From Billygraham Abel, Yola
Dr. Umar Ardo is a political strategist and a Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) chieftain. He speaks on the likely impact of the Supreme Court ruling on PDP’s chances in 2019 Elections.
How would the Supreme Court’s ruling affect the political fortunes of the PDP, ahead of 2019 elections?
Yes, PDP national crises are over. If the Caretaker Committee conducts the National Convention properly, as I trust it will, and nominates credible and good standing candidates, then PDP will most likely takeover power in 2019 not only in most states of the federation and the legislature but also at the presidential level. But this also needs good understanding of the constituency politics, good strategy and putting all hands on deck to drive through the strategy. The strategic thrust is simply to build on the failure of the current All Progressives Congress (APC), administration to gain victory. It is feasible, simple and attainable.
How are you taking the news, is it good or bad news for the party in Adamawa State?
For me personally and for the PDP Adamawa State Chapter, I will say it is not only good news but it is a huge relief of self vindication. If you can remember, when certain elements within the party in the state vehemently opposed our holding the 21st May convention in Port Harcourt to set up the National Caretaker Committee (NCC) on the ground that there was a court order against it, you recall how we rejected their position and mobilized delegates and went into the convention venue and fully participated in the entire proceedings that established the Caretaker Committee. Recall also that when we returned to the state we held a press conference to argue and justify the convention in which we called upon the people of Adamawa State to support the Caretaker Committee and discountenance the position of the other side.
I personally went to meet the Chairman of the Caretaker Committee and collected a letter not necessarily to participate in the July Local Government elections but mainly to demonstrate where we stood in the political divide within the party then.
Yes, afterwards we had some little misunderstandings with the Caretaker Committee mainly because of some misinformation and misrepresentation of facts by some other elements in the party who themselves opposed the 21st May Port Harcourt convention, but truth, as always, have prevailed and matters have been resolved. Thus, in the state the PDP is well established in all the 226 Wards, the 21 LGAs and there is complete and fully functioning state chapter under the able leadership of Barrister Abdulrahman Bobboi.
What we are just waiting for is the conduct of congresses for the election of National Delegates for the National Convention to be convened by the National Caretaker Committee led by His Excellency, Sen. Ahmed Makarfi. On the whole, I see no problem in Adamawa State as PDP is poised to certainly takeover from the current illegal regime of Sen. Bindow.
Why would you refer to the Government of Bindow as an illegal one?
The regime is Illegal because the 11th April, 2015 governorship election conducted by INEC in the state was unlawful and unconstitutional. By conducting the election on that date and swearing-in a governor on May 29th on the basis of the election, INEC has reduced the 4-year term of the previous Nyako/Ngilari regime to 3 years, 3 months and INEC has no constitutional powers to do so.
I took the matter way up to the Supreme Court but unfortunately it was not heard and determined on the merit. That means without a court pronouncement on it, I still stick to my view that the regime was brought into office unconstitutionally and therefore remains illegal. The only problem is that there is now nothing I can do about it other than holding that it is an illegal regime.
If I am elected governor in the state I will not only refuse to accord him any entitlement of a former governor but I will also institute proceedings to collect back all emoluments he benefited as governor until a court of competent jurisdiction decides otherwise.
In your last interview with us, you claimed you crafted Buhari’s strategy and winning formula, do you have any master piece for your party to reclaim its position, come 2019?
The major consideration of that strategy then was the nation and the PDP. The party needed to be out of power for at least four years to do some soul-searching, self-cleansing, stock-taking and house-cleaning to return to power and be effective in serving the nation appropriately. By now, Nigerians have seen the leaderships of two different political parties and have basis for comparison. People can now make comparative analysis to look at the options and make choices.
So, in my judgment, the action l took then was in the best interests of the nation and the party. So to answer your question directly, yes, l do have ‘a master piece’ for my party for the purpose of 2019, to help it reclaim political power. However, I cannot give out the details now given that secrecy and timing are critical in the success of any strategy. So with the right people, at the right time, we will get it successfully executed.
The failure of your party at the polls saw so many of your party members jump ship to the APC, how would you address this inconsistent political behavior especially seeing that you are someone who has always been consistent with your party?
This is the responsibility of the National Caretaker Committee (NCC) in how it handles it judicial victory which is not the same with political victory. If the NCC sees this judicial victory as political victory then it will be committing its first colossal error which will adversely affect its actions and the convention processes that would ultimately mar the fortunes of the party.
But with the caliber of the chairman and the secretary of the NCC, I believe such flaws can be avoided. Besides, not many notable and valuable members have left the party. Many were only standing by the wings waiting to see if the Supreme Court judgment would be erroneous before they act. Thank God the judgment is as it should.
The result of the 2015 elections was like a signal that Nigerians were tired with failure in governance, how prepared is PDP to change that narrative?
I believe the party has learned its lessons, has seen its mistakes and what caused these mistakes, it also must have understudied the failure of the present regime, and therefore is well prepared to make amends.
I think the negative PDP is out and it will be the positive PDP that will come in. With the near total failure of leadership in the country under the APC today and the resultant nationwide disquiet amongst the populace, it is a matter of urgency that Nigerians of good standing come together to arrest the drift and capture national power in 2019 to save the country from societal convulsion.
All it requires is the putting in place of the right kind of leadership that would create the conditions for our people to express their talents, harness their resources and realize their potentials. Since leaders are products of history, culture, values and circumstances of their societies, conscious and concerted efforts of vigilant populace and committed political class can create the desired leadership. I believe this to be the key choice that must be done to solve the seemingly unending problem of Nigeria’s nationhood and failure of leadership.
I also believe that the initiative and leadership of such a national political platform is best provided by the PDP under the platform of a ‘New Generation PDP’, a reformed PDP of previously submerged members of good standing.
Finally, in February 2012, you told Buhari he would win 2015, will PDP win 2019?
To all intents and purposes, if our party’s leadership conforms to constitutionalism, due process and rule of law, formulates good and appropriate strategy, field in Nigerians of good standing and does not sell party tickets to the highest bidders, puts in hard work, by God’s Will, I can tell you yes, PDP will win the presidency in 2019.