ABUBAKAR MOHAMMED is a youth leader and a die-hard member of the PDP. In this interview, he urges PDP delegates to the national convention to elect a candidate with the needed clout to wrestle power from the ruling APC.
The PDP convention holding in Port Harcourt comes up this weekend, and the stakes are high. What do you think Nigerians should expect from it?
With all due respect to the other registered political parties, the core issue in our politics is one: the presidential election of 2019 is going to be a straight contest between the two dominant parties of PDP and APC. It is therefore necessary to remind all Nigerians of goodwill – not just members of the PDP – that what is at stake is the federation called Nigeria. Most accounts continue to point at the fact that the last three years of APC’s governance is a monumental disaster that should not be repeated. Four years ago Nigerians voted for a man seen to personify integrity. In the 2015 election, many PDP members forgot all about partisanship and voted for Muhammadu Buhari as President. Everyone was fascinated with his charisma, his endless promises to turn Nigeria to an Eldorado of sort, the moment he was elected as President.
Less than a year later however, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), a federal government agency, rolled out the facts bare: the administration that promised us three million jobs annually has so mismanaged the economy that more than three million jobs were lost in 2015 alone. By October 2017, almost ten million jobs were lost. Anyone in doubt could check the record in the website of the NBS. Within few months of being elected however, the new government almost doubled the cost of fuel. Naira went from less than two hundred naira to a dollar to about N500 to a dollar for a long stretch. It only stabilized sometime last year to more than double the figure APC met it. Yet, rather than employing corrective measures, the government resorted to oiling the machine of cheap propaganda. The nation is now at the edge of the precipice. All it needs is a little push to go under. Suffice it to say however that Nigeria definitely needs a new beginning. What the country desperately needs is a rescue team that will salvage Africa’s most strategic country. There is no more time to waste. It is with this in mind that I urge the delegates voting at the PDP convention to be very, careful. They must make sure they vote for Nigerians a man who could solve the myriad of problems afflicting the nation.
What are the issues up for consideration?
The major issues at stake are national unity, economic transformation and national security. Ironically, these are the main crests upon which President Buhari campaigned to power. Now that he has failed, even if some people gullibly believe he means well, many Nigerians are looking up to the PDP to provide a solution. Sadly, the large number of people all asking for the party’s one flag for the presidency is appearing alarming to many. It therefore behooves on the party leaders and delegates to make its task easier by answering this question: who, among the multitude of suitors is best suited to provide realistic solutions to the myriad of problems facing the Nigerian nation? The first issue up for consideration is: who can resolve the hydra-headed problem of disunity and make Nigerians of all shades and colors see themselves first as Nigerians before their tribe or religion?
To answer this question, the PDP needs to find out whether in the rank of its presidential suitors there is any who has governed a state that is a true reflection of the diversity of Nigeria. If in the previous or current positions you have held, you were able to successfully navigate diversities, then you have what it takes to get Nigeria out of the woods and unite its people. And since it is necessary to have real hands-on experiences of dealing with such, it is imperative that the person must as much as possible be a leader when the nation was pushed into this quagmire.
Who among the aspirants, fits into this description?
Even at the risk of appearing to take sides, it is clear that the only person possessing this major quality is Gombe’s incumbent Governor, Dr. Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo. The state he governs is a true reflection of the diverse nature of the country. Yet, in seven years as governor, he has been able to weld together the fractious components that make up the heterogeneous state.
What are the other issues you feel the delegates should consider?
It should be the economy. Nigerians are suffering. Jobs are being lost. Basic necessities of life are beyond the reach of the average Nigerian. Is there, among the large number of aspirants, someone who has what it takes to managing scarce resources to achieve big objectives? The answer to this is also not far-fetched. It is still Dankwambo. He is the most educated of the lot. He read accounting and economics. And he is able to achieve unprecedented records of achievements in Gombe, applying very scarce resources. The Gombe governor could easily attract the much-needed foreign direct investment because he belongs to a myriad of globally respected professional bodies that are rooted in accounting and economy. That explains why his tenure as Accountant-General of the federation was rated the most successful ever. Then the next issue is: security. Nigerians need to ask: what is it that Dankwambo did that made Gombe unattractive to Boko Haram, which has ravaged most of the north-eastern plank of the country? Ibrahim Dankwambo went beyond that. He also tackled the Kallare thugs that were killing people at will, in the state. The social re-orientation policies he enrolled ensured that many of these thugs have since thrown away the dangerous weapons with which they were making life a hell for many. A lot of them are now direct beneficiaries of Dankwambo’s noble policies in vocational education that seeks to prepare students for a future of self-reliance. There are several other reasons why Dankwambo is the man fit for the job. No democracy can thrive without opposition. Dankwambo has the distinctive record of being one of few governors who allow unfettered opposition in the state he governs. We all know that a serving APC governor has audaciously made it impossible for his opponent to venture into the state he once governed. With the way opposition politicians are being hounded left right and centre by the federal government, Nigeria needs a leader who has a record of tolerance, and who will not use the anti-corruption or security agencies to unjustly get at his political opponents. Giving Dankwambo the PDP presidential ticket will also greatly please the multitudes who feel it will be unfair to give it to a returner member of the party, who played a key part in its destruction as recently as four years ago.
Don’t you think Dankwambo has some deficiencies that may make him unelectable?
Tell me one person who doesn’t have deficiencies. None of us – in APC or PDP or any other party – is perfect. But you can hardly fault him at his work. He is one leader who has severally sacrificed his yesterday to ensure our today. With Dankwambo as President, Nigeria can be assured that it has a leader who will be in charge; who will not allow any cabal to hijack governance at the expense of the people by holding him hostage.
But the primaries done by delegates, are mostly about who pays the highest…
Allowing money to determine who becomes our next President will be the biggest mistake the PDP will ever make. People have tried that in the past and it never yielded any good fruit. The electorates must never be taken for granted. The delegates should remember that the destiny of Nigeria rests in their hands. If they collect money and allow that to sway them, the money will finish, and posterity will record them as having played a key role in pushing Nigeria to a deep hole. That is one mistake the delegates must avoid.
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