Dr. Umar Ardo,a PDP gubernatorial aspirant in Adamawa State in 2011 and 2012, has challenged the process that threw up Murtala Nyako as the party’s flag bearer and is currently pursuing the case at the Supreme Court. He talks about his case, the PDP and Adamawa politics. Excerpts:
You were one of those who objected to a change in the leadership of the PDP, now that a new leadership is in place, how would you say it has fared?
As Adamawa state PDP Stakeholders we tried in our own way to give Alh.BamangaTukur all the political support we could at his hour of need. If that is what you term as objecting to change in the party leadership then we plead guilty. But what else could we have done other than to at least have the home front stand by him? We reasoned that even if we couldn’t save him we must notbe among those who abandoned him or who stood by and watched while his political enemies were destroying him. So we acted. That was enough political cushion and immense soft landing for him. Besides, it was a huge political advantage for us in the state to have the National Chairman from amongst us;his removal would be a great loss to us. So it was natural for us to rise up and dothe needful to protect that advantage. And we did that.Whether or not we succeeded was immaterial; what is important was that we did the right thing at the right time.
Now that a new leadership is in place we have put the past behind us and are working very closely with it. Adamawa PDP Stakeholders have since met with the new National Chairman and members of the NWC and had such a sincere discussion that when we came outthe feeling amongus allwas of no loss suffered with the change in party leadership. I think the party is moving on the right tract and the new National Chairman has the wherewithal to take PDP into a fresh glorious era. And he will – you’ll see!
The problem with the PDP it is said, has been the bid by governors to control the party, do you see Mu’azu avoiding falling into the trap of the governors?
All these stories you hear about governors controlling the party are basically fallouts of non-implementation of the party constitution and guidelines in party affairs, coupled with the inertia of party members to the issue. A political party is an association of like-minds from different and varying backgrounds. What unite membersare the party constitution, manifesto and guidelines. It is the responsibility of every responsible member to ensure that the party operates on these cardinal basics. Where members are enlightened and vigilant on these, no governor can hijack and control the party. This was what we did in Adamawa. It was either the governor played by the rules or had to find his way elsewhere. He chose the latter. So if party members across the country can do what we did in Adamawa, I assure you no governor can unconstitutionally take control of the party in the states. But as long as we think we can do nothing because someone higherhas an interest then we will forever be running from one political party to another looking for an easy way out where none exists because there will always be someone higher with an interest. I think if the rest of the country can take a closer look at how we did it in Adamawa where ordinary members of the party organized themselves into such a formidable force that overpowered the governorand subsequently forced him out of the party, Nigerians will be able to draw useful lessons from us. The duty of dealing with the menace of irresponsible elected officials on party affairs rests not just with the party leadership alone but also upon members as well. So if the new chairman insists on strict compliance with the law and guidelines of the party, as he had already stated on many occasions, and responsible party members stand firm on it, all thesewranglings would cease. AdamuMu’azu was himself a governor for eight years, I am sure he‘d know what to do.
The defection of the five PDP governors to APC has had its effect in the states affected, in Adamawa where you hail from, there have been defections and counter defections, what do these alliances and re-alliances portend in the political equation of Adamawa?
Adamawa politics is a very complex one – you have to understand the whole from the center or you are totally loss. The defection of Governor MurtalaNyako and other big names like Atikuto the APC will not substantially affect the PDP in the state because none can command any appreciable followership from the people tothreaten our mass support base. And they know it.
To those who crossed over to the PDP either for the first time or returning, we welcome them back into the party. Like the good father of the Biblical Prodigal Son, we roll out the red carpet for them, celebrate them and feast with them. But unlike the brother of the returning son, we do not begrudge them of any rousing welcome they may get from the PDP family.We think to some extent they deserve it. But when the celebrations are over, it behooves the family leadership to seat the returnee son down and admonish himhow bad and repugnant his behavior was and how not to behave like that again under those circumstances. To also remind him of the norms, values and ethics governing the family life, and that it was the strict adherence to these traditions by responsiblemembers that kept the family wealth, name and fame intact that he found worthy to return to. And that henceforth he is expected to strictly abide by these and behave himself well.
