2019: Makarfi Declares for Presidency

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•   nPDP insists on conducive atmosphere before resuming talks with presidency, APC

By Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja and John Shiklam in Kaduna    

After prolonged speculations about his presidential ambition, former Chairman of the National Caretaker Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Ahmed Makarfi Sunday confirmed his intention to seek the party’s nomination for the 2019 presidential election. 

In an interview with journalists in Kaduna, Makarfi, a two-term former governor of Kaduna State and a two-term former senator representing Kaduna North senatorial district, said his decision to seek for the PDP presidential ticket followed wide consultations with stakeholders across the country. 

He also said he was optimistic that PDP would wrestle power from the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2019, noting that the party had been working for the PDP by failing to deliver on its electoral promises and govern well. 

He said his consultations with stakeholders had been positive and encouraging, hence his decision to join other party stalwarts in seeking the mandate of the party for the presidential election in 2019. 

“I have been consulting since I left office as chairman. I have been consulting across the country and you know what consultation means,” he said, adding: “Consultation is not endorsement, but it enables you to feel the pulse and it will tell you whether to go forward or not to go forward and it has been quiet positive.” 

According to him, as someone who had served as governor, senator, party chairman and with his background from the private sector, he is convinced that he has the capacity to lead the country if given the mandate. 

He said: “We all have our qualities, but for me, I have known governance for sometimes, at the state level, some of you are aware I served Kaduna State for three years as a commissioner for Finance and Economic Planning. I came into government from the private sector-banking sector. So I have experience in the private sector, especially the banking industry.” 

Makarfi said governing a complex state like Kaduna for eight years, and managing a big party like the PDP for a year, was enough experience to manage a big and complex country like Nigeria.

He spoke on the ruling APC and said its prevailing crisis had brightened the chances of the PDP in the 2019 election. 

“We must thank the APC for working for us. They have refused to govern well, they have been fighting each other. There are many things for which we can thank them,” he said. 

He maintained, “There is no way the executive and the legislature can work again as one. There is no way the party can be cohesive again. There are elements in government fighting each other and there is nobody to call them to order. We should not expend our energy when somebody is working for us. 

“The APC was made up of different parties who came up together for the 2015 election. I am sure we will come together, it may be an alliance, it can be anything and when that is done, then you will see that the opposition will legitimately wrest power from the APC.” 

He also decried the increasing insecurity across the country, noting, however, that there had been some successes in tackling insurgency. 

But he said more successes may have been recorded in the fight against insurgents if the component institutions dealing with the fight against the insurgency were working as one. 

He said: “I have to give credit in the area of Boko Haram, not that it has come to an end. But they have recorded some successes, you cannot take that away from them.” 

Meanwhile, barely five days to the national convention of the APC, the party is yet to resolve its disagreement with members of the new PDP.

THISDAY gathered at the weekend that although the national leadership of the APC was willing to get back to talks with the nPDP, the aggrieved group was said to be insisting that the presidency must create the conducive atmosphere if any meaningful discussion would take place.

A reliable source within the leadership of the APC who spoke to THISDAY Sunday said contrary to beliefs in certain quarters that the nPDP group were now estranged members of the APC, the party sees them as bonafide members and are indeed expecting to have them participate in proceeding during the convention.

The aggrieved nPDP group had among other grievances alleged of the harassment, intimidation and persecution of their leaders by the government.

They specifically referenced the travails of the Senate President Bukola Saraki in the hands of the police, his charge for concealment of asset, and the recent withdrawal of some security personnel attached to the Speaker of House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara. 

While speaking on efforts to restart the discussions with the nPDP members, the party chieftain said they approached the group for resumption of talks but that they were still complaining about the harassment of their members and the fact that they would be short-changed at the convention.

He, however, said the party is doing everything possible to see if it could resolve most of the disputes before the convention.

He also said that members of the nPDP, especially those that are delegates would be allowed to take part in the convention.

“There was never anytime they said that they have left APC. All they did was that as members and lawful citizens, they had grievances which they presented and then the party was ready to listen to them and to look into their grievances. It was in the process that they suddenly said that the environment was not conducive for the talks to continue,” the source said.