The former Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Nasarawa State, Chief Yunana Iliya has said the magnitude of votes PDP is going to poll on February 16th will be so overwhelming that it will be difficult for anybody to rig the election. In
As a former Chairman of the PDP and a political stakeholder in Nasarawa State, you have appeared to be too quiet in the political scene in Nasarawa State in recent times. Is that deliberate or what is happening?
Well, I don’t think it is a very correct assessment of me. As a former State Chairman, I am not staying in Lafia, the state capital. I was in Lafia because I was the State Chairman. And as soon as I finished my tenure I had to come back home where I belong. Coming home has so many meanings. My locality or where I feel I will fit in again. When you finish your tenure either in government or any organisation at all, you leave it to those who will take over from you to continue the work. And if your attention is needed, they will inform you. And if your attention is not needed then somehow you will be competing with them in office or in speeches or even in debates or whatever you feel that I am quiet about. Because we have capable hands that we brought, that we groomed to take over from us. And so they are doing just that. I don’t think I have gone into political oblivion.
Secondly, on leaving office I decided, I needed to add more knowledge to myself. I am a Ph’D student in the University of Abuja, currently doing my thesis. So you see, that one too has taken my attention. But there is no meeting that PDP will call me that I would not attainment. There is no gathering, be it social or political that I am invited, that I will not be there except I have I cogent reason. So, I don’t think I have been quiet. I feel that I should give a little time for those who took over from us to continue from where we stopped.
On politics, can your party reclaim power both at the federal and State level considering what happened in 2011 and 2015?
Well, to the glory of God, all things being equal…, it is unfortunate that Nasarawa State has been at the receiving end of whatever political quagmire that the country is into. Nasarawa is at the receiving end maybe because of our closeness to Abuja, or because of the interest people out of the State have in Nasarawa State. I live to challenge whoever says we lose elections in Nasarawa State. But, since that is what it is, we are not in control of the government of the State, it appears we lost and we have since taken it as such. But I want to assure you, as I said, we have always been at the receiving end – that there is no election in Nasarawa State, that PDP genuinely lost. PDP has never lost any election genuinely. In 2011, we all know what happened, that out of the 24 members of the House of Assembly whose elections were conducted the same day with the Governor, we won 20 leaving out only 4. Yet, we are said to have lost election. Even when we challenged the results at the tribunal, the tribunal was set to give a judgment in favour of the PDP but politics was brought into it. As I said, people outside the State had interest in Nasarawa State and they went and worked on Goodluck Jonathan and his wife, and they all succumbed to such caprices and they took away our power. And that is the effect we are still facing in the State.
Even in 2014, during the primary election, there is nothing I didn’t do for us to have a consensus candidate even in the PDP. Nobody agreed to come down for the other. Nine aspirants came jostling for one position. And you know there is no saint here on earth that will conduct election that a looser will not take it as having been cheated either by the umpire or the person who is supervising such election. In 2014, such election took place and out of all of them, I can say authoritatively that one objectively left and joined APGA. That is Labaran Maku who is still there today in APGA. Aliyu Akwe Doma who was the former Governor did not openly join another party but informed his supporters to work against the party. And there is no how a party would succeed when you have members within you who are working against the interest of the party. The same thing happened even at the national level. People who worked against Goodluck were people who were members, who were even leaders of the party at the national level. They worked against the interest of the party for some trivial and primordial reasons which nobody can substantiate. But thank God today that majority of them have seen reasons why they should not have done so. Many of them are back to our party, crying foul. One of them is Atiku whom we are working for today. I believe that if he had waited behind in the PDP when those seven governors and the present Senate President Saraki left, it would have been an easy ride for any of them who will take over from Goodluck Jonathan. But that didn’t happen. They worked against the party and today we are having a hell. But by the grace of God, since every one of us has learnt his lessons, I want to believe we will reclaim power but with a caveat. I have discovered that today’s leadership, the President and his cohorts are not giving us a level playing ground. I am saying so because, there are a lot of factors. Like we are just watched and read on media, people are talking about the letter Obasanjo wrote to the nation. He did not address it to anybody. Those are his observations. For INEC, this is what INEC is doing and not showing any remorse. Which means they are not ready to conduct a free and fair elections. Buhari who is at the centre of everything, who does not know what is happening. Everything happening in the country he would tell you he is not aware. But yet he still wants to continue in the next four years in that kind of situation. With what we have on ground I think we are going to find it difficult. Except INEC promise us free, fair and credible elections. And if INEC stands on that position of free, fair and credible election, I am assuring you that before 12 noon, PDP would have reclaimed back our country from this president government, and Nasarawa State would have also reclaimed her mandate by the grace of God to PDP in 2019 that were are in. Because Nasarawa State is PDP, PDP is Nasarawa State. You cannot change that. People of Nasarawa State love PDP and PDP also loves them. It is unfortunate that those who worked against us since 2011 are still at it. And they are not joking about it. They are expanding their tentacles into recruiting those who will help them in the State here to be able to form a government in the State. Otherwise leaving us alone, we know who could win the governorship seat any day, any time.
