The recent Supreme Court ruling, which recognised the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led national committee of the Peoples Democratic Party as the authentic leadership has indeed upped the stakes for the PDP. But the ruling All Progressives Congress does not think so. This is why its National Secretary, Alhaji Mai Mala Buni, in this interview with Michael Olugbode, claimed that the PDP would remain in the doldrums because Nigerians will not forget its misrule in a hurry, especially given its corruption tags. Excerpts:
The Supreme Court recently ruled on the PDP leadership tussle and pronounced Senator Ahmed Makarfi as the authentic national chairman of the party. But political observers are of the opinion that the judgment might have made the PDP a major threat to APC and they may not be wrong after all. Do you agree?
It amounts to poor judgment and gross injustice to disregard where Nigeria is coming from to where it is today. Our experience in the last 16 years under the PDP administration, the partyâ€™s dismal performance and the vast empirical evidence of ineptitude and maladministration are all major factors of consideration before arriving at proposition to gauge PDPâ€™s strength and acceptance. But, to use the court judgment as the only yardstick for the partyâ€™s strength is to say the least, an exhibition of political naivety.
Yes, the Supreme Court has ruled, recognising Makarfi as the national chairman of the party against Ali Modu Sheriff. Can you tell me who celebrated the judgment? Did you see the Nigerian electorate celebrating? Certainly not! For the electorate, it makes no difference who becomes the partyâ€™s leader, because, they have lost confidence and trust in the party after 16 years of gross mismanagement. I think some people are still living with the euphoria of the past and making the big mistake of underrating and under-estimating the political consciousness of Nigerians.
It is ridiculous, erroneous and insulting to suggest that Nigerians have so soon lost our sense of reasoning and to assume that within just four years, Nigerians have so soon forgotten, so easily, the same political party and public officers, who plunged us into the pains and trauma we are still suffering and paying the price, to which this administration is painstakingly battling to fix it.
The massive looting of the state treasury as evidenced in the huge recoveries had massively degraded the economy and forced it into recession. The 16 years of maladministration created infrastructural decay, insecurity and lack of confidence in government. So, what is new in PDP? It is the same old wine and in this case, in the same old bottle.
Let me state with all sense of humility that, there is no political party under Nigeriaâ€™s remodeled political landscape today that constitutes a threat to the APC.
But your confidence is coming on the heels of APCâ€™s defeat by PDP in the just concluded Osun West senatorial by-election. How do you reconcile that?
The Osun State senatorial by-election is what I will refer to as technical hitch but, I am sure you are aware that Senatorn Ademola Adeleke was a member of APC until just about the election. Like I said, it was a technical hitch which the secretariat is critically looking into.
However, let me refresh your memory with the APC feats in winning the Edo, Kogi and Ondo governorship elections last year. We are also confident of winning Ekiti and Anambra in 2018. We are putting our acts together to ensure victory.
Again, as we continue with the journey of democracy, we make some gains and in some cases, we face challenges. But most importantly, it is about the courage and the determination of the party leadership to appreciate those challenges and proffer the solutions to overcome them. Another advantage APC has over and above others is the listening ear of the party leadership to stakeholders and members. The leadership is ever willing to listen to meaningful advises and to make amends in the general interest of the party. Therefore, we will always appreciate our mistakes, take advises and give opportunities for collective and popular decisions for the party to keep growing.
President Muhammadu Buhari has been on medical check-up for some time. How do you think this has affected the party in achieving its manifesto?
Yes, the president is receiving treatment in the United Kingdom but the machinery of government is fully and actively in motion with the vice-president, who is the acting president fully in charge. The President had before his trip, fulfilled the constitutional requirements of communicating to the National Assembly and transmitting power to His Excellency, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo as acting President. That is in clear respect to the rule of law and due process.
As the ruling party, we are proud that no vacuum has been created while the president is away. I believe every lover of democracy, rule of law and due process will appreciate the commitment of the APC administration to democratic growth in Nigeria such as we have been doing. It is also imperative to appreciate that, the acting president is fully supported by the cabinet of ministers and chief executives of departments and agencies executing government policies and programmes.
Another point of concern in some quarters is the massive influx of politicians into the party and the growing personal political interests ahead of 2019. Are you not worried yourself?
This question seems to contradict the initial question that PDP constitutes a threat to APC. This is because, if there are fears over the fortunes of APC in 2019, there wonâ€™t be massive influx and obviously politicians wonâ€™t be scrambling for the partyâ€™s ticket. By and large, I think it is a good omen seeing people rushing into the party with a lot of hope and faith in the party. However, as a matter of fact, the party is currently preoccupied with the primary concern of improving the lives of Nigerians through good governance and service delivery.
We are concerned with meeting our campaign promises to Nigerians and I am proud to say that government has been pursuing anti-corruption agenda being the major problem responsible for our stagnation, slow agricultural development, affecting improved power supply, fixing of the roads, good governance, educational growth, creating employment opportunities, security to lives and property, etc and had made it a tough task to improve the lives of Nigerians.
The APC is in its mid-term, less than two years to another election, what do you consider as the partyâ€™s strongest weapon that will give it victory in 2019?
Well, asking about our arsenal, it will be a great disservice to lay bare our strategies which l consider as arsenal of the party two years before an election. But, the ability of the APC government to rescue Nigeria from an imminent collapse to where we are today is by every measure a great feat and added advantage to the party. I am happy to say that a lot of Nigerians have realised and have come to terms with what would have remained of Nigeria if the Buhari government had not come at this crucial period of our national life.
Second, the landmark achievements in rebuilding the nation through solid foundations will certainly be to our credit in accepting the party and its flag-bearers. The APC government has taken realistic measures that will stand the test of time for sustainable development, good governance and a place of pride for the country in the comity of nations,
Have you anything to say to Nigerians as they count down to another election?
I wish to call on all Nigerians to support this administration in its commitment to rebuilding the nation. This administration is determined to explore and exploit the human and mineral resources to build a sound economy and infrastructure, generate employment and to create more wealth to improve the lives of Nigerians. We should avoid divisive tendencies. We should concentrate on issues that unite the country rather than issues that polarise the country. Nigerians should exploit the strength in our diversity to develop our country. I want to assure Nigerians that this administration presents great opportunities for our growth and development.