I am for open contests – Adamu Maina Waziri
In this interview with Arise TV’s Amaka, Adamu Maina Waziri, a PDP chieftain and former Minister of Police Affairs shares more perspectives to the issue of zoning of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the challenges before the main opposition in choosing a candidate for the presidential election.
Amaka: Thank you for being here tonight on the program. And you must agree with me that the issue of zoning is tearing the PDP apart as it stands right now but let’s start with you as an elder statesman and a chieftain of the PDP, what is your take on zoning and the fact that it seems like your party might consider jettisoning it ahead of the 2023 polls?
Adamu Maina Waziri: Thank you, Amaka. Let me correct you ab initio. The zoning issue is not tearing my party apart. There is a deliberate generalisation or controversy around zoning in the newsroom, Arise inclusively. I am a member of the two committees set up by the party to look at zoning party offices and zoning elective, the presidency. All these ones have been done and the results have received the acceptability of the majority the members of the party. The zoning committee has accepted its report and extra party interested groups are jumping the gun by saying the PDP has jettisoned its zoning policy. Yet the party has not made a pronouncement on zoning, it has received a report of a committee set up and we have a decision-making process. And Nigerians should be advised to await the decision of the part.
Amaka: So are you saying there is a chance that the PDP will not just zone but micro-zone the presidency to a particular geopolitical zone, is that what you are saying?
Adamu Maina Waziri: I am not saying so. The Constitution of our party said there should be zoning and rotation between the North and the South. Our party’s constitution does not allow for micro-zoning. It is when it is zoned to the regions that the regions will sit amongst themselves and micro-zone. We have not reached there. And the zoning and rotation have a prayer article of our constitution which says the party and its members must maintain the indivisibility and corporate existence of Nigeria. And it will achieve that through the objectives among other objectives of zoning and rotation. That is what our Constitution says and we are a party in opposition. Just like people say the primary responsibility of government is the protection of the lives and properties of its citizens, the primary responsibility of a party is to contest and win power through a democratic process. In that quest for attaining power, the party will decide to pick its candidates, not only the president but all elective offices. So it is only when a party picks its candidates that the addons of zoning and rotation will come about. There must be a condition precedent. As of today, the PDP is not going to give its candidate just for the purpose of giving a person or a region a candidate. The PDP will look at his strengths, do a SWAT analysis of his self and decide to say based on the acceptability of the delegates at the convention who will become the party’s candidate. The people are propounding zoning and are talking as if you must zone so that I will contest and such a person will not contest. That is not democracy. Democracy means free and fair election and the PDP will leave a level playing ground for people. You must be able to convince yourself you are fit for the job, you market yourself to the people that will buy your merchandise and give you the necessary support for you to win the electoral contest. I think people need to be very clear about these things, the PDP is in a position and we want to win the presidency, we want to win many gubernatorial seats that we lost. More so because the party did not respect a zoning arrangement in 2011 and 2015. This time around, we are not fools. We will try and do what is best for our party. Unless the PDP wins the presidency. It is not only the PDP that will go extinct – even this country’s existence will be threatened based on the performance of the current leadership in the country.
Amaka: Well, before we even get to the rest itself, we have to come back to the PDP and that is to correct an impression where you said the media is probably the one pushing the zoning agenda. We saw some leaders and members of your party speak on it. Fayose for one was very vocal. He said if the PDP does not consider zoning the presidential ticket to the South, that posterity will not be fair on the party. That is not the media, that is a member of your party. Well, let’s move from there. You have actually told us the party’s stance but I ask you a personal question, you, as Adamu Waziri what is your personal stance. Yes, zoning is enshrined in your constitution, S. 37 does talk about zoning. So what do you think your party should do? I know that NEC is the one who has the right to really decide what zone produces the president but you looking at the party and talking about that fairness and equity that you preached about, how should the PDP be handling the issue?
Adamu Maina Waziri: Well, in answering your question let me reply Ayo Fayose. He was a member of the zoning committee. He had ample opportunity to advance his own line of thought and the zoning committee of which he was a member came out with a position and he will do well to be an honourable person and respect the conclusion of the zoning committee which has been presented to NWC for onward transmission to NEC. And when you talk like that, you are threatening your party and it shows indiscipline. Peter Obi, a very disciplined person. Governor Ugo, a very disciplined person says there is a supremacy of the party. Once you are a member of an organisation, we must internalize respect for the rules and regulations, and decisions of the party. Coming today as a person, I went to school with many Nigerians and was taught and I contested an election that is an exam and I came out. So, I am a product of competition. Anybody who believes he is fit enough to rule Nigeria, to submit himself to the opinion that the PDP this time has no comfort to bring second eleven or third eleven. The PDP should bring its first eleven and the first eleven will only be available when everybody, every member of the PDP is allowed to contest because we are a party in opposition.
Amaka: Despite your constitution actually agreeing to the issue of zoning?