How do you feel whenever reference is made to the 16 years of governance by the PDP aspirants being the cause of the economic difficulty the country has found itself?
Well, as a person, I have to feelings; One, I feel bad that my party is wrongly used, wrongly named as being responsible for the woes we are experiencing today in the country. I feel so because people have easily forgotten the history. They have forgotten the history of where we are coming from for anybody to say 16 years of wastage, that we ought to be more than where we were at 2015. The question I ask is, where was Nigeria in 1999? Has anybody sat down to compare the level of damage that the military did to her country, to her institutions, to her political systems and to the economic fortune of this country by 1998? Has anybody sat down to compare that? What was the infrastructural position of this country? What about NEPA; i.e. National Electric Power Authority? What was the nature of light provision at that time? What about hospitals? Why were the military taking over from one another? Has anybody sat down to think about it? Nigeria was in a very serious mess until national leaders, our founding fathers in the PDP sat down and agreed that they must fight the junta. Which they did. We brought them out of the government and Obasanjo took over government. From the zero allocation he started building the economy of this country until his tenure elapsed. Somebody else came and took over, continued from where Obasanjo stopped, built the economy of this country. Goodluck also took over after the demise of his principal, Umar Musa Yar’adua. He took over from there, built the economy, built the institutions, built the democracy. The institutions we have today were built or energized by Goodluck. He allowed everything to flourish. Nigeria became the largest economy and the fastest growing economy in the world. In fact, by 2020 we would have been among the first 20 economies in the whole world, until this unfortunate misnomer happened to Nigeria by voting out the government.
We only got to hear that PDP was responsible for where we have found ourselves in Nigeria by the so called ruling party. But what role have they played in bringing Nigeria out of the doldrums that PDP had put her into? Let’s look at the economy. We are not even going far. The Naira to Dollar exchange, how much was it by the time we handed over power to them? And how much is it today? What about the Pounds? What about employment? What about GDP? Look at them. What about infrastructure? What is it that has changed? What is it that they have done? Tell me, a single project initiated by Buhari to completion. There is nothing because he doesn’t have the idea.
And even those of them who were going about saying a lot of rubbish. I was listening to Amaechi unfortunately. Amaechi was saying that PDP looted this country for 16 years. And that is the second part, because I said I have two feelings. I will come to that.
When you look critically you will see that these people are only good at blaming previous administration. Leave them till the next four years – which we are not going to leave them before this country becomes history – Buhari will leave the government of Nigeria in 2023 if he is still alive, still complaining that why he couldn’t achieve what he wanted to achieve was because he took over from PDP. Anybody you see complaining here and there, he does not have the ideas. He does not have the capacity. He does not have the acumen. He does not have the wherewithal to be able to champion. I keep saying, if I was working with my father and my father was cheating me, not providing the basic things I needed and I said I was going to work on my own. You are now working on your own and after one year no improvement and you are still looking at your father, coming back to see what your father has done. Second year, you are still looking for food from your father. Asking your father to even pay your rent. Third year you are still looking at your father, blaming your mother and father for the quarrel you have with your wife. Haba. Why did you leave in the first place?
