From Gyang Bere, Jos
Hon. Bitrus Kaze is a Chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and a former member of the House of Representatives. He believes that President Muhammadu Buhari is unfit to govern the country beyond 2019.
Kaze, also lambasted PDP elders in Plateau for insisting on doing things the old ways. He also said that despite the reconciliation between Sen. Jonah Jang and former Deputy President of the Senate, Ibrahim Nasiru Mantu, the party do not still have the chance of winning , in 2019, except the opinion of all party supporters are respected.
Are you satisfied with the manner in which President Muhammadu Buhari is governing the country?
President Muhammadu Buhari came into office at the age of over 70 years and he belongs to the regimented life which has shape his world view and perception of governance. When he came in as Military Head of State, he was issuing orders.
Before I left the National Assembly, I warned our successors, that they will be dealing with somebody who finds legislative institution strange, which he has never agreed to deal with, and with due respect, I think I am being vindicated. The President does not seems to agree or believe in anybody, the President does not understand the difficulty his policies, if any have put Nigerians into, even though up to this moment, I do not understand the policy direction of his administration. It was only late last year that he put an economy team in place. He did not know the direction the government is going and as a former member of the House of Representatives, Buhari does not have clear policies in place. International investors are left at a lost and that has led to closure of companies, which resulted to loss of jobs; I am not sure this is the change Nigerians expected.
Do you still have hope that things will get better, moving forward?
For me as a person, there is no hope because the President finds it difficult to change his old ways, he came into power on the mantra of change but he need to change himself. He need to understand that he is the President, he is not for example a scientist, he is not a technologist; with due respect, he is not a technocrat and I think what he needs to do, which the PDP government did excellently Truly, even within the All Progressive Congress (APC), Buhari seems to trust only the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) clique more than any other group of persons, government cannot operate that way. Good governance depends on quality of personnel and not friendship, he must see beyond religion, he must see beyond northern region, he must see beyond APC as a political party, he should source for quality Nigerians who can advise him well to rescue his administration from inept leadership.
There is an outcry that the administration has been high jacked by a tiny clique of persons, do you think that is possible with a Buhari’s presidency?
I don’t know if I am in a position to confirm or deny that. But if Aisha Buhari could said that her husband has been caged, who am I to say no, because those who played the APC cards and those who came together to form the party can say better if he has been caged or not. But what we know is that, his government appears to be exclusive, even within the APC. Some APC members have been crying that they are left in the cold and some have too much to do because virtually everything is being done by a few people and for that allegation to have come from his wife, you know that it could be true.
Some groups have started drumming support for the President ahead of 2019; will you support him to run again?
Count me out, I have been consulted by prominent personalities who are in that group and I told them that my personal understanding of President Muhammadu Buhari, is that he does not appeal to me as a person who take the interest of Plateau state at heart, I have never seen that, even when he won election on the Plateau during the 2015 Presidential election. For Goodluck Jonathan to get 500, 000 votes and President Buhari getting 400, 000 where Jonathan got 1 million votes in 2011 and Buhari had less than 200, 000 votes, to me Buhari won, for the fact that the President got substantial votes, he has not demonstrated to me that he appreciates the ideals of a Plateau man. Plateau is my home and anybody who will not take the interest of Plateau at heart; I am not likely to support that person. If President Buhari is going to contest for 2019 that is his business, but please count me out.
But some of you were accused of working for APC against the interest of your party, the PDP in 2015. Is that correct?
It was a mare allegation, as a member of the National Assembly as at that time, the APC came up with a policy that once you agree to contest under their platform, they will give you an automatic ticket and I said with all sense of modesty, I had formal and informal invitation to contest the seat of Plateau North Senatorial election on the platform of the APC, because there was a party leader that wrote for me to be given the ticket, but because I did not believe in the ideology of APC, I turned it down.
What steps have you taken to address the problem?
We have written both the state and the national appeal panels to complain of the irregularities that took place during the election, we wrote the National Chairman as of the time of that election, Sen. Ali Modu Seriff, before the crisis that engulfed the party. We also had meetings with him and he made some revelations regarding that election. In fact, he told us that before he left for the Port-Harcourt national convention, he had made up his mind to annul the state congresses in Plateau and that was based on the report he received before we had the meeting.
