“They know that they have been abandoned by Nigerians and they know that the lies and contraptions they used in 2015 are no longer working for them.”
Kola Ologbodiyan is the National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He has refuted reports alleging that some o the governors of his party are secretly working for the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari. He also said since the president has refused to approve the amended Electoral Act which would have ensured credible elections, the PDP would keep insisting that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) gives foreign election observers access to the Situation Room, from where elections results are transmitted.
There are feelers that all is not well within PDP especially in the South-South and South-East. There are also insinuations that some governors in the party are secretly planning to work for President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election in 2019. What is your take?
I find it strange that any member of the PDP will pledge a particular percentage of votes for President Buhari. If that is true, it confirms our fears that there are plans to rig the 2019 elections by writing figures. You cannot determine a percentage of votes that will go in any direction in a free, fair and credible election. You do not know the mindset of every voter. I do not think that it is attainable to pledge a certain percentage of votes but all I know is that the governors on the platform of the PDP are supporting our candidate. That is a known fact. Why should our governors vote for President Buhari? What will be the reason? Is it that the people who are members of our party are non Nigerians?
Why do you think that any member of our party will work for the president? You see, it is a game of the ruling party. They know that they have been abandoned by Nigerians and they know that the lies and contraptions they used in 2015 are no longer working for them because Nigerians have seen through them. So, they are looking for help because they know that they are a drowning party. They will say anything just to create disaffection and seek to cause crisis within our party and in the camp of our candidate. We can see clearly that Nigerians are rallying round our candidate.
Your party’s national chairman has alleged that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), is being used to witch hunt governors elected on the party’s platform. If this is true, is it not possible that some of the governors may want to secretly support the re-election of President Buhari out of fear of losing their own re-election?
In the last three and half years, our governors have suffered untoward embarrassment from this administration. They have been harassed, they have been intimidated but I want you to know that they cannot be intimidated to do such things. The PDP governors are determined and they will continue to support the party and are working for the victory of our presidential candidate.
What is your party’s response to INEC’s decision to conduct elections in the IDP camps?
We have made our position on the IDPs very clear. We are opposed to any situation that will grant INEC the powers to create new polling units under the guise of creating them for IDPs.
Nigeria has 120,000 polling units and as such, any area in this country has its own pooling unit. So, what we are seeing is this, if there are IDPs in Ikeja for instance, what they need do is to allow the IDPs to transfer to the area he or she is currently staying. They do not need to create an additional 30,000 polling units, it will amount to rigging.
The President has refused to sign the amended Electoral Act and the PDP and the National Assembly does not have the numbers to veto him. Going forward, how does your party intend to ensure there is a level playing field and that elections are not rigged against it?
We are aware the contraption that took place in Osun State during the governorship election was done in INEC’s Situation Room where it was clear that in the transmitted results, PDP had won but they decided to manipulate the process. We have credible information and we have given it to our party in respect of this.
What we are saying is simple, INEC should allow observers to participate or monitor the results in the situation room and we have not said anything bad in that. We will not allow rigging in the 2019 general elections. We will bust every rigging plan of the APC. It is manifestly evident that Buhari cannot win the 2019 election because Nigerians have resolved, wholesomely, that they will not vote for him and that they will not vote for the APC. So, on account of that, we will check INEC and ensure that they guarantee an election that will be free, fair, credible, and transparent and that will be accepted by the majority of Nigerians.
But INEC has said that it will not grant request to have access to its Situation Room, what is your party’s response to that?
INEC can say it but we will not accept but if majority of the parties come together and insist that it is the condition to guarantee free and fair elections, I believe that INEC will succumb. We are going to work on that.
Some eligible voters are uninterested in the elections, while some are undecided because they feel there is no difference between the APC and the PDP as many who left the PDP joined the APC and vice versa. What is your party’s ideology and how is it different from those of other parties?
The difference between the PDP is very manifest. The PDP believes in democracy and the tenets of it. We stand by the rule of law, social justice and respect for constitutionalism. We also believe in creating an enabling environment that will allow private enterprises to thrive.
As such, we encourage private investors to create jobs so that life can be better for the people. But I must confess to you that the APC unfortunately is just a combination of people contended with the existence of governance. They have no ideology and have nothing to offer Nigerians. They are power mongers looking for power and they chased out the PDP government through propaganda, lies and deception. They do not have any plan whatsoever in any form to govern and to govern in a particular direction.
That is why we have challenged the APC to name one idea that they conceived, planned and implemented. There is none. Where is the ‘change begins with you’ that they promised? They do not have ideas for governance and without ideas of governance, you cannot rule, you cannot govern.
In terms of ideology, they disrespect the courts. We all saw how they woke up one night and went round residences of judges to harass them. You know the number of times that Col. Sambo Dasuki has been granted bail, yet they did not release him despite numerous court orders. They have no respect for court orders; they have no respect for constitutionalism. So when you talk of ideology, I believe that the Peoples Democratic Party has a distinct ideology and because it is a democratic party, it follows the tenets of democracy but I don’t know the ideology of the APC.
One of the issues on the front burner is that of economy. How will your party fix the economy?
The PDP believes that the only way to revive the economy is to allow the economy to be private driven and the job of governance is to create an enabling environment that will allow businesses to thrive. We have experimented government running businesses and we have experimented a situation where private investors are given an enabling environment to thrive and we have seen where it has taken us. NITEL was running the telecommunications sector but the GSM was allowed to run the communications, we saw where it has taken us.
Finally, what is your party’s message to the people of the South-East, against the background of the recent meeting between the leaders of the zone and President Buhari?
Nigerians are longer interested in fake promises and false performance claims, now that elections are around the corner. The attempt by Buhari to lure the South-East geopolitical zones into supporting his second term fell like a pack of cards as the people have resolved not to follow any leader who cannot deliver on his promises.
Instead of accepting his failure, which is manifest to all, President Buhari, who is reputed for not fulfilling campaign promises, is busy making a fresh list of fake promises to Nigerians. In this desperation, Mr. President fails to understand that the people of the South-East, just like other Nigerians, are too sophisticated to fall for gimmicks, false promises and ethnic politics, and as such cannot be swayed from their resolve to rally with Atiku Abubakar to rescue our nation from the shackles of misrule.
Nigerians have since seen through President Buhari’s bouquet of failures and fake promises, which in any case, cannot heal the wounds of marginalisation, nepotism, inequity, disregard for federal character principle and harsh economic policies, including obnoxious foreign exchange regulations and heavy taxations of his administration, which are killing businesses and plunging families into extreme poverty. Nigerians, including those in the South-East, know that President Buhari does not keep promises. They know that he has not fulfilled any of the promises he made during the 2015 campaign. As such, they cannot fall to the same old trick ahead of the 2019 general election.
President Buhari is yet to apologise to the South East and other geopolitical zones over his administration’s indictment for human rights violations, extra-judicial killings, illegal arrests, arbitrary detention, torture and reported disappearances, as detailed in the reports by the United States Department of State, Amnesty International (AI) and Transparency International (TI).
Instead of clutching on straws and seeking to beguile Nigerians with fake promises, blame game and false performance indices, President Buhari should come to terms with the fact that there is no way Nigerians can change their minds about voting in Atiku Abubakar as his inevitable replacement come February, 2019.