The present leaders came into power because, Nigerians said, they were tired with the PDP and so they were changing batton from backwardness to progression.’ Now our progress at that time which was conceived to be backwardness, appears to be the progress of this country. And what we are experiencing today is the dark age of this country. I don’t think we have ever had this kind of period that we are in if not 1983 when he took over as military president.
The second feeling I have is, most of these people who call PDP names are the people who were there before. I read in the social media sometimes ago that, Abdullahi Adamu was saying Nigerians should not allow the country to go back to the olden days of the PDP. I just laughed and said, maybe somebody said it and put his name there because they want to make caricature of him. If today Abdullahi Adamu will come out and say what he did in 8 years was rubbish, what is my own who was just a party member? It means they succeeded in cheating us. It means they succeeded in derailing our economy. It means they succeeded in defrauding us since they could come out openly today, shamelessly and say they shouldn’t vote PDP to go back to olden days. I say they should be held accountable. I have never been in government. I was only a party chairman. You know party is an organization. It is an association that is formed to form a government. And when that government is formed, the person who is there to lead the government, you are not the one to tell him what to do and what not to do. You could advise him to do the right thing and he will choose to go the other way. So, if today those of them who served under PDP, the likes of Amaechi, the likes of Abdullahi Adamu, the likes of George Akume – they are many – could come out to say that Nigeria is where we are today because PDP ruled this country, I think we should hold them responsible. The institutions that Goodluck Jonathan made them strong enough, the ICPC, EFCC and even the judiciary which the Federal Government is trying to bastardize now. If Goodluck wanted to maintain his own seat, there is no way he would have mandated the chairman of INEC, Professor Jega to do what he did. But because we are building institutions that will flourish and give Nigeria an image tantamount to the level at which the entire world is looking at Nigeria. The entire world was looking at Nigeria as the largest economy in Africa. And if we are the largest economy in the whole of Africa, we should lead in all directions. But today, if you are checking the analysis of nations you will discover that Nigeria is at the bottom end. We have crashed from top down.
So, those are the feelings I have. Those ones who are going about saying so, they may be right because they are the ones that ruled us. If not now that Obasanjo has discovered that all that happened during his time cannot be compared with what is happening now, he was also on the other side. He discovered that if Nigeria is allowed to go the way it is, in the next two years there won’t be anything called Nigeria.
There have been unbroken years of democracy in this country since 1999 to date, what is your assessment of the journey so far?
Like I said, it is unfortunate that Buhari has brought his swing of the watch backward. We ought to have passed where we are today. When the 2015 elections were approaching, all that took place that time and all that is taking place now, just compare and see. It is unfortunate that democracy is being dragged backwards by this administration. Otherwise by now we could have said we are grateful to God Almighty because we could elect our leaders at four, four years interval. If you do well, you are re-elected. If you do badly, you are rejected. But the systems that are in place today is our worry because the systems are not in such a way that will allow us to elect the leaders that we want. We have seen that happened in Ekiti State, where they elected their governor and Buhari and his agents in INEC and the security refused. We saw that happened in Osun State where they elected the person they wanted but Buhari and his cohorts said they wouldn’t allow that to happen. Because, if that happens, it is an indictment on his government. The world is watching.
I feel, until these institutions are allowed to perform their roles the way they are supposed to perform, we cannot say we have arrived. Otherwise 16 to 20 years of democracy, I think we are leading in Africa.
The tone of political campaign is becoming tense particularly from the supporters of the various political parties we have; PDP, APC and coming back to our State you mention APGA. Their comments are capable of inciting violence. How do you think it can be mitigated?
I watched somebody say that if those who are charged with the responsibility of conducting whatever activities we want to do, do it according to the rules, we have no fear. If the electorates are allowed to elect the person they want to elect. If today I am supposed to be in Awe to do my campaign without instigants from either APC or APGA. ‘When they come, do this to them because we feel that they are already a threat’. We are not supposed to have any fear.
I want to say that when I was on the helms of affairs in the party, I have always warned my supporters, I have always warned my candidates. Anybody who goes around causing confusion would be held responsible for whatever breakdown of law. And to the glory of God, we went round all our campaigns and there was no incidence of accident, there was no incidence of crisis. And that was how we rounded off our activities.
