Tuesday 10 March 2015

"In Ebonyi, A Governor Elected On The Platform Of The PDP Is Planning To Move His Cabinet To APC" - Metuh

Olisa Metuh
The national publicity secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olisa Metuh, in this interview  speaks  about the chances of his party in the coming March 28 presidential poll: Excerpts:
You have gone round the states of the six zones campaigning for your party’s Presidential candidate, President Goodluck Jonathan in preparation for the March 28 poll. From what you saw, how you analyse the chances of your candidate at the poll?

Having gone round, we are proud and happy with the fact that Nigerians are happy that the president has done well. He is running on a track record of impressive performance, in spite of the security challenges, the distractions it springs up and the huge cost incurred in waging a war against insurgency. The president has made meaningful impacts on all sectors of the Nigerian economy. He also engineered the improvement and stabilisation of the economy, leading to transformation. He has created jobs for the young people in the agricultural sector, renovated the airports and given them a new look, as well as brought about a revival of the railway system, making it operational, conveying goods and people across the nation.
  In all aspects of our lives, we have seen the improvements and it is clear that the president has done tremendously well. What distinguishes the president from others is his democratic credentials and the fact that he is a humble, accommodating, forgiving and his sincerity in guaranteeing that there will be free, fair and credible elections, as well as the security of lives and properties. In the nooks and crannies of this country, we have seen the great acceptance, which the president has received and we are very sure that come March 28, we will have a resounding victory.
The presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Major General Muhammadu Buhari, has promised that if elected, he would quell the insurgency, which the PDP government has been unable to achieve for more than three years. What is your take on this?
We do not think that he said this. I’ll take you back to what he said during an interview on a cable television. He said to restore security in the country, ‘it will take more than five years to address and bring things back to normalcy.’ That was what he said. He can flip-flop all he wants. But, we are sure that Nigerians can attest that we have been making sufficient progress in tackling the security challenges, with the re-armament which has occurred. Do not forget that when the president decided to wage the war against Boko Haram, the opposition parties screamed that he was killing innocent people and the Boko Haram insurgents. The president listened, as usual, to the hue and cry of those people and decided to embrace dialogue. He offered cease-fire they refused, he offered amnesty, they refused; he offered dialogue and they refused again. When he decided on waging a full war on them, he discovered that the military was too poorly equipped to wage modern warfare. He requested for funds to wage the war, but the opposition told their legislators not to vote in favour of the president’s request. For five or six months, there were debates about its approval. In the end, the PDP lawmakers fought for its approval. Now, despite the obstacles created by certain foreign companies, the nation has acquired the necessary weapons. Today, the military has been completely re-armed and has become effective in the war against insurgency.
The Nigerian military is well trained and armed and is on duty now, recovering all our lost territories and, we believe, in the next two or three weeks, all the local governments of this country will be fully secured. Now, if that is what the candidate of the APC is implying, then he needs not bother; all the bases have been covered.  He shouldn’t apply for security adviser or something, but if that is what he has his eyes fixed on, there’ll be no job for him to do in that respect by the time we finish the election and swearing-in.
During one of your press conferences, you said that the APC is a party of one-week-one-lie. What did you mean?
What I meant was that the APC dishes out lies every time. They tell a different lie each time they open their mouth to speak. Worse, they conjure stories and weave them in deceptive circles by issuing facts that are non-existent. You’ll see that their promises to the Nigerian have always been unrealistic and false. Consider the promise to pay N5, 000 to each unemployed Nigerians. If you calculate how they promised to pay to the 25 million poor people who have no jobs, you’ll see that we are talking about N125 billon. If you do that for 12 months, that is N1.5 trillion per annum. Where will they get that kind of money in, seeing as our revenue is dwindling. The oil price is going down and our economy is at a dire strait presently?
They also promised to provide free education, meals and uniforms. How can they afford it? How can they come up with free medical care, creation of 740,000 jobs in each local government  and every other thing they said. They even mismanaged the trip which their presidential candidate embarked on abroad, as if there is something they wanted to hide. By that, they have increased the interest of Nigerians in unearthing whatever is wrong.
