Presidency Behind Ondo PDP Crisis — Yusuf   | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Presidency Behind Ondo PDP Crisis — Yusuf  

Posted: Nov 14, 2016 at 1:09 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)
Honourable  Tajudeen Yusuf is the member representing Kabba-Bunu/Ijumu Federal Constituency in the House ?of Representatives on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He is the Chairman, House committee on Capital Market and Institutions In this interview with AHMED MUSA, he accused the All Progressives Congress-led presidency and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of using Barrister Jimoh Ibrahim to destabilise the PDP in Ondo state. Excerpts:
Let’s talk about the state of Ondo. Now from the look of things, it’s like your party, the PDP is having it rough. As a very strong member of the party, what’s your take on the development there?
It’s so very unfortunate that those who benefited immensely from a reasonable plane field leading to an opposition becoming a ruling party, because the ruling party at that time made sure opposition was not stifled are now suppressing those who gave them the a chance to grow and participate in elections. They were given a voice and given a platform. And democracy itself ceases to be democracy when there’s no virile opposition. What’s happening in Ondo is a desperate attempt by the present government to find through whatever means a foothold in certain areas of the country they assume they might not be in control of in 2019.
So what’s happening in Ondo is the federal government through its agencies, the INEC, and the Attorney General of the Federation to subvert and deny Ondo people the privilege and the right to make a choice.
Everybody knows that Jimoh Ibrahim was in the ANPP with Buhari. And as at the time he claims to be in the PDP, he was even a card carrying member of Accord. So how INEC does chose the court it obeys? Don’t forget there were two judgements regarding the Port Harcourt convention and the police chose the one to obey. One thing I know is that when you attempt to deny people a legitimate platform to express their views, you push them into seeking alternative means to do so. And unluckily for us, we as a nation have travelled this road before when we were under the military rule. And now, that’s where we seem to be, because, we are in a purely police state. 
Mr A can be found guilty by a competent judicial panel of enquiry to the tune of N150billion, he walks, while Mr. B found guilty of taking N50million is in jail. So what’s happening in Ondo is nothing other than the federal government through the INEC and Attorney General trying to subvert the process, but by conviction, I know that the people of Ondo are resolute, I’m convinced that those who think subverting the PDP will make them win will be disappointed.
But the PDP itself is divided. There’s the Makarfi faction, there’s the Modu Sheriff faction. How then you think it’s the federal government and INEC that are the problems?
I disagree that PDP is divided. There’s somebody somewhere who claims to be in control of certain structures, and I say it’s purely the Presidency that is orchestrating this, there’s no doubt about it. After the aborted Port Harcourt convention, the staff of PDP wrote the Inspector –General of Police and said, given the happenings in Port Harcourt and the insistence by Sheriff that he remained the chairman, give us security to be sure of what is happening. And when the Makarfi’s committee was finally constituted, they wrote back to the police to say, we no longer require their presence in our secretariat, the police said they want to consult with the Attorney General, that’s why the secretariat is still locked till today. I wrote you, give me policemen, and I now wrote back to say I want my secretariat, then you say there’s a faction. Is there a division in the national exco? Sheriff was made chairman of PDP by the NEC, he sat over NEC that now called for convention. By PDP constitution, when we are at the convention, nobody has powers that supersede that of convention. If you are elected today, the convention can remove you tomorrow. If you like, be elected for ten years, if the convention feels you should be removed after one day, you are out. But because there were court injunctions that said there shouldn’t be elections into the offices of chairman, Secretary and Treasurer, INEC wrote the party and it said, okay, we won’t have an elective convention. INEC was part of what happened in Port Harcourt just like in Ondo. The primary that produced Jegede was monitored by INEC. Jimoh Ibrahim went to a hotel in Dugbe, Ibadan and had a caricature meeting, INEC wasn’t there. In fact, by the electoral Act, can you have an Ondo primary in Ibadan? So there’s nothing that gives teeth to Sheriff. He can’t address the national caucus meeting, he can’t address the governors’ forum, and so who’s he chairing over? Yes, there are bound to be cleavages in any organisation, but this man is doing a hatchet job. And if you know him, if you follow his antecedents you won’t be surprised. But one thing I want to assure you, we are not in any way oblivious of his antics and what have you. Let’s cross Ondo, the masquerade would be let out.
There are talks about a new party alliances being muted even among leaders of the PDP. What’s your take on that?
Politics is about talks and engagements; Thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. It’s normal for there to be certain interaction. But one thing I want to assure you is that there’s more commitment on the part of those who know what it takes to have a virile democracy to free Nigeria from the despotic tendency that this government is gradually establishing. As a young boy, I risked my life, travelled round this country under military rule to deepen the desire of our people that no matter what, the worst civilian regime is better than the best military regime. I led my local union; I was NANS (National Association of Nigerian Students) Secretary General. I sat back and looked at how God has been able to keep me alive. Many of my friends died in the process, and all we did was a minute silence for them. They became martyrs. For those who can think deeply, they’d realise that we cannot allow ourselves to go back to such tendencies. We must understand that as at today, there’s no better form of governance than democracy where the opinions of the minority is expressed and the majority has its way while the minority goes back and plan how to do it next time.