What am I trying to say? Those who have already perceived that, this election we are not going to get it, are the people instigating, ‘go and do this so that we will spoil it’. If today this television here is mine, it is useful to me and useful to the entire family, I cannot come in here with stones and be throwing them left, right and centre because, I know, if it is hit by the stone it will break. And if it gets broken, who will lose? Am I not the one that will lose? Those ones who are instigating crises left, right and centre know that they have no stake and they are not going to get anything out of it. So, they want to make sure they spoil and ensure that the entire ship capsizes with everybody. They want to rock the boat. I want to call on all of them to know that Nasarawa State is our State, to know that Nigeria is our country. There is nobody in Nasarawa State that is more Nasarawa than the other. We are all indigenes. We were counted. Our territorial integrity was considered before they carved us into the State. So nobody is more indigenous than the other in the State. Those who are non indigenes they know themselves. They know where they came from. There are people who have come to do business with us. Yes they are allowed to go about their businesses. They are allowed to participate in elections. But we should also do it with decorum because the leadership we are planning to provide for our people is for the people. If I become the governor in Nasarawa State today, I am not becoming a governor to myself. I am becoming a governor to the people of the State. So if you succeed in killing 50% of the people that you say you want to govern, what have you achieved? A reasonable leader should not allow crisis to erupt during his tenure. A genuine leader would be happy seeing that during his entire leadership there was no breakdown of law and order. That is my ambition too. If I become anything at all, I want to end successfully.
So I call on all of us who are leaders of thought, leaders by virtue of our positions, leaders by virtue of our ages to caution our supporters. Tell them leadership comes from God and God is the giver of power. Nobody sits down and acquires power by himself. It is given by God. So we should work by that. If we do so I think God will help us to achieve it without any problem.
Earlier in your comments you expressed fears on the person of Buhari and the institutions to conduct credible elections. With the trends and observations of political activities. what is your projection of the February 16 Presidential Elections?
I want to say that, despite the fact that they will try and try and try to thwart the effort of people participating in the election, PDP is still going to come out with victory. I say so because history is for us to study. History is for yesterday, today and to project the future. If by what happened in 2015 that gave him the so called wins against the PDP – don’t forget that PDP was said to have lost the election just by 2 million votes. That time we were in charge of the government of the country. We lost because there were intrigues among the members of the PDP. There were dissatisfactions because some people felt surchanged. Some people felt that some things were not done in line with some agreement that was reached and so, they worked against the party. But today, the so called messiah Buhari has disappointed 99.5% of his followers. All the change he promised them, he has not been able to provide or to meet one of them. Those who even gave him the win – like I mentioned the former governor of Adamawa State, the former governor of Kwara State, the likes of Kwankwaso, Atiku, Magatakarda of Sokoto; they are the people that gave him the win. And so when people talk about his popularity I ask them, what type of popularity? If for almost 12 consecutive years he was looking for something and he couldn’t get it until people felt dissatisfied within their home and decided to fight their home. How then do you call yourself a popular person? Since those people have now come back to the PDP, and since those who felt that it was only Buhari that could change this country, it was only Buhari that could make milk and honey flow in this country, they have been disappointed. I want to assure you that the magnitude of votes that PDP is going to get will be so overwhelming that it will be hard for anybody to rig.
You cannot talk about Nasarawa. Nasarawa State has always been a PDP State. Buhari has never won any elections even when the so called tsunami became the order of the day. We won all our National Assembly seats, we won for the presidency. Whatever happened thereafter at the declaration of results and the rest. So it’s a different thing all together. Nasarawa State is a win-win for PDP in the State just like it is also going to be a win-win for the PDP at the national level. We are expressing this fear because we know nobody can be short-changed and fold his arms. We have to say it. But in saying it we know that for sure, it would be difficult for anybody to rig this victory that is going to be given on the 16th of February.
Atiku has been painted with so many names by the Federal Government, talking about his involvement with the Bank PHB, his recent travel to the US, giving him all sorts of corruptitable names. What can you say about that?
