Happy new month friends, please take few minutes to read interview - TopicsExpress


Happy new month friends, please take few minutes to read interview I granted to Chuks Okocha of Thisday Saraki: Lack of Inclusiveness Ruining PDP Senator Bukola Saraki Senator Bukola Saraki, a former governor of Kwara State, is chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment. In this interview with Chuks Okocha, Saraki says the PDP lacks inclusive strategies and a broad vision that caters to the interests of the major stakeholders. Excerpts: Q. As one of the leaders of New PDP, a splinter group in PDP that has joined the opposition APC, what would you say is the grievance of the Kwara State chapter of PDP against the Bamanga Tukur-led national leadership of the party? A. I think the key issue is the fact of an inclusive manner in which decisions are taken with all members of the party. We believe in Kwara State that we as a chapter have fully worked and supported the party and the government. if you look at the PDP 2011 electoral primaries at the national convention at the time of election, we gave all our votes to PDP and worked tirelessly on our own efforts to do that and since then, we have believe that some of the appointments in the states have not been in full consultation of the party structure. We’ve made number of complaints of the people in chapter that was being carried along and that there was not that sense of belonging for the efforts that were made in to building the party. Particularly, of the most recent one, which was really, the one that broke the camel’s back was the local government election that we just did. This is a local government election that the primaries we did well, the party at the national level was invited they attended the primaries, the set a panel, there was a panel set to look into appeals, they were part of the process, and to our utter shock and dismay twenty four hours before the election, our national secretariat sent a list of more than 200 candidates, that is councilors and chairmen to the state INEC saying this is the PDP’s official candidates. That to me is a signal that the PDP did not want us in the party, because it also shows lack of internal democracy. These names that were written, when did they do their primaries? Where did they come from? It is different if you see someone who was there prior to primaries and there is dispute. Someone just sat down in an office somewhere in Abuja and just wrote a name and sent it, is this the kind if party that we want? So for them to do that there is total lack of confidence and trust. If they can do this for local government election, all the other primaries, what are the assurances that the party would not do the same thing? This transcends to House of Assembly election, even gubernatorial election or anything. If they can sit somewhere, and just write a name twenty four hours before the primaries, and this is key because the party belongs to the people. It’s an issue of the people, once the people see they are following due process, it is to concur. But once the people believe that people who are accepted, people are popular, and that it’s not an assurance that you will be a nominee, that something might happen, then, people would lose total confidence and trust in the party. Q. There is an impression in some quarters that you influenced PDP in Kwara State to join APC because a presidential intervention you had expected in your case with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission did not come. How would you react to this? A. When the issue of EFCC started, I made a statement; I categorically said, “I have not told anybody to plea the issue of my EFCC, police being withdrawn or any other thing. “I am capable, I have nothing to hide; I can defend myself any day and time for the actions I served when I was governor. I finished as governor over two and half years ago an investigation comingtoday, to even a man who is even today we know it’s political; the issue of coming after years ago is political to me. In fact I have separated the issue and I can defend myself anytime. It has nothing at all to do with that. Because even after that the issue, especially this last case on local government elections was what broke the camel’s back as far as Kwara state is concerned. Q. Have you discussed the problem in PDP with President Goodluck Jonathan since the crisis started? A. I’ve had the opportunity to express myself, I’ve had the opportunity to express my concern and as I said previously and keep on saying, because I’ve said many a times, because in my view that he is a decent gentleman. I’ve experienced it, because in 2010 I walked up to him in his office, and it’s very few African leaders you would walk up to and say I want to contest for the presidential election and after that finished, we came back together. I believe that there are some people, who are not giving the President good advice. There is no party in the world where politics is being practiced, a head of your group says he is going to do something, whether their issues are unreasonable, there must be purpose to bend backwards. It is not done during the reconciliation. Some people are firing to do things more that does not help the president, it does not and there are times on discussing issues with him, he sees the reason to some of this issues, but after a while the majority of these things are done again. Look in 2007 I was there when a lot of my former colleagues, they were leaving, Fmr. President Obasanjo was still President, you had a number of states where governors were coming and I know what it took for the party to manage the crisis. Because when you have governors living in a state, minimum twenty, thirty candidates