- Say Governor is Jittery over Tribunal Case
In this interview with Yunana Iliya, Nasarawa PDP Chairman, he spoke about how the Presidency under Jonathan helped Governor Al-Makura to win the April 11 Governorship election. He also spoke on other issues concerning the party, Nasarawa State.
The PDP’s performance at the Local Government Council election was like a precursor before the Governorship Election, in that Council election, the PDP your party did very well that many were with high hopes that the PDP was going to carry the day at the Governorship election held in April 11, 2015. However, after the election the table turned against your party, what really went wrong, why happened that made your party to lose the gubernatorial election.
I want to say that what actually happened in 2014 when we had the council election replicated itself during the Presidential and National Assembly election where we cleared everything, including the Presidential election. Nasarawa State is the third State in the North that won the Presidential election and we didn’t win the Presidential alone, we won with all our National Assembly seats. The declaration became the problem INEC in connivance with the power that be in the State cajoled and took some seats away, but by the grace of God we are at the Tribunal for the National Assembly seats and we will take back our seats.
As for Gubernatorial election, it came with a lot of sentiments attached to it, so many interlude explanations came into play, and many of the supporters of the PDP were cajoled to saying that since Goodluck lost election we cannot afford to be in opposition, let’s just joined hands with the opposition government, and even though also, religion played a pivotal role in the Nasarawa election, for some people they said it is time to play religious politics, to PDP was identified with Christianity while APC was identify with Islam. Many of our supporters who are PDP and who are equally Muslims, were taking away, using brainwashing kind of sentiments such as if you vote PDP you are an infidel, despite the fact the kind candidate of our party at the Guber polls was a Muslim, but the issue of bandwagon came to play.
Though we lost the Gubernatorial election doesn’t mean that the PDP was turned upside down, but so many factors came into play, and I want to say that 80% of what happened at the election, was caused by the villa, the then Presidency then caused the problem for us in Nasarawa State, and I have my reasons. Around June, July, August, members of Nasarawa State House of Assembly with the Executive arms were at each other’s neck, at this point the legislatures criticized the governance of the State, and impeachment was initiated with the approval of the Presidency, when they got into the mid of it, they were just thrown away. Thrown away in the sense that, the wanted to implement it to the latter, but they were later called to desist from it and they way they turned them off showed that something was on the up. And we saw that from the attitude of those at the Presidency that they were more interested in the APC government in Nasarawa, than they were in the PDP. So, at a point having observed what was happening I called a stakeholders meeting and I said was it not better for us to go and join hands with the opposition? It was better for us to go and join APC, Governor Al-Makura in Nasarawa State is our brother, all those who are APC in Nasarawa State are our own brothers, we are here busy fighting Al-Makura in Nasarawa State, while when he comes to Abuja, he is giving a kinship seat to sit close to the President. He is received with open arms at the Villa, the wife of the President doesn’t travel without the First Lady of Nasarawa State, and so there were that kind of a very, very serious rapport between them, each time we sit down to watch the events then we have no reasons than to regret being identified with Goodluck for that singular act of betraying the party at the State level in favour of the APC. That has come and gone and were are left with lots of scars on our bodies, but that notwithstanding, I want to say without mincing words, that PDP is a party to beat in the State.
Another straw that broke the Carmel’s back was the candidature of the immediate past Minister of Information, Labaran Maku. Labaran Maku when he left, at a point we were hearing them campaigning and saying that it was the President that asked them to leave and contest the election under APGA, that APGA and PDP were almost the same party and so on and so forth. Also, that they were asked to go ahead and that lots of money was giving to him for the campaigns, all to the detriment of the party. So many things played out, which were sufficient reasons for us to believe.
For instance, when Mr. President visited the whole country after his campaigns, there were no state he didn’t visit to meet with Stakeholders and leaders of the party in those states, but Nasarawa State was not part of them. He kept giving us dates, he is coming today, he is coming tomorrow, but he never did. When his wife went round the whole country, campaigning, we were asked to mobilized our women because she was coming, we did a very heavy mobilization, the women were gathered for her to come and see, and at the end of the day we were told that she was not coming, in fact women who loved the PDP left that day crying and before we know what was happening, we were meant to understand that the governor of the State was the one who stopped her from coming, we were also made to understand the Minister who was contesting election under APGA was the one who stopped her from coming.
