Ahmed Makarfi, chairman of the national caretaker committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), is confident of victory for his party in the 2019 general election but he won’t divulge the “secret” behind his optimism.
In an interview with daily Trust, during which he addressed various issues ranging from last weekend’s Ondo state governorship election to the rebranding of the party, Makarfi said he was not worried by last week’s defection of Idris Umar, a former minister, to the All Progressives Congress (APC), or that of other members elsewhere.
“Since he left as minister, I have never known Sen. Idris Umar, who defected to the APC, to have participated in anything concerning the PDP,” he said.
“There are those that we know [defectors from Ondo state] are one leg here and one leg there. We are not surprised. I am also not surprised at any movement now. It is the movement in 2018 that will bother me. Look, go back to the PDP when it was in power. During the first and second years, there were people coming. But when did the movement that brought the party down occur?
“We should not forget history. There are those who want to join or associate with the central government. They are like the chameleon; they keep on changing colours. The political movement from one party to another that should bother anyone is the movement in the last 12 months before an election. That should bother anybody, and it is yet to come.”
Despite losing the Ondo election to APC, Makarfi said the future holds big things for his party.
“The future of the PDP is very bright,” he said. “We know that it’s not going to be an easy task. We are passing through the worst period you can ever think of, but we will recover.”
He also revealed that the PDP was hopeful of winning the Ondo governorship in court, having seen the election awarded to APC.
“Well, Edo, to me, was manipulated and taken away. That is why we are at the tribunal, and we believe that if good work is done by our counsels at the tribunal, we will remain above board. We believe we are going to win because we have a new judiciary. It is far more responsive, fair and just. I believe our mandate will return to us,” he said.
“When we went to Ondo, there were factors and room for complaints. Some factors were within the control of stakeholders while some were beyond them. Some were external, which we are much aware of. The internal issue relates to state politics and other issues that are really state-based. I really won’t go into details. On external factors, our candidate was finally cleared two days before the election, and to move around the state in two days to cover grounds was a tall order.
“Again, INEC’s position that the submitted list of agents was by the party was a problem. The law stated that they were party agents, not candidate’s, hence they were recognised. This prompted a big question: which party? We didn’t submit the list of agents. Those who took us to court, the Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff camp, just submitted the list of agents, which INEC accepted.
“Naturally, you wouldn’t expect them to be effective agents because the person they wanted was not the one standing for the election. I think INEC should have considered the recent court judgement and given the party the leeway to change its agents if it so desired, thereby escaping from sharing some blames for virtually lack of representation at the polling units.
“Again, if you look the video clip being circulated by Jimoh Ibrahim, where he boasted and gave reasons why they went to court etc, it is clear that it was intended to destabilise the PDP and prevent the candidate from campaigning. So the Modu Sheriff side has spoken, through their candidate, that the reason they were in the race was to prevent the PDP from winning. Even the blind and the dumb can draw a conclusion that very serious anti-party activities took place.
“I was disappointed by the result and what happened; but if you ask me whether I am really bothered as we walk towards 2019, I will tell you I am not. When we had a central government in the PDP, which stand-alone election did we lose? But when the general election came, what happened? So a stand-alone election needs a party with central power to mobilise everything there to come up with a particular result, but when general election comes, you are on your own; there is no gang-up per se. If you are on ground, you are on ground, if you are not, I am sorry. So no matter the difficulty, we will continue participating in elections, believing that when it comes to general elections, the story will be different.”
Asked why he was that sure of a return to power in 2019, he said: “If I tell you that, it will be like disclosing the secret of the PDP and I won’t do that.”
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