Adamu Maina Waziri: The Constitution did not say 2023 we must zone out party offices. There is nowhere the constitution said so. And the constitution of every country…
Amaka: Not the constitution of the country…
Adamu Maina Waziri: I am coming, the constitution of any country, of any organisation in the country must have a history. And the history of the PDP is that the PDP ruled this country for how many years?
Amaka: 16 years.
Adamu Maina Waziri: For 16 years, a part of the country ruled this country for only 2 years out of the 16 years. That is the history we are trying to overthrow, to force our party to make a judgment or a decision. It is absolute indiscipline. We want to win the presidency. I want to see a fairground for His Excellency Peter Obi, His Excellency Tambuwal, to slug it out on the floor of the convention. The best among them should become the presidential candidate and submit himself to other Nigerians. But I don’t agree with a situation where Governor Tambuwal must be disqualified for Peter Obi to be the candidate of our party. We are not a regional party, our forefathers were members of regional parties. The part of Nigeria clamoring for regional or ethnic candidates was at the forefront of the dissolution of the regional-based parties. NPC, Action Group (AG) – we have since moved ahead, whereby leaders of this country will emerge from one single federal constituency. That’s Nigeria, we cannot retrogress and go back to Nigeria from 1954 to 1960. We should have gone ahead; I am surprised people like Chief Ayo Adebanjo speaking in that manner. They have been fighting for that thing since 1954, he has not succeeded. He will not succeed for the remaining part of his life.
Amaka: Well, it will be a good idea for us to stick to the issues now, not call out any character. Anyone is entitled to their opinion the same way you are.
Adamu Maina Waziri: Of course, I know.
Amaka: So, when we talk about the PDP and the field you are talking about equity and fairness. Looking at the plethora of aspirants you have. 17 of them in all as it stands right now. Do you know there was talk about consensus and of course sometime during the course of the week there was that – you know – report that has now been debunked. That the Northern elders of the party actually approved 2 individuals, talking about Bukola Saraki and Bala Mohammed. And of course, that has been cleared, but let’s listen to Bala Mohammed speak on the chance the PDP has of getting it right in 2023 and also the issue of consensus, there is a video, I’ll come back and continue this conversation
Adamu Maina Waziri: With regard to the consensus that you mentioned, we have talked about this thing several times. We have taken it behind our back, this is something that we take away and something that we cherish so much coming from our community, not from the party. The party has a process of emergence of a candidate for the primaries, what we need in the consensus, it is not a new one, it has been done before and some people benefitted from it and I am humble I have benefited from that attestation, that sense of judgment, that appreciation from our elders and I am carrying it as a booster.
Amaka: He still believes he is part of the consensus candidates that were put forward by elders of the PDP, your reaction?
Adamu Maina Waziri: Let me use the opportunity to refer you to the pictures there. To the left-hand side of Governor Bala Moh’d is Dr Udenta Udenta, if you know, he is a Nigerian of Igbo extraction. He is no more for the clamor of Nigerian President of Igbo Extraction. He is the Director-General of Bala Moh’d’s campaign committee. This is the new thinking. The new Nigeria we are looking forward to is where people should build bridges. Anyway, if we come to the issue of consensus, I conveyed the meeting of Northern political leaders that debunked the pronouncement of the Northern elders forum, who are not members of the PDP, who have no mandate from anybody to zone the office of the president. We debunked and that has put the country back to some normalcy. Because if we allow that to continue, we will do what Chief M.K.O Abiola said “some other people without a sharp blade were trying to shave our heads “Prof. Ango with all respect to him. Gen. Babangida with all respect to him are not known members of the PDP, no organ of the party gave them that mandate. Even me as a member of the zoning committee had to submit the decision which I was a part of to the decision-making process of the party, so the party can take a stand. So, if Bala Mohd is propounding what the Northern elders’ forum said, we say it is injurious to him, its injurious to the North and they cannot make him president, Nigerians can make him president but members of the PDP – legitimate members of the PDP – can give him a ticket for him to contest Nigerian presidency but not the elders’ forum.
Amaka: But do you think there is a chance the PDP will get a consensus candidate which some believe is the best chance he has in an election against the APC?
Adamu Maina Waziri: My dear Amaka, I read Political Science in ABU Zaria, I graduated B.Sc Pol. Science 1976 and I have been practicing politics since 1968 in Nigeria. Consensus is a shortcut to the means of getting political power. The PDP in its own wisdom accepts consensus but the laws of this country say when you have a consensus, you must submit yourself for affirmation.
Adamu Maina Waziri: I am for open contests; people should be allowed. We have about forty thousand delegates who should decide who the candidate of the PDP should be.
Amaka: Let the best man wins, everyone gets a chance, that is the submission of Adamu Waziri, a PDP Northern chieftain and elder statesman. Thank you for joining me tonight.
Adamu Maina Waziri: I am a PDP chieftain and elder statesman in Nigeria.
Amaka: That’s what I said.
Adamu Maina Waziri: You said northern.
Amaka: Northern Chieftain but elder statesman, Adamu thank you for joining me on the program tonight.