‘Nigerians are looking for alternative leadership, and that is PDP’
Former governor of Kaduna State and former national Caretaker Committee Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi in this interview with SAXONE AKHAINE calls for issues-based campaigns among contestants for the general elections.
How can presidential candidates stick to issues-based campaigns, instead of attacking personalities?
Well, you know who I am, Nigerians know who I am. PDP had been running a mature campaign, until All Progressives Congress (APC), through its desperation went too personal. There may have been issues that have to do with the APC presidential candidate in the media and social media. But it was not propelled by the PDP, but by other players in the political space. Of all the recent happenings, you have to look at who started it. But then, no matter who started it, campaigns should be issues- based.
We should come back, for the sake of the country and continue to campaign on issues that matter to the people. That is not limited to only PDP and APC, but all the parties. In each of the parties you can hardly find issues-based debates.
If you look at the parties and their structures and messages, the PDP remains on top in terms of issues-based campaign. PDP is a rainbow of people and ideas. It is a party formed on basis of equity. Whether you like it or not, the whole principle of APC Muslim-Muslim ticket was to divide Nigerians along religious line. In their calculation, it is to whip up religious sentiment since there are no tangible achievements they can point out. So, the idea is that let them play up religious sentiment, so that they can retain power. In reaction to that, it may not have started that way, it should have even started on the basis of some laudable objectives, but then what is happening, again religious sentiment crept unto it. And that is the truth.
So, you see a political party whose foundation is bearing on this; religion and ethnicity. And to divide Nigeria along that line will be the most dangerous decision Nigerians will ever make. The PDP is not in that category of a political party right from inception and till now. So it is the only party that you can say is for everybody irrespective of your religious, ethnic and socioeconomic status, whatever. And it is a direction we should all go.
And we should try as much as possible to avoid a run-off election because it could be far more on the deficit side. And then the level of division we have now will be amplified.
But your party PDP is not united?
As a matter of fact, I have said it times without number that it is only in Nigeria you see opposition splitting. You can remember, APC came together as an opposition to catch power. But we are having the reverse now, opposition splitting and they want to return to power. That is deceptive, that is self-serving. It is our thinking that opposition should come together and agree on a common agenda affecting Nigeria and how to go about resolving them with a system in which everybody will be satisfied.
And more disappointing is that you find leaders who see this danger and still encourage this split by supporting this side or the other. Leaders bring people together so that the problem is solved. Leaders don’t take sides. And it is still not good for a leader to take sides. But to bring people together so you can bring Nigeria back to a normal stage.
So, you’re worried about activities of the G-5 governors led by Nyesom Wike?
It is a political issue, I have been very busy at home. I believe the matter is being handled by those who should handle it. I don’t have update about what is happening, so I may not be in the right position to comment much on it. Politics is local, I have been at home leading the campaign here. If you notice hardly do you see me at national rallies. Because my personal opinion is that the work is at home. And the work at home is enormous. And one needs to be at home to do the needful, not to be deceived.
But don’t you think the Wike crisis can cost PDP victory?
As I said the matter that is being handled at the national level. If we have a number of governors who feel dissatisfied, how many governors do we have on the other side that are dissatisfied and people don’t know. So politics is not about what you see, you should be more worried about what you don’t see. I am more comfortable and confident that PDP will win this election on the first ballot, God willing. I am confident we can do that.
It appears that Tinubu is so worried that Buhari has not been following him on campaign tours as it to be.Can PDP take advantage of this?
It is not about following candidates on campaign. I have just told you that I have not been going on rallies with our candidate, but I am 100 percent with our candidate. I’m at home working 100 percent to make sure that Kaduna returns to PDP. If you have a responsibility to remain at home you remain at home. If you don’t have responsibility to remain at home you can be anywhere. That is the way.
I don’t want to talk about someone not being at the rally. The issue has to do with the voters; APC has nothing to show to the voters that will make them enthusiastic to vote for them. But they want to make use of money, sentiments, religious sentiment. And from experience, this sentiment will take them nowhere. I believe people want a state that is fair and equitable. And PDP is structured in a way and manner that is fair and equitable for development in Nigeria. So for me, it is not to show up at the rally, but about the people who are looking for an alternative, and that alternative is PDP, which the people are happy to associate with.