Gov. Godwin Obaseki of Edo says a ministry of mining would be established to fast track the development of mining activities in the state. Obaseki announced this in his remarks at the close of a two-day workshop on solid mineral development organised by the Edo Government in Benin on Friday. He said that the state…
From Noah Ebije, Kaduna
Former governor of Kaduna state and National Chairman, Caretaker Committee, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Ahmed Makarfi has said that he did not know what the governor of Bayelsa state and Chairman, PDP National Reconciliation Committee, Seriake Dickson was up to for not contributing to the party to work as done by his governor colleagues.
The PDP crisis seems to be taking another dimension, one of the governors supporting your leadership, has suddenly to the Ali Modu Sheriff’s group. What is happening?
Well, I am as confused and perplexed like the majority of the PDP members, because His Excellency, Governor Dickson will be in the best position to know why what happened actually happened. I would be wrong to out-rightly say he has ulterior motive, maybe exuberance on his side, whatever it is, I don’t know but I want to remind people that this peace issue has been on for a long time. General Aliyu Gusau had hosted us to several meetings in order to achieve political solution, one of the highlights then, which was suggested was that, both Ali Modu Sheriff and I should go. I opined that, the problem was not just Ali Modu Sheriff and I, there are other party issues. So, for us to clear the field once and for all, I opined that, if people are to go, it must be comprehensive, not just the two of us. And my fear then was that the Court of Appeal may make its pronouncement and when it does, the status quo before 21st May should be reverted to, which confirms all fears at that time. And status quo means that, all national officers of the party, not just working committee should return to their seats. I think you see it now? Any political solution that is not all encompassing will still not solve the problem, because the problem of tenure will still be there, which the Court of Appeal has recognised, as August for Chairman, Secretary and Auditor and about June or July next year for 18 other officers. So, if this is what the Court of Appeal is recognising, which we have appealed to the Supreme Court against, how can you go in June and do convention? So, if say go and do convention before the end of the tenure of any of national officers, it means that you are acting against the judgment of the Court of Appeal itself.
So you will be back to square one; in the eyes of the court, that is an illegality. I heard that Governor Dickson said on AIT that I am not a lawyer, even if I am not a lawyer, I can read and understand. While a specific time is recognised by a court, you cannot go and do something short of that time. So it is deceptive to think that you can do anything before then. And that is the crux of Governor Dickson’s recommendation.
He said he met you before submitting the report, what then happened?
Of course, what people may not know was that when he visited me before going to submit that report, he fully endorsed that the number one thing is that we must be at Supreme Court, so if you are telling me that number one thing is that we must be at Supreme Court, then you are saying this, you are going public making a lot of noise, you are not making noise about the number one thing you told me, even when he asked me, how much would be his share for his contribution for going to Supreme Court, I said that is up to the governors and other stakeholders, I am not discussing finance, that he can go and discuss with his colleagues.
And besides that, a week before he made this presentation, he was one of the governors that met with former President Goodluck Jonathan, and they came out with a proposal, and that night, former President Jonathan called me and told me about the proposal, and I answered them in the affirmative even before consulting my constituency, and I said ‘look, you as governors are key organs of this party, we have no objection to anything if they are collective views, that will bring to an end this problem, and that other organs of the party should be carried along in selling whatever proposal they have.’ So having participated, and endorsed a proposal with his other colleagues governors, will it be right to pull yourself out under any guise to say you are now proposing something else? I would have thought that if he has any idea, any other proposal, he would have laid it before that meeting. But you cannot append your signature to a proposal with your other colleagues governors, and then a week after make a bold face, come up with another proposal that your colleagues are not even aware of.
He told me that he has spoken to some of his colleagues, but all the governors I contacted, told me that they were not even aware of such a proposal. As a matter of fact, most of them were hearing it for the first time from me, that he has submitted the report. So nobody is against political solution if it is possible, but it must be done the right way. I heard him saying that I am the one proposing now that both myself and Sherriff should go. I don’t have any proposal. That is the proposal he with other governors and President Goodluck Jonathan came up with and told me. So he is now turning it to my own proposal, a proposal that he was party to. It was only communicated to me and to BoT, and we all said we have no objection if other organs of the party are comfortable with that. Why is it the fault of mine?
