Makarfi cautions Fayose against campaign for 2019 presidency
By Saxone Akhaine (Kaduna) and Ayodele Afolabi (Ado-Ekiti)
• Says action is against PDP zoning arrangement • Why we adopted Option A4 for council primary, by Ekiti gov • Adeyeye asks leaders to intervene in party crisis
The Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Caretaker Committee, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, has said that the present campaign mounted by Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State to vie for the 2019 Presidency is contrary to the decision of the party’s convention that zoned presidency to the North.
Makarfi stated this in an interview in Kaduna when he spoke on national issues and the progress made by the PDP reconciliation committee in resolving the problems of aggrieved members.
He said: “He is on his own. What he is doing is not in compliance with the position of the party. The party’s position has not changed. The convention has zoned the presidency to the North and the chairmanship of the party to the South.”
Besides, Makarfi also dismissed speculation that former Vice President Atiku Abubakar may be given an automatic ticket to contest the same position on the platform of the PDP if he finally decides to join the party before the 2019 general election.
Meanwhile, Fayose has said that the leadership of the PDP in the state adopted Option A4 system to conduct its primaries to select candidates for the coming local council election to allow transparency in the process.
Fayose, who stated this in Ado-Ekiti during the commencement of the exercise, also said the system would give room for the most popular candidates to win.
In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Idowu Adelusi yesterday, the governor was quoted as saying that Option A4 system would also help to reduce acrimony.
In another development, the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr. Dayo Adeyeye, has urged the national leadership of the party to intervene in the crisis rocking the Ekiti State chapter of the PDP.
He alleged that Fayose might destroy the party if the national leadership failed to intervene.
Director of Media and Publicity of Prince Adebayo Adeyeye Movement (PAAM), Niyi Ojo, stated this yesterday in Ado-Ekiti while reacting to the decision of the governor to conduct the primary in the Government House.
He said: “The national leadership of our great party should quickly come to the rescue of the party in Ekiti State before Governor Fayose destroys the party.
“In the first instance, the governor created his own constitution by fixing the maximum age for chairmanship candidate at 50 years while maximum age for councillorship candidate at 30 years against the provisions of the Nigerian constitution. There is nowhere in the constitution that stipulates maximum age for any elective position.
“Furthermore, the primary elections to elect the candidates for councillorship and chairmanship of various local councils commenced yesterday at the Ekiti State Government House instead of the various wards and local councils respectively. The governor is the electoral officer for the exercise.” Source: The Guardian
Emerging from its prolonged crisis, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) recently scaled up its game plan for the 2019 presidential contest a notch higher insisting that the slot must go to the North. But caught in a dilemma as to how to strike a balance between the desire to strengthen its internal democracy and the overarching commitment to rotational arrangement, it also tactly threw it open to aspirants from other geo-political zones to contest the primary.
The leadership further resolved not to give automatic ticket to new members or old members who had defected to other parties to contest offices, unless if given a waiver in line with the party’s constitution for fair play. According to a former governor of Niger State, Babandiga Aliyu, the resolution was to avoid the pitfall of the past and to be able to square-up to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2019 presidential election.
His words: “Any party that wants to win election must first put its house in order. If you have a vehicle without an engine, you do not have a vehicle. The people are the engine of the party”.
“We want to avoid the same mistake we made in 2015 that led to our dismal outing at the polls.”
“If you left the party for one reason or the other and returned and have the ambition of contesting, you cannot just be given the ticket, no matter how influential such an aspirant is, except a waiver is given and you will also join the queue.
He added that though the party had zoned the Presidency to the North for the 2019 presidential election, it had not, however, zoned the vice presidential slot anywhere, explaining that it was not the responsibility of the party to pick a vice presidential candidate but that of the president. In line with zoning arrangement, he said the party had zoned the chairmanship of the party to the South West.
Aliyu also explained that even with the zoning, the caucus of the party had said that any member of the party was still free to contest any position.
There is a strong conviction among the hard line pro-North advocates that only a candidate from the region can square up to the APC. In their view, if former President Goodluck Jonathan had not sought re-election and the PDP fielded a young candidate from the north, Buhari wouldn’t have won the 2015 presidential election. “If Jonathan had been clever enough to say he would not run and had stuck with the PDP zoning formula by supporting a young northern candidate, I am most certain Buhari would have shelved his ambition to contest in 2015, knowing there was no way he would win,” Aliyu said.
