•Insists no decision yet on zoning of presidency
Chuks Okocha and Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday called on President Muhammadu Buhari to hire mercenaries to fight the insurgency war.
The party also said it is yet to make a decision on which zone would produce the presidential candidate of the party in the 2023 general election.
Speaking on ARISE NEWS CHANNEL, the broadcast arm of THISDAY Newspapers, the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, also dismissed reports that the party is in disarray, saying the Senator Bukola Saraki-led reconciliation committee is addressing members’ grievances.
He accused the Buhari administration of not listening to and utilising the advice given to it on a range of challenges facing the country, explaining that the PDP has always proffered solutions for all critical areas of national distress.
“You can only talk to a government that listens. There’s been no engagement that the PDP has done on issues in our country that is not backed by possible solutions,” he told ARISE, adding: “But you are talking to a party that’s akin to a deaf and dumb political party. In the six years of this administration, what have they taken from all our advice?
He said the party had advised the Buhari administration to seek military help from military contractors as armed forces seem tactically challenged in the war against insurgence but refused to accept it.
Ologbondiyan queried: “Have we not proposed the issue of mercenary, did he take it? Haven’t we proposed carrot and stick, did he take it? Haven’t we suggested securing our institutions? Have they taken it?
He added: “This is a government that doesn’t listen to the other side. They are all-knowing and that’s why they are failing. You will recall that we brought in mercenaries, which Zulum (Prof. Babagana), the governor of Borno State, is already canvassing for.”
He urged Buhari to consider the use of mercenaries, as did by former President Goodluck Jonathan, in the run-up to the 2015 general election to fight insurgency in the North-east.
He stated that the action enabled the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct the election in all the 774 local government areas in 2015.
To contain the insurgency, the Jonathan administration in 2014 had contracted Conella Services of South Africa, which is believed to have in collaboration with the Nigerian military degraded Boko Haram and liberated many communities within a short period of time, paving the way for peaceful national elections within weeks.
The group, contracted by the then National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd), recently explained that while it would like to return to the country if invited by the Buhari administration, it refused to see its possible return as an indictment on the Nigerian military, noting that it left the country after some disagreements with the previous administration.
But the PDP spokesman said Nigerians were tired of the current administration and were looking up to the party for succour.
Ologbondiyan stated that the PDP held peaceful zonal congresses in other parts of the country, unlike the All Progressives Congress (APC) that’s currently in chaos.
He added that the problem between Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State and a former Ekiti State Governor, Mr. Ayo Fayose, is being amicably resolved.
According to him, the only thing going on within the party now is reconciliation, while electronic membership registration will commence thereafter.
He said: “I have said it for the umpteenth time that zoning is dependent on some variables and narratives. We have not reached the point of zoning. We have not set up any committee on zoning. We are allowing for debates, discussions, narratives and opinions of Nigerians on the direction.
“We are not the APC which has done eight years in one zone and is still thinking of reneging on its promises.”
Ologbondiyan stated that while the PDP had its fair share of mistakes while in power, the kidnapping of schoolgirls had become too frequent.
He accused the president of not heeding advice or public opinion on how to tackle insecurity.
“If they talk about Chibok girls, how many girls are we going to talk about under this administration? Has there not been Kankara, Jangebe etc. It is clear that APC as a party has failed woefully,” he added.
PDP said under the Buhari government, banditry and terrorism have become rampant, despite the president’s avowal that as a military general, he would fight from the front.
He defended the position of the PDP as an opposition party, saying that even though the party continues to proffer solutions to the security problems, the administration has refused to consider its suggestions.
Ologbondiyan explained that the party has outlined some solutions to the security challenges in the country, including the use of mercenaries, the deployment of carrot-and-stick option as well as the provision of security in Nigeria’s institutions of learning, that the president has ignored.
“Under Jonathan, there was a carrot-and-stick approach. We were building schools for itinerant traders, for people who were not resident in the larger society as we put it. What we are saying is simple, Nigeria has weighed between water and oil and they now know which one is heavier,” he said.
According to him, it is only the PDP that has a perfect understanding of the nuances of the nation, of the divisions and fault lines and, therefore, knows how to unite the country.
He said that no party in the country has given women more opportunities than the PDP, adding that for instance, while female governorship aspirants in Anambra State are paying only N1 million for forms, their male counterparts are paying N21 million.