So, the PDP in the state was dragged into a serious commotion, so if PDP was not liked by the leaders of the party at the National level, then why should we be killing ourselves here, since everything became manifest that they were not working with us, I can tell you these are the major things that led to PDP lose election in Nasarawa State. Infact despite the success we recorded at the National Assembly elections and the Presidential election, they still hold this notion that it was the governor of Nasarawa State who made them to win Nasarawa State, which was the notion the former villa had. But the question I asked them is this, did the Governor also worked against his own candidates who lost election in the Senate and House of Representatives election. Are they now saying the governor didn’t support his candidates, why should he now have to wait until election was won by the Governor, only for him to come and cajoled INEC cajoled the Security and take our position at the point declaration? These are questions that have not been answered.
Labaran Maku contested the Primary election of the PDP, as well other contestants and eventually Agabi won the PDP primary election, the question is this, assuming Maku won the PDP Primary election, could the PDP have won the gubernatorial election in the State?
Well, with what happened in Nasarawa State, if Maku had won the Primary and if the Presidency like I said had left Nasarawa State alone, if he could not support the PDP, he should even been seen supporting any other party in Nasarawa State, then nothing would have stopped us from winning the gubernatorial election in the State. Also even in Agabi’s case if the Presidency had left Nasarawa State alone and didn’t support any other party in the State, I want to assure you that nothing also would have stopped us from winning election in the State, because of the attitudes and handwriting on the wall that members of the party in the State were seeing, that made them to keep on saying what are we really suffering ourselves for, since those in Abuja were working for doesn’t even like us and now that the person in Abuja has lost election, why must we suffer ourselves, let’s just go and join the bandwagon. There is no candidate in the PDP in Nasarawa State that wouldn’t have won election, if we were left alone, Maku would have won and as it is today with the Tribunal he has gone, I think he is pulling ground. We only didn’t want to join issues at the Tribunal, because what happened in 2011 opened our eyes, we won at the Tribunal, in fact judgement was written waiting for the Judgement day and some power came into play and they said the governor has promised that if he is giving the chance he will come back to the PDP, and some forces from Northern echelon of the country came into play and the power that be sacrificed Nasarawa State in favour of the CPC then , on the ground that he was going to come back to the PDP and what made us to be very, very careful was after the Judgement was delivered in favour of Governor then, the then National Leader of the Party in the person of Abubakar Baraje went and congratulated the CPC governor, Tanko Al-Makura winning at the Tribunal all at the detriment of the PDP which we subscribed ourselves to.
We started having doubts and we thought with the exit of Baraje and his calibre of people, we are going to be better off; even we got to know that the leader of the party at the National level, the National Chairman who led us into election in Nasarawa State, didn’t pay attention to any of us in Nasarawa State. I booked appointment with him more than five times and he never gave me an appointment to meet with him as the Chairman of the party. So, you see so many things came into play and I want to believe and also say that if the people of Nasarawa State who professes PDP are at fault, the percentage of the fault may not be up to 2% because they were reacting to the actions of the people out there in Abuja, I want to use this opportunity to congratulate the people in Nasarawa State for standing by our party, faithfully and working hard to ensure that victories were recorded.
There were these allegations in some quarters that the APC in the State lost the Presidential election in the State because the Governor didn’t commit resources for the success of the party during the election, just as he did during the Governorship election, which he eventually won. Is there any truth in these allegations?
Well, I wasn’t in the camp of Governor Tanko Al-Makura, but from what we saw he actually spent money during the gubernatorial election. Immediately after the Presidential election, so many things came into play, some national leaders of the APC moved into Nasarawa for the Governorship election. I also learnt that money actually exchanged hands, whatever happened is now history. We wait and see how is going to vindicate himself from the so called mandate that he got.
Just recently, the Zonal Coordinating Secretary of the Southern Senatorial District of the PDP, Alhaji Sidi Ndaji, said that Maku is fighting a lost cause, and that Agabi has congratulated Al-Makura and that Al-Makura won the election, is Ndaji speaking for himself or is he speaking for the party.
Ndaji spoke on his own, it is his own personal opinion, like I said it is not because there were no fouls committed during the election, we saw them, we felt them, but with what happened in 2011, we said let the sleeping dogs lie, that there no need for us to spend unnecessary money on Lawyers, when at the end of the day we know we are not going to get judgement in our favour. So, if Ndaji spoke the way it was reported, then he was speaking on his own and not for the party.
With what has transpired recently at the Tribunal, where the unexpected happened that the Governor’s witnesses testified against him, and even INEC which has boasted that their witnesses will come out to testify, refused to bring their witnesses, and this led to the governor asking his counsel to close his case abruptly. Did you really think that this is an act of God just as Maku said recently at a Press briefing in Abuja?
Like I said, going to the tribunal is one thing and the Judgement is another thing, with what happened in 2011, everything was clear and I am not going to speak for the tribunal and I cannot pre-empt it, the only thing I can say is for us to wait and see what happens at the end of the day.
