There will be no PDP in the North if President seeks re-election’-Kaita

Former governor of the old Kaduna State, Alhaji Lawal Kaita,is a founding member of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. In this interview with JAMES DANJUMA in Katsina, he speaks on the crises in the PDP among other issues affecting the party and Nigeria in general. Excerpts:
What are your views on the crises in the PDP especially with the creation of the New PDP?

Let’s put the issue in proper perspective. The ‘New PDP’ if you were following very closely, was started at the convention of the PDP. Some delegates from certain states walked out of the convention. Some delegates from Rivers for instance were refused entry. Some delegates from Adamawa State were refused entry. Even some from Kano were refused entry. This led to infuriation as to why delegates of states like Plateau or Kaduna, who were brought in by their governors, should be allowed to enter when those brought in by the Adamawa governor for example, should be refused entry. That was the beginning, though the intention then was not to form a new party. Those that walked out did so believing that President Goodluck Jonathan, Bamanga Tukur and so on, would call them and reconcile their differences.
Those that walked out had something against Tukur, the chairman of the party. Those that walked out ought to have been coaxed and consoled as they cannot afford to lose votes from these states. Where are you going to get votes if you are fighting against a merger of opposition parties like the All Progressives Congress, APC? So the intention was to repair. The governors have grievances; they have aired these grievances. They were supposed to have been called and taken action on these grievances. That’s what should have been done.

There are suggestions that the crises in the PDP was due to Atiku Abubakar’s ambition to contest for the presidency in 2015. What are your views about this?
My reaction is that people don’t know what the true state of the situation is. They just make conjectures and guesses. Already in the ‘New PDP,’ there is Sule Lamido of Jigawa State, who Chief Olusegun Obasanjo had endorsed to become the next president, he and Governor Rotimi Amaechi. So, how can Atiku come and say he wants to become the next president, when one of the governors is interested in the seat? So it is not the reason. The reason is the governors, Atiku and others are not well regarded by the party.

The secretariat opened by the ‘New PDP’ was recently sealed up by the police. Do you see this affecting the ongoing reconciliation process in the party?
The action will definitely affect the reconciliation effort in the PDP.

What should be the next step in order to ensure a smooth reconciliation process?
That is what the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Tony Anenih, spoke about recently. Some of the good elders within the PDP are doing everything possible to repair the damage, while the chairman of the PDP, Tukur is trying to get people arrested, thus undermining the peace process. For peace to be attained, the price has to be his head; he has to go. There is no two ways about it, if there is going to be any meaningful reconciliation, he has to go.
But there are speculations that Tukur as PDP chairman would serve to counter Atiku’s ambition and same time protect the interest of President Jonathan ahead of 2015?
I have heard of this too, but I know Tukur cannot contain Atiku in Adamawa. And this has been proven as even the governor of Adamawa is against Tukur. He has to go; Atiku and Jibril Aminu from the state want him to go. That may be their intention, but I guess Atiku is a stronger, clever politician than their bunch.

Is it also possible to say that the PDP crises have to do with the North’s intention to produce the next president?
We intend to have a president from the North in 2015 and he can come on the PDP platform or any platform. We don’t hide it; we’ll do everything humanly possible to get the presidency. We will even break away from the PDP if possible and join another party so that we get a Northerner into the presidency.

What would be the North’s position in the event President Jonathan decides to seek re-election in 2015?
There would be no PDP in the North. It’s that simple.

Are you thinking of an alternative party like the APC?
As things develop, people would know. If you read Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso’s interview on the issue recently, he said ‘We may go to APC’, because our intention is to ensure the North gets the presidency.

The Ijaws, who are the President’s kinsmen, have threatened to break away from Nigeria should Jonathan’s ambition be frustrated in 2015. What is your take on this?
They can’t do it. Who are the Ijaw people when they are but a minority group in the country? They even threatened to blow up the oil wells in their area. They are just talking.

The PDP said it will rule Nigeria for the next 60 to 100 years. Looking at the challenges facing the party, would you agree with this assertion?
Whoever made this statement is very irresponsible. It’s an irresponsible statement. They are being told now that they can’t do so because the problem within the PDP now is enough to tear it apart.

You recently said that Governor Ibrahim Shema’s closeness to the President is not something many people in the state are happy about. Can you elaborate on this?
Governor Shema can think for himself and decide what is good or bad for him and the state. But what we are saying is that as a governor, he ought to work in tandem with the wishes of his people. What the generality of his people want should be his guiding principle. From our own assessment, the people of Katsina are not in favour of supporting Jonathan in any way. So, what we are saying is that he is not carrying us, Katsinawa, his own constituents, along.

There have been calls on the opposition to replace the PDP come next general elections. The call is based on the socio-economic challenges that have continued to face Nigerians since PDP assumed power in 1999.
There is opportunity for the opposition to rule Nigeria if the PDP does not seem to be living to the expectation of the people.

You and other PDP members have reportedly been the brain behind the reviving of late Shehu Yar’Adua’s Peoples Democratic Movement, PDM. What do you hope to achieve by this being that you are still PDP members?
PDM was originally not a party, it was an association. We are already in PDP and will remain in PDP. We will fight Jonathan in the new or old PDP, not in PDM.

What are your views about calls by some Nigerians for a national conference?
I haven’t got much feeling about it either way. But to my mind, when you have representatives at the National Assembly all duly elected, if you bring them together, they would constitute a genuine national conference. This should be better than going about electing or nominating a new bunch of people.

National Mirror
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