Chairman, National Caretaker Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Sen. Ahmed Makarfi in this interview with RUTH CHOJI, speaks on why the party lost the just concluded governorship election in Anambra State, among other issues.
Most people were hopeful that the PDP would win Anambra state but it came third. What went wrong?
We can’t give excuses but since 2013, we as a party have been having problem with Anambra. It is a complex internal issue and it was there before we did the primaries. So, all I can say is that, it is an internal problem but not something exclusive to the primaries. People had a mindset from observations to do what they had decided to do for reasons best known to them. Based on internal problems of Anambbra, a time to write a history of why PDP has been failing in Anambra is not now. Most of us are really aware of what the issues have been and they are still with us. Some don’t consider it as a loss parse, while many others consider it as a loss.
What do you consider it as the National Chairman of the party?
I manage people with different views, quite a large number though I haven’t taken the census but people worked for the outcome to be what it is. Not only at this election but in previous elections, they have been playing this type of politics for a long time. It is a funny thing happening in Anambra. It is a kind of political horse trading here and there, that only they themselves can speak for Anambra and tell you what is going on. The issue is not about PDP losing parse but Anambrarians irrespective of party affiliation decided it comes to this conclusion.
Don’t you think this loss will affect the fortune of the PDP in Ekiti state next year?
We have not been governing Anambra for years. So, it is not a minus, it is not like it was in our hands but slipped away. It slipped away in 2013. The politics of Anambra has been complex, it is all based on their local politics and arrangement. They are in the best position to speak about it.
People like Senator Buruji have blamed you for the outcome of the Anambra elections, do you take the blame?
Well, this has been happening since 2013 and I wasn’t the chairman of the party then. This is not the first time but it is something peculiar to Anambra state. Buruji and his click have been on record to fielding factional candidates when legally we were in control of leadership. They did that in Edo and Ondo states. When they were in position of leadership, we did not field factional candidate in Osun east senatorial district yet we won but it is on record that they were in leadership position and they would not accept party position and fielded factional candidates which lead to us losing both Edo and Ondo. So, who in this case has been undermining the chances of PDP? But Anambra is so special that it is not about Buruji or Makarfi, Anambra is a complex state and it is purely politics at play. We have all been aware of this and there is not much one could do to change the mindset of Anambrarians on matters like this, maybe over time.
What effort is the PDP putting in place to ensure that this kind of thing does not happen in Ekiti state next year?
Well, Ekiti primaries will probably come up in three-four months from now, I won’t be the National chairman of the party then. We should learn from whatever past mistakes we have made. We must run a free, fair and transparent primary because at the end of the day, there will only be one winner. PDP is in all these states we lost elections, but sharp internal division led to our loss in these states and sharp internal division can lead to loss by any political party. If you have such internal division, it can lead to loss of election in any party. Our party must be careful and fair to all.
The PDP set up a committee to reach out to aggrieved members. How has that worked out?
Well, that is why we dissolved some states congresses and held new ones because in those cases, they were all factional. There are two states to go, Osun and Lagos which will be concluded before the elections. So, we have concluded in more or less bringing the party together. There were petitions pending in Kwara State and we are yet to sit on them. The results are yet to be confirmed by the working committee because there were pending petitions, but it shows different factions winning different seats.
The aspirants for the chairmanship position have not been able to reach a consensus, don’t you think this might cause another round of crises at the convention?
No, but if they come to a consensus, it will only shorten the time for the convention. If they don’t do that, nobody is forcing or suggesting to them to come to a consensus. They are free to do so on their own freewill. The leadership of the part is concerned that we elect delegates in a transparent manner and also conduct the elections in a similar manner. Once that is done, winners will emerged without any rancor and once someone loses, he will know he or she has lost because the delegates did not consider him or her as their candidate of choice.
How prepared is the party towards the convention?
We are very much prepared. I can’t give you the details but I can tell you that the delegates will be elected in the remaining 26 states, including the FCT. What we did when we were doing congresses in states we dissolve is that, we also elected national delegates with the exception of Anambra. But soon, we will hold congresses and ensure that National delegates are also elected.
It is no longer news that the PDP has zoned its presidency to the North but Gov. Fayose of Ekiti State (South) has declared his intention to contest the presidency, don’t you think this is undermining the party order?
It is nothing new. When in 2003, the presidency was zoned to the South, people from the North still challenged it, but majority decided to respect the zoning arrangement. During the late Yar’Adua’s time, that equally happened. So, it is not the first time people have challenged zoning. We won’t refuse you your constitutional right. PDP will respect zoning. It is a a political arrangement.
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