Adamawa PDP governorship aspirant, Dr. Umar Ardo, in this interview, explains how the party can resolve the infighting as a result of the tussle for the party’s ticket.
The infighting among PDP aspirants in Adamawa State is getting more fierce, don’t you think this could lead to an implosion that could affect the party in the by election?
There is no infighting among aspirants in Adamawa State PDP. The core aspirants who have voiced their intention to contest are myself, Hon. Auwal Tukur, Dr. Idi Hong, Sen. Andrawus Sawa, Bart. AA Gulak, Alh. Sabo Jimeta, Sen Abubakar Gire, and maybe Sen. Bello Tukur. There is understanding among us as we have a forum in which we are talking to each other. There are however others who want to contest but who are constitutionally ineligible but don’t want to accept this reality. These include Gen. Buba Marwa, Engr. Marcus Gundiri, Dr. Ahmed Modibbo, and Hon. Jerry Kundisi. While Marwa and Kundisi are on one year probation as stipulated by the party’s constitution having decamped and returned, Gundiri and Modibbo have 2 years to be eligible to contest having just joined the party. As of now none of them has met this condition. So they all need waiver to contest. What you may be terming as infighting is probably the insistence of some of us that constitutional provisions and their processes must apply on all members without exceptions while others think they are above the party and its laws. You don’t call this as infighting; I think you should call it sanitizing the system.
What is the best way to resolve the internal rivalry?
The best way to resolve the nomination issue is to allow the party in the state to determine, in line with the party guidelines, how it produces its candidate. Adamawa PDP is cohesive and this issue can easily be resolved by the stakeholders and elders of the party in the state. Among the qualified aspirants we will try to reach a consensus among us. We are already talking to each other. But if we fail, then we hope the party’s stakeholders will do it, and if they fail, then we go to polls. But whatever method we finally adopt, it will be democratic, transparent, fair and credible.
What are the points you are advancing to be nominated as the candidate of the PDP?
I think most people in Adamawa do recognize the great efforts I made over the years in the fight for democracy, rule of law, transparency, honesty and justice in the state. For the past 7 years I stood firm in opposition to what I believe to be an unjust system, both in the party and the government. When the people’s rights in the party were being denied them; I fought to get them back. When the road was far and rough, I braved on ahead. When the situation was unsafe and uncertain, I led the way. While others shivered, I mustered the courage to fight on; while others wavered, I stood firm and resolute. I knew others were deceitful, selfish and calculating, but I remained truthful and sincere. When all seemed lost and gone, I rose up and challenged the unjust system and together we defeated it. I gave our people hope in the hour of hopelessness; I gave them a voice when they were made voiceless. I fought to ensure that injustice and illegality do not reign over our people; and today we have broken the bondage. In the life of a society, there will come a time when some people must have to stand up and point out when the leadership is drifting; explain why things are going wrong, demonstrate how things can be done rightly; and work towards making a clear difference.
I did that in Adamawa through public lectures, making personal contacts, organizing rallies, writing petitions, collating signatures, leading delegations, conducting elections, holding press conferences, mobilizing people, going to courts way up to the Supreme Court, publishing articles, etc. all insisting on doing the right thing in the state. The result is there for all to see – we took away the party from a despot and returned it to the people. We also got the despot finally out giving the people the opportunity to elect a man of their choice again. These are not mean achievements and I led every inch of the struggle. While the goal represents a manifest leadership virtue, my commitment and physical actions of organizing these activities is a proof of my leadership abilities. Though we may all have our different aspirations, but on the point of truth we remain undivided in attesting to my efforts. This means I have what it takes to steer the ship of Adamawa State to greater heights, if given the opportunity. And I believe the people of Adamawa are yearning to give me the opportunity because the totality of my political efforts gives a good insight into my person and ideas, and the problematic issue of leadership in our state. Adamawa people have acknowledged that I have done my own part – to prove myself; they are yearning to do their own part – to give me the opportunity by massively voting me as governor of the state! The people are therefore expecting PDP to fill me in. It will be a huge disappointment if PDP fails to field me and it is certain to adversely affect the fortune of the party
But some say since there is no time to waste, the PDP should come up with a sellable candidate that may not need to go round to campaign. Do you fit that description?
