September 25, 2022


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PDP power rotation too late now, South-East should wait – Bafarawa

The erstwhile two-term Sokoto State Governor and chieftain in the Peoples Democratic Party, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa, speaks with FRIDAY OLOKOR on the party’s crisis and efforts to resolve it

The  South-East has been very aggrieved with the PDP since the party  held its primaries because of its failure to ensure power rotation. What is your reaction?

A committee was set up by the party to decide where the presidential candidate of the party would come from. I was a member of that committee, which agreed that something was wrong (in terms of power rotation), but it is too late to do anything about it now; that next time, the party should stick to power rotation since it is written in its constitution.

What exactly does the PDP constitution say?

Rotation specifically, that’s it. However, this time around, we agreed as a committee to throw the presidency open.

When the committee made its recommendation, it took it to the party’s National Executive Committee and the Board of Trustees. It is not a question of somebody sitting and imposing the idea on the party. It was a collective decision.

Almost everyday and everywhere, there are crises and violence of all sorts with kidnapping, banditry and terrorism being the most popular, what are your fears concerning 2023 general elections, considering what has been going on for a while now?

As far as the PDP is concerned, we need to have a leader who will have control; who will treat everybody equally so that we can be able to move forward. As far as we are concerned, Nigeria does not lack anything. What we lack is leadership.

The PDP has always insisted on restructuring, even Atiku himself has insisted that restructuring is the best solution to this country; if he comes into power, do you see him restructuring Nigeria?

This question is supposed to go to either PDP or Atiku not me. What I am saying is that whatever the PDP decides to do, I stand for it. Whatever Atiku decides to do, I stand for it. They are the people who can answer this particular question.

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There are indications that some forces in the PDP may be working against Atiku Abubakar’s presidential victory. Are there any reconciliation efforts going on within the party?

In politics, it is a good sign when people express their personal opinions, but that doesn’t mean that there is a problem, as against what you and many other political observers may think.

As far as we are concerned, all is well and normal; our candidate is confidently talking with every member of our party and they have been expressing their personal opinions – and have they left the party? No, they are still in the party.

They think that there is a mistake. That is why they are calling for corrections to be made where and when necessary.

If you say Samuel Ortom (Benue State Governor) or Fayose (former Ekiti State Governor) has left the party, then that is when you say that we have a problem as a party.

What has the PDP done in terms of reconciliation, after the primaries?

Reconciliation is still going on. It is not something that we are going to invite the media for. If there is any problem, we resolve it among ourselves and as far as we are concerned, we are trying our best to make sure that everybody gets what he wants.

Fayose was quoted as saying that the Presidency should go to the South. What have you to say about that?

Go and ask him, he was a member of the zoning committee. So whatever recommendation that was made, he was there and the recommendation was taken to the National Working Committee and NEC. So it is unfortunate of him to come around and say such a thing.

He was a member of the committee that made that decision (to throw the presidency open) and I respect him, as former governor.

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As far as I am concerned, the PDP is intact. Our candidate is intact.

Whatever anybody is complaining about, we are in the same party, the same family and if there is any problem, we can resolve it within ourselves.

It is a family matter which I believe our presidential candidate has the capacity to resolve.

Governors in the PDP seem to be taking a back seat and watching some issues going in the party…

(cuts in) In the PDP, we are law-abiding. There is time for us to talk and when not to. Now that we have finished our primaries, we are following the rules of the game.

The umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission has directed that nobody should start campaigning until September.

Do you expect people to start talking now? We are law-abiding.

Do we expect defectors in the PDP in the months ahead?

Didn’t you see what happened in Sokoto? Many people have defected from the All Progressive Congress to the PDP, although we have not even started campaigning yet.

When the campaign starts, you will see what is going to happen. You know in politics it is not too good to be overconfident in whatever you are doing, but as far as we are concerned, we believe God is going to be on our own side because the God that I know and I trust will never allow us (Nigerians) to go back to the APC’s problems in 2023.

More importantly, every Nigerian has a role to play because we don’t have anywhere to go. Are you praying for us to continue like this?

INEC took the decision not to register any political parties again. Are you not worried that only 18 political parties is contesting in the 2023 general elections?

I salute the INEC for taking that decision. Of what use is Nigeria having 30 or 40 political parties? What’s the essence of registering political parties that cannot even deliver one polling unit?

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For deregistering the political parties and leaving the ones that it believes has performed is a welcome idea as having many parties is a waste of money and ballot paper.

This has a huge financial implication because billions of naira will be used for printing ballot paper for parties that have no use.

You could recall that the late legal luminary, Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN), fought the matter at the Supreme Court. It is believed that more political parties give people a sense of belonging…

(Cuts in) For goodness sake, what is the essence of registering parties? That means everybody can go and have their own political party.

We have spent over 20 years in this democracy. I think we should learn to move forward, else we will become a laughing stock to the international community.

In every serious country, there are only two or three political parties, the ruling and the opposition parties. Go to America you will see Republican and Democrats. What is wrong with Nigeria having only two political parties?

What are your fears for the election because of security challenges?

Only two people can answer that question, the Commander in chief (the President) and the INEC chairman.

As a nationalist and elder statesman, what advice will you give that will assist the country to make sure that things are in order?

Everybody should assist the government to bring the situation under control. Security is for everybody. Let us join hands to make sure that we help ourselves. The reality is that helping the government is equivalent to helping ourselves to put things in order.

I believe it is good for all of us to know that this insecurity matter is not a one man show. It is not the government’s problem only but our collective responsibility.

I think we need to realise that whenever we have bandits attacks, there are some people who are aiding them. We should contribute our own quota to control the situation.