Former Kaduna State Governor, Ahmed Makarfi has described the growing call for the resignation of the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as an unwise decision that could bring more crisis that would affect the chances of the party in the forthcoming general elections. In an Interview with BBC Hausa Service, the former PDP chairman demanded that aggrieved members sheathe their sword till after elections.
Few days ago, some PDP leaders were in Kano State to welcome former Kano governor, Senator Ibrahim Shekarau, who defected to the party. While that was going on, his old party, New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) said his exit had no impact on the party. Does it mean he has no political value?
If he has no political value or weight, why were they happy when he joined the NNPP. They shouldn’t condemn his exit from the NNPP. NNPP made several consultations, efforts and commitment before Shekarau agreed to join them. But for PDP, it took us one shot to woo him back to PDP. We visited him one day, struck the deal same day and welcomed him back to PDP. In summary, his return to PDP is good and booster for the party, not only for Kano but for the national election.
There are growing calls for the resignation of PDP National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu because of the emergence of Atiku Abubakar as presidential candidate from the North. As a former leader of the party, do you think it is the right move for him to resign at this period?
First of all, it was never the North that requested for the post of PDP national chairman to be zoned to the region. Most of the people who pushed for northern chairman of the party are from the South. The calculation then was different. Later, it was decided that the contest for the presidential primary should be left open for people from all regions to contest. Then if the presidential candidate emerged from the North, if he wins the election, then the party will take time to make necessary corrections in its leadership including moving the party chairmanships seat to the South if need be. But these agreements are not in written form. It was part of the discussions before the primary elections. Now the calculation has changed because of the emergence of a northern presidential candidate. But whatever the case maybe, there’s no need for any changes in the party leadership until after the elections. Election campaign will kick-off very shortly, so there’s no time for any actions that would culminate in change of leadership for PDP. This will cause us more crisis which we are not expecting at this crucial moment. The best thing is for everyone to sheathe their sword and wait till after elections.
In 2019 elections, there was this belief that some unhappy party leaders sabotaged and worked against the party. With this “crisis” now, there’s fear that such might repeat itself.
You are talking about our crisis in PDP, do you know what is happening in the other parties? Politics is shielded with lots of things that many don’t know and understand. People are talking about our own because it’s in the open. Many other political parties are in serious crisis that could consume them if care is not taken. But with the help of God and party members, all these crises would be resolved and PDP return to power in 2023.
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, in his recent outburst, called on you to quit commenting on him and focus on how to win your State, Kaduna, for PDP.
What he said was kind of advice for me and I have taken it in good fate. It’s not only me alone. Everybody is expected, this time, to focus on his or state to ensure the party wins elections. I accepted the advice in good fate and I can assure you that 90 per cent or more of my attention and focus is on Kaduna, while the remainder is in other things. I am a leader, not only in Kaduna but in the nation.
Some times ago, many people raised concerns that you are hobnobbing with APC members and that it might be you want to defect or work for APC in the forthcoming general elections.
I want to tell you something that many people don’t know. As I am today, nobody can buy me with money or whatever. I make friends with people irrespective of political affiliations, tribe or religion. Politics is a thing of choice and passion for me, and I do it for the benefits of the people. Since I left government in 2007, no governor from my state has given me or someone close contract worth a dime. No governor has given me a parcel of land or any other favour including political appointment. So, I am in politics for the benefits of the people and not for me or close associates alone.
Many observers have claimed that you are not openly campaigning for PDP governorship candidate in Kaduna State.
Campaign is yet to start. There’s a law regarding campaign and the time to start has not come. Besides, campaign is done in different ways. Many people may choose to do secret campaign than to do the open one for whatever reasons that are known to them.
What is your assessment of the governor, Nasir El-rufai’s seven years administration?
If you want to know or get the right information regarding the administration, then you have to meet the people of Kaduna state. They are in the right position to make assessment and pass judgement. But based on what I know, we ran an open and transparent government when I was there as governor. We listen to people’s complaint and took actions to solve their problems. We gave justice to people irrespective of religion, tribe or political affiliations. We discuss lots of things particularly projects at the State Executive Council to know the level of development. Howbeit, I have left government and I don’t put my mind or eyes in what’s happening there. I expect the people in the media will be doing that, holding government accountable for the people.
But as an indigene of the state, are you impressed with the administration?
If I am impressed with the administration, I won’t be pushing for their replacement.
Very soon, election campaign will start fully. What criteria should Nigerians use to make choice in this coming elections?
First of all, this election is between two political parties, PDP and APC. In the North, if you choose party other than PDP, then you have empowered APC. In the South, if you choose party other than PDP, you have reduced the chances of PDP and increased that of APC. So, in a developing country such as ours, opposition parties always come together to get power and not moving apart or operating based on their individual strength. Example is the APC. It was a coalition of different political parties that gave birth to APC. If they had gone into the 2015 elections in their individual strength, they wouldn’t have won the election. Our presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, has promised to form a government of national unity, because the country is highly divided and need a strong a unifier.
But this your suggestion of coalition is obviously late because all political parties have chosen a candidate, awaiting commencement of campaigns.
You are very much right. But there’s what is called political alignment and it usually happens on election day or few days to election. If the understanding goes well, we could see that on election day, a candidate can ask his party supporters to queue behind and vote for a particular candidate. It has happened in the past and it will still happen in the future.
What are the chances of your party both at state and national levels?
You must know that elections and voting systems have changed. So, we are optimistic that there will be free and fair exercise. The new electoral act has brought confidence in the exercise. Electronic transmission of result has further brought sanity to the system. Before now, the election results are allegedly altered along the way to collation centres but that has changed with the new electoral Act that has introduced electronic transmission of results. It is better and we are hopeful that the results of 2023 general election will reflect the decisions of the people.