Also, though we wholeheartedly accept back our lost and found sibling, we cannot in all good conscience handover and surrender the family inheritance stool to him.Likewise, PDP has its constitutionwith clear provisions as to how to treat suchreturnees. First, they lose seniority in the party. Then, ineligible to contest for any of the party offices, or contest under its platform any public office for a period of at least two years – except if given a waiver.But in Adamawa we are determined to ensure that such waivers are not 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 point to sight.But we also hope that the returnees are not coming with definite intentions to contest elective offices before the expiration of the stipulated two years. There is no hurry in this. The Adamawa PDP they returned to is the PDP of constitutionalism, rule of law and political maturity. Nobody will bend the rules simply to accommodate the ambitions and egos of somebody, and it is expected that responsible members will respectthis and comply.
When politicians move from one party to another at the slightest threat to their interests, itattests that their motives are driven by self-interestrather than selfless service. Whatever our motives and interests in politics are we should be men enough to stand and fight perceived or real injustices and injuries we are confronted with. But to run to another party andthen to another is a flawed way of playing politics. It only tells that such are no more than fortune seekers. This does not portend well for our future and must be discouraged.
With the defection of Nyako, Adamawa is being termed an APC State, how correct is this statement?
I am just sad that the visit of the President to the state slated for the 29thof this month has been postponed. You’d have seen whether or not Adamawa can truly be termed an APC state. We had already completed arrangements to bring virtually the entire state out on that day for the President and the world to see before the postponement news came through. The visit would have conclusively resolved this false contention. But as they say, there is always another day.
The Adamawa State governor recently wrote a letter to his colleague northern governors where he highlighted the security situation in the country and blamed it on a premeditated attempt to liquidate the northern population, what is your take?
In spite of the points raised and the seeming patriotism portrayed in that document, I still doubt Governor Nyako’s sincerity. He is simply taking cheap advantage of the terrible situation in the North hoping to score political points. If Governor Nyako’s leadership style in Adamawa is anything to go by, then I strongly advice circumspection onthis memo. Since he claims that Adamawa State was undeserving of State of Emergency, what did he do as a governor to protect the citizens of the state from such misapplication of federal power? Did he approach the Courts to challenge it and further the course of rule of law?
Besides, his memo is self-contradictory. While its central trust is accusing the Federal Government of perpetrating the carnage in the name of Boko Haram, his suggestion as a solution of “a declaration of Northern Nigerian Amnesty to the culprits” is meaningless. If the federal government was the culprit as he suggested, who is being given the amnesty then? Also, terrorism is a federal and not a state crime. Where then do Northern Governors have the powers to grant amnesty to the culprits? I think a governor should thoroughly think through issues before venturing out.Yes, we have serious problems at hand in our country, but people like Nyako should first purge themselves of their culpability in the system before ponging the guilt of others.
But don’t you see logic in the allusion that the government is condoning insecurity in order to have enough grounds not to conduct elections in the North East?
I don’t see this logic. I cannot imagine how any government can conceive and execute such evil acts. The reason is simply that if you create a state of insecurity in any part of Nigeria, you automatically have created a state of insecurity in all parts of the country. The negative political backslash will be nationwide. No elective government can risk that. But if Nyako alleges that the government has failed to curb the activities of the Boko Haram insurgence, and other serious crimes in the country including corruption, this would be saying the obvious.
You have not relented on the issue of the 2011 PDP primaries in Adamawa which is in court, what is the stage now and are you not discouraged by the time lost?
The case is at the Supreme Court now awaiting judgment on 9th May. So let’s wait and hear what the apex court will say. I believe I have a very good case, and I pray to God I win. I am not discouraged.