Nasik Swami Monday, April 17, 2017, Fiji Times
FORMER minister for infrastructure and transport in the FijiFirst-led government, Pio Tikoduadua, says he is not an opportunist and can not stand to take the back seat in national affairs.
Mr Tikoduadua made this strong statement while retorting to public queries on his silence from two years ago when his resignation based on medical grounds was announced. With the 2018 General Election less than a year away, Mr Tikoduadua bounced off comments from some members of the public and on social media that his announcement of joining the National Federation Party (NFP) and revealing his reason to resign from the FijiFirst Government was opportunistic in nature.
Yesterday, the new NFP member said he had no interest in power and it took him two years to come out and make his reason for resignation public because he needed time.
“I am not opportunist,” he said.
“I have absolutely no interest in power and the thing is I want to make a contribution and that is something that has emanated after two years of my staying in the village, I just could not stand to take the back seat.”
Mr Tikoduadua said certain things needed to come out at the right time.
“The answer for that is that there is a time in space where certain information comes up that is relevant to the time, particularly, as I am sitting in the village” Mr Tikoduadua said.
He said after staying in the village for two years following his untimely resignation, he needed to get things off his chest.
“And I needed to get this off my chest. Because there is no doubt about me being sick, and I am still sick. I am taking a lot of medication.
“But it needs to come off my chest so it frees me, I am free.
“That’s why it is coming now and in my current state I want to make a contribution and I cannot make a contribution for the future, unless I, first of all, acknowledge that gap, particularly in my life.
“So that’s why it came out today (yesterday) and relevant enough, it came out on Easter Sunday.”
He said he needed a platform that reflected his inspirations in the political realm.
Mr Tikoduadua said he felt free now and was ready to engage constructively in political activities.
At a press conference on Saturday, the new NFP member claimed that apart from his health condition, another factor that led to his resignation was a disagreement he had with Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.
“In 2015, a FijiFirst party member of Parliament who was a backbencher voted with the Opposition on a parliamentary motion on health issues. He did this for reasons of conscience.
“This was courageous and principled, even if it was politically unwise. Some of my fellow ministers called for him to resign. I was not one of them.
“I gave my opinion to the PM that we should show flexibility and forgiveness,” he claimed.
“For me, this was an opportunity for the Government to listen and learn about why that one of its MPs had felt so strongly about an issue that he would vote with the Opposition.”
He claimed Mr Bainimarama had initially accepted and agreed with his recommendation and he later informed the MP that the matter was resolved.
“Unfortunately, the PM then took advice of the Attorney-General and changed his mind. I went back to argue my case again. He then informed me that my opinion did not matter,” Mr Tikoduadua alleged.
“I took that statement as an order that my services were no longer required. I then left the Government.”
Mr Tikoduadua said loyalty must be given to a leader but it must also be returned.
Mr Bainimarama has brushed aside claims made by Mr Tikoduadua, saying his comments were “irrelevant”.
Several attempts to get a comment from Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum remained unsuccessful when this edition went to press last night.
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum is in Washington on an official trip.