the governorship primary, he will win with a landslide. I said it before the primary, and I knew, his rivals also know Sheriff was going to win the primary and they wanted to prevent him from going into the poll, they didn’t succeed and therefore what I predicted happened landslide. And I’m predicting again, Sheriff Francis will win the general election with a landslide in Delta State come 2023.
_How do you describe Atiku/Okowa presidential ticket?_
It is a perfect match, you know when the race started, I predicted, I say there was no match to Atiku, of course, no apologies to this, but those who are close to me knew and I also told them why. If you look at it, particularly when PDP had opened the flood gate of the contest to all zone, meaning zoning was not something to consider, I knew that Atiku had already gotten the ticket. Subsequently, I also said now we will be looking for vice, some people said Wike, some mentioned other persons, I dismissed all of them particularly Wike, Wike is one of the best governors that we have but he cannot make a good vice, I said it and of course, Atiku as a president in view, he wouldn’t want to entangle with somebody that cannot fuse with him in his ambition to take Nigeria to paradise that we have all agreed in. Wike is good in personality as a leader but we will find him very useful not as a vice president but in something else where he can bring out his best as a leader as he has been doing in Rivers state, anywhere you take Wike to and he is not going to work under somebody “yes sir, yes sir” Wike will excel.
Do you think PDP will be able to win the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the 2023 general election?
APC is in disarray, so how can people in disarray stand to fight people who have very conducive? so far PDP despite the little fracas here and there PDP is very conducive, and I think we are skilled to beat APC hands down just like I said in Delta state, so it will be in the entire nation.