Abba Gana Bukar is a founding member of PDP in Borno State. In this interview with CHIBUZO UKAIBE, he speaks on the crisis rocking the party in the state.
PDP does not appear strong in Borno State, is there any strategic plan that you are making to win in the state in the forthcoming election?
I will say yes but no.
How do you mean?
This is because the crises have become too many. And they are not localised. They are induced by the national leadership. So, you can imagine how such a party can form government when the national leadership has certain interest which is destroying the party. We, at the local level have tried. In any society, you have the elders. In the case of our party we have members of the BoT and financiers of the party and those who brought the party to the state.
But the national leadership is saying they don’t know them. But they allowed someone, who has no supporters to come from outside and take over the party leadership. These peoooe have been jumping from one party to the other. I don’t know what reason they are giving but they are there and the national party is using them for interest.
Who are these people?
It is actually the national chairman because as we were told, the national secretary and deputy national chairman were at logger heads with the chairman because they insisted that the rule of law should be followed. Sometimes he will give instructions that Zana Gadama should go and act in Borno state. I don’t know how they are going to form government, not just in Borno but in Nigeria. The future of the party is bleak now. It doesn’t have a future the way it is going now.
There seems to be too many conflicts in PDP in Borno State. From your perspective, can you paint a picture of what is going on? How many factions or groups are laying claim to the leadership of PDP in the state?
There are two factions. The first faction is recognized by the court, judgment of federal high court in Maiduguri. The other faction is favoured by the national leadership of the party.
There is the Usman Maimalari and his exco and the Zana Gadama and his exco. Gadama is not the chairman but he went ahead to form his executive in the 27 local government areas of the state because of the court judgment. I believe in Nigeria the court judgements, even from a customary court should be obeyed. We need to respect the rule of law because without it there wouldn’t be peace in the society not to talk of having PDP.
And now PDP wants to come back to power when it recognizes groups that don’t respect rule of law. If they come back to power is this how they will run government where there is no rule of law and a total disregard for a high court judgement for that matter? So I see no light. Actually, not only in Borno state which is just one small size of the country but it is going on across the country.
The national leadership of the party you have to be neutral. Even if you have a candidate in mind, you cannot impose him on the people. You can go underground and campaign, and at the end of the day if the delegates vote for him fine and good. But what we have now is that you allow people purchase forms and from somewhere you invite another person to take it. Ahead of the convention there was a report that in three states they didn’t know the delegates that would attend. Borno was inclusive.
The deadline for submitting names of candidate is close, who is the governorship candidate of the PDP in Borno?
We have three candidates, namely former minister power and steel, Barrister Mohammed Wakil; Abba Kyari; Mohammed Imam, a former education commissioner under Ali Modu Sheriff. These are the three contenders in PDP. But Wakil and Kyari are on the same page because they recognize the state chairman who has the federal high court judgement. But Imam is with Gadama, they are in same camp. The two camps held parallel primaries. But Kyari withdrew from the race because he felt whichever way he goes it is an illegality being that the other person has INEC and police. While the other side doesn’t have INEC but had security. So, he felt he could not associate himself with them and he was confused. So, he decided to pursue his mandate through the appropriate channels. So, he wrote to the national headquarters.
In other words your party may end up not having a governorship candidate?
As I am speaking to you know, Maimalari has gone back to the court. Wakil is also going back to court. And you know that INEC is expecting a combined list of governorship candidates from the country. I believe that even if they submit the name of the other aspirant, at the end of the day the court will make it null and void because Gadama is not the chairman. He doesn’t have powers to conduct primaries.
He cannot parade himself as a chairman. So, if he doesn’t have that basis constitutional power. I don’t think he will go and conduct something that will stand. It will definitely fail.
How well has the elders tried to Intervene and solve the problem or have they given up?
They have tried, and as at now they are frustrated. Even before the congress in October last year, they were asked to sign a bond so that peace could prevail after the congress. They signed the bond that they would go for free and fair congress and that whoever emerged winner, the loser would accept and work with him to form a formidable team and help the party win in 2019. But unknown to us they had another agenda. Immediately they lost the congress they rushed to the headquarters and Makarfi announced them as winners of the congress. Our elders tried to meet Makarfi then but he refused to give them audience then. He wouldn’t listen to them. He told us to forget about the chairman and think of any other post aside the secretary. And you can imagine that you won an election and someone that isn’t even from your state is dictating to you that you have to dance to their tunes. So, all the BoT members from the state wrote to him on their position and he said he wouldn’t read it. We came to the party three times and we met him with Abdul Ningi at the PDP national secretary and he still insisted that he cannot reverse what he had said earlier.
Was that position carried over to the new leadership?
Have you met the present leadership on this same issue and what was the response?
Our BoT has met him and he referred the matter to the national secretary and the zonal chairman of the party that they should find a lasting solution to the issue. So, they held meetings and wrote to him, recognizing him as chairman of the state party after they felt a court judgement has recognised him. But shortly after, there was another letter from the national organizing secretary. So, the reconciliation move has been made several times without success. This is politics, you can do whatever you want to do but you need people.
Now that it has come to this point, are you considering defection?
Sincerely, that is the next option because we are created by God and he differentiated us from animals by giving us sense of reasoning to make a good living for ourselves, politics inclusive. If at all you are doing something for 20 years and there is no hope, it is better to forget about it. As I am speaking to you now, for us, PDP is dead and I assure you that it will be dead. Take my word or leave it, we can’t allow PDP to exist again, except they reverse it. If they don’t want, the legal battle will continue and we will ask all our supporters from the grassroots to stand down and forget about PDP and join another political party and vote a good governor that will lead the state. Borno is in crisis and Nigerians need to be sympathetic and have some feelings for us. We expect PDP at the national level to look at us with concern and reconsider not putting more salt to the wound in the state. So, they are not talking to us and I can assure you if that is the way they are going, they cannot form the national government at the center. And I believe all the other states under the PDP will be lost because the injustice is too much.
I am advising them to look inwards because we in PDP in Borno took the party wholeheartedly believing it is one of the major parties to belong. We have never shortchanged PDP since 1999 till date. So, I see no reason why someone will come from outside to reap where he didn’t sow. It is unfortunate that we cannot take advantage of the failing APC in the state because we were hoping in the last few months that PDP would bounce back.
But with this development it is better for the APC to carry on even with its problems.
But how would you feel after building a house the houseboy you hired sacks you from the house?
They will not chase us out. What we are saying is that we will make the house uncomfortable for them. They will leave by themselves.
So, what happens to the defection?
Yes, we are defecting but others are staying back. The party chairman recognised by the court is not defecting with us, Mohammed Wakil is not defecting with us. He has to wait and fight for his mandate. Meanwhile, we have our supporters. A political party is formed by people. No matter how beautiful a party is when you don’t have the supporters, it is useless. So, we will withdraw our people and leave the party executives to keep fighting.
If you say APC and PDP are not doing, where will you go?
We believe that there are over 90 political parties, we will select one.
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