My insistence on internal democracy cost me my position in PDP – Tukur


September 13, 2015 | 12:28 am
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Elder statesman and former National Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Bamanga Tukur, spoke with journalists in Abuja to mark his 80th birthday and bared his mind on state of the nation. OWEDE AGBAJILEKE was there. Excerpts: 
Your party, the PDP, is at the crossroads after suffering one of the biggest electoral defeats in history. As one of the founding fathers of the party, how can PDP bounce back after losing members in droves?

First and foremost, this is a democracy. And in every democratic system you have the opposition and the party in government. So it is time again because it is a democracy, it is the people who decide who they want to vote for and that is what the people have done. Surely, the party will rediscover itself. I am
sure about that, it is their own party and they can find out what has gone wrong. If for 16 years people allowed you to rule them and in the 17th year they say no, we have to find out why they said no.

Why were you removed as PDP chairman?

Well, we are in a system of democracy and my views are such that what I believe in is what I will preach. I want election and people say they want selection. If the majority or the strong people in the PDP did not believe in it then the choice for me was to leave. It is either I leave or they leave but I did not want them to leave so I decided to
leave. At that time, people said I am preaching internal democracy instead of imposition.

Some of the reasons adduced for PDP’s defeat at the polls were imposition and rejection of zoning formula. If you were still the national chairman, what would you have done differently?

I had drawn up cardinal programmes and I captioned them ‘my agenda’. If you remember the Triple ‘R’, I think any good leader will tell his people what you want to do and if they agree with you without any protest then it is carry-go. As for zoning, nobody is faulting zoning, what we were saying is let the people decide on what they want. This is the democracy we are talking about, the rule by the majority. That is why the system is embraced by all. PDP stakeholders can come together and agree.

If you were allowed to remain as chairman of PDP till the 2015 elections, would that have made any difference?

Well, when I was there, I won elections and in the same vein, if I were there also I expect to win elections.

On October 1st, Nigeria will be 55 years as an independent nation. As a 25-old man when the country gained Independence then, would you say that the vision of our founding fathers has been fulfilled today?

It is what you will call work in progress.
You remember, before the 60s, the idea is that we must get our freedom. So the euphoria that time is that we must rule ourselves. The founding fathers made that struggle to secure freedom and for us to be free from all encumbrances that usually go with the colonial rule, Africa will be the centre of our foreign policy. At that time, everybody was talking about Africa. You remember leaders like Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo and the Sarduana of Sokoto have one thing in common: let us be free. So they charted the cause, but as we went along, you know we had military interregnum in 1966 which led to another change of cause from what the founding fathers had. Now, it is change, we may be making progress but it is based on those who found themselves in the saddle.

What opportunities are there for the youth of today?

They are plenty. Nigeria should try to conquer the basic reason why we cannot move as a nation. We must remove religion from politics. We must accept ourselves as Nigerians and not see ourselves as being from ‘A’ or ‘B’ state or local government. We must ensure that anything, culture or
ethnicity that we cannot change we don’t bring to the table. What you cannot change you must endure. You cannot change yourself from being an Hausa man to Igbo man or an Igbo man to a Yoruba man, or a Yoruba man to an Ijaw man. Ethnicity should be removed from our politics. What we must bring into our politics is equity, justice and for us to be our brother’s keeper. God has given you land, water and we, as people that is what He gave to every nation on earth. What you will do as people is to work together. We can work and exploit all the opportunities. We are talking about education and they are talking about power. If you educate the people they will know how to get solar to get power, to mine oil to get power. They will know how to do everything to get power including using water. But you can’t educate them if you don’t have peace, or if you are divided.

Are you concerned about Buhari’s anti-corruption probe of the Goodluck Jonathan administration and his perceived lopsided appointments?

As far as I am concerned, Buhari is going according to his agenda.


Bamanga Tukur

Are you considering defecting to APC?

At 80, what do you want somebody to do? You want to change somebody’s character at 80? Is it possible? At 80, you remain because you cannot bend anymore. If you try to bend an unbendable thing it will break.

What kind of ministers should Nigerians expect?

Don’t give job to who wants the job, give the job to whom the job wants.

How will you assess the first 100 days of President Buhari?

It is not for me to assess. A hundred days became a kind of syndrome. What has been said by Buhari is that he wants to confront corruption, insecurity, unemployment. So, how can you now tell me that you have a land mark to asses NEPA by improvement to know if it is improving? What are you going to use to measure the insecurity? Are they fighting it? Are they moving forward? For me, they are going the right way; he has not deviated from what they said they will do.

After the general election, Adamu Muazu, your successor resigned. And there are calls for other NWC members to follow suit. Is resignation the solution to PDP problem?

To get to the solution you have to look at the problem. The problem is that the party did not win election. Therefore, the focus should be what went wrong? It is not about sending somebody away. For instance, if you have malaria, what are the causes of malaria? Maybe mosquitoes, then you try to eliminate the mosquitoes from the system so that the malaria can stop.

At 80, what are your happiest and saddest moments?

My happiest moment is as I am sitting here now: healthy, happy and with you; and to thank God because it has been happiness every time. When one loses his child then you can say that is the saddest moment. But my saddest moment was when I lost my mother.


September 13, 2015 | 12:28 am
  |     |     |   Start Conversation

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