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Makarfi: PDP set for convention, rebirth

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Markarfi

In a matter of days, your party’s national convention would be underway in Abuja, but some disenchanted party faithful are already calling for its postponement. Are there chances that their wishes could become reality?

Well, as far as I am concerned, we are on course. Of course, we have funding gaps, but I believe relevant party men and women should be able to contribute in good time for the convention to go ahead. We have already served the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) with notice, letters are being written to relevant agencies on issues of security and other things, and essential documents have been printed. The key ingredients required for a convention to take place have been established.

Elected delegates have emerged all over the country. I am not aware at the moment that there is an appeal from anywhere in respect of election of the national delegates. Even if there is any, I am sure we would be able to dealwith that within a week.

So, we are basically on course. A total of 774 delegates have been elected, the rest of over 2, 000 are statutory delegates. So, I just have to say that I believe we are fully on course and there is no reason that can lead to the postponement of the convention. The venue has been secured and has been paid for. So, what again remains?

Some chairmanship aspirants from the South West are alleging that you are in favour of the emergence of a South South candidate as chairman, and also nursing a presidential ambition, how true are these allegations?

These are not fair comments against me. I think these issues arose because it was alleged that in constituting committees for the election of national delegates, a particular state, and a candidate from that state seemed to have been favoured. Five names were specifically alleged as key supporters of the said candidate. That is what precipitated the current issue, in addition to the interview granted by Barrister Abdullahi Jallo, alleging that I told him that I am going to contest for the Presidency. I will take them one after the other, but first the issue of members of committees to supervise the election of national delegates.

The election of national delegates is an exercise that is conducted by state chapters. This committee only receives the results, compiles them, listens to appeals and transmits them to the national headquarters. So, if you want to talk of allegations, may be you can only talk of that based on the state chapters, or allege that a particular committee has tampered with the result of the election. That is a specific complaint. Up till now, nobody has made this specific complain. So, irrespective of who constituted a specific committee, no complaints have been lodged that the election of
national delegates were irregular, or biased from any state of the federation.

Secondly, in constituting those committees, states sent 20 names each. Some would participate in the election processes for the national delegates, and some are to participate at the convention. And when we were constituting them, we took five names from each state that had written. If you were asked to submit names and you refused, it is your own business. But, for states that made their submissions, we took five names from each. We picked names from Rivers State because they are part and parcel of PDP and Nigeria. And for you to pick names from Rivers State and say that none of them should support a candidate from Rivers State, that is not possible. It is a natural thing that they will support their own candidate.

Also look at it from this angle, what of the names from the other 35 states, who may have candidates that are vying for secretary, chairman and other positions? People would definitely pick, or be sympathetic to candidates from their states that are standing for elections, or are you going to bring an angel that is not attached to any state, who may not have interest in somebody from his or her state?
It is absolutely impossible.

Even two of the five names that we picked and published did not go for personal reasons. We had to substitute them with different people from different places. Again, these five names that are specifically mentioned are just five out of 216 members in the various committees. Are you going to say five names will tilt or undermine the work of the 211 people?

It should be pointed out that this analysis was not made by those complainants then, but now emotions have crept in. One could understand that maybe it is because the convention is near and there is apprehension. Sometimes it is natural to become agitated, and that is why we don’t take offence in some of these things. And you know what, these complaint have 24 hours access to us to seek explanation, but they chose only to go to the press and start leveling allegations. All that notwithstanding, we have come out to explain.

However, to further reassure all aspirants, when we collect all the list of delegates, we shall call the state chapter chairmen to come with their copies of the results so that we compare them with what the committees submitted. Any chairmanship aspirant, who may want to come and witness the exercise, can do so. This is to further ensure that all the validly elected delegates are the ones that are submitted to us, and they will make up the final list of delegates. We are doing all these for good conscience.

On Jallo, he has been supportive to the party at the time of the legal crisis, but he was never and still he is not my spokesman. How on earth will somebody say what I am going to do from far away Gombe? Everybody knows who my spokesman is, if I am not going to personally speak.

Again, Jallo is facing disciplinary measures because of his misdeed in the party. So, we don’t really know what influenced him to make that statement. Sadly, some people don’t know the issues that are underground, but just latch on to a story without investigating it, to even find out what might have even propelled somebody to make such an allegation, even when the complainant are not even being sincere.

Let me ask, ‘which one of these complainant has not approached me to work with him, so that they would in turn work for me to realise ‘my own ambition.’ But all I kept on telling them is, ‘look, let us get the convention right first and what I will do let time determine that. So, if you came and made an offer to me and I replied you in such way, supposing I took your offer, would you now make the same complaint? It is hypocrisy of the highest order, and this is all about 2019 so that we can be in a ‘comfortable position.’ And I have always told them to first of all work towards a successful convention.

With what moral basis will someone even come out to tell the world that he is taking sides? What about the offers that you were making? All these things are unfounded, so, we will remain focused and transparent in order to do
a good job for our party.

Only a few days ago, I received messages saying, micro-zone the chairmanship position to South West. Look, in the North, neither I, nor the caretaker committee micro-zoned anything to anywhere, or anybody. When the northern leaders met, I was not invited they only informed me that they met and micro-zoned to geopolitical zones and asked geopolitical zones to go and meet and
micro-zone to the states. All I said was, ‘well, if that is generally acceptable to people, and they have no objection, then I am fine. I told them that the party would not exclude anybody, who wants to buy form. But, it is a good political arrangement if people would work and abide by it. But we can as well not deny somebody, who disagrees with the arrangement and comes to buy form.

It was also said that before the May convention, the South met and also micro-zoned. When they met and micro-zoned was I there? If now, they fail to meet and micro-zone should I be blamed for it? I have told them the same way the North met, if you want, go and meet and do the same. If they fail to do that, how has that become my problem that they are now accusing me of taking side?

People should be fair to us, and where they fail, they should not transfer their failure to the caretaker committee or me.
Looking at allegations against you by Chief Bode George and Senator Kashamu, would you say that there are other unseen issues that may have propelled those allegations?

Forget about Kashamu. What is it that he has not offered me? Not just myself alone, but other people. He doesn’t have a moral basis to talk. But, of course acting under a court cover that he should not be punished that is why he kept doing what he is doing. The court processes will deal with that. In the release from the South West PDP, which they replied him, they maintained that he introduced franchise into PDP- that is strive to control party structure and sell tickets to aspirants. And that is what we said must stop. So, to some people it is business, and an enterprise.

For Bode George, I don’t think it is about money. To be fair, you can’t compare him to Senator Kashamu.  I believe in his own case, he just wanted to be considered considering his contribution to the
party. He has the right to be considered.


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