all making challenges, and you realize the party is seen that everybody understands that these are the rules, that this is what will happen, otherwise you will definitely be sanctioned. I am concerned that 2015, you have eighteen state governors who are leaving PDP who have finished their term and finished as governors and unless you have a very strong procedure for the party, who will be engaging with crisis and these are the things some of us are concerned about, saying look unless there is clear internal democracy. If there is inclusiveness, if there is high handedness, then who would be the victims. And you know for Kwara state, it’s, the people that make the party not the party. It is the people that tell us this is our state, so if you treat the people like that, then of course they will react.A lot of us have made several efforts behind the scene in trying to find resolution to this problem. This thing started in August and it is over three months now. I believe that three months is more than adequate time to resolve this crisis. This time is taking its tolls on the nation and the economy. When the President went to London for the meeting of the Honorary Investment Council Meeting, many people were saying this crisis with the PDP, when will it come it end. Any investor that wants to invest in Nigeria is thinking, what will it be like in 2015. Will the PDP be in power or will another party be in power. This is the question the investors are asking.Are you not worried that leaving the ruling party may hurt your political career?To take a decision to leave a ruling party is not an easy decision, but it is all about sacrifice. PDP is the ruling party, there is no doubt about it, it is where the comfort is, but some of us are willing to make the necessary and needed sacrifice. So what happened is making the necessary sacrifice to ensure that the right thing is done. The comment that some of us declared to the APC because of presidential ambition are just sentiment and blackmail. The question is addressing the issues of internal democracy and doing the right thing.What is your reaction to the opinion that the presidential ambitions of some of the dissenting governors is basically behind the PDP crisis?Look, this is the kind of propaganda that they use to say he is nursing presidential ambition, there are six or five former governors who are leaving, can they all be presidents at the same time, and these are just sentiments and propaganda. I’ve given you, the Kwara state issue, the key issue, so forget about presidential ambition that is his own personal decision that he will take at his own time. But to be in a party that you are not sure of what the processes are, you are not sure what the outcome of the primaries are, you believe that it is possible for some level of non-Democratic process and I’m not talking of speculations, I saw it live in the local government election in Kwara state. Some will say Oga look is this, the party that we belong to; can there be more than one president at a time? Also is there an automatic ticket in the other party APC. I don’t think that is just to weep up sentiments that this is the reason, that they don’t like the president or that they want to be president. No I think that, look, what a lot of people don’t seem to understand is that things are changing, things we are used to get away with in the past we must drop them. Because the people that we are representing, will be expecting more from us now. So if you see people now saying no we cannot do this, don’t say because of his personal ambition. It is because that is what the environment is saying today. At the last local government election when we sat down, primaries where conducted for councilors and local government chairmen, there were places people where revolting because, so called local leaders will just pick anybody’s name. Youths would come and say no Oga we are not going to allow, but this person was popular we did not have a choice we just had to tell them to comply with the wish of the people. I am seeing it happening at the grass root level and that is what you see happening all the way up, because times are changing. So it is not about personal ambition or because it’s not all presidential, that is a propaganda being used, it is not about that.What are the other grievances that you have?When you say apart from impunity (laughs), I mean you are saying apart from not following due process of constitution, I mean those are bedrock issues. I mean I must have, every member must have confidence in the processes. If you believe that it is possible that somebody would not like your face or you just hear on radio that it has been resolved it will shake your confidence. If you have gone for a primary supervised by the party, and you send the name to the INEC commission, different names come up those are not issues you can just say apart from, this are major issues. And to me as a senator even those issues overshadow other issues whether present or past, because this issue will affect state of assembly elections, national assembly elections, delegates going to convention. It would affect majority of what exist in what you call a party, to me those where the issues I felt should have been addressed.Are you sure you are not going to encounter problems in APC in the state, which is peopled by your arch rivals in past elections?The APC has constituted beliefs, views that everybody is an equal joiner. There will be congresses, we will all go to congresses in a transparent manner and as politics everybody would show his strength, we will accommodate everybody. It is based on one goal; ours in the state has always been addressing the issue of the people. I am not expecting any help or deprive