From Noah Ebije, Kaduna
Former Minister of Aviation and Kaduna State Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Hassan Hyat has said that the party could beat its chest for being the only political party in Nigeria that ruled the country for 16 uninterrupted years.
Hyat who served as Secretary to State Government, SSG, under two governors, also blamed the Kaduna State government for the crisis in Southern Kaduna.
We heard that the PDP in Kaduna State is divided, and that some of you are for Makarfi while others are for Sheriff. How true is that information?
Let me correct that impression. One of our party members was on the air saying that he supports Senator Sheriff because of the Court of Appeal judgment. The issue is that the leadership of the party from the Ward, Local Government and up to the State levels is united, that as long as an appeal has been filed before the Supreme Court, we remain solidly behind Ahmed Makarfi. The person who made that statement did so in his personal right as an individual. He does not occupy any office in the hierarchy of the party in the State. Therefore, he cannot speak on behalf of the party. As an individual, he has the right to hold his views and we are not quarrelling with him because we cannot think the same way. We are all individuals with differences. That is his perception and I don’t think there is a problem with that, but that does not mean that there is a division in the PDP in Kaduna State.
There is the perception in many quarters that despite being in power for 16 years, after the defeat, you have not been able to provide the needed strong opposition to the ruling party. What’s happening?
Yes, I have heard of that. We have to face reality, the victory of APC in 2015 was not a victory based on any reasoning as to lack of performance by the PDP. I can say without any fear of contradiction that it was a gang up. A gang up because the people in the north felt that it was their turn to rule and they were denied. The civil servants felt that PDP had been in government for 16 years and they had not had what they wanted. The media became completely one-sided. Anything about PDP was not welcome. There are some media organizations that some of you here are representing; we know what some of you here did. They did not even hide their hatred for the PDP. Now you can go and ask the same civil servants, the same press and the same northerners what they voted for, do they have it? They don’t have it!
Let us be sincere to ourselves, for the first time in this country, we have a democratic set up that ran for 16 years uninterrupted. Even military regimes cannot boast of that. There were many coups attempts to unseat Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, to unseat the late General Sani Abacha. Within the military itself, they were not able to lead this country for this length of period. Two, for PDP to have accepted that it lost the elections even though there were so many lapses without going to court to challenge those lapses are enough indication that PDP was more interested in the unity of the country than being in government. This was well captured by former President Jonathan when he said that his political ambition was not worth the blood of any Nigerian and he went ahead to demonstrate that. Therefore, everybody is supposed to be praising PDP for that maturity of putting the country ahead of political interest.
I was reading a newspaper report where it was said that under Prof. Jega, 80 per cent of the election was fraud. Jega conducted that election; we saw during the 2015 election how almajirai, here in Kaduna lined up to vote. We know they were all under-aged. It is not lie, it happened. Nobody challenged it. We kept quiet and allowed it to go. Lieutenant General TY Danjuma said he thanked former President Jonathan for accepting defeat in order for the country to remain united. Now I want to ask a question, you are aware that if Goodluck had not accepted defeat, there would have been problems. So if somebody tomorrow realizes that he will not win election, he begins to look for areas to cause problems, you will allow him to go free? This is so because we have already set out precedence. It is very unfortunate and dangerous! You mean that we cannot call one individual to order? It happened in 2011, many people were killed, properties destroyed. And it was coming again in 2015. So, the single action of one individual, Goodluck Jonathan, saved this country from disintegration. And today people are not recognizing that, which is very unfortunate.
You are hammering on what the former President did to save the country from disintegration, but we also understand that your party was not happy with his decision to accept defeat. Is that true?
The party supported him. The fact remains that at our State level here, we didn’t go to court to challenge the result of the election. What happened during the presidential election happened during the gubernatorial. We were affected but we supported Jonathan because we believe in the unity of this country.
Are you now saying that the 2015 elections were rigged?
What does it mean when you said elections are rigged? When you saw it very clearly that the rules of the game were turned upside down.
By who, was it the ruling party that upturned the rules or the opposition?
It was the umpire, INEC! I have earlier made reference to it here. I said just yesterday I read a report published by a newspaper that 80 per cent of elections under Jega were fraudulent. I am not the one that said so.
If for the unity of this country Jonathan accepted defeat under an unjust umpire, should you accept defeat in an unjust election?