We are familiar with a particular adage that say, when you want to hang a dog, give it a bad name. But I will disappoint those who are saying so. I have always looked at Atiku as somebody who God has been training and training for a catastrophic situation we have found ourselves today. In 1998 he was elected governor of Adamawa State. He never got sworn in. Obasanjo picked him to become his running mate. And since that time he became the Vice President. By 2003, he almost contested election against his principal which was what pitched him against Obasanjo. Thereafter in 2007, instead of Obasanjo to hand over to him, Obasanjo was annoyed because of what he did to him in 2003 so they parted ways. Obasanjo wanted to continue his stay in power even after 2007. Atiku worked against it in conjunction with the National Assembly. They worked against it and they thwarted it. Now, I want to give you this example using myself. I am a victim of clannish stigma; a stigma given to me just because God blessed me while I was chairman of the party. God blessed me, I have a house in Lafia which at a point became a talk of the whole town. I have a house in my village. And this one too (in Abuja) is my house. To the glory of God I would not eat food and go begging because of that, there is no name that has not been given to me. The bad, the ugliest and whatever you can call it, simply because God has been so good to me. They will now look for certain names and attach to me. What am I saying in essence? Atiku after that saga he has excelled. We were made to understand that even before coming to government, he had excelled. If he excelled before he joined politics, those of them who saw him excel what is their take? When he joined politics, because he has an established business, a workable business that was moving, at the level of Vice President he shouldn’t be eating food from his pocket. The constitution has defined what he should be eating, his medicals including his family members are all enshrined in the constitution. Which means the business had the propensity of growing during that period.
So, for somebody to wake up one morning and say Atiku is corrupt. The question I want to ask is, by 2014, when he single-handedly sponsored governorship candidates of the APC, was he still corrupt at that time? Or is it only now that his corruptive tendencies have become so manifest that they cannot keep quiet. When he contributed billions of Naira for Buhari to use and when he donated his private jet for Buhari to go round the whole nation campaigning, was he not corrupt that time? Is it only now that Atiku has shown corruptible tendencies and shouldn’t be voted in as president of this country? He (Atiku) has been saying that anybody who has any evidence against him should bring it. Has anybody brought any evidence? We have seen people in elective positions with every evidence against them and yet they are going about. Don’t forget that Oshiomole, the national chairman of the APC declared that anybody who comes to APC, his sins are forgiven. Which means the issue of corruption is political. Majority of the issues of corruptible tendencies against Atiku is political. Those whose cases have been established in EFCC. Abdullahi Adamu is with the EFCC. Our leader, Aliyu Akwe Doma, before his death was with the EFCC and many more will still go. Adams Oshiomole was even dragged to the DSS but because the powers that be wouldn’t want their party to be dragged into the mud they said they should allow him. We have seen the governor in Kano openly collecting bribe which has been sandwiched to be something else. We are no longer hearing anything about that. So whether Atiku is seen in the Central Bank, burgling to steal, Nigerians will still vote for Atiku because their propaganda against corruption has been noticed already. They cannot deceive Nigerians anymore. Deception number one is what we are experiencing now. We wouldn’t allow ourselves to be deceived a second time. And that is what Obasanjo said. If anybody allows himself to be deceived, then sorry for this country. But Atiku like I said, whether we see him in handcuffs because he stole money, we are still going to vote him and he will become the President of this country by the grace of God.
The first four years of Buhari will soon come to an end on May 29th. Are there issues at stake that you think President Buhari needs to address as Nigerians go to the polls?
Very many of them. There are security situations. Number one is the security situation. And the one that is above the security situation is the economic situation which is the foundation of all the security challenges we are facing. I want to tell you, for you to have anything to sell, take anything to the market and see if you will get a buyer. The economy has been pushed aback. I don’t know the adjective to use to describe the state of our economy. Many people are poor today because of the state of our economy. Industries have closed down. The private sector has closed down. Unemployment has become the issue of the day. Unemployment is a major cause of most of th security challenges we face today. In my village, far away in Nakuse, very close to Toto, if I tell you the number of people that are being kidnapped on weekly basis it will surprise you. Sometimes the people are released at the cost of 20,000 or 30,000. That is how bad kidnapping has gone. What is causing that? A Fulani man who are doing that in my area, have their cows for sale. Nobody has money to buy cow and they have their needs. They will have to eat. A farmer has his farm products for sale, nobody has money to buy. It is as bad as that.