With all humility, I can say to you today in Adamawa State I am the most sellable PDP candidate. First, I have started early and remained very active throughout. Second, I have raised my name into a household name in the state. It is either you are in support of me or not, but my name is the issue in the state politics. Thankfully, I am largely on the positive side. Currently, I am today the only politician that has effectively broken the ethnic and religious barriers in the politics of the state. Third, I have been able to make an incumbent unpopular till we got him out while correspondingly raising my popularity. So nobody fits your bill in this context other than me. And that is a fact.
What if an arrangement is worked out to compensate all the aspirants to step down for one? Would you accept that?
Yes, I will accept provided that that one is electable and the process is done by the Adamawa PDP openly and fairly. But common sense dictates that since I am the spirit and body of the struggle, and I led it, it makes sense that others who joined later step down for me. Besides, the Adamawa people have come to know that I have not volunteered myself into this race for selfish gains whatsoever. They know I am not contesting either to acquire wealth, or to attain social status, or even to make a name. Over the years they have come to accept that I am in the race solely to help develop our state and enhance their material and spiritual wellbeing – expecting my reward from God Almighty Himself.
What role would you want the Presidency and the national secretariat of the party to play in resolving the current crisis?
There is no crisis, please. I don’t expect any role for the presidency or national secretariat other than statutory. The party constitution and guidelines are there to resolve whatever difficulty we may face. If we follow their provisions strictly all contradictions will be sorted out.
Some have argued that Fintiri should be allowed to finish the tenure of Nyako in order to avoid rancor in the party, what is your take on that?
There is no constitutional basis for doing that. There is nothing we can do to escape elections within the stipulated 90 days. If Fintiri wants to contest he is free to join the race, which is the only constitutional way to finish the tenure of Nyako. There is no other way.
I’m sure you never envisaged the kind of competition the race for the party’s ticket has taken. Do you regret the effort you put to remove Nyako from the seat?
I am very clear as to what I am up to compete against. I am not in any way intimidated. Honestly, I cannot see anybody that can face me in the primaries so long as it is left to the Adamawa PDP to determine. I obviously have no regrets of my role in removing Nyako from office. I am proud of it and will repeat it a thousand times if the same circumstances repeat themselves.
There is also the issue of zoning which you said does not exist, but in fairness to the Central Zone, don’t you think they also deserve a chance whether PDP has jettisoned the policy or not?
First of all, zoning is not enshrined in the party constitution. If the party had wanted zoning, it would have made constitutional provision for it. The fact that it didn’t means the issue is left at the realm of political expediency. Right now, on the strength of the prevailing political temperament, it is not politically expedient or wise to resort to zoning in the state.
Do you disagree with those who returned to the party purely on the basis of not having waivers or because you believe they do not deserve it at all?
It is not whether I agree or not anyone is or not qualified. PDP has its constitution with clear provisions as to how to treat returnees. First, they lose seniority in the party and remain under probation for one year during which they cannot vote or be voted for, except if given a waiver. But waivers must not be given frivolously for fear of bastardizing the process and encouraging inter-party defections at will. We have to enforce the provisions of the constitution or the entire constitution loses its essence. Nothing worse can happen to a party. Besides, giving waivers has not proven to help the cause of the party. The Atiku example is a good point of reference. But for the returnees to come back with definite intentions to contest elective offices before the expiration of the stipulated probation period is self-serving and therefore unacceptable. Nobody will bend the rules simply to accommodate the ambitions and egos of somebody, and it is expected that responsible members will respect this and comply.
Source: Daily Trust