So what do you think Governor Dickson is up to something?
I don’t know what he is up to, but it is unfortunate, again during his interview on AIT, he said that we are ineffective and not giving a sense of direction, and not even taking on government. You are journalists, can you ever remember any time Modu Sherriff or anybody on his behalf spoke on any national issue, all his talks is about Makarfi faction. But a party has a system, has a structure, our spokesman has been up and doing, and I too when necessary, have spoken severally. Besides that, I don’t think you can work with nothing, you must be enabled to work, and it is on record that he has not contributed 10 percent of what his colleagues have contributed for us to work. If you as governor have not contributed 10 percent of what your colleagues have contributed for the party to work, you cannot turn round and accused the party of being ineffective. The question is that were you effective yourself? So if Governor Dickson is up to something, I really don’t know. My initial impression was that, out of passion for the party, he was in a kind of a hurry, but anything worth doing is worth doing well, carry people along.
Now the recommendation, all the governors together with President Goodluck made to us, we promptly reacted to it. Up till now I am not aware that Modu Sherriff has granted it.
The so called recommendation Dickson made, immediately Modu Sherriff reacted to it. And not all members of the so called committee whose existence is being questioned because it was an ad hoc committee, agreed even to go for their meeting because they saw that their mandate has expired.
And in any case, if there are two or three parties to an issue, you don’t go to submit a report to one. Up till now that I am speaking I have not even seen a draft of the so called report submitted. BOT has not seen this. The chairmen forum has not seen it; they are just trying to make it available to them. So if somebody has an observation, how does it take it to you?
So it is further confusing the situation, but we will come out of it. You saw the resolutions of the Northern Elders Forum in Abuja; the number one issue is that the unity of the partyz̄ is not something to be compromised. Secondly, that yes, to political solution if it is comprehensive, if it is genuine, if it is sincere, if it will create level playing field for everybody. And this must be premised on sound legal basis, it must be developed by solicitors from both sides of the argument, agreed to by the parties. So what can be wrong, if you are sincere, why should you be in a hurry not to follow this, you are assured that whatever you reached, legally stands. I will not leave room for tomorrow for anybody to come and start challenging one thing or the other.
Are you comfortable that former President Goodluck Jonathan has not adequately reacted to this scenario created by Dickson?
Well, as former President, he should not just be reacting every now and then. I tell you even this afternoon (at the time of this interview), I spoke with him, and he has not given up, and I cannot be like some other people, who will speak to him and come out and start saying what it is they spoke about, or what happened bla…bla…bla. I know what we discussed, it is not anything negative for the party, we know where we are heading, and we just keep ourselve for where we are headed.
But Dickson said he acted based on Court of Appeal judgment, what is your take on that?
(Cuts in) now, it is not a final court. It is like, you know, a challenge cup final, in the first half, it is one-one, then hand over the cup to one team, does that happen, and does it make sense? We are in first half, and it is one-one draw, we won at lower court, and let’s assume they won at Court of Appeal, we are now going to the second half where it must be settled one way or the other. Do you come and declare a winner at this stage, even if you are looking at it legally?
And he is a lawyer, does it make sense? People should make up their minds, the facts are there. We at Supreme Court, we have done all that is expected of us in filling everything that we need to file. Hopeful, the case may start any time from now. Even looking at the legal issue, no matter the outcome of the Supreme Court, reconciliation must take place, but you don’t call it that it is all over just because of Court of Appeal judgment; it is not the final court of adjudication on this matter.
Are you looking at the political solution at all?
(Cuts in) let me get back to that. As I said earlier, if you acted based on Court of Appeal pronouncement, from my own understanding, in Court of Appeal, there is status quo ante before 21st May, that should be reverted, that has not been reverted to by Modu Sherriff. He is still working with his personally appointed so called national officers. Is that his status quo before 21st May?