The former Chairman of the National Caretaker Committee of the People’s Democratic Party, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, in this interview, speaks on the recent convention of the party, his presidential ambition and the return of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar to the PDP.
What were the challenges that you and your committee faced while planning the just concluded convention?
About ten states had no executives from ward to state level. Some were dissolved at the previous non-elective convention. Oyo never had one even before the non-elective convention. The first major challenge was having ward, local government and state executives in these states. Factionalization and in-fighting had sharply divided the party and made it impossible for it to function as a unit. In all the affected states except Osun, we were able to conduct these congresses. That is not to say that there were no lingering issues but we overcame and that enabled those states to participate in the convention.
Also, funding was an issue. We largely depended on those who volunteered to serve in committees and sub-committees who had to make a lot of sacrifices. Their welfare was not taken care of by the party but their love for the party made them to provide services without remuneration.
Of course the issue of micro-zoning took so much effort to resolve before the convention. It is unfortunate but that was all in the spirit of people exercising their fundamental right to aspire and contest for positions. The Caretaker Committee under my leadership never felt offended but our position was that we were guided by what the constitution of the party expected us to do and we were not going to go beyond that. Most of the issues of micro-zoning were basically political issues and not issues we were duty bound to enforce.
The emergence of Prince Uche Secondus is seen as the product of the overwhelming influence of state governors who allegedly forced the hands of delegates. People point to the emergence of the so-called Unity List as an example of the influence of the governors. Do you share this position?
No, I don’t. First of all, we have eleven governors and the delegates from the states were about 1, 000 while the total number of accredited delegates was 2, 000. The National Chairman got about 2, 000 votes. Assuming every delegate from the governors’ controlled states voted for him, that is just 1, 000 votes but he equally got same number from other delegates. If you have a government, you have more delegates because you have official delegates. That shows that the outcome of the election was as a result of political negotiation which carried overwhelming majority of people across Nigeria.
On the issue of Unity List, apart from maybe the first convention of the PDP, all subsequent conventions had lists. They were not official lists of the party. Let’s even go back to campus politics. In campus politics, you go into alliances. Alliance A may have people gunning for different positions and they come together to form a bloc and may have a list of who they want their supporters to go for. Another group may also have the people they want to vote for. Any group that is able to be dominant may have all their candidates elected.
The issue of list was the result of political negotiations by aspirants who came together to form blocs and canvass for votes. It was mere political negotiations by people seeking votes. It happens everywhere. If you look at the recent convention of the African National Congress in South Africa, the delegates were split down the line for those who support Jacob Zuma and those who were opposed to him. You can’t stop that in any political arrangement. It has been going on in the PDP and it is not an instruction from the party because if it was, the other candidates would not have gotten any votes.
Some people have set up what they called ‘Fresh PDP’ in reaction to the outcome of the convention. Do you find this worrisome?
It is worrisome in the sense that it is an avoidable nuisance. You can’t even recognize any face or any name. I read somewhere one of them saying they had the support of a chieftain of the APC from one of the south western states. Let’s get serious. People who cannot afford rent in Nyanya can