anybody of anything. The procedures are there; ward congresses, local government congresses, state congresses and understanding that we have reached. There will be people who will grumble, who will feel that we have come because they know that definitely we are a force but it is not force based on cheating anybody. Everybody should go and bring his own people and we will take it from there.What is your take on the recommendation by the Umaru Dikko-led PDP disciplinary committee that Abubakar Baraje, Olagunsoye Oyinola, and others should be expelled from PDP?To me it just shows again that some of these people are not helping the president. Some of these people will say that some of these decisions that are taken, that there was a meeting called by the president. When it is a meeting with some of the aggrieved governors and the decision to take this kind of action is similar. It is similar to just a time where the appeal court ruled, that should resume just before they went to go and suspend. So this action is not actions of people who want reconciliation, and it is clear that all these action is being done just to justice and should not resume. As a PDP we have suffered in the past from those kinds of decisions taken by the party. The judiciary did not take kindly to that and this is not helping the party. But again it shows that there is really no sincerity in reconciliation. This five or seven states and they are people I don’t know about others, good luck to them, they are not reconciling, otherwise these kind of actions are untimely and not in the interest of reconciliation. It just further confirms that, truly they are not even walking down that path.But there is the view in some quarter than many of the New PDP members that have joined APC would soon return to PDP, as APC does not seem to be seen as national in nature as PDP. How do you react to this?How can a party with 16 states and you say it’s not a national party? Of the sixteen states there are Five States in the south west, there is three states in the south east, two states in the south-south, three states in the North West, two States in the North Central, and how can you say such a state is not national. The coming of the new PDP has given it a national outlook. 16 States out of 36 for sure what makes PDP more national? PDP has 18 states and APC has 16, so what makes it non-national. I think the coming of the new PDP has made it more national, we now see it is good for the democracy, we now have two national parties, if you remember my interview years ago I used to say the opposition parties where regional parties, that become a national party. It is good for the country, you have a ruling party you have an opposition party, and we now begin to look at national issues. So I don’t agree with you to say it is not a national party, it has now become a national party.There are fears that the coming primary elections in APC may tear the party apart because of the ambitions of its key members. Are you not worried by this?I think there will be challenges at the primaries, there is no party that will not have challenges but what I see, I believe there is a feeling that we all need to rescue the country, address major issues, help our democracy, stabilize our democracy and I will like to believe that those national issues would make people make concessions. If somebody had told you that APC would make a concession on the issue of party structures as regards PDP states joining them you would have said no. I believe that those national issues would make it easier to resolve what you call ambitions, yes it will be a challenge but I think that the quest that this country needs to move in its particular direction, I think would ensure that people make sacrifices. We all have ambition what comes at the end of the day is sacrifice. Sacrifice to say to myself that well if the desire of our party is the desire of making things better for our people that should override what my personal ambition is. When you have four States or five states the struggle sometimes is even greater because you do not see the possibility of being in government so the fact that the state levels are even very tough. But I believe the APC today is beginning to see itself as a party that could form government and as such there are always other possibilities for people with ambition. The options are larger to accommodate differences. So if somebody in the state who all his last five years he just wants to be governor or senator in a larger party like this it is possible to say, ok listen, this time around you did not win, there are other things you could look at. This was not available before, when it was not a national party or likely a party that could form government. So yes there would be challenges but the determination of the leaders and everybody that, in ensuring that, that does not in any way derail us from what the focus is.How would the defection of New PDP to APC affect the leadership structure of the National Assembly?To me I feel national assembly is a different process, I don’t see it making an impact on the issues if the leadership, I think there are guidelines and procedures on what happens in the national assembly and I think until that takes place it will be very speculative to say what the outcome would be, until the processes start we will now see, what that leads to.Don’t you think PDP may be asking for the seats of members that have gone to APC?That is again is premature and as I said the processes as they affect national assembly have not started yet. I think that why don’t we wait and see how this process start to see where that leads to.,
Posted on: Sun, 01 Dec 2013 11:45:18 +0000

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