Former Minister of Police Affairs, Alhaji Adamu Maina Waziri, also a member of the ongoing National Conference in this interaction with newsmen recently asserts that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is popular in the opposition Yobe and would make a difference in the 2015 Governorship and Presidential elections in the state. This is just as he advocates the emergence of a strong national leader to address the rots in the country. Lawrence Olaoye was there. Excerpts:
Recently, the national leadership of the PDP dissolved the Exco of the PDP in Yobe state, having contested twice as a gubernatorial candidate on the platform of the party, what is your reaction to this development?
It is true that the PDP took the right step in giving notice for the dissolution of the executive at all levels of the executive of the party in the state because there was no congresses as stipulated in the constitution of the party to elect the leadership at the ward, local governments and state levels when the congresses were held nationwide. If it can be recalled, there were subsisting serious insecurity challenges then in Yobe state wherein the Federal Government imposed a state of emergency. However, the then minister of state for Finance, being the leader of the party in the state, found his way and selected leadership of the party at all levels and brought it to the National Secretariat under the transition leadership of former Chairman, Alhaji Kawu Baraje. Since then founding fathers of the PDP, like myself, have been consistent in not recognizing the leadership of the party making the party factionalized and comatose.
As the INEC reported to have written thrice from the leadership of Baraje to Alhaji Bamanga Tukur reminding them that there are nine states of the federation whose elections were fraud, including some national officials whose elections were faulted by the INEC. The party under Tukur, in its selective justice decided to reconduct a special national convention to mitigate the flawed processes of seven of the national officials whose elections were done by affirmation that was inconsistent with the provisions of the constitution of the PDP. But, he refused to yield to the observation of the INEC that there are nine others states whose congresses were at fault.
Then the current chairman, who is faced with the obvious task of correcting the the illegalities perpetrated by his predecessors, came on board. He is faced with the challenges of repositioning the party and to ensure that he Party remains cohesive to face he daunting challenges of the 2015 elections. It is because of his realization that notices are being given to those state where INEC is insisting that the provision of the constitution of the party on internal democracy must be adhered to. Yobe is now facing a remediation. I’m sure that the party would now be vibrant; unfortunately, the insecurity that bedeviled the environment is still subsisting. But the important thing to note is that with this development, the party must take hold in Yobe to produce an all embracing, acceptable leadership that would steer the party to participate in the 2015 general election by restoring internal democracy and buying into Ahmed Mu’azu’s all inclusive philosophy.
Is this not coming a bit too late since the primary of the party is coming up by September considering the fact that you have to get your congresses conducted before then?
This is part of the iniquities of the Bamanga Tukur’s administration. Here we’ve nine states identified by INEC where their congresses were flawed. Because of his bad leadership, he started with his own home state betraying the selfishness of his administration. If he had done what he did in Adamawa in other states, those states would have put what happened behind their backs. The new chairman of the party, in his own initiative, has decided to right the wrongs. But, like we say, better late than never. In fact, the atmosphere of electioneering for 2015 is going to facilitate the emergence of leadership. In Yobe, there is still an existing state of emergency. However, the state government conducted local government election; the APC has conducted congresses from ward to local government and then states; a state Assembly bye election took place recently. So, political processes can still be conducted. It is left for stakeholders of the PDP, in view of the shortness of time and the overriding need, to reconcile the party. Will it be possible to produce leadership by congress or consensus? Happily, the national leadership has given the North-East Vice Chairman the mandate to lead the process whereby the new leadership would emerge. Discussions are ongoing.
Will you prefer a consensus or an election in Yobe PDP?
I am a democrat, democratic leaders find legitimacy more through electoral process, but the heterogeneity of the Nigerian society has made us to also find a lot of goodwill and common sense from consensus leadership. In the interest of the party, against the backdrop of what happened, any of he two options would be better than the preceding situation. But key stakeholders of the party must sit together around a table and resolve the situation.
Considering the dearth of time and the situation on ground in Yobe, do you still think that the PDP, after putting its house in order, can face the APC in 2015 general elections?
I am an incubate optimist. I see the APC contraption being beaten up in Yobe. It is an election; a head or tail, one can win or lose. The political leadership in Yobe is overdue for a change. In Yobe, we have always been giving the state government sleepless nights. In spite of everything, the core strength of the PDP is still subsisting in the state. With right leadership that upholds internal democracy, the party can be re-energized to give the incumbent a run for its money in the 2015 general elections especially those that are gong to be conducted by the federal bodies. I am sure that the state government would be strategizing that there has been a fundamental change in the political environment of Yobe. I’ve been in this thing for sometime and I’m confident that the grassroot support of the party is unshaken. It is only at the top level where infiltration, both by the state government and some unfaithful party members, are undermining the cohesion of the party.