So if these things are not satisfied, I want to assure you that they will have a way of affecting our election. Because before you go all out to go and vote, you must have to eat. If you are hungry you cannot go voting. More over as you are going to vote you don’t know what is going to happen to you there. An angry mob may even take you there. Nobody can do anything without eating food. It is as bad as that. That is the situation that is there.
So, there are issues astake which I feel the president should give attention to, which I know he lacks the capacity to do, it is the economy and security. Those things need to be checked. If the economy of the country is addressed, every other thing will fall in place naturally.
With this, should Buhari eventually emerges or gets elected for the second term, what do you think will happen to the country?
That is disaster already. I want to assure you that if Buhari wins, only on the pronouncement of his victory a lot of people will die. I am not being pessimistic here. I am only being objective considering what happened and what is happening now, a lot of people will die on the pronouncement that ‘we hereby declare Buhari the winner of this election’. You will say I said so. Why? Because Buhari does not represent anything good. It happened from 1983 to 1984. But when Babangida took over, the Nigerian situation changed. If God gave him certain things, for leadership God did not give him. He is only imposing and forcing himself into it. And I want to feel that those things he felt he lost in 1984 are the things he came looking for. And those who are projecting him, pushing him left right and centre are the people who are providing the leadership for this country because the man is not aware of anything. You notice in Delta State he went to give a flag to a gubernatorial candidate and other senatorial candidates there, he declared the gubernatorial candidate the presidential candidate. When he was corrected he now said senatorial before he was corrected again to say gubernatorial. I think we were lucky he didn’t go down to say Member of House of Reps. Otherwise he would have said Member of House of Reps or Member of State Assembly. Why? Because he is not in touch with the reality on ground today. And that is why whether you keep him there for donkey years, the likes of Amaechi, the ministers and the cabals around him who are using him to siphon the resources of this country are the ones who are not yet done. They still want to siphon the resources of this country. And they wouldn’t mind for him to die there so that they know how they will manoeuvre and cart away with the largesse of this country. Since they say he is a transparent person, he is a man of integrity; he may be possessing such qualities but what about those around him? Are they? That is the situation we have found ourselves. If eventually he wins – which we are not praying for – if he wins we should all be prepared for whatever consequences that will befall Nigeria. Consequences either as reaction from the people or consequences from the mayhem his draconian policies will unleash on the people. Because those of them who go about saying he is talakawa oriented, he is not after talakawa now. Forget about his surrogate that is going about sharing money to the marketers. See how they have denigrated the office of the Vice President. He is going about sharing money, 10,000 buying votes ahead of the elections.
So, I want to assure you we are not praying so because in our Bible it says when the wicked ones are in power people mourn, people cry. Nigerians are crying which means the wicked ones are in government. And since the wicked ones are in government, the same Bible says if we knock, the door shall be opened. If you ask, it will be given to you. We keep asking, we keep knocking everyday; God open our door. We keep praying to God everyday that this is what we want. He will certainly give us what we want because I feel for those of us who are Nigerians and members of the PDP, this is the time God has shown us that we should learn to be appreciative of what He has done for us. We were not appreciative of what Obasanjo did as president, we were not appreciative of what Yar’adua did, we were not appreciative of what Goodluck did, and so, we started clamouring and sourcing for change among ourselves and God now brought in a Pharaoh into our midst and we are all praying for it. And I believe that with the cries from all Nigerians, God is listening. Because He said if the people who are called by my name will call me, I will hear them. And when I hear them I will come. I will meet their needs. I will wipe their tears. God will wipe our tears. God will give us Atiku by the grace of God.
Back to Nasarawa State in particular. There are allegations in some quarters that PDP and APC have some sort of alliance where the PDP governorship was seen in photo-post with Dangote and Almskura in the social media. How true is it?