  They are embarking on a campaign of deceit. What I am saying is that, if they plan to raise tax to do these things which they have promised, they need to tell Nigerians, so that Nigerians can be in the know. We cannot have them double our income tax, suddenly, when they find themselves in power. Nigerians will decide on that; that is what credibility is all about. Compare him to our presidential candidate. When you see him, you’ve seen all; there’s nothing to hide. He speaks with candour, has integrity and he is open for all to see and utterly accommodating. The APC, on the other hand, is very secretive, like a cult. They behave as if they have got a lot to hide; in physical appearance, speech and promises while, in their mind, they are not clean or pure.
Are you aware that, most of today’s leaders of the APC were, until recently, in the PDP, people like Amaechi, Musa Kwankwaso, Senator Bukola Saraki and others?
That is why we do not attack them. We will never forget yesterday, we will never forget that we were once brothers who sat together. We believe that they were misled because they thought they must have had some differences. We are aware that, as they crossed over, they have been influenced by the evil doctrine of the APC, which is a wrong course. We have decided not to attack them, because of the contributions they have made to our party, although they have forgotten the contributions, which the PDP made to their lives – elevating them to national prominence and giving them a platform on which to air their views. We will forgive them for they do not know what they are doing. How else can you explain the speed with which they joined the APC? We pray for them to see the light soon enough.
You have repeatedly said ‘our candidate’ and spoken about his popularity. What gives you the confidence that he may be able to dwarf the soaring popularity of the opposition party’s candidate?
My confidence is based on his complete acceptance and the fact that Nigerians have shown that they love him and like what President Jonathan is doing. My confidence is based on the fact that, despite our imperfections, the opposition is not an alternative for Nigerians. The opposition has no credible policy or programmes to offer Nigerians. We know that, going by the track record of the president and the love which Nigerians have shown him, that we will have no issues on March 28.
What is the position of PDP on the removal of the Niger State deputy governor and in Ebonyi State, where the party’s leadership reportedly directed the state legislature to impeach the governor?
Are those crises? How is it that when Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha decided to remove his deputy, there was no crisis? When it is done in the South-West, it is no crisis; but when democracy is doing its thing in Niger and Ebonyi, you label it a crisis. In Ebonyi, a governor elected on the platform of the PDP is planning to move his cabinet to another party and the state legislature will have none of it. You called that crisis? How? That is democracy at work.
You cannot do what you want with government funds and you can’t betray a party at will. No way! You are accountable to the people and the state legislature; so, if there are wrongs found in the doings of the Ebonyi governor or the deputy governor of Niger, the legislative arm of government has the democratic right to pursue what is laid down in the constitution. The question should be: are they following constitutional processes to achieve their aim? I think they have satisfied those angles in both states and we have no problem with the steps which they have taken.
What are the chances of the PDP in the South-West?
We have seen that the people of the South-West have long been under bondage and are looking towards the PDP for freedom. Sadly, this bondage is self-influenced and self-imposed, at the same time. We have an acclaimed leader of the South-West, who worked assiduously to rob the region of the position of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, as a result of his own political ambition. That is selfish. We have a leader in the South-West, who introduced multiple-taxation on the people, all for his own benefit and dream of his personal empire. Finally, we have an array of credible gubernatorial candidates all over the South-West and the people are happy with that. We have visited the region several times and we get a lot of ‘thank you. So, the PDP will sweep the votes in the region.
What are your final words to Nigerian as the elections are fast approaching?
Nigerians must bear in mind that this party is the only one through which the Nigerian dream can be achieved. We are the only party in the history of this country that has sustained democracy for 15 years. Perhaps, democracy would have been truncated if another party had been in power. We have a president who has been able to curtail insurgency by limiting it to two or three states. Perhaps, insurgents would have succeeded in taking half of Nigeria if another party had been in power. We have a party and government that, in the midst of global downturn, has stabilised the economy of the country. If another party had been in power, perhaps, we would have had crises of all sorts on our hands. We have a party that is building on the unity of this country and building a sense of belonging in all sectors, zones and tribes. Perhaps, we would have been engulfed in tribal wars or religious conflicts if another party like the APC had been in power. We are counting on the peoples’ goodwill at the polls and we will not disappoint the nation.

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