With the resolution to zone the slot to the North, Sunday Sun gathered, efforts are now being made by the leadership to shop for a young candidate who has an electoral value with national appeal to fly the ticket of the party in 2019. “As you know, reconciliation process is still ongoing. At present, we are reaching out to some members of our party who defected to the APC in the run up to the last general elections. We want to see, if we can bring some of them back to our fold. As soon as we put our house in order, we will constitute a search team to look for a credible, young and dynamic candidate who will be our standard bearer. And, of course, in doing so, age is going to be a prime factor in whatever choice we are going to make, a source close to the party hierarchy told Sunday Sun.
Although zoning arrangement is contained in the PDP constitution from the inception of the present civilian dispensation, some party members, particularly from the South argue that the policy had outlived its usefulness, saying that precluding other sections of the country from aspiring to the presidency would aggravate the current feeling of marginalization and the attendant separatist agitations.
The policy of zoning elective positions to specific geo-political regions has been heavily criticized by some political analysts. By playing barriers on aspiring individuals on the basis of ethnicity or place of birth, not only that the policy is against the principle of fairness, it also limits the choices available to the people in an electoral process. “We are going to have a scenario where the two dominant parties will be fielding candidates from one geo-political zone of the country.” Feelers from members of the party: posited.
However, an aggrieved aspirant from the Southeast, who spoke with Sunday Sun on condition of anonymity, barring his mind on the development, maintained that the policy was no longer in tune with the current reality. He noted that the zoning arrangement, which the PDP has been harping on since 1999, was responsible for the rising wave of separatist agitations owing to the perceived feeling of marginalization by some particular sections of the country. He condemned the party leadership for being hypocritical by telling aspirants from other geo-political zones other than the North, who have presidential ambition to go ahead, knowing full well that open and fair contest had already been foreclosed. According to him, if the slot goes to the North, it will take not less than eight years for the Southeast to have a taste of power at the centre. “I don’t want to rock the boat now because we are just coming from the protracted crisis. But then, I don’t think there is fairness in a policy that precludes certain people who have legitimate rights from aspiring to the position of president simply because they are from a particular geo-political zone. For instance, if the slot eludes the Southeast again in 2019, it will take another eight years to be the turn of the region. For me, the greatest damage the rotational arrangement has done to this country is this perpetuation of mediocrity in governance. At best, the policy only serves the interest of a mediocre few, who cannot compete. Under the policy, it will be difficult to produce high quality leadership that Nigeria deserves to facilitate economic development.”
Sunday Sun learnt that the idea to zone the presidency to the North to woo and appease them may backfire. The design may end up alienating the electorate in the South especially the South-east and South-south who may “waste” their votes on a candidate from their area from another party, at a time there is no guarantee that its presidential candidate from the north may fare well against Buhari or another candidate.
If the APC takes northern votes or splits it with PDP and the latter fails to sweep the southern votes to edge APC out, then the game is lost. Another sore paint or dilemma in the party is in the constitution of the electoral body, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which they insist is skewed in favour of the incumbent president and may not guarantee fairness. The source said PDP should begin to sensitize the people now with a view for a fair composition of the electoral umpire instead of dissipating energy on zoning formulae.
But a former minister of transport and BOT member, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, speaking in a telephone interview with Sunday Sun, dismissed the argument as baseless and unfounded.
His words: “That is why the party said anybody who thinks he can contest can go and contest. But within the zoning policy of our party, the presidency has been zoned to the North. Our zoning policy does not cover entire Nigeria, it covers only a party. And if we are going to present a candidate, we are going to present a candidate for the whole country. So, anybody who thinks he can strike himself against the party can go ahead and do it. The bottom line is that we have zoned the presidency to the North and I am very sure that loyal party members will not strike their head against the position of the party. By the grace of God, we are working 100 percent to win for our party in 2019.”
He maintained that the Southwest would abide by the position of the party leadership which assigned the National Chairmanship position to the region. Throwing his weight behind the ambition of Bode George to contest the chairmanship ahead of the national convention scheduled for December 9, he said: “I want to say it categorically that by the grace of God, Olabode George will be contesting the national chairman of our party at the December 9 convention. Anybody who feels he is capable enough to contest can go and contest. With the zoning arrangement which we have been following since the inception of our party, Southwest will produce the next chairman of our party. The last president of our party came from the South-South. North will produce the next president.”
