ANALYSIS: Tikoduadua NFP’s Man But Can He Replace A Leading Woman?

Pio Tikoduadua is the main weapon for the National Federation Party (NFP), as it tries to rebuild its iTaukei support and bolster its 2018 election campaign. The NFP is pinning
06 Jun 2017 10:45
ANALYSIS: Tikoduadua NFP’s Man But Can He Replace A Leading Woman?
Pio Tikoduadua

Pio Tikoduadua is the main weapon for the National Federation Party (NFP), as it tries to rebuild its iTaukei support and bolster its 2018 election campaign.

The NFP is pinning its hopes on its new president, the former right hand man of Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, that he will haul in iTaukei voters to replace those lost when his predecessor, Roko Tupou Draunidalo, resigned in January this year disillusioned with the NFP.

He will try to fill a big vacuum left by Ms Draunidalo, now with the proposed HOPE Party.

The speeches at the NFP’s convention on Saturday of leader Biman Prasad and Mr Tikoduadua were specially crafted to appeal to the base instincts of both iTaukei and Indo-Fijians. They sounded good, but had holes.

They talked about a level playing field and equality. But Mr Prasad and his parliamentary colleagues Prem Singh and Parmod Chand were silent when Opposition SODELPA MP Niko Nawaikula went on a racist rant in  Parliament questioning the use of the word Fijian as a common name.

If they were really serious and sincere with what they said at the convention, they would have stood up to Mr Nawaikula. It was the founders of the NFP,  Ambalal Dahyabhai Patel, Siddiq Moidin Koya, Harish Sharma and Justice Jai Ram Reddy, reverently mentioned by Mr Prasad at the convention, who fought for one-person one vote or common roll and Independence from Britain.

The common roll was aimed at eliminating voting on racial lines. It was based on the concept of equal citizenry and a common identity. This is now enshrined in the 2013 Constitution. But when Constitution Day was celebrated last year, Mr Prasad and the NFP stayed out. It did not make sense and makes one wonder whether they got their wires crossed. They should have celebrated the event because the dream of the NFP founders had finally become a reality.

Voters in this election want clarity not confusion, sincerity not grandstanding.

This goes for all politicians in this election. Words must be supported by action.

Showcasing his iTaukei support, Mr Tikoduadua made a special mention of about 300 villagers from Wainibuka in Tailevu present when he made his speech after his election at the party’s annual convention at the Girmit Centre in Lautoka.

“People that were branded as rebels from 2000. Their concerns in 2000 remain true today.

“They have taken that bold first step to turn to the party they had once defamed, believing that their voices will be heard fairly with us, with a willingness  to compromise on their hardened political views.”

But he did not elaborate on what the “hardened political views” were and how far the villagers were willing to compromise their political beliefs. It was obvious they were there because of Mr Tikoduadua. They must be part of his Tailevu followers from his FijiFirst days. Whether his iTaukei support will grow in NFP remains to be seen. But he has big shoes to fill after Ms Draunidalo’s exit.

Mr Tikoduadua told the convention  no one should intimidate Indo-Fijians anymore by proclaiming that they were their only guarantee of security.

“Your security lies squarely on the goodwill of all our people particularly the iTaukei,” he said.

That’s misleading. This statement seems to suggest that the burden of responsibility for security hinges on the iTaukei.

This assessment is based on political turmoil after the 1987 and 2000 coups where iTaukei agitation led to the coups.

Prior to 2013, internal security was the responsibility of the Police assisted by the military.

Now it’s the responsibility of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces assisted by the Police. All indications so far show that the military will resolutely protect our democracy and prevent a repeat of the political unrest of the past.

The buck stops with the Government of the day by virtue of the fact that the RFMF, Police and Correction Services come under the Ministry of Immigration, National Security and Defence.

So when the Government talks about security it speaks from a position of authority.

If there is a change in government, the incoming government will assume that responsibility.

Continuing his focus on the iTaukei, Mr Tikoduadua said: “The iTaukei must be free to live their cultures and their traditions without being dictated upon. They need the space and the enabling environment to make all feel at home in Fiji – we are after all a very accommodating people.”

No one is dictating anything on the iTaukei.

iTaukei enjoy the same rights and freedom as other races. Mr Tikoduadua is probably referring to the draft village by-laws which have become a subject of intense discussions in some political circles.

Mr Prasad has also said NFP will do away with the village by-laws.

But those who have lived and now live in villages in a communal setting know that there is a critical need for these by-laws otherwise there will be chaos in the villages. The by-laws are designed to maintain peace, law and order in the villages. Edited by Rusiate Mataika


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