By Henry Chukwurah
National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caretaker committee, Senator Ahmed Makarfi recently spoke to a select group of Journalists in Abuja, where in he laid out his plans for PDP. He expresses optimism that the PDP will be rebuilt before 2019.
One would be wondering why you decided to get into this steamy boat at this point in time?
Thank you for this very important question. First, you must appreciate the fact that the Caretaker Committee is a product of broad consensus among the various institutional formations that the party is composed off. It is a product of the democratic processes that commenced with the ward, local government, state and zonal congresses of the party and the selection of national delegates that will reach decisions at the National Convention. Second, the Caretaker Committee is a product of unanimity of the will of the party’s leading organs- the National Executive Committee, the Board of Trustees, the National Assembly caucus and the Governors’ Forum. When you combine the will of the people as expressed through the National delegates and the will of the party leadership expressed through these various organs, you have a set up that enjoys broad support and acceptance by the party faithful.
It is in this context that you can locate my desire to serve my party at this very testing period in its existence. If the two sets of endorsements were to be lacking, I would have resisted the urge to chair the committee. Again, don’t forget that I am a very committed party servant who will willingly submit myself to whatever noble and honourable purpose the party would demand of me. I was a two-term governor and a senator produced by the party; so the least that I would do is to assist the party in charting a new course, in re-positioning and re-orientating it for the good of its teeming supporters and the millions of democracy-loving Nigerians. I felt that this challenging assignment is a call to duty, for sacrifice and principled leadership, and not a time to turn my back when the party sorely needs me. I could have sat back and remained unengaged on the hope that the future will take care of itself, but there surely cannot be a political future for us, individually and collectively, without a political presence.
Given that your neutrality in the crisis in the party made you selectable for the caretaker Chairmanship job, why did stakeholders like you remain neutral despite the crisis ravaging the party at the time?
The notion of neutrality must be understood in an objective context.
You cannot be a leader and remain neutral in the affairs of a party you love so much. You must remain engaged, sometimes behind the scene and out of public searchlight, in finding ways of lifting the challenges and difficulties the party is facing. That you don’t advertise your contributions in the on-going debate about the best possible direction for the party does not imply that you are neutral.
I have been a consistent proponent of party unity and harmony and a fervent believer in consensus-building and team work. So, when the contradictions that the party was experiencing became difficult to manage, cool headedness and deliberate, inclusive action became a necessity in determining its future direction, in overcoming its present state of unease, and in mapping out ways to re-unify its ranks. That was how the whole concept of a Caretaker Committee came about and how those of us who became its members were encouraged to step forward and be counted. And I am proud that I did because as difficult as our assignment is, it pales into insignificance were one to have rejected such a noble call to duty and bear a measure of blame over the regrettable quagmire the party will eventually find itself in.
Let us discuss your role. What’s your blueprint for an enduring peace in the PDP?
Our mandate is both simple and complex. It entails bequeathing the party a new, focused and visionary national leadership from the National Convention the caretaker committee will help to midwife in three months time. It also involves unifying the ranks of the party, reaching understanding with all its stakeholders and stalwarts, building trust and confidence and de-escalating and resolving several issues that some people may not be happy about. Regrettably, there are a number of court cases that are still pending, and that is an area we are currently focused on addressing. Ideally, the best option will be to work towards the withdrawal of all the cases currently in court and set in motion the party’s elaborate and time-tested internal conflict resolution mechanisms as a way of overcoming some noted misunderstandings.
Again, because we believe in the justness of our case and cause, and have high regard for the nation’s judicial authorities, even if we fail to have all the cases withdrawn, we are hopeful that the courts will render judgement that is in tandem with the expectations of virtually all the members, the key organs and caucuses of the party.
Can the umbrella be rebuilt, unified ahead 2019?
The umbrella will not only be rebuilt and the party fully unified well ahead of 2019, I will go further to assert that the PDP is only temporarily out of power. Come 2019, the party will bounce back in a grand style and win the general elections, God willing. We have learnt from the mistakes of 2015, mistakes that we cannot allow to be repeated in 2019. The process of winning begins with re-branding, re-positioning and re-empowering the party’s administrative, organizational and strategic infrastructure, and this is precisely what the Caretaker Committee, the various organs and the party’s massbase are currently doing.
Let’s have your assessment of the APC-led government so far?
Let me be honest with you, the scale of work handed down to the Caretaker Committee, and the shortness of the time we are expected to deliver on our mandate, is so acute and our schedule fully punishing that my gaze has been rather inwards. However, at least, on the basis of the APC-led government’s one year in office, I will leave it to Nigerians to weigh in with their verdict.
Culled from www.sunnewsonline.com