On that, I am not at liberty to speak on what I don’t know much. But I want to say for sure that, the APC candidate of Nasarawa State, Engr. Sule used to be my friend. Or I can say he is my friend. He was my member at a point when we were without a government he connected me to Atiku that time between 2012/2013. He connected us to Atiku and he was helping us that time when I was the chairman. Supposing at that time we had snapshots and somebody stumbled unto those snapshots we had with him and brings them to the social media, does that qualify as me having a secret in my cupboard? It all depends on the analysis of the context of whatever picture we see.
If our gubernatorial candidate who is Honourable David Ombugadu who is a Member of the National Assembly and has oversight functions left, right and centre all over the world and comes in contact with Dangote and has a snapshot with him as the richest person in Africa who is also from Nigeria, is anything wrong with that? If Ombugadu in his course of doing assignment came in contact with the gubernatorial candidate of the APC and they had snapshots as individuals who come from the same area from the same State, is there anything wrong with that? It depends on whether or not our candidate or the party chairman, those who are charged with responsibility have gone all out knowingly or unknowingly to members of the party to go and have dialogue. It is a different thing altogether. If you say there is a pact between the APC and the PDP, who entered that pact on behalf of the party? Who entered that pact on behalf of the PDP? If the name of the person is mentioned then we will know that a pact has been entered and the person who represented PDP is so-so person. But for mere pictures that are trending on social media, I don’t think we should use it to qualify that there is a pact between the PDP and the APC.
We should not also forget that we are all brothers. For the fact that somebody is in APC and the other person is in PDP does not make them to be enemies. We are all brothers and sisters so shaking hands together or eating together does not reduce anything from your membership depending on who the person or the character is.
You may be aware that a few days ago, the Eggon nation whom the two candidates Labaran Maku and David Ombugadu are from the extraction were called for a dialogue to have a consensus that will produce the next governor against the ruling party. How feasible could this be sir?
When you ask me to know about the feasibility, in the first place I am not an Eggon man to know whether what you are saying is true. Given my experience, I think I will say so many things have passed through the water. Otherwise as a former chairman in the State, I have a lot in my hands; a lot to tell about the Labaran Maku/Ewuga saga and why we lost certain elections in the State. 2011 elections that we lost where Ewuga left PDP to join hands with CPC. I can attribute 80% of that to Labaran Maku. I say so because when he became Minister of the Federal Republic in 2009/2010, he was the one who pushed Aliyu Akwe Doma not to allow Ewuga get the ticket of the PDP after Ewuga had come back to the PDP for the 2011 elections. When that was done to completion, 2011 why we lost, there is nothing I didn’t do to bring them back together. When I went to look for our brothers; Ewuga, Ombugadu, Kigbu and co, Labaran Maku quarrelled why would I go and be looking for people to come back to PDP. It is clear that I really don’t love him that is why I am going to look for all these people. Don’t I know that if Ewuga comes back he will look for governorship? I said is the governorship reserved for you? Can you win governorship alone? At the end of the day, these were some of the remote causes of our altercation with him when I was there as chairman. He didn’t look at me as someone who wanted him or his brothers to win the governorship. At the end of the day he was brainwashed to believe that I said, I wanted to be deputy governor to a Muslim. It is far away from that. I never desired to be deputy governor to anybody.
Why am I giving that history? In 2014, there is nothing I didn’t do to reconcile him and Ewuga to allow one person to come out for governorship race. But there was nothing he didn’t do to fight me back. He did not allow that to happen. He said, I didn’t like him. I asked Ewuga too, since Labaran Maku is insisting on contesting, go back to your Senate. I can guarantee you that one. Since you are coming to the PDP with your senatorial position I can guarantee you that one. Go back for a second term. He too said, he was asked to come back to PDP so that he can become governor. I said those who asked you to come so that you can become governor have not talked to me. I am not aware of that one. But the one I am telling you of, I am telling you as the seating state chairman. Senator Adokwe can bear witness of that. At the end of the day, the whole thing was gathered and we couldn’t get any headway and we went on into the elections. For the election, all of them were seated like this. All of you (journalists) were there. Everybody was seated. It was very transparent. There was no teleguide. I was even a member of the committee from Abuja sorting names. Anybody who comes, whose name is not there I would ask him to go back. Elections were done to completion and the winner emerged. Labaran Maku said it was teleguided. I don’t know who teleguided it.
