Staff Reporter –
A former Cabinet Minister in the Josiah Voreqe Bainimarama government has announced that he is joining the National Federation Party (NDF) with immediate effect.
Lt Col Pio Tikoduadua said that in May 2015, he had resigned from his post as the Minister of Infrastructure and Transport because he was suffering from cancer.
He said that he is now cured and was ready to re-enter politics and serve his country.
Not Fiji First
But Lt Col Tikoduadua is not returning to the Fiji First Party and the Bainimarama government, accusing both as undemocratic.
“Fiji’s biggest problem now is that no one’s opinion matters; except that of the Prime Minister and the Attorney General.
“This approach is deeply destructive of democracy and national unity. It divides Fiji; it means that we lack a common vision and we operate in a climate of fear and restrictiveness. This is no way to run a country. This is no way to solve Fiji’s problems,” he said in a lengthy statement issued through the NFP on Easter Saturday.
Military and Political Career
A long-serving Officer of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF), Lt Col Tikoduadua has served in Lebanon, Egypt, East Timor and the Solomon Islands.
He later served in the military government of Mr Bainimarama as Permanent Secretary for Justice and later as the Commander of RFMF, followed by an assignment as the Permanent Under-Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister from 2008 2o 2014.
“I was a part of the military government. I cannot and do not ignore that fact. I believed, rightly or wrongly, that the military could help to create an effective and sustainable democracy in Fiji. And whether I was right or wrong, I must accept responsibility for that fact,” he said in his statement.
Lt Col Tikoduadua said that he had consulted his wife and their two teenage children before deciding to reenter politics and joining the NFP.
“I have now joined the National Federation Party. I will be applying to be an NFP candidate in the 2018 general election,” he said.
NFP Leader and Member of Parliament Dr Biman Prasad described Lt Col Tikoduadua as “a man, who, although loyal to the RFMF and its then Commander, could listen with respect to our opposing views. He could accept criticism and look for common ground. If the Prime Minister had listened more to Pio and less to other people, Fiji would be a very different place now,” he said.
Professor Prasad said that Lt-Col Tikoduadua is not an ordinary politician and that many Fiji First Party MPs are unhappy with the government’s direction, but they stay silent.
“In next year’s general elections, NFP will put before the people of Fiji a strong line-up of candidates. These will be people who are well known in the community and who have the deep skills and experience required to work in the next Government,” he said.
Photo: Lt Col Pio Tikoduadua with his wife Sereana in Suva on April 15.