While many supporters of the party are still basking in the euphoria of the resolution of its protracted crisis, some political analysts say that the policy of zoning arrangement negates the doctrine of internal democracy. Senator Joseph Waku told Sunday Sun that APC would have crisis if the PDP could make a departure from the old era of impunity. “If the PDP could make good its words to discard the idea of impunity and strengthen internal democracy, APC will have crisis, unless the leadership stops the impunity of running the party like a one man show.”
The dilemma of the PDP now is to find a balance between the desire to sustain internal democracy and its commitment to zoning arrangement, which is already creating ripples within the supporters.
I have no interest in contesting for Presidency in 2019, Dangote warns PDP, others
Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man, has denied reports he will run for the Presidency on the platform of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), in 2019.
Dangote made the denial in an interview with Daily Times.
He was reacting to a report that officials of PDP think-tank programme set up by former President, Goodluck Jonathan have contacted him to be the party’s presidential torch bearer in 2019.
“I am an entrepreneur. My passion is to create jobs for Nigerians and not otherwise”, Dangote told Daily Times.
“I am not interested in politics and this is authoritative. No member of any think tank committee has contacted me. People should stop dropping my name for the 2019 presidency.
“This whole thing is an attempt by people who do not like me. They are doing all these with a view to putting me on a collision course with President Muhammadu Buhari and the ruling party. They are people who are jealous of the successes I have so far recorded in business.
“My passion is for business development, provision of jobs and wealth creation, not politics. I have never shown interest in politics. I’m not interested in politics. I am not a politician. My passion has always been business and business.
“Buhari is like a father to me. Nobody should try to set me on a collision course with President Buhari. That will not work. I have high regard and respect for the President.
“For emphasis once again, I am not a politician. I can’t and won’t confront President Buhari. They should leave me out of any high wire politics and horse trading.
“I also seize this opportunity to warn name droppers to desist from their infamous act. They should stop using my name for politics. They should not set me on collision course with President Buhari and the government in power.
“By the time the ongoing Dangote refinery in Lagos and the sugar projects come on stream fully, there will be a great positive development and thousands of jobs created that will change the narrative in the country. That is my passion.”(NAN)
By Haruna Gimba Yaya
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has declared candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Saidu Kawuwa Malala as the winner of the Saturday’s by-election for Dukku North constituency.
Saidu Kawuwa Malala polled 7, 060 votes to defeated his close rival, Alhaji A Inuwa of the All Progressives Congress and five others to emerged as winner to represent the people of Dukku North at the Gombe State House of Assembly.
Declaring the results at the Collation Centre Government Girls Secondary School, Malala, the Returning Officer, Mohammed Saidu, said Mohammed Ahmed Mohammed of Action Alliance (AA) got 8 votes, Abubakar Ibrahim Hashidu from Accord Party got 8 votes, Yakubu Abubakar of ADPM scored 31 votes, Alhaji Alhaji Inuwa of APC scored 4, 023 votes, while Mohammed Ahmad Hashidu of GPN and Sirajo Mohammed of Labour Party scored 29 votes each.
“Having received the highest number of votes, Saidu Kawuwa Malala of the PDP is hereby declared winner and return elected,” he said.
Our correspondent report that out of a total of 38, 120 registered voters, 11, 860 voters were accredited with 11, 188 as valid votes cast.
The declared winner, Saidu Malala, who resigned as a commissioner in Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo cabinet, will replace late Alhaji Gambo Ahmed Kabade of the PDP, who died last June after an illness.
He has two things he could use to turn the table against his interrogators, if he was so disposed. First he is a living legend of journalism, a master of the craft, who could easily draw on his vast experience and authority as a veteran to outwit or browbeat the younger professionals engaging him.
Two, he is a politician, a breed known in Nigeria for the unedifying traits of double-speak, duplicity and being dodgy in such situations, only so to be always politically correct.
But, when Saturday Sun team of FEMI ADEOTI and YINKA OLUDAYISI FABOWALE , kept an interview appointment with former governor of Ogun State and chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) at his Ikoyi residence in Lagos, early in the week, they found the astute politician and journalist not only forthcoming, but also forthright on the wide range of questions on burning and controversial national issues, they sought his views, including some affecting the APC of which he is a national stalwart.
The ex-governor, who was just settling down to a “breakfast” of toast bread, salmon and beverage at a few minutes to 1pm, when the two journalists were ushered into his lounge, waved off the honour the visitors gave him to finish his meal first, before granting the interview. After taking a bite or two from the plate, the septuagenarian elder statesman, invited the reporters to start firing the salvos directly, apparently provoked by informal exploratory discussion on the subject of the interview, which, he himself had casually initiated by good humouredly asking his visitors: “We should ask you media people to tell us what’s going on in the country?”
