A former Minister of Interior and now a Senator representing the Benue South Senatorial District, Senator Aba Moro, speaks with JOHN CHARLES about power rotation, insecurity, and the Peoples Democratic Party’s chances in the 2023 elections
What are the chances of the PDP in the 2023 presidential poll?
I want to say without prejudice to members of the Peoples Democratic Party that the chances of the party winning elections in 2023 are very high because if you look at Nigeria’s political space, it is inundated with complaints of lack of performance on the part of the current government.
Insecurity, for instance, has risen to a high level. If you go back in time, we were only concerned about insecurity in the North-East, as manifested by Boko Haram’s activities.
But today in Nigeria, there are multi-layer security problems. You have kidnapping on the rise, robbery and all manner of criminal activities, especially by the bandits in the country. Nigerians can no longer sleep with their eyes closed.
Another thing is that infrastructural deficits have been on the increase, the health system is collapsing and our educational system has collapsed. For almost six months now, the Academic Staff Union of Universities has been on strike and students have been at home. There is no hope when they are going to return to school. Poverty is on the increase. Many Nigerians today cannot afford one square meal a day and begging has become the order of the day.
Quite frankly, the situation is so bad that Nigerians are yearning for a change, The PDP was not very good according to the estimation of Nigerians, but the APC government is abysmally worse and Nigerians are now yearning for the devil you know is better than the angel you don’t know. The toga of change that the All Progressive Congress wore to come to power has become a mirage.
So I think that given the level of mobilisation and level of agitation across the country, I think the chances of the PDP winning the coming election are very high. I want to tell you that Nigerians are looking for anything other than the APC.
If you look at the Nigerian political situation and of all the political parties that are around, the PDP presents a better alternative than any other political party. Of course, we just witnessed an election in Osun State. The result is very clear. What is left for the PDP is to put its house in order.
But your party, the PDP, appears to be mired in a stalemate over a running mate. How do you feel about this?
It is a little unfortunate that we have a crisis in the running mate choice. The fact that a committee was set up and the committee made its recommendation didn’t help matters, especially when the committee’s recommendation was not accepted.
By and large, running mates, whether for governorship or presidential positions, are appointed, not elected, so it is the prerogative of the candidate to pick the person he can run with. The person he believes can help him win the election and run the government. That is what has happened in the case of the PDP. Yes, it has not gone down well with the majority of our party members and they are not too happy with the situation, but that is what we have on our hands.
The person who has been picked is a Nigerian, a serving governor and a member of the PDP, so I want to hope that the person that is wanted by the majority of the PDP members has not been picked. I think at the end of the day, the crisis will simmer down.
In the party and country’s interest, I want to hope that the leadership of the party can resolve the crisis and we will be able to come together as one body, a united party. The PDP is seen as one big family. All of us agreed to belong to the party, and I am sure that all patriotic Nigerians that are in the PDP will not allow disagreement of that nature to derail our desire to rescue Nigeria and rebuild the country.
As one of the leaders in the Benue South Senatorial District, there has been agitation from that zone to have the governorship seat rotate to the area, but the Tiv brothers and sisters resisted this. What is the fate of the zone?
Let me say that I am the Senator representing Benue South Senatorial district. We have elder statesmen like Senator David Mark, who is our leader and mentor, and other political gladiators too.
I want to say that the people of the zone feel neglected and sidelined when it comes to the issue of becoming governor of Benue State. I don’t subscribe to the idea of marginalisation. I would rather say neglected and not widely accepted to be governor.
Like the state governor had said, the Benue South senatorial district people have not done enough to inspire confidence in the mind of the majority of Tiv people to present a governorship candidate in the state.
It is a very sad development, but that is what I call the tyranny of the majority. In a democracy the majority will always have their way and the minority will always have their say. That is what is manifesting in Benue State and it is a little unfortunate because the people of Benue South senatorial district feel short-changed in the political process, but again, that is the reality of democracy.
While we feel sad about what is happening, I want to say that we will continue to struggle and work very hard to ensure that one of us becomes the Benue State governor to contribute our quota to the development of the state and to have a sense of belonging so we can say that we are also part and parcel of the state holding.
As a senator representing the district, I have a very huge challenge of providing a legislative intervention so that the zoning that is embedded in the constitution of the PDP is respected. I also have a very huge challenge and responsibility to also provide the legislative intervention that will make it possible for the entrenchment of effective rotation in the governance process such that governorship will rotate among the senatorial districts.
Frankly, I am an apostle of the rotation of the presidency to the South and North. That will restore the level of sanity and stability in our political process and it will also bring some level of unity to the country. If you know that as a Nigerian or as a Benue State person, one day you can assume the leadership of your community, then you have a very strong sense of belonging. This is one thing people of Benue South senatorial district have been clamouring for and I want to say that it is not yet Uhuru but all hope is not lost as long as we human beings continue to make our contributions in the political process.
I want to believe that one day, the majority of Benue people, including the Tiv people, will realise that a time has come for us in Benue South senatorial district to be supported to govern the state. I think that way we will join hands to develop the state and it will happen.
There have been security challenges in the country, particularly in Benue State. How serious are the killings in Benue?
Insecurity in the country and Benue State has been very serious. Recently, there was an attack at Igama in the Okpokwu Local Government Area where 12 people were killed.
Also, at Orokam in the Ogbadibo Local Government Area of the state, two people, including a councillor-elect, were killed. It is a very sad development.
Recall that we have had several attacks in Benue South senatorial district, particularly in Agatu and Apa councils and also at Emosu, where 22 people have been killed in the recent past. It is a problem that is endemic in Benue State, particularly in the Benue South senatorial district.
It is a source of concern for all of us. I, along with other community leaders and the state government, have been very much concerned about killings in the state and we are working hard to make sure that history does not continue to repeat itself.
We have been encouraging security agencies to be more proactive than reactive because what has happened in the past is that when an attack occurred, security agencies rushed to the place to calm the situation, and that is what it is.
I agree that our security agents are thinned out and they don’t have the numbers to tackle the problem as it is, but I can assure you that everything is being done to ensure that these killings stop.
The theoretical postulation that has been put forward for the reason for crime and criminality is part of bad governance; part of extreme poverty that has made it impossible for Nigerians to live the way they want to lead their lives, hence, making them turn to criminality.
However, it is not only in Nigeria that people don’t have access to means of livelihood. I think sufficient intelligence must be undertaken to know exactly what is happening in Nigeria. The general view at home and abroad, among the international community, is that the government is not doing enough to provide for its citizens, and that is why some people take to crime.
Is it true that herdsmen have taken over some communities?
I have not taken statistics on that, but I don’t think that some communities are occupied by herdsmen today. Yes, herdsmen have always been part of our existence; they have always lived with us. I don’t think that translates to being taken over.
I can always say at the moment with information available to me that herdsmen have been attacking some communities in the state and Benue South senatorial district, but I don’t have any history of outright occupation of communities in the state.