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p16 edited interview

p16 edited interview How I’ll make PDP a force in 2019 – Juta By Abbas Jimoh Former governor of old Gongola State and national chairmanship…

p16 edited interview

How I’ll make PDP a force in 2019 – Juta

By Abbas Jimoh

Former governor of old Gongola State and national chairmanship aspirant of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Ambassador Wilberforce Juta, said in this interview in Abuja that the PDP needs him to strategise for 2019. Excerpts:

Why are you still in the PDP when many of the party’s founding fathers have left?

There were many reasons why many left. No matter how good, human beings have got their frailties, ups and downs. I follow philosophies, not people. So, if people are wrong, I watch them. For those who want to lead the PDP, I always say that if the PDP will survive in their hands, let them take over. As it is now, I am ready to come and join hands with those who want to help the party go further. I do not believe in jumping from one party to the other in search of whatever it is that makes people jump so. I am a PDP member. I know the philosophy of the party, I believe in the party’s vision and I abide by it.

Many believe that political parties in Nigeria lack ideologies, how can you believe in your party’s vision?

No, that is not true. One thing about us, Nigerians, is that we are good in crafting laws and constitutions, but do not do any better in implementing these laws. I believe that our parties have philosophies, but those who fly the flags of these parties do not abide or represent these philosophies. It is just like saying that ‘politics is a dirty game.’ Politics is not dirty. The people who play it are [the ones who make it so]. If you believe in a political party, why run away when the party loses an election? That alone says all about your belief in the party’s philosophy. We have had Barnabas Gemade, Solomon Lar, Ahmadu Ali, Audu Ogbe and a number of others who have passed through the party, but the party is still there.

You are one of the contestants for the national chairmanship position of the PDP, why are you interested in a party that seems disorganised?

Granted, the PDP got a hit during the last presidential election and is being dragged in the mud by the present administration. But, notwithstanding, we cannot abandon the party. The party needs me to bring her aggrieved members back into her fold, build morale again and return that feeling of family for the interest of the nations’ democracy.

How do you want to do this?

We must take our census again, by beginning a re-registration of party members. We need to know how many have left, why they left, how we can replace them if they do not want to return and update the party’s register. We will get the people involved. The party needs money to run and it is the members of the party who will take that responsibility. In many countries, political parties depend on its members’ goodwill and the dues they pay and the cost of membership cards. This is the only way we can fortify our ranks, pay workers in the party secretariat and, as a result, help the party succeed. Yes, we have been dragged in the mud after the presidential election loss last year, but we must not despair. We will return the party’s glory. True, our politics today, unlike when Obasanjo was in power, is the winner-takes-all brand of politics. Back when the PDP was in power, politics was participatory. We did it for a reason-to give everyone, both the ruling and the opposition a sense of belonging. I will begin by bringing about healing, reconciliation and rejuvenation of the party.

The PDP is strategising for 2019 and it will begin now. Best of all, we will begin with internal democracy which some mercenaries who came into the party did not care about, before imposing people on the citizenry. Power belongs to the people and the party and my leadership will guarantee that.

Can you mention your political experiences?

I began taking interest in politics when I was a child. When I grew and went to secondary school, we were still a part of whatever the political party was doing. Also, when I was in the university, I had an affinity for politics, but I was a democrat. I was quite positively inclined to the political views of late President Robert Kennedy and, when he was killed, I was grieved beyond words. In 1978, when politics came back after the military regime, I joined the GNPP as a gubernatorial contestant. I narrowly lost to late Barde (who went on to become the governor) and I was taken as his running mate. In early 1983, I took over from Barde as the second civilian governor of the new Gongola State, until the end of 1983, when the GNPP lost to the NPN and Bamanga Tukur took over as governor. I handed over to Tukur on October 1, 1983, and, on December 31, 1983, the coup which brought military regime of Buhari and Idiagbon to power took place. The regime brought a lot of trouble for politicians of all kinds. We were all put in chains and clamped in prison in 1984. I was detained in Yola for 14 weeks, before we were moved to Kirikiri Maximum Prisons. We stayed there from February to early March, before we were scattered all over. I ended up at the Kaduna Prison, where I spent two years. In 1993, I became the coordinator of the Abiola/Kingibe campaign organisation. Abiola’s campaign was launched in my house in Yola and, in the end, we won, but it was annulled for whatever reason. We did not give up, we continued to campaign and, when Abdulsalami Abubakar lifted the ban on politics in 1998, we all converged on Abuja same year, where we formed a strong political party which most Nigerians will belong to. That was how the G-34 members formed the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). In August that year, the PDP was launched as a party, with Chief Alex Ekwueme as its first chairman. The chairmanship of the party was zoned to the North and, thus, Chief Solomon Daushep Lar became its first elected chairman. As the presidential election drew closer, we nominated Obasanjo as the party’s flag bearer in our party’s primary election in Jos. I was made the first national vice-chairman of PDP for the North-east Zone.

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