‘PDP Will Bounce Back to Power in Kaduna State’

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Waziri Ashafa is a chieftain of the Kaduna State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, who lost out in the contest for the state chairmanship of the party. He spoke with John Shiklam on the election, the seeming wranglings within the party, declaring that the PDP will bounce back to power in 2023.

What is your reaction to speculations that you were sponsored to contest for the PDP state chairmanship position by some party bigwigs with governorship and Senatorial ambition?

I was not sponsored by anybody. We had a group of people within the party who share the same ideology on how a political party should be administered. We are people of like minds who came together to see how they could take over the leadership of the party with the aim of injecting fresh democratic ideas.

It was an intra-party struggle which is normal in a democracy. In a political party, it is a very common practice for people of like minds to work as a group to project their interest. We had alignments and realignments of forces with various interest groups in the party.

We worked together with Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi, Senator Danjuma Laah and many others, just like my opponent, Mr. Hassan Hyet who was re-elected as the party chairman also had people that worked with him.

So there was no sponsorship as such, I worked together with people that we share the same political ideology and they supported my aspiration. The youths were also agitating for power shift to young people so they supported me because for a long time, they were always being told that “the young shall grow” and we have waited for so long. We were hoping that this time around, a younger and agile person should take over the leadership of the party. But at the end of the day, we didn’t succeed. Even though I had the right to appeal because my agent was brutalised during the election.

Well, the election has come and gone. One basic thing that was the guiding principle of the election was adherence to due process- forms were purchased, contestants were screened and elections were held.

As we all know, election in Nigeria is still a learning process. Whatever happened during the elections, we have accepted the outcome. We are loyal party men and my desire to contest was to bring fresh ideas, unite the party and work together. My opponent emerged as the winner and we will work together towards a strong and united PDP in Kaduna state.

Some of your supporters who were said to have been disappointed with the conduct of the elections are said to be threatening to leave the PDP. How bad was the conduct of election?

I cannot totally rule out the fact that some people were disenchanted. People go into a contest wanting to win, but at the same time you have to realise that there are two sides to an election – either you win or you lose. Definitely our supporters were not happy because they worked very hard. We have appealed to them to be calm and remain in the party. For me, as an individual, I am not leaving the PDP for any reason and we have told our supporters to remain in the party because no matter your disappointment or disenchantment, you can only effect the desired change by remaining in the party. You can only bring about change in the system when you are part of the process. So we have encouraged all our supporters to work for the progress of the PDP. Like I said earlier, elections in Nigeria is still a learning process and therefore our elections, whether party primaries or general elections are often flawed.

There seems to be so much wranglings in the PDP in Kaduna state, there are so many pending court cases among its members. Don’t you think this is a threat to the party?

The court cases came from people who were aggrieved during the ward, local government and state congresses. Some party members were either expelled or suspended and they challenged it in court. As I am talking to you, there are some wards in some local governments areas where elections have not been conducted. Some people also went to court after the local government congresses. After the screening for the state congress, some people who were screened out went to court.

But one thing I can say is that the PDP has a robust mechanism for resolving issues. These are intra-party issues and I am optimistic that they will be resolved amicably and everybody will fall in line to work for the progress of the party. The cases are still in court, but I am very sure the party is working hard to ensure that they are settled out of court. As far as I am concerned, this is not a threat. The PDP in Kaduna will emerge stronger and more united than ever.

The PDP ruled Kaduna state for 16 years before it was kicked out by the APC, with the seeming discontent among party members, do you think the party can take back power in 2023?

The footprint of the PDP in Kaduna state during those 16 years are clearly very visible for everyone to see: roads, schools, hospitals etc. A lot of rural communities were transformed especially by the eight year administration of Senator Ahmed Makarfi who was popularly known as “Limamin Rayya Karkara” (Apostle of rural development).

Makarfi opened up rural communities with massive road construction, schools, hospitals, etc. His successors also performed well, especially the Late Patrick Yakowa, who died barely a year into his tenure. His short tenure was very impactful on the state.
In Kaduna state, and I believe across the country people speak of the PDP with nostalgia because of its performance.

The people of Kaduna are in a better position to tell you how they fared under PDP and how they are faring under the present APC administration in the state. Go and conduct an opinion poll and you confirm what I am telling you.

