‘Demands for Southwest PDP national chairman sentimental’
Your initial focus was Deputy, why the sudden change for Chairman?
By last year I was gunning for the deputy. The arrangement was such that somebody from the Southwest will emerge as the chairman. That time, we had two and a half years to the 2019 general election. But now, we don’t have time; therefore we need an experienced person who will start working right from day one.
The second reason is you need a zone where there may not be crisis and I believe that in my state and in my zone, we don’t have crisis unlike in other zones where they have issues.
I have been in this party from day one. In fact, I can lay claim that I am also a foundation member.
The PDP is very strong in the South-South and the Southeast, don’t you think the Southwest should be allowed?
That is purely sentimental. In a reality, if you want to win an election you don’t start from the unknown. You begin with the known. Apart from the party’s chairman position, there are three or four major positions if you are talking about zoning of positions. Southwest is a very important zone in the country, if not the number one zone, in terms of intellectualism, media and so on. We know it has produced president. So if you look at the President, Vice President and the Senate President, these are key government positions. So if you are talking also of what will benefit the people directly, you will see that with these three key positions, there is no way Southwest can be ignored; but we are down so we want to start from a safer place to move.
The general impression is that if you become the Chairman, the Southwest would be considered for Vice President to give APC the big fight. How true is it?
If I become the chairman, I will not look at the permutation of the APC on how to win election. I have a different strategy on how to win elections. So it has to be about collective leadership position. Our first assignment is to determine who becomes our presidential candidate and the choice of the running mate will be the exclusive right of the candidate. So we are not positioning that. We are not going to say it should come from here or from there.
One of the aspirants, Prof. Adeniran has alleged that Sen. Ahmed Makarfi is aligning with you and many are not comfortable with the way you managed the resources of the party when you acted as its chairman. What have you to say?
Of a truth, I have never sat down with Makarfi on how to become chairman, all those are speculations and you know when someone is doing better than the others, those who are not doing what they are supposed to do will always speculate and try to drag him down. This is a pull down syndrome. There is no iota of truth in it. I have no arrangement with Makarfi; no one is trying to impose me on people.
On the issue of what the former national Chairman, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu left; again, this is a calculated attempt to blackmail. I don’t want to mention names. For anybody to say N9 billion was missing or N9 billion was left, it means that money was not even used for election. The money realised was about N11 billion from sales of forms nationwide. And in our guidelines and constitution, when you realise this money, it is shared among the local governments, state, zonal and national levels. Even by mere mention of N9 billion means no money was given to them as I mentioned above. I want to plead with you to get into the secretariat, there is a Director of Finance, there is an acting Treasurer, go and find out the fact.
After the 30 per cent was shared, you can do the mathematics yourself, money was kept for completion of our national headquarters. There was no money at all that we met. Now, the money that was kept was about N5 billion while Mua’zu was still the chairman. After we lost the presidential election, we could not raise the money for other elections. So the leaders looked and say that the money that was reserved should be used. I was still in Rivers State when the chairman called all of us from our states and said they could not get money to disburse again. So, the chairman disbursed the money. We came back and met some money – the N500 million that was even in the bank was seized with BoT Chairman that was involved in fund raising. When they could not get their money back, the bank had to seize some money.
I have been chairman of PDP in Rivers State and have not been found wanting. I have been National Organising Secretary, I raised money in 2011 and I was not found wanting. If you recall, Taraba election was inconclusive. There was repeat election in Taraba, Imo and I think in Abia. All these were expenses of the party. By the time we returned, of course, Mu’azu gave us account of all money, all the money had been used apart from payment of salaries and a few things that we needed while the other balance was still in the bank. When I appeared before the Senate caucus, on my own, I threw light on the alleged missing money. Some of them brought money to me but I rejected it and I said they should go and use the money for the election. I have been mentored to know that money destroys in politics.
What’s your agenda for the party?
My agenda for the party will be based on 3Rs: Rebuild, Reposition and Regain. I will want to remain focused on it in terms of building the party. As we are doing that, we do it together with the other two – repositioning in terms of membership, going digital and mostly emphasising on the youth who are leaders of tomorrow. As we are doing that, we are enlarging our scope of convincing Nigerians that PDP remains the best option. We stand for national unity in diversity.
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