Governor of Oyo State, Seyi Makinde, has disclosed that former Vice President Atiku Abubakar; Governor of Bauchi State, Bala Mohammed; and Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal, have indicated interest to contest for president in the 2023 general elections.
Makinde said they are among the “eminently qualified” personalities in the Peoples Democratic Party that can lead the country successfully.
Makinde said, “I make bold to say that the situation in this country today, the only way that you can stop PDP at the federal level is by dividing PDP internally. All the governors of the PDP are well aware of this fact and we made unity within ourselves our number one priority. Once the governors of PDP are able to move in one direction, align on most of the issues and the challenges we are faced with, I think there is hope for this country.
“The issue right now is that our party — PDP — has eminently qualified personalities that can lead this country successfully. Some have indicated interest, like former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, like Governor Tambuwal, like Governor Bala Mohammed. They have indicated interest. But the bottom line is when we get to that bridge, we will definitely cross it. What is important at this stage, which I will solicit the support of PDP members and the generality of Nigerians, is please support us to have a successful national convention
“There is no way you can become anything — president, vice-president, even governor — if we don’t have a party. What we want to do first is ensure that we get things right within our party.”
Nigerians to determine PDP’s victory
On the possibility of the PDP took over power from the All Progressives Congress in 2023, the governor said, “Well, it is a question that I know Nigerians will answer and they will answer decisively.”
PDP not mounting pressure on Secondus
Makinde also denied that members of the PDP Governors’ Forum are mounting pressure on the outgoing National Chairman of the PDP, Uche Secondus, to withdraw his case against the party from the court.
He also denied having presidential or vice-presidential ambition in the 2023 general elections.
This is just as the governor stated that members of the PDP who have failed to deploy the internal dispute resolution mechanism of the party before dragging it before courts, especially towards frustrating the forthcoming national convention, should not be allowed to benefit from the party.
Responding to a question on the likely effect of the case instituted by Secondus on the forthcoming national convention of the PDP, Makinde said, “This is a democratic party. We believe in the judiciary. By all means, he can go ahead with his case. But we have mechanisms internally for the party to resolve issues within ourselves and I still believe that that mechanism is still there.”
When asked to confirm the report that PDP governors were pressurising Secondus to stop the legal action, he said, “We cannot put pressure on him. These are adults; these are leaders in their own rights. When you are leading a state, it does not happen just like that. No. You must have gone through a process. You must have been scrutinised by people of your state before you are deemed fit to occupy the status or position of a state governor.”
On the allegation that Secondus was unfairly treated, Makinde said, “This is somebody that, at the inception of this Fourth Republic, he was the chairman of the party in Rivers State. Then, he moved from Rivers to the national (leadership). He was the National Organising Secretary of the party. He was Deputy National Chairman. He was Acting Chairman and he was the National Chairman. I would think that he has benefitted so much from the party and the least we expected from him was to really give back to the party and be a stabiliser for the party.”
The governor said if he was in Secondus’ shoes, “I would listen to the voice of reasoning.”
Secondus is challenging his removal as National Chairman of the PDP in court.
Why PDP aspirants were disqualified
When asked about the disqualification of three PDP leadership aspirants especially when the party had once pardoned its members of similar offences, Makinde said, “At some points, you have to draw the line. Yes, it’s people have been doing things in the past and they have been getting away with it. But there has to be a point where the party will have to say, ‘Enough of this!’
“You have the internal mechanism of the party to settle any issues that you may have. Besides, what exactly are we trying to do? We are trying to send a message to Nigerians: we are going towards the general elections in 2023 and we need to let Nigerians know that this is a party that will stand for discipline, unity, and a party that they should look up to whenever they are thinking of how to fix the problems that we are in. And we cannot do that in an atmosphere of impunity.”
“We have put all of that behind us; that was before the PDP zonal congress. We are done with the zonal congress. It has come and gone. I am going to be at Governor Fayose’s son’s wedding on Saturday,” he said.
According to the governor, it is the first time in the history of the PDP and political parties in Nigeria where a party is about to hold an elective convention, and out of the 21 positions to be contested, and about 16 have been settled through consensus including the national chairmanship position.
He said, “We need to tell Nigerians that first we are disciplined and second, this is a party that is ready to unify this country. What more can we prove? If all the various stakeholders across the geopolitical zones in this country; if they are coming together and saying that one of the basic problems that we have to face and fix from 2023 is the issue of (dis)unity in this country…we have never been this divided since I became an adult and started following things in this country…then, it is a big thing that we gave to fix. And if we as a party are demonstrating that we can come together and settle our issues without going to the field to slug it out.”
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