Are you denying that there was rigging in the 2015 elections? All we are saying is that we want a level playing ground and nothing else. If elections are conducted in a free and fair atmosphere, level playing ground provided and we lose we shall accept defeat. But if we don’t lose and somebody declares us the loser, we will not accept it. The government is talking of electronic voting. We have asked one simple question and the answer has not been provided. SIECOM does not have the names of registered voters, they rely on INEC. What they are doing now is that they have collected the voters’ register and are transferring the names into their card reader. The issue is that for any election to be credible there must be a voters’ register, which you will display for people to go and see.
I asked them, can you display it from the card reader and their answer was no. Now if you cannot display from the card reader what you feed in, how are we sure that it was what you collected from the INEC that you fed into the card reader? Therefore, we will not accept that. Certainly, we shall not accept it. Two, SIECOM has gone to China and were shown how it will work and it has stopped there. The State government has taken over through the office of the SSG. How the machine will be configured SIECOM is not aware and it is SIECOM that is going to conduct elections, not State government. Therefore, for the State government to be involved in the procurement of the materials that will be used, gives a question mark. It simply shows that it is the government that is conducting the elections and if the government is to conduct elections, we will not accept it.
How would you assess Governor El-Rufa’i’s administration?
I don’t know if the living standard of all of you here has improved. But I am sure that it is an abysmal performance.
Why did you say so?
Because I know that my living standard has not improved, it has only gone down. If we are to tell ourselves the truth, all of us here know that what I am saying is the truth. Look, PDP meant well for this country because we never believed in the concept of winner takes it all. That is why we had an office called Special Adviser to the governor on inter-party affairs. This Special Adviser was liaising with the existing political parties. The Special Adviser was receiving the complaints and suggestions of all the political parties and forwarding same to the governor. So also, when there was anything to be shared including contracts, the political parties were given their share through the office of the Special Adviser on inter-party affairs. Government sponsored pilgrims to Jerusalem and to Hajj were given to all the political parties in the State. Also, whatever was shared to PDP members during Christmas or Sallah celebrations, all the political parties had their share. But today, the government is saying that even civil servants are members of the PDP so they should be dealt with. How can you run a government after election in favour of a few? Meanwhile, you took the oath of office and in that oath there is a provision that says you shall treat all manner of people fairly without exception. So, when you wake up and say members of a particular political party are not going to benefit from your government, what does that mean? The resources of the State belong to everybody.
You were reported to have said that the Southern Kaduna crisis is as a result of the breakdown of good governance. What did you really mean?
Let us look at the issues critically. You don’t have a one-sided crisis. You are faced with a crisis that involves different parties. The first thing you should do is to identify those involved and sit with them to find out what the problem is. But by the time you come out as governor of all to say’ I am going to deal with you, I am going to deal with you,’ without finding out what is the problem, certainly, you are bound to make mistakes. Two, the government said it has traced those who are responsible up to outside the country. If you said you have traced them to outside the country only to come back later to tell us that it is a communal crisis, what do you want us to believe? When the governor made reference to the General Martin Agwai Committee, General Martin Agwai came out to say that he did not submit a one-sided recommendation. He said both sides. Up till now, the governor has not responded to that position of General Martin Agwai; either in a statement nor in action. Those whose houses were burnt, nothing has been done for them, yet he has followed those who lost their cattle to their countries to give them money to placate them.
We are not saying that he should not do it, but in doing it, he should bring both parties together and say; ‘we heard this is what happened. This is what we are going to do, so that tomorrow if you hear that we have done this for the other party, you will not feel bad or think that we do not care about you. We want to start with those outside, but when we come back, we shall handle the issue at home.’ Definitely, people will give him maximum cooperation.
Again, when you say you are going to declare a State of Emergency, declaring a State of Emergency is not a child’s play. Before you do it, you are supposed to have mobilized your security agencies all over, map out strategies, put people at the right places then declare. How do you declare a State of Emergency on those who obey the laws of the land? You will end up finding these law abiding citizens being killed and their houses burnt? Why will they not say that government is one-sided? It may not necessarily be that government is one-sided but because there is bad governance and that is why people are accusing this administration of been one-sided.
I was privileged to serve two governors as SSG. So I was involved in the security set up of the State and what should be done. I am speaking from experience, certainly the government handled these things wrongly and that is why things are worsened. Today we are hearing that even with the high presence of security agencies people cannot go to their farms. Then you start asking why? Why can’t they go to their farms? Why will security agencies be deployed to an area, a small section of a senatorial district, not the entire senatorial district; a fraction of it and people cannot go to their farms? If people cannot go to their farms, that means we are waiting for hunger. What will the government do with the people? It is dangerous! So government needs to review its style of handling security issues and be proactive when handling security matters.