The irony in the remark produced a general laughter and some interesting exchanges between the visitors and their host, prompting the latter to suggest the interview be formally commenced in earnest, as the points being raised were better captured, while still hot as a molten lava erupting from a belching volcano. The session thus began, exploring the state of the nation, the challenges facing the APC vis-a-vis its internal crisis and the new threat posed by the resurgence of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the health of President Muhammadu Buhari, effect on governance and attendant public protests with demand for his resignation, the deepening national fissure occasioned by separatist agitations, hate speeches; restructuring and controversial rejection of devolution of power to states by the National Assembly.
He also spoke on the issues of regional integration and APC’s politics in the South West, particularly in Ogun State.
The interview also included reminiscences of his active days as a reporter and how he escaped assassination as a pro-democracy activist and National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) fugitive under the brutal dictatorship of the then maximum ruler, Gen. Sani Abacha, who hounded opposition in order to consolidate and transmute into life president after the military annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, believed won by Bashorun Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola.
On all these, Chief Osoba spoke with rare candour, making no attempt to parry any of the questions from the journalists. For instance, he predicted doom for APC if it failed to ensure internal democracy in picking candidates for election in the build up to 2019. Adherence to the party’s constitutional provision on direct primaries, the APC chieftain, who was part of the drafters, warned, was particularly crucial in the case of the APC, if the “delicate marriage” of the allied parties that merged to form the party was not to disintegrate! “APC must start creating a sense of belonging at all levels”, for it to retain power, Osoba declared.
He also identified the non-implementation of the constitutional provision for a board of trustees and elders caucuses to act as check and balance mechanisms, and arbitrate in strife within the party and governmental structures and leadership, at all levels, as the cause for its continuous and embarrassing floundering.
Also, Chief Osoba blamed the public angst over President Buhari’s ill health to the poor official handling of the issue, wondering why the nature of the illness should be shrouded in mystery. Citing reaction to his own public disclosure of having undergone eye and prostate surgeries recently, he asserted that it was not only hypocritical, but naïve to expect that at 78 years-old, his body, which had been flogged in several decades of journalism practice as well as in public service and politics, would remain the same as when he was much younger.
He slammed the Senate on its rejection of power devolution to states, saying he found it incredible that some past governors in the red chamber were party to the killing of the opportunity that would have helped reduce tension and remove some of the hindrances to Nigeria’s development.
Osoba blamed the escalation of intolerance and hate campaign to failure of leadership, noting that the country could gradually be sliding into the crisis of the 1960s that led to the civil war in which millions of lives and property perished. As one of the reporters who covered the war and the killing of Igbo in the North, which preceded it, the elder statesman urged restraint and mutual engagement of one another in dialogue by the ethnic rationalities.
In a recent address to APC faithful in Ogun State, you warned the party strongly against underestimating the PDP and the Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Fayose and also stressed the need for APC to do all it could to win the forthcoming governorship elections in both Ekiti and Osun states, if it hoped to retain its sway over South-west. You have also been harping on the need for the party to uphold internal democracy, and guard against imposition of candidates. Now, what gave rise to these concerns and what effort have you made to impress these upon your colleagues in the national and south-west leadership caucuses, especially your friend, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu who’s been accused of this practice.
It would be unfair to make Asiwaju Tinubu a fall back person on this issue. Lagos is one with all its peculiarity, but, that is not to say that internal democracy should be practised at different levels. I have canvassed and will continue to canvass internal democracy, not only internal democracy, but direct primaries.
When I say direct primaries, it means that primary in which you go to the voters, the party members directly at every ward. I have been canvassing this up to the highest level of our party. And as the chairman of the constitution drafting committee, it is in our constitution. First of all, the delegates system of electing/selecting candidates is money -bound. The man who has the wherewithal to buy delegates could easily swing the election, because people now sell their votes.