So there is no doubt that PDP will bounce back to power in Kaduna state come 2023, because the people now know better.

We were surprised that we didn’t win the 2019 governorship election. I come from zone three ( Southern Kaduna Senatorial Zone) and I tell you that the PDP is deeply entrenched in our zone.

We have always produced block votes for the party. During the 2019 governorship and presidential elections, we gave the PDP the highest votes. Zangon Kataf Local Government Area, where I come from, produced the highest votes for the party in the zone.

But we were baffled with what happened in zones 1 and 2 (Kaduna Central and Kaduna North Senatorial zones) during the 2019 elections! The poor performance of PDP in the two zones was very disappointing and it contributed to our defeat in 2019.

But our elders and leaders from these zones have been working very hard to reverse the fortunes of the party.

So I am optimistic that the PDP will take back power in the state in 2023.

Our leaders from the two zones, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, Hon. Isa Ashiru, (the PDP’s governorship candidate in 2019), Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi and many others from the northern and central Senatorial zones are working very hard to change the fortunes of the PDP in the two zones.

Are you saying that in 2019, party leaders in the two zones did not work hard enough to garner votes for the PDP?

I said we were baffled with the results from the two zones, we even challenged the results in the courts but we lost. Our leaders in. the zone worked very hard. We were not satisfied with the election results from there. That means something was wrong with the result. Everybody worked hard, but life itself is about improvement everyday, so we will keep on working harder to improve the fortunes of the party.

How do you assess the APC government at the state and federal levels in terms of good governance in the past five years?

Good governance can be measured with various barometers. If you talk of good governance, you are looking at security- which is totally zero. If you talk of good governance, you are also looking at the economy. The government tried to build on the achievements of the PDP in the area of agriculture.
But the manufacturing sector is a disaster! Manufacturers are crying everyday because of the high exchange rate and lack of the enabling environment to do business.

As a lay man in economic issues, I rate the economy in terms of the ability of the average Nigerian to meet basic needs. Nigerians are finding it difficult to survive. There is hunger and poverty. Prices of food and other basic necessities of life are beyond the reach of the people.

There is growing rate of unemployment. The country is bedeviled by serious security challenges, especially the activities of the Boko Haram insurgents and bandits who go about killing and kidnapping people for ransom.

Many average Nigerians cannot afford to send their children to school, people are dying because of lack of access to basic healthcare facilities.

So the present government has not lived up to the expectation of majority of Nigerians. The federal government keeps on borrowing and borrowing with little or no impact on the lives of the people.

When you borrow and you spend the money in the real sector of the economy, it impacts positively on the lives of the people. If we don’t manage the economy well, we will face serious problems.

Some Nigerians are saying that the recent EndSARS protest, is a wake up call for the ruling elites to make the country work for all.

Any responsible leader should draw a lesson from the EndSARS protests. The manner in which the protest was initiated, shows the organisational ability of the youths. Nobody should take the Nigerian youths for granted. Those in leadership position must sit up and address the issues arising from the protests.

They demanded for change in the way Nigeria is being governed. It simply shows that the youths are disenchanted with the way things are going on in the country. It simple shows that people want real change, they don’t want to be oppressed in their own country.

The federal government should be commended for agreeing to address the issues and we hope that it will address them without delay.

But the criminal activities of the hoodlums who hijacked the protests and went on looting and destruction of public and private property is condemnable.

The hoarding of palliatives by some of the state governments in the midst of hunger in the land was very unfortunate. How could they hoard food stuffs under the flimsy excuse that another COVID-19 lockdown was being anticipated! What if people are dying of hunger before the anticipated lockdown? For me, it doesn’t make sense. But the looting and destructions are unacceptable.

QUOTE

Good governance can be measured with various barometers. If you talk of good governance, you are looking at security- which is totally zero. If you talk of good governance, you are also looking at the economy. The government tried to build on the achievements of the PDP in the area of agriculture.

But the manufacturing sector is a disaster! Manufacturers are crying everyday because of the high exchange rate and lack of the enabling environment to do business. As a lay man in economic issues, I rate the economy in terms of the ability of the average Nigerian to meet basic needs. Nigerians are finding it difficult to survive. There is hunger and poverty. Prices of food and other basic necessities of life are beyond the reach of the people