The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Prince Uche Secondus, speaks with OLUSOLA FABIYI on national issues, especially the governorship election in Ekiti State and security problems confronting the nation
A few days ago, the Presidency released the number of people killed as a result of insurgency and by herdsmen, claiming that more people were murdered when the PDP was in power than those killed in the last three years of the All Progressive Party government. What’s your reaction to this?
The primary duty of any government is to protect lives and property. Without safety, there would be no development. So, this government has failed in this area, which is the most critical of all its duties. It is worrisome that instead of waking up to its constitutional duties, it is busy comparing the government that has the worst case of avoidable killings than its own. That analogy is barbaric and it is absolutely wide off the mark. It is sad that the government is politicising killings in this country.
Politics apart, do you agree that more people were actually killed when the PDP was in power or not?
If we go back down memory lane, it was only in the North-East and Borno State, in particular, that we had security problems. But now, things have gone worse. The killings are going on unchallenged everywhere. From Plateau to Benue, from Zamfara to Kogi, from Adamawa to Borno, people are being killed and the Presidency is busy taking inventory of its citizens killed under its leadership. Is that not shameful and ungodly? For any government to do any comparison is a total failure on its part.
Can the killings be stopped at all?
From 2015, we can see that the President appointed his cronies to sensitive security positions as service chiefs. You can see the display of nepotism, display of loyalty to the President instead of Nigeria. That means the security architecture that he came on board with has completely failed. Things must change. Governors have called for a change; the National Assembly has called for a change and eminent Nigerians and even ordinary people on the streets have called for a radical change.
Is the President listening?
He seems not to be perturbed. So, something is off beam. This is why I’m calling for an international inquest into the killings so that the international community can come unbiased. This is because the Federal Government has started blaming politicians for the killings. This is the same government that said the killers are from Libya, and that they are part of Boko Haram. They have now changed the narrative. They are now saying politicians are herdsmen. It is just a mere ploy to frame politicians and get them locked up. They even do that to members of their political party who do not share their ideas. They are doing that to us as well. They have left the substance and are now diverting attention from the truth. This country has collapsed in the hands of the President.
Will the call for restructuring address this matter?
It is part of it and that’s why the people are asking for some level of self-determination. It was practised during the First Republic. It was there during the regional government. The people made laws and they governed themselves with those laws. They were in charge of their security and destiny. So, we support restructuring. It is part of what will solve our problems. The Presidency and the National Assembly must be part of it. The APC brought it; they said they would support it and we are also ready to give our support. We are in support of it. The APC came up with it and we saw that it was a good agenda. It is not everything that we will oppose just because we are in the opposition. If the APC comes up with a good agenda and we see it as good, then we will back it.
But the President recently said those clamouring for restructuring have their own agenda…
Is he saying he does not share the views expressed by his party? The President is always speaking out of context. He is a lone ranger and not a team player. It may be that the report of the APC committee on restructuring is dead.
What are the chances of your party in the July 14 governorship election in Ekiti State?
We are on the ground in the state. Governor Ayo Fayose has performed very well and the people of the state are solidly behind him and our party. We have almost a 100 per cent chance of winning. However, we have warned on many occasions that both the Independent National Electoral Commission and some security agencies are interested in rigging the election for the APC. They have done that in past for the APC as we saw during the rerun election in Rivers State. It was glaring that some INEC officers were colluding with security agencies to rig. If they do that in Ekiti State, that can precipitate crisis. Right now, Nigeria is sitting on a keg of gunpowder. In other words, the country is divided by killings; the country is depressed. We are in pain. The only thing that can bring succour to the people is for the government to conduct free, fair and credible elections. We are calling on the President to conduct a free and acceptable election in Ekiti State. The security should not deceive the people. We have heard about the preloading of card readers and plans to stuff ballot boxes with voting papers and so forth. We also heard about the printing of results sheets handed over to the APC in advance. INEC should come out openly and state its readiness. If they try to rig in Ekiti, then, we will not have confidence in the other elections, including the 2019 general elections. That means the country should forget 2019. This can cause a problem in the country. We don’t want such problems.
If the election is free and fair and your party loses, will you accept the result?
Let the election be free and fair first. If it is free and fair, we will win and we are going to win.
But some prominent members of your party defected to other political parties in the state.
You know the strategy of the APC. Every day, they come up with newspaper publications that this one has defected, the other one has moved. They want to deceive the people, but we will refuse to be deceived. Nobody is defecting. When they say 400 have defected, who are they? Why can’t they mention names?
But the former National Publicity Secretary of your party, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, defected.
Yes, he was a contestant for the governorship position. After the primary, he declared that it was the best primary ever conducted. However, a few days after, he left the party. That means he had double loyalty to the party. He said the primary was the first in the state. He was on tape. He later turned around to say he can’t work with Fayose and the party. But he didn’t fault the conduct of the primary. INEC should just give us a free, fair, credible and acceptable election. What APC is doing is what I would describe as media vibes. They are saying some people have defected without mentioning those that left. It is part of their rigging strategy.
But Senator Fatimat Raji-Rasaki also left.
She is an individual. How does an individual amount to 400? All these people are those who lost grounds before. They are not in touch with the grass roots. The people of Ekiti, who are on the ground, are for the PDP and those are the people who will vote. They are the people that matter.
What is your reaction to the claims by the Federal Government that it was planning to spend funds looted by the late military dictator, Gen Sani Abacha, on the poorest of the poor?
Didn’t the President claim that Abacha never stole any money? The President does not know what he says. This government is a wasteful one. They came in 2015, and it took them about six or eight months to constitute the cabinet. In other words, government was not in place. Buhari was not working six months after he was elected. This is the result we are getting today. Now, everything about the Abacha loot is a deceit. Who does he want to deceive? He wants to take or use it for election. Where in this world do you spend government money without budgeting for it? If you recover money from Abacha or any other person for that matter, put it in the budget. He wants to take it for election. He wants to deceive Nigerians. Did you see him in Lagos to commiserate with the people over the fire incident that led to the deaths of many people and more than 50 cars burnt? No, he will not go there because he is a sectional leader. This is an insensitive President. He does not care about the life of an ordinary Nigerian.
But he was in Bauchi over the rainstorm. Why would you say he doesn’t care about the life of an ordinary Nigerian?
He chooses where to go, and he likes going to where his people are. He has succeeded in dividing the country. Anything that happens in the South, he doesn’t go but when things happen in his state or area, he goes there.
What type of presidential candidate should we be expecting from the PDP?
We are going to offer the country the best. We will give them capable hands. The contest is open and we are waiting for everybody. We will give the country the best capable hands that will unite the country, fight corruption, work on the economy and have a solid team that Nigerians will be proud of.
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