Well, that one has come and gone. Why I said many things have gone through the water, so many people are now saying Labaran Maku is the cause of the problem in Nasarawa State. Big people, small people, men and women crying left, right and centre, calling his name. It is feasible. It is possible that by the grace of God they may concede for each other. If they do so, the better for us. But I want to assure you that if we go to this election divided, then what happened in 2015, we might not be too far from that. Because there is no way Labaran Maku will go on, Ombugadu will go without splitting votes. Don’t forget, the man in the APC is with the ruling party. They are in control of the government and the government machinery. 30% of all that is required for the election is in their favour. The security, the INEC, the finances is all their own. If that one is already their own, what is left to be jostled for is just 70% which will now be the electorates. So you can judge it from there.
If it is possible, I agree for an in-house arrangement among the Eggon people. If they succeed it will be good for the State. But I am not a tribal bigot. I am not a chauvinist. I believe in the whole Nasarawa State. Let’s work for the good of the whole Nasarawa State. I want to believe that there are people within the Eggons whom, if Labaran Maku steps down for this boy, they will not vote for the boy and if Ombugadu steps down for Maku, there are some people who will even prefer to vote for the APC candidate who is not even an Eggon man. So that is how politics works. It is all about interests. So if the interest of Mr. A is captured by Mr. B – it is possible. We pray that what is good for this country, what is good for this State will come to pass. That is my prayer.
Now, at this point what happens to the party, because from comments, they are relying on the party’s position as reason that they don’t want to concede to each other to get a consensus?
Is party a human being? Is it not people that make up that party? Is it not the interests that party is pursuing? That is what I have been saying here. If interest of Mr. A is captured by Mr. B, what is it that is not possible? What is party? Where is APGA in Nasarawa State? Who is the State chairman of APGA? Who is the Local Government Chairman of APGA in my Local Government Area? Who is the Ward Chairman in my ward? I can name that of the PDP from the ward up to the State which means structurally we are there. Every party has a right but let’s judge it, which one will be better? If it is better for both parties to go into this election and come back wounded all of them, they should go. But if it will be better that party A gets what party B will be accommodated into it, why not succumb? It is all interests. Atiku, Bukola Saraki, Kwankwaso, Tambuwal and what nots left our party because their interests were captured in APC. When the APC failed to capture their interest, are they not back? Where was Labaran Maku? Who gave him the ministership? What made him a popular person? People who forget so soon their history are bound to face problems in the future. If today Labaran Maku did not become the Labaran Maku of this country until the PDP saw in him some qualities of leadership, brought him up, gave him commissionership, from commissioner to deputy governor, from deputy governor to minister. I think there is nobody in Nasarawa State even in Eggon land that should be most grateful to the PDP than Labaran Maku. Why? Because after he became commissioner he has successively been catered for by this party and he has gone up in the ladder to a level that he is known world over not only in the nation. What else are we looking for? If your younger brother who is here wants to do what you think you are going to do, and you are there to father him, what is wrong with that? For those of us who grew from farming backgrounds, when you go to farm and your father is there commending you for everything you do right, you will be happy that you have a father that is backing you. If you are doing wrong he will tell you. Okay, he is coming to compete with this young man, Ombugadu. If they go to elections and Ombugadu wins, what happens to him tomorrow? Will Labaran Maku come back and say this one is my boy? Will he call him my boy or my brother? How will he look at him? See how Senator Ewuga behaved. When they contested elections and Ewuga lost, Ewuga embraced him. Since you are the one that people want more than me, I give you my backing. And it is working. What is wrong in doing that? All the leaders of Eggon, come let’s back our own. If God says this is the person that is going to lead from Eggon land we have no objection to it. Let’s come and join forces. And if your forces is to bring down this young man that has been so selected and anointed by God, posterity is there to judge. But I will advise that Labaran Maku should not allow himself to be used again for this election as the cause of the catastrophe that will befall Nasarawa State after 29th of May 2019. It will not be good for him and his generation.