There has been series of reconciliation meetings of the party in the state; your group has not shown up, what are the issues?
You cannot continue to do the same thing in the same old ways and expect different result; I told the party that if you go to farm and plant maize without fertilizer and there was no good yield, why will you go to the same farm again without fertilizer? We cannot keep repeating the same thing and expect positive results.
With due respect, you cannot be repeating the old method of doing things and expect result, the first time they held a meeting in WAYE my franchise was totally denied, I was a major contestant to the PDP Chairmanship, the three MCs came and apologised that they were given instruction not to allow me speak, therefore any meeting that will hold in WAYE where my speech will be compromised because of fear of what I am going to say, I will not go. They called us for a reconciliation meeting at the residence of Prof. Jerry Gana in Abuja and I went. Prof. Dakum Shown, Sen. Ibrahim Mantu, Sen. Jonah Jang, Sen. Jeremiah Useni and other PDP stakeholders in Plateau were all there; what we agreed was that when we return to Jos, people should be identified and call for another meeting and talk to one another. But when we came, none of us was consulted and the next thing we heard was that Hon. Sango had called a meeting in WAYE; Sango wasn’t part of the meeting in Jerry Gana’s residence, he is a culprit in the matter, where did he derive the mandate to call us in WAYE Foundation? On the day of that meeting in WAYE Foundation, the former Deputy Governor, Mr. Ignatius Lonjan, who you were drumming support for, defected to the APC with most of your supporters. Are you likely going to join him in APC?
They alleged that we worked for the APC in 2015 election, at a point in time they even said I had gone to APC, if I choose to go to APC, is that a crime? But if I have chosen to remain in PDP, it is not a crime either. I have chosen to remain in the PDP and anything anybody says is his opinion. I worked for the former Deputy Governor to succeed his boss, Sen. Jonah Jang, but when he took the decision to decamp, he was kind enough to have informed me and I respect him for that.
However, I don’t know if we have PDP on the Plateau anymore, more so that it has become impossible to change our ways and that is very unfortunate. If we choose to pursue genuine reconciliation, if we choose to truly and sincerely work for the PDP, it is a darling party on the Plateau and people will support it. But the faces of the persons, people see, are those who brought about the down fall of the party, these same persons want to assert themselves again on the people, that will not work. There is a need to do a surgery of the problem of PDP and approach the issues as expected and not the rigmarole that is going on.
At what point did the PDP miss it in 2015?
PDP didn’t missed it in 2015, the party lost power even before 2015; the local government elections, the Nigerian Governors election, the defection of members of the National Assembly, the defection of five PDP governors to APC, imposition of candidates and many others were the things that killed the PDP. Surprisingly, even after failing election, the PDP diligently commissioned Sen. Ike Ekweremadu to do a post mortem of the election and the report identified the problems of the party and offered solution, yet we have not learnt our lessons.
The major problem he identified was that the party chose not to respect the provision of its own constitution and he was right in the case of zoning. He clearly made Plateau a case study on the issue of zoning. I have said repeatedly for those who care to listen, Plateau is configured in a manner that we need one another, majority and minority tribes. As a minority, I cannot take one step without the next brother helping me, there is no particular tribe on the Plateau that will have it the way it want all the time unless it seek the good will of other tribes, that is the kind of spirit that the zoning formula, in the PDP constitution envisaged. Unfortunately, we discarded it in the build up to the 2015 election. Zoning was one of the reasons that made APC unattractive to me, PDP made zoning a constitutional matter but APC did not, I respect PDP for remembering the minority of minorities through zoning.
With the crisis rocking the party both in the state and at the national level, is there hope for the PDP, ahead of 2019 elections?
Fortunately, the problems of the PDP are well known and we clearly have the solution to the problem. The problem of PDP, especially on the Plateau and even at the national level is whether those who are perpetrating the old ways are willing to amend and embrace the new ways.
Who are these people?
I don’t have to mention names and I am not willing to mention any name, but if you take the Ike Ekweremadu’s report, you will see nameWho are these people?
I don’t have to mention names and I am not willing to mention any name, but if you take the Ike Ekweremadu’s report, you will see names of persons and institutions that caused the problem.
He mentioned the last crisis that engulfed the Governors Forum’s election too, he mentioned party’s elective officers who compromised zoning, for their personal interest.