Do you think the governor is jittery, over recent drama that played out at the Tribunal?
Why will he not be jittery, he is, if you say you have 2o witnesses and you brought two and the two testified against you, INEC who is the arbiter, who is the umpire have nothing to testify, then it means something is wrong somewhere. So let’s just wait and see what God has in stock.
Lets come to the governance, how can you rate the performance of the Governor in the last three months in office, you know the Governor has been in office in past four years before winning this election for a second term.
Right now, if you want to get know about the governance of the state under Al-Makura, ask workers, the civil servants in the State, how many of them have enjoyed their regular salaries ever since he won the governorship election and even before winning his second term election, particularly local government workers, I learnt last month they were paid ten percent of their total salaries, that is what has been happening. All these kind of window dressing that is being done in Lafia, let’s go and see whether something is still happening in Nasarawa State. Since he won election, he has been so quiet and jittery, am sure something is happening somewhere, but only God will determine that.
What about security, the Governor said Security has improved.
Since he came on board, security has been a challenge in the state, people longer sleep with their eyes closed, in fact in Lafia, robbers are disturbing from house to house, to take whatever they can take from the peoples’ house that is what is happening in the state. But that notwithstanding we thank God that we are among the living. However, the issue of killings before the election, that one has come to a halt.
In our last interview with you, you made mention of some funds which you said the governor should account for, such funds include SURE-P, flood intervention fund and others, has such funds been accounted for how it was used by the government.
As I speak to you, none of those monies has been accounted for, it was later that he held meeting with some of his officials and he told them that the SURE-P money was what used for the window dressing of so called Lafia township roads that were constructed, because of that he couldn’t buy buses, he couldn’t give youths any empowerment scheme, he couldn’t give the women any empowerment, because he knows he has no money to do and so instead he has to convert that money to the road that he is doing. The question that begs for answer is this, was that actually appropriated for, it was not that is why it was an offence, if he spend any money outside the budget, it is sin against the constitution of the country, and that is what the State Assembly then were questioning him, but he wouldn’t listen, and at the end of the day because he felt he has some connection on top, he got away with it, but we are living that with time.
Now, that the APC has majority at the State House of Assembly, do you think such issues will be raised again.
Well, what actually happened in 2014 was not because the people there were PDP, I want to assure you that we are going to have a very tumultuous kind of assembly members even as they are made up of the APC mainly, because it is not the issue of party, it is the issue of the substance that governor is made up of, if you are good, you are good and if you are not, you are not. Members of the State House of Assembly today, came from constituencies and they are representing their constituencies. What is going to happen in Nasarawa State is going to be a confirmation what PDP members led its foundation. I can assure you that in no distance time that is what is going to happen. We already getting feelers here and there they way things has started happening between him and them. The time will come that every person in the state will get to know what actually happened between him and them.
You have said that the governor is doing what you called window dressing in Lafia, are you saying nothing are happening in other parts of the State.
Go round and see for yourself, in 13 local governments, it is only Lafia Local government that he singled out on the grounds that is the State headquarter, or state capital, just go and check if there has been anything done in Toto, Nasarawa, Karu, what about Kokona and others. Let’s go and see, it is there for every person to check.
What are the steps your party, the PDP is taking to ensure that you come out strongly in 2019?
I want to tell you that all things being equal, if we go in for election in Nasarawa State 2o times, PDP will still come out strongly. Forget that the so called government is in place, we have not even felt the impact of the government in place in Nasarawa State, as a state, as chairman, very shortly a committee is going to be inaugurated and the committee is going to come out with a blue print, to get the best way possible to forge ahead as people and as party, to serve as an opposition party which will be more stronger.
Assessing the APC government, it is almost 100 days in office, how can you describe the government so far.
My assessment of the government so far, even though he is also aware that he is being called Baba Go Slow, is a like a Medical Doctor who is also faced with a patient that has element of sickness, and it takes a doctor three months or more to diagnose, I want to believe that a Nigerian project, as much as he knows it, he should have it at the palm of his hand. By now, we would have started seeing so many things happening here and there. The Household song that is being sang by him and all the APC today is ahhhh Nigeria is corrupt, ahhh we are going to fight previous administration, but the truth is that we give our nod to fighting corruption, because whatever that will come out of it, we will also be the beneficiary. If we are going to have a 24 hours light, am going to be a beneficiary, if we are going to have regular water supply, I am going to be a part of the beneficiary. So we will be happy to fight corruption, but the question is how genuine will the fight against corruption will be. Because the PDP that you are accuse today of being corrupt, are the people who made you the President you are, we hope there will not be sacred cow in this battle you are fighting.