How do you address the issue of infiltration of party leadership in the country?
There is a provision in the provision of the party that defectors into the PDP will stay in the party for 24 months before he will aspire to any elective position. But a caveat was introduced that a waiver may be given and that one has done serious damage to discipline in the party, whereby waivers were granted to people who have stayed only 30 days in the party and were allowed to stand for election. This waiver was indiscriminately given in 2010 and 2011. A former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, came into the party and was given waiver and that opened the floodgate during the transitional leadership. The provision of the constitution of the PDP needs to be upheld so that there would be internal democracy.
As a member of the ongoing constitutional conference, are you satisfied with the recommendations submitted for consideration at the plenary by the committees?
It is too early to express satisfaction or not with the recommendation of the committees. Let us put the conference in its right perspective. The conference is a child of controversy. While there was a lot of orchestrated demands for sovereign national conference, the President could only convoke national conference. We are now at the plenary to consider the committee reports. Everyone has an idea of what the conference would make out of Nigeria. While some people believe that the conference would strengthen Nigeria, others feel otherwise. Today, you feel very uncomfortable finding a member of the conference standing up to introduce himself as representing an ethnic group. Even the census that were conducted in the country removed those things that would give you individual identities. Issues as tribe, religion are not good for national identity. The conference has also thrown up fault lines we out to have grown beyond. At the end of the conference, there is an issue that all Nigerians must agree: that there is a need for a national leader that would cement and wedge this country as had happened in other countries. Of recent, we have Paul Kaugame who just emerged from the genocide in Rwanda to wedge his people together.
Can a real national leader emerge in the country considering the heterogeneity of the Nigerian society?
Yes, it is very possible. Look along the lines of the basic human needs of Nigerians, poverty doesn’t know north and south, has no ethnic delineation. It is among these basic human needs that a Nigerian leader would emerge. If you have a leadership that is corrupt, you are going to have the divisive elements thriving in the polity. It is not enough for the Muslims to say that Islam is a religion of peace; but Islam recognizes that a leader must be just and fair, So, which comes first? If there is injustice, there won’t be peace and security.
Some people are of the opinion that Nigeria would move forward if it practices true federalism. What is your take on this?
There s nothing like true federalism. In Political Science, it I either federalism or confederalism. All those things that you considered as iniquities of federalism as being practiced are not part of federalism. As far as human knowledge is concerned, in a situation like Nigeria, the best system that would recognize its heterogeneity is federalism. Whatever is the shortcomings is what we should isolate and correct. Take the example of the local government being the appendages of the state, the constitution does not say so; the constitution recognises the roles of the local governments. The tiers in Nigeria are three: central government, state and local governments and each has duties assigned to it. It is not the system that is at fault, it is the subversion by the people. Now, we can look into the system and find a system where the central government takes a large chunk of resources. The federal government takes a larger part of the resources and use about 80percent thereof to pay personal emoluments. That is why development is uneven. Let us now devolve more powers, more funds hitherto being held by he federal government into the states.
Let’s look at the situation between the second tier, state government and the local government. Even though the constitution recognises allocation to the local governments, there is also the joint accounts whereby local government funds are appropriated by the state government. In the Committee on Restructuring where I serve, we say correct it by also creating a State Revenue Mobilization and Allocation Committee as we have at the federal level. All monies coming from the federal purse should be shared by this state body.
Can you comment on agitation for resource control and derivation principle?
For now, we have 13 percent derivation which that recognizes that in the process of derivation, the host communities would suffer some unintended consequences. This unintended consequences is being remediated by the 13 percent. Some people are saying that they will require more than this and are asking for total control where they would pay royalties. But, the question you need to ask is whose money was used as the seed capital for the mineral resources? Was the money used to develop the mineral resources for the whole country? If you demand 100 percent, are you not denying the unity of the country? When we seat at the Confab, you canvass your position but you have to tell me what I am going to benefit if I support your position. Nobody can show me what I stand to benefit and if I say no, they say we are maintaining the status quo. Is that democracy? Is that not the tyranny of the minority?
Truly speaking, we recognize that there is environmental degradation in the Niger Delta region but we agree that people, host communities, have ruptured pipelines within the last 30 years or so. Must we now be held accountable for that? If you hold Shell for environmental pollution in Ogoni land for example, what do you do also with people that have blown up pipelines? What do you also do to some political leaders who lead some of the states who end up being richer than their states? What do you also do to citizens of those states who have not been able to hold their leadership accountable for their plights? But the principle of the conference is that positions being canvassed must have their selling points to other conferees.