I am canvassing direct primaries based on my experience. In 1989-1990 when I went into politics, leaders of the progressive in Ogun State who knew me too well, I can name them- Papa Abraham Adesanya, a junior brother to my father- in- law; Papa Sholanke Onasanya; Pa Olanihun Ajayi; Chief Ayo Adebanjo; they told me honestly and frankly that by every standard in terms of relationship with Papa Obafemi Awolowo I was qualified to contest for the governorship of the state, but that they had decided to zone it away from the Egba. I now queried if it was an offence for me to by accident be an Egba person. And against their institutions, I went out to every ward, every corner of Ogun State and because of my effort and my exposure to the ordinary people in virtually every village, by the time we did the primary, which was then open ballot system where you queue behind the picture of the candidate of your choice. I cleared the primary, I cleared the election.
And that’s why each time I won the governorship in Ogun State and at two different times; (so I’m not a two-term, but two times governor- under the military and civilian era), none of my elections were challenged, because it was direct primary. And because I have done the work at all levels, I was able to emerge and that is what I am still preaching. Bola Tinubu himself went through direct primary before he became governor of Lagos State. He and I agree on that. We have discussed it at length.
To give you another example, under military, Chukwuemeka Ezeife was not to become the governor of Anambra, it was one trader who used his money and was making the waves until the military said: ‘Ah! how would they have a federal permanent secretary contesting against a money bag in Anambra? And that was how Ezeife became governor of Anambra, again by direct primary. I am, therefore, one person who is preaching direct primary from experience. And as chairman of the constitution drafting committee of the APC it’s all in our constitution.
Secondly, the state of the APC today is delicate. We went into a marriage, unfortunately because of the health challenges of the president, we have not been able to consolidate the marriage, we are still not totally one. The PDP, if you watch their convention on Saturday in Abuja, they were showing evidence of gaining strength, they are revamping the party, we, therefore, must hand over the party back to the people, the electorate by ensuring that we do direct primaries, first in Anambra, which is the first election we are going to face, then Ekiti and Osun, to, one, show evidence of progressivism that we preach, progressiveness of political thinking, to reenergize our party, and to give hope back to the ordinary people, just as Abiola won election based on the wishes of the ordinary people.
That’s why I’m warning and advising. It is a thing I’ve been preaching among our party leaders that the only way to win an election is not by imposition. Take for example in Ogun State, the endorsement of a particular candidate is dangerous for us. For example, for years the people of Ogun West have been clamouring to have the governorship, which they have not had since the state was created over 40 years ago. To this, I agree and sympathize on moral ground, nobody in Ogun State can deny that Ogun West, (I don’t call it Yewa, they call it Yewa, Yewa is just about half of Ogun West, there are the Aworis, the Egun people, the Anago, which first of all, must find a common ground among themselves, which I have already been preaching to them) deserves a shot at the governorship. But, for them to be governor, they need to now engage this time around Ogun East people. My position is different from those who are saying ‘Yewa. Yewa. Yewa.’ I’m for the idea of Ogun West, not just Yewa, because to say Yewa, you’re already dividing the Ogun West and creating dichotomy. So, those who are criticizing me are not just analytical. For example Ogun West has five local governments, Ijebu Remo has nine local governments. Ijebu Remo is almost double Ogun West in terms of number of local governments. They have to be tactical, in first of all, negotiating intimately with the Ogun East people. The Egba are the ones that cannot under any circumstance claim the slot of governorship this time around in terms of fairness. What I’m telling the Ogun West people is that, first of all, let the Yewa engage the Aworis, the Egun, the Anago first, create unity among themselves, then, in unity, engage the Ogun East people and negotiate. They have to learn from their past experiences. For example when I went frontally in 1990, there’s no village in Ogun West that I did not tour, even though, then they were all united behind Professor Olabintan. But they made a tactical error by deciding that they would pick their deputy from Remo, which is like giving two minorities the ticket, which can never work and that was why they failed.
The second example that made them fail is this. There was Gen. Olurin, who is, perhaps, the best they have produced after Olabintan. Why? In terms of exposure, administrative knowledge, he had governed successfully Oyo and as an administrator in Ekiti. In terms of the ‘Omoluwabi’ philosophy of the Yoruba, Olurin is number one. In his approach to people, my relationship with him when he was governor of Oyo State the concept of Omoluabi is embedded in his character. He was, therefore, quite qualified as a personality, but at that time, the Yewa threw their eggs in one basket, they pinned their hope only on President Obasanjo and Governor Gbenga Daniel. Nobody ever bothered about the progressives of which I am part. They didn’t even engage us. When the youths came to demonstrate in my compound, I said they should go back to their elders. Have they canvassed or lobbied we the progressives in Ogun State? They are going the same route now, throwing all their eggs to some particular individual. And I’m telling them the whole truth, which is very bitter. I believe in Yewa getting the slot. I have been advising Yewa candidates who have been coming to see me to go to the field, sell yourself, go to the Ogun East, go to the villages, Ogun people are very open-minded and objective. If they see merit in you, they would go with you. It didn’t cost me a kobo for the Ijebus to adopt me as much as the rivalry between the Ijebu and Egbas. And although, the elites of the Ijebus where against me, the ordinary Ijebu, after I had gone around the whole place, held a meeting in Ijebu Ode, and waterside secretly, and decided to go with me. By the time the Remo realized that Ijebu had gone with me, they voluntarily, without me spending a kobo, fell in line. And that was how I was able to beat Professor Olabintan.
