2 March 2013

Nigeria: Face-Off - PDP Has the Capacity to Tame APC - Gulak


Alhaji Ahmed Gulak, a lawyer and politician, is a man who does not shy away from his duty. As the Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, he is naturally responsible for the political decisions taken by President Goodluck Jonathan. With the emergence of the All Progressive Congress, APC, and the insistence of some politicians that Jonathan should not contest the 2015 election, Gulak says the President is entitled to run in the poll. The presidential aide asserts that it would be wrong for any Nigerian or group to abridge Jonathan's tenure on account of the fact that he came in by circumstance to serve out the remainder of the late President Umaru Musa Yar'Ádua's tenure.

How do you see the formation of the APC?

Well, speaking as a politician who has been around for some time now, let me point out that the APC plus all other political parties in Nigeria are less than the PDP. The totality of what I am saying is that no PDP member will lose sleep over the merger or the coming on board of the APC. All these put together are still less than the PDP. And who are the actors in the APC? They are not new on the scene. Buhari did it three times and we know the results. Politics should be left for the real politicians. We have political bridge-builders in the PDP who know how to play politics and bring about unity and development of Nigeria as opposed to some elements who continue to contest elections and fail because they do not want democracy to thrive in Nigeria. They are merely posing as democrats when they are indeed dictators. They can never win election in Nigeria. Don't forget that when Buhari came to power through military coup in 1983, he incarcerated those who nurtured democracy in Nigeria, one of them being Dr. Alex Ekweme, who was vice president to Shehu Shagari. He did not only arrest them, he also sent them to jail. He accused them of corruption. But when Ekweme was investigated, it was discovered that he did not steal anything and that he was even poorer than when he was in private life. He was set free.

Now tell me how somebody like Buhari can win election in Nigeria. The people he tortured and put in jail are in the biggest party in African - the PDP - and the APC formed by Buhari and others cannot threaten the PDP in any way.

To me, the emergence of APC is a welcome development. APC is a regional party, but we need a national party like the PDP to build a great country.

Do you think the PDP can still win elections in Nigeria given the crisis within its fold?

There is no crisis in the PDP. What you see is different from the true situation in the party.

PDP is solid, united and strong and will continue to win elections at the national level. The seeming crisis that you are talking about is borne out of the desire for all Nigerians to get a place in the PDP to actualise their dreams of leadership. And don't forget that when so many people are looking for the same thing, there is bound to be some disagreement, but the beauty of the PDP is that we have always had a way of resolving our differences amicably and moving forward. As far as I am concerned, there is no problem in the PDP.

What about the crisis in Adamawa?

The crisis in Adamawa is not as serious as the one in Ogun and Anambra. Everybody wants to be in the PDP and that is why we have crisis. We have had it before and PDP will come out more united and stronger at the end of the day.

What about the fact that the crisis has led to a situation whereby the National Working Committe, NWC, cannot call the NEC meeting for the fear of a showdown with aggrieved members?

What I can tell you is that there is no problem in NWC. NEC is not the highest organ of the party and it does not mean that if NEC has not met the party cannot run effectively. It may even be that NEC has not met because there are no serious issues to be discussed. Nigerians should understand these issues and know that the PDP has a Constitution, which guides its operations. So tell those who are insinuating that there is crisis in the PDP to think of what else to say as our party is waxing stronger and ready to make more progress politically in the years ahead.

As the political adviser to President Jonathan, would you advise him to run in 2015?

Well, even if I advise him, Jonathan still has the final decision to make on that. So my advice is not automatic. I will not want to say more than that on that matter.

But let me tell you one thing: the president has not made up his mind on running. This is the time to work for Nigeria and deliver on his promises. In 2014, Nigerians will know whether he will contest. And if he decides to offer himself for election, Nigerians will be told. Whether I advise him to run or not, he still reserves his constitutional right to run. But, to me, as a politician that has been around for quite some time, the man has done his first term. If he decides to run, why should it be an issue?

But many are saying that he would have breached the Constitution if he runs.

In law, we deal with facts and not imagination. Jonathan only served out Yar 'Ádua's term for only a year and would have served nine years if he serves two terms. His tenure would have been abridged if he does not contest in 2015. Yar' Adua was incapacitated and that was not counted for him. Be that as it may, we have crossed that point. If you say Jonathan should not contest in 2015, he would have spent only five years. My position is that if Mr. President is not going to contest, let it be on his own volition, but let nobody intimidate him out of office for selfish political reasons. Secondly, it is a decision President Jonathan and Nigerians at the polls will have to make when the time comes. Why should people abridge his term as provided for by the Constitution? Tell those who are talking about Jonathan not being qualified to contest in 2015 to do a proper calculation from when he was sworn in as president in 2011 and see if he has committed any infraction. If the president decides not to run, so be it. Nobody, individual or group can intimidate Jonathan out of the contest if he decides to run in 2015. It is his constitutional right and nobody can stop him. It will not happen and it is not going to happen. It is not APC or Panadol or a combination of all of them. This issue came up in court and the court decided that it did not count. Here is a man who offered himself and Nigerians elected him and if he wants to run, who can stop him? We are not going to lose sleep on this matter.

Many Nigerians are concerned that the president has not done enough to tackle corruption and insurgency in Nigeria. What do you say about that?

There has never been any administration in Nigeria that has exposed and punished corrupt persons like the administration of Goodluck Jonathan. He is not a judge but he empowers the organs to investigate and prosecute. His powers stop there. All Mr. President can do is to empower the agencies to expose and try these people. Our laws are clear. Unless we change the Constitution, the problem will continue. Look at the pension and subsidy scams which this government exposed and the actors are being tried in court. This man has given Nigerians a fresh breathe of air. This is a man who says what he means and does what he says. We regret that Jonathan did not come early enough. Those of us who work with him pray that he should have come earlier to salvage this country.

Interview conducted before the court okayed Pesident Jonathan for the next presidential election.

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