From Samuel Bello, Abuja
Former Minister of Education, Professor Tunde Adeniran in this interview urged the Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Caretaker Committee, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, to be decisive and do things in the larger interests of the party and for the consideration of democracy in the upcoming PDP chairmanship election. He also explained his plans for the PDP if he wins.
Will you abide by the already signed peace accord if you notice one or two discrepancies during the election?
We signed a peace accord, what we call a memorandum of understanding that everybody would play according to the rules and that we would behave like sportsmen. Of course we would act in the larger interest of the party and in the interest of internal democracy and we also feel that we should lay an example for others to follow so that things would be done properly.
Having signed that, so far, the only problem that we have and which some of us have identified is the fact that it takes two to tangle and we believe that an enabling environment to make the things work has to be created and the people to create that are both the national working committee and the aspirants themselves.
I believe there is need to talk to as many of our people as possible which some of us have been doing, but at the same time, there are some people who you call ‘Agent provocateur’, who just for mischief purposes, will be doing certain things to create unnecessary distraction or create the impression that maybe some people are in violation with what is going on. I think there is need to be very careful in laying blames or making claims in terms of whether some people are complying or not complying.
So far, the only worrisome issue and we have drawn the attention of the national caretaker committee to it, is that the people put together to conduct the three-man ad hoc election, seemed to have been rather lopsided and then my campaign organisation protested to the national chairman and we drew attention to it that it is not in the spirit of fairness, justice and a leveled plain ground when you see that type of lopsidedness in terms of those who will conduct it.
We have 36 states in the federation, the representation may not be equal per state, but at the same time we will not have the preponderance that members of committee is being drawn from a particular state or section of the country, it is not fair.
What is important is that we have drawn attention to this and we expect that such instances would be prevented in the future. I believe the leader of the National Caretaker Committee, Ahmed Makarfi, is a very responsible gentle man, very patriotic and diligent. I also believe that the members of the caretaker committee are all great patriots of the party. I urge them to be careful not to allow some people outside the party administration to exact undue influence, that is our concern and they should be able to be decisive and do things in the larger interests of the party and for the consideration of democracy.
If the election is violated, if those behind it are not doing what we expect, it stands nullified by itself. It is assumed that certain things would be in place. The things are not in isolation, we do not operate in isolation, it has to be within the framework.
So we cannot say that two people are maybe in a boxing contest and then you tie the hands of one of them behind him and then leave him to face the other and also expect the other person you have tied to continue to play the game. An enabling environment has to be created otherwise; it’s already in violation of itself.
What is your take on the level of transparency in the chairmanship poll over the years?
If things have been done in a way that they ought to have been done, we wouldn’t be in this mess, but because things were not done properly in the past that is why we ended up where we are. In the past, there was lot of impunity, there was lot of imposition, so we believe that that should be part of our history, we shouldn’t repeat that.
What are your plans for the party?
One of the things I intend to do for the party is to give every member of the party a sense of belonging, we have to make everybody believe in the party and to believe in something, you have to trust that people would do the right thing.
I believe that by the grace of God, I will emerge and I will create a level plain ground for everybody. I also intend as much as possible, apart from instituting, establishing and consolidating the process of internal democracy, I will do everything to broaden the base of participation by ensuring that this party which has membership across the 774 local government areas and 8809 wards within this federation that every corner is reached with our message of ‘Power to the people.’
No more impunity, no more imposition, all the votes of everybody will count and more importantly, we would represent them by making sure that the vision and mission of the party are kept and followed diligently, faithfully and religiously.
It is important to know that it is only when we get it right within the party that those who we govern in the name of the party would do things right. We are going to promote good governance; we would put all those who would represent us, either at the local government area, state level or the national under watch.
They have to be properly guided to make sure that what you promised the people are adhered to, we are not going to run by propaganda, we are going to be truthful to ourselves and the fear of God would drive whatever we are doing because this is very important, Nigerians have been sick for too long and that should end.
We have the potentials of creating a model, not just for other African countries but for the rest of the world, we can do it and we would do it by the grace of God.
How do you react to the position of PDP in the just concluded Anambra election?
As far as am concerned, I believe and I still maintain that Anambra is a PDP state. Over the years, the PDP has been defeating the PDP in Anambra as it often happens in some other states.
What happened recently in this last governorship election is a disaster waiting to happen and we saw it coming. Unfortunately, we could not get over the antics of the past, this tendency of not following due process, if we had followed due process we wouldn’t have been where we are today.
We would have been celebrating that indeed we have won and that victory would have been a very pleasant one because it is a victory well deserved and they deserve to be given a new means of life and new administration because it is a PDP state and they were waiting for that, unfortunately things got sideways again because we were not following the type of due process we ought to have followed, the vision within the party based on certain disagreements that ought not have been allowed to happen.
There were some very highly placed Nigerians who were to be in charge, they started very well before some other people came and hijacked the process and then decided to do what displeased quite a number of party people there. It is really unfortunate and I believe that the national caretaker committee is reviewing the situation, with a view to making sure such does not occur in future. Those of us who would also take over from them, we are taking note of all that went wrong there and we would ensure that we have a nnited party, PDP is a family and there is no need to be fighting this internal battles and leaving opponents to take undue advantage of the division in our party. It is a very painful loss, but then we really need to get this right so that we would not face the same defeat.
Why is it so difficult for seven people to step down, why not produce one candidate?
I think we are moving out of a situation in which people believe in the process of imposition. I believe what the party is trying to do is to encourage everybody. Everyone has his own idea as to how to run the party. For instance, I have my own blueprint, I assume that others too would have their own idea as to how they want to run the party if they take over.
The idea I have might not be acceptable to others and as such, everybody wants to test his popularity so that when they are there, they would be able to run the party the way they believe it should be run.
But then what is really happening is not a negative development, it is a positive development. If the PDP is not a vibrant, viable party, you won’t see these many people showing interest. It is because of the potentials of the party and because the level of consciousness had been raised considerably, that is why you would see as many people as that showing interests in wanting to serve the party.
Future aspirants would also learn some lessons from this, so that things would turn out differently from what is obtaining now. In the past, some people would have sat somewhere and just impose a candidate, but now the delegates would have better and real people to choose from.
What is your take on the agenda of APC’s fight against corruption?
It has been one of the misfortunes of this country that sometimes when we want to do the right thing, we do the wrong thing. Fighting corruption is a good proposition and policy but then you have to do it correctly, properly and judiciously in such a way that you do the right thing at the right time, you don’t pursue this type of goal by chasing shadows and by being selective, it is unfortunate because when it gets to a point whereby people lose confidence in what you are doing based on the fact that there is no thoroughness or genuineness, then of course it imposes a problem.
I believe that we should fight corruption because it is bad for our system, individuals and bad for the country. No society or country can grow if corruption is not curbed. So I believe it is a fight that is necessary, but it should be properly done, we shouldn’t be selective about it, we shouldn’t turn it into a form of witch hunting. The way it is being done presently, people are bound to lose confidence in it.
The leadership of the party said it won’t disqualify those who have been accused of corruption among the aspirants. Do you subscribe to that?
Yes I do, allegations do not amount to conviction, these are allegations that sometimes when you probe further, you would discover that some of them are false allegations and some of them have good substance, so you cannot base your judgment or action on the fact that some people have been alleged to have done certain things. Until the probe is carried out and the conviction gotten, you should consider anybody innocent of the allegation. There should be fairness and justice in whatever they do.