I am saying the same thing to the Yewa people this time around. They can’t just shout sentiment, ‘It is our turn’ (Yewa lo kan). ‘go and sell yourself to the people. Don’t depend on any individual to deliver you.’ That is my opinion of this idea of ‘Yewa’ both at my state and at national level. If we fail to practise internal democracy, we’re doomed! That was what killed PDP. There were problem in 23 states of PDP in 2015. And Jonathan did not help situation by not throwing his weight into it and be seen to be fair. Take for example, the case where they wanted to pick candidate and they went to hold their selection in Abuja for the governorship of Adamawa! That’s how PDP lost Adamawa State, and that happened in many of the states.
We must learn from the mistakes of others and of the past; I mean APC. I can tell you, when we were drafting the constitution, we weighed all the options, we looked at all the mistakes of all the parties. I have so many examples of the options we looked at, we looked at all the mistakes of all the parties, and put checks and balances in the drafting of the constitution of APC. For example, we knew that the issue of some of the individuals in PDP becoming larger than the party and larger than life was the major problem in PDP. In that constitution we now said there should be a board of trustees to be headed by a chairman. That board of trustees had all the powers to intervene, arbitrate and oversee so many issues that will affect the party. But, we knew we must not create a monster as was the case in PDP. We now said, nobody will be board of trustees chairmanship for more than two years. And that this chairmanship of the board of trustees will be rotated among the six zones. If we have done that, somebody would have been chairman, in two years, his tenure would have being over, we would have had another chairman now. That part of the constitution has not been implemented and it’s a major problem for APC.
APC has no elders, or board of trustees to which references could be made for proper interventions. That has led to the situation where you have the legislative arm being totally on its own. And the executive arm being totally on its own and which has led to each engaging itself. If we have a powerful leader or board of trustees to intervene, a lot of things would have being settled at party level. We also said that there should be party caucus at state level, made up of past governors, past deputy governors, powerful people who have the interest of the state. That has not taken place. We therefore need to go and re-invent and adapt to the constitution of the party, to ensure that we have a strong party structure that is in tune with the wishes and aspirations of the members.
Sir, it’s an open fact that Nigerians are disenchanted with the party to which they had looked up in hope, but seems to have worsened their conditions. It would seem, the party must rescue itself first, to rescue the country.
Right, we have to go back to the constitution and implement the constitution to the letter. When we were holding the merger meeting of all the parties, there was so much trust and fusion. There were over 70 of us who were members of the merger committee, and we had become such a formidable and responsible family members. But as usual, as we progressed, we usually self-destruct by: one, mistrust of each other; suspicion of each other. The first major mistake was to say, ‘Ah, those of us in the merger committee had decided to now emerge as the leaders of the National Working Committee,’ which was not true.
My own committee on the constitution, produced four ministers: Adebayo Shittu in communications, was a member of the committee; the current Attorney-general, Malami, was a member; Senator Chris Ngige was a member; Osagie, I can’t pronounced his surname Eghara was a member; the current chairman of the party, John Odie-Oyegun was a member. Judge the quality of those in the committee by exposure, character .. former Ekiti governor, Niyi Adebayo was a member; same for Bafawara of Sokoto. Would you say that, that committee was not powerful enough? In the case of manifesto committee, Audu Ogbeh, the current Minister of Agriculture was a member. Like the constitution drafting committee, it was loaded with heavyweight Nigerians. The merger committee itself had people like former petroleum minister, Professor Tam David West. it was loaded with past governors, past national chairmen of parties- Tom Ikimi, Audu Ogbeh.