The loan being sought by the government, for which they have written the National Assembly, is about $30billion. If that gets into this country, definitely, it would affect the capital market either negatively or positively. Is that necessary?
I said ‘no’ with reasons. I don’t support such moves. I’m not saying we don’t need a loan, because Dubai which was a city of one lane in 1990, loan made it what it is now. But there must be a plan. Where’s our development plan? The loan will not be given to us today. It’s going to be given in bits for 14 years, so have we as a nation come out with a development plan for let’s say, 10 years? Then, two, that quantum, Nigeria has never taken such before. Imagine where we were with the little we took before, and you are now going to take, N10trillion because that’s what it translates to, nine point something trillion, that’s almost ten trillion. The whole capital for 2016 is N1.2trillion, although they claimed to have implemented 75 percent of it. I don’t know maybe it’s in the dream, I’ve not even seen it. What’s the capital for 2017, or is the loan going to be a parallel budget? So one of the first things I think we should have done is to have a development plan. We can now say going through the normal means, we have so and so funds for this. And why would you say you want to take $30billion at a go? What’s the incoming government going to do? Can you finish the project in four years? So I disagree. 
The way it’s being packaged, I’m not opposed to us taking loan, but I’m opposed to us taking that quantum of loan. And sincerely, some of those things mentioned in the loan are already tied to an agreement with China. Some of them were what Jonathan negotiated with China, which this government went back to China initially claiming that it went to negotiate a fresh loan but when put on the scale now admitted re-negotiating Jonathan’s agreement with China. The agreement was Lagos-Kano rail. The Abuja Kaduna light rail is a sub-section of that project. The Itakpe-Warri rail is another component of it. So it was broken into different sections. But is it that the China agreement is not working again? Where’s the new loan coming in? Like I said, I’m not opposed to taking of loan, I’m an economist, and for me, it’s what you do with the loan that matters. Naturally, such loans should reflate the economy. You don’t create wealth by holding back, you create it by spending.    The elementary knowledge of how banks make money is by taking my one naira and give to you as loan, that one naira becomes ten naira, that’s who banks make money. 
Dubai did something novel, and I’ve propagated it several times. Apart from our democracy, I haven’t seen any democracy in the world where states gather at the centre to share money every month. Until we as a nation agree that what’s coming nationally is invested in certain infrastructure so that the road you find in Ningi is what you find in Kabba, the quality of road. The hospital you find in Kano is what you’d find in Owerri. Then we will now say we take transportation, health or what have you. So that nationally, we can grow developmentally in unison. So if Kogi can generate money to pay its civil servants N10,000 in a month and Lagos generates hers and pays its civil servants N50,000, so be it.  Must we operate the same wage structure, are we not a federation? We copy the American system but the wage you pay in Dallas is not the same as that of New York, because the economic indices are not the same. We are in a democracy but we are still operating the unitary system. The military mentality is so much embedded in us that we can’t divorce ourselves from it. We find justification in our failure by just giving nomenclatures to these things. We just make them look right, but in practice, we don’t do right. 
Dealing with the issue of economy, the current government has grappled with the issue of recession for so long. Almost two years, we seem to be where we are. As an economist, what in your opinion are they not doing right?
One thing you must understand is that perception is reality. The first thing this government did wrong, is that after they won election and came into power, they forgot that campaign was over. Our leader was still going round as a president demarketing Nigeria, and they said he was saying the truth. Show me any country in the world where frauds are not perpetrated. I’m a Nigerian business man, you are an investor from China, and my president comes to say we are a fraud and you had wanted to transact with me, would you do that? The answer is no!
I mentioned the issue of ill advice about forex transaction. In 1984, President Buhari, then a military head of state came in and it was alleged that politicians had stolen money in naira. Naira then was at par with the dollar, so they were stealing in naira. And they came up with an economic policy to change the colour of the naira to stop politicians who had stockpiled naira from using the money. Because of this, they denied legitimate businessmen; because one had to queue as there was a limited amount of money one could change in a day. I was in secondary school then, my mother used to send me to the bank to go and queue. I remember that as a market woman, that affected my mother’s business. He now came in 2015 with the same ancient policy that because people had stolen money in dollars, there should be no forex trading anymore. Those who stole money in dollars keep such money in their houses. Do dollars kept at home complain of idleness? It is those who do legimitate business that they have denied. And what you have done is that, you’ve shut down manufacturing. The man who manufactured this table that requires maybe this formica from China, would need to pay 3 or 4 months before purchasing is done. Now Nigerians go to Ghana to pay for goods abroad. They go to Ghana to pay school fees. So what you have done is that you’ve denied the bit of inflow that comes into Nigeria and then reflate the economies of other countries.