First of all, the mood with which we went into the assignment and merger was dampened along the line. The result now is that we must first of all go back to the constitution of the party, and do things according to what the constitution says. Another mistake was, along the line, the party was handed over to the governors. I have no objection to governors being leaders of the party. But any governor, who says that ‘I am the alpha and omega,’ should know that he has a tenure. When he comes to the end of his own tenure, another governor would become leader and he too would become ex-this, ex-that. Nothing wrong with that; governors say ‘we are the ones that would be financing the party,’ so, sure, they must have a say. But then, the check on the arbitrariness of a governor in terms of state caucus did not happen. Just like the board of trustees at the national level, or what you would call elders committee that would be advising the president. This country is too big for a few individuals to be Solomon and all -knowing. The president needs it. I’m 78 years, there’s no president in this country that I cannot face and tell him some home truth. Who is that president that I’ve not known when we were all young, to think that in my old age, at 78… what do I want from a president? Do I want an oil bloc? I don’t pray to have an aircraft anymore at this age. The clothes that I will wear till I die, I have more than enough to wear. You saw me having breakfast, just ordinary smooth salmon and toast, with a cup of coffee. That’s all I have for breakfast. My stomach has shrunk to a level that I can’t take too much in, so what else do I need? I should be able to sit down as a member of the national committee, or caucus or board of trustees with the president and say some home truths to the president for the interest of the country.
We are where we are now because many of the levels of checks and balances that we should have put in place are not there. That has led to a situation where a man like Atiku would be openly criticizing the party. It is not healthy for the party. We get to a point where we are arguing about true federalism within the party, it is not healthy. We get to the point where the Senate and the Presidency are arguing between themselves, because the clearing house of party meetings, party caucus, where policies and manifestoes are debated are not happening.
In view of APC’s apparent failure to take the country out of the woods as it promised during campaign, are Nigerians not justified in demonstrating their disappointment, frustration and anger as we have witnessed through public protests in recent times ?
No, you have to weigh the feelings of Nigerians with the situation that we faced, which was not our creation. Nigeria as a country was at the point of total collapse the time APC government came in. The unfortunate thing, I must be honest with myself, is the health challenges the president faced was one of the major factors that tended to have created the problem, and we must admit it, that has affected us. But the president is human, he like everyone does not have a perfect health. Even, my own health has not been perfect; because I went to Abeokuta last week and I announced that I’ve just had a major prostrate operation and I heard people saying ‘Ah! Why should I say it?’ I now asked what was wrong with a 78- year old man having health challenges. And to drive the point home to the ordinary people, I told them that I’ve had my engine re-boiled. The crankshaft has been changed, the piston has been changed, the oil is renewed. And I told them that, what I mean by that, is that I did two operations separately on my two eyes, for cataract, and the result is that, now I don’t use glasses anymore.
So, what is wrong in admitting health challenges? What is wrong in telling the world? Can a car you’ve been using for 20 years be the same as a new car? A body that I have been flogging; I flogged it for journalism, I flogged it for politics, I flogged it for governance. Would the body be the same? It can never be the same. I am even lucky, mine is limited. So, I must say that we’re humans and in the process, errors and mistakes are made and what is left is finding a way of correcting the errors and mistakes we’ve made in the past.
You don’t see this affecting the party’s chances in 2019?
With the PDP and the judgment given by the Supreme Court, we now have a vibrant and serious opposition. That is why we must quickly reunite, we must immediately start in creating a sense of belonging at all levels, from the zone now to the ward, local government, to state constituency to federal constituency to senatorial district to federal level. There’s no hiding. The field is not as free as it used to be for us. The president came in with determination to tackle corruption, we must now extend the corruption beyond just money laundering, looting. Corruption is everywhere, election is corrupted, and I thank the Senate, they passed a draft amendment to the electoral law that has now empowered INEC to go digital, which is very important, because if you look at the judgment given by the Supreme Court in the case of Rivers and Akwa Ibom, ah, I was shocked. Supreme Court said because electronic voting is not entrenched in our electoral law, you can’t rely on that as evidence and gave judgment, based on that legal technicality. The Senate has now entrenched independent candidacy. The choice is now going to be clear in 2019. And as I said it would be tough. If a party messes up, a person who is popular would go and do it independently and win elections. And any party that does not do internal democracy is doomed; not just APC. PDP had suffered it. We must learn from it and not go through the same route.
Culled from The Sun
Last weekend, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), still smarting from the beating it received at the 2015 general election, regrouped at Eagle Square Abuja at a non-elective convention. The party had broken into two with a faction led by each of the former governor of Kaduna state, Senator Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi and former governor of Borno state, Senator Modu Ali Sheriff. PDP’s attempt to hold a convention in Port Harcourt in May, 2016 was prohibited by a court which also ruled in favour of Modu Sheriff as the authentic chairman of the party. However, a recent ruling by the Supreme Court handed the party’s leadership to Senator Ahmed Makarfi. So, there is a chance that PDP will pick up the pieces and cohere again, which is a plus for our democracy.
Nonetheless, there are a number of myths clouding the PDP skyline. A leading PDP myth was that they were going to rule Nigeria for an unbroken period of 60 years! Well, we all know that this myth has been shattered because the party was thrown out of power after 16 years miserable years. To be sure, when the PDP was formed in 1999 by the likes Chief Alex Ekwueme, Mohammed Abubakar Rimi, Chief Solomon Lar, Professor Jerry Gana, Bola Ige, etc., it held great promise but alas, it was taken over by outsiders and by 2003, it had ceased to be the peoples party conceived by the founders.
The party continues to brandish itself as the largest party in Africa, even though it doesn’t know how many members it has, which is just another myth. When one of its former chairmen, Chief Okweselieze Nwodo attempted to digitise its membership, he was removed from office. Obviously, the PDP prefers to bandy imaginary figures regarding its strength and capturing the data on computer would have exposed their fallacies. Ask PDP, how many members has it.
The number one thing that accelerated the departure of PDP from governance in 16 instead of 60 years was its failure to solve the very problems it promised to tackle, on top of a debilitating culture of corruption that it promoted and this brings us to another myth about the PDP. It is that the party and its members are being witch hunted by the current administration. Notwithstanding the recoveries of millions of Dollars, Naira and Pounds as well as ill-gotten property made by this government, the PDP continues to protest the innocence of its thieving stalwarts. No one who had observed how PDP exercised power during these 16 years would believe that they are innocent when it comes to the management of our national resources.
So, contrary to what its old face, former President Goodluck Jonathan, spiritedly submitted at the Eagle square this past weekend, corruption was alive and well during his administration. His unremitting defence and exoneration of Diezani Alison-Madueke, “Nigeria’s best Minister of Petroleum”, of allegations of corruption turned out to be silly and embarrassing. Neither her nor the NNPC, which she superintended was innocent of those charges and with continuous scandalous revelations at the UK and US ends of the intercontinental investigations, it is hard to see how this mammy oil will avoid conviction. Remember, the PDP wanted to build a second runway at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport at the cost of N64 billion! They PDP wanted to construct a gate at the Vice President’s new residence at the cost of N7 billion! We are still constructing the Umar Musa Yar’adua expressway that connects the city of Abuja with the airport even though the PDP awarded the contract in 2009!
The latest myth about the PDP is that it will return to power in 2019, I don’t know what makes them believe so. The party is still behaving like its old self and unless it wakes up to the current reality, it will spend the sixty years it gave itself, not in government but in opposition. Instead of building new rail lines, the PDP spent billions of Naira trying to breathe life into a century-old, expired railway system. Although the PDP awarded contracts for the renewal of the expressways in the South East, none of them had been done because the money had been stolen.
Another myth is that PDP will return to power with Atiku Abubakar at the head of its ticket. Atiku is in and out of political parties seeking their tickets to contest the presidency and he has been running since 1992! Is Atiku no longer part of the problem? Is he now part of the solution? Have the bigots in the southern part of Nigeria ceased to see the Fulani as the cause of our national problems? Because I need to remind them that Atiku Abubakar is a Fulani man and speaks only Fulfulde when he is in Adamawa! On the other hand, their nemesis, Muhammadu Buhari, does not even speak Fulfulde. How can the likes of Femi Fani-Kayode allow the presidential ticket of the PDP to be zoned to those “morons and devils” up North in 2019?
Be that as it may, Atiku Abubakar is unelectable. Atiku cannot win the North West and South West. The North West and South West zones will not vote for Atiku because he is permanently damaged by the perception that he is corrupt and desperate for the Presidency. Of course, he will do well in the South East and the South South because for them the All Progressive Congress is a humiliation and so any alternative candidate will be welcomed. But Atiku is a hard sell in the North and his stunning stance on restructuring lately will finally sink him.
The question Nigerians will still ask the PDP is how was it possible that the party did not solve a single national problem despite the quantum of resources that accrued to it from 1999 to 2015?