Olanrewaju Lawal, Birnin-Kebbi
The former minister of Special Duties, Labour and Productivity under the immediate past President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, and a presidential aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Kabiru Tanimu Turaki (SAN), has said that the stealing and corruption being perpetrated under the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) government was unprecedented in the country’s political history.
He also revealed how the anti-graft war under the APC is one-sided. He spoke on other issues.
How far have you gone with your presidential aspiration?
I have met stakeholders in Kebbi State including State Executive of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from wards, local government and other leaders of the party concerning my ambition. We had discussed how I am going to get a ticket of my party to contest the 2019 presidential election. I decided to come home first, to seek the support of my people, discuss with them strategies to be adopted and their advice. We had a good discussion and their overwhelming support had boosted my moral. Also, I have met our traditional, religious leaders, different stakeholders across the country and their responses and support was a clear indication for me that Nigeria needs an experienced person as their President. I asked them political question whether they think it was worthwhile for me to go into the presidential race and I got a resounding positive feedback that I should also join the race.
So, with their approval, support, I think the stage is now clear for me to declare publicly before over 180 million Nigerians to seek their mandate to be elected as the president of this famous country in the world.
What should Nigerians be expecting from you that would be different from the past, and present Presidents that have governed Nigeria?
This ambition, I mean my presidential ambition is not just about me. It is all about PDP reformed programmes which other presidential aspirants in the party are equally aware of. So if anyone among us finally gets the ticket, the person will implement them. As many Nigerians are aware, my party had an opportunity to rule this nation for almost 16 years and we have looked into areas where we made mistakes. We have learnt our lessons and we are going to do better. Beyond that, there are many key issues that my party are mostly concerned about. These issues include our economy, corruption, insecurity, Niger-Delta unrests, kidnapping across the country, herdsmen/farmers’ crisis among others.
Many Nigerians would all recall that PDP brought Nigeria economy to be the fastest growing in Africa. Our nation was the number one hub for investors from the different part of the world. Then, these investors have confidence in our nation because there was a conducive environment for their investment to strive, yielding quick returns within the shortest time. Through that processes, many jobs were created for teaming Nigerians. But today, many of these investors have sold off their assets and liabilities after relocating from our country. I wonder what is our economic role now among the African nations?
Today in Nigeria, there is fear everywhere. No security especially in the North-Eastern part of Nigeria. Everybody knew how Nigeria was before 2014-2015 elections. Nigeria and Nigerians were all well secured under PDP before the election. I have a rare opportunity and privilege to be among the Presidential Committee saddled with the responsibility to dialogue with insurgents in the North-east and I knew the progress we made and how our efforts crippled the wings of the group.
We succeeded in having those that wanted to dialogue with government dialogue, which brought relative peace to that region. But this government especially those people that surrounded them are not sincere about the fight against insurgents. They are telling Nigerians that they have degraded insurgents; yet, this group still kill innocent people every day.
Again, the issue of kidnapping has spread all over Nigeria. Beyond that, there is also the herdsmen-farmers crisis, bandits attacked towns and villages have become normal scenarios in our country. All these insecurity symptoms have culminating effects on Nigeria’s projects, be it economy or sociopolitical development. Today, under APC government, our country is under siege, we are not safe in our houses, on the streets, places of works and one would wonder what sort of country is this? Many investors have gone. Instead of APC government to preserve our nation’s heritage, the ruling party’s leaders are behaving on the contrary.
Again, on the issue of corruption, in the history of Nigeria since the amalgamation of this country over 100 years ago, I have not witnessed the kind of corruption going on under APC government. Never in our history as the political entities, have we seen the kind of corruption and stealing being perpetrated under the APC administration. It is so open and done without decorum. No arm of government under APC that is free of corruption. It is free for all. If the so-called war against corruption that this APC government is saying they are championing is real, then, why is it one-sided to the extent that even ordinary Nigerians on the streets know that there is no fairness, no credibility, no integrity in what they are doing.
I can go on and on, but let me say here that we in PDP have a close relationship with Nigerians. Nigerians know us; we know Nigerians and they understand our administration. It is just like a senior wife, a husband can have many wives, but there would be specific uniqueness about the first wife. That is, she will be the best wife that would have a better understanding of their husband. Therefore, in the political dispensation, PDP is the senior wife in Nigeria.
So, how are you going to solve all these problems you have mentioned?
Like I said, I would draw inspirations from PDP manifestos and constitution to serve as my guide. On the issue of corruption, if we get back to the government our anti-graft war will not be selective. We shall start corruption war from our party so that opposition party will not accuse us of witch-hunt like what is happening under APC today. I know many political office holders serving under APC who were accused of corruption, but since they are in the ruling party, they become saints and innocent. Their properties were not seized and were allowed to enjoy the freedom and to enjoy their looted funds. So, tell me how many APC members accused of corruption that are undergoing investigation today? None! So, our corruption war will be holistic, honest, done with integrity, not selective.
If you observe this APC government, they lack integrity, so disgusting and dishonest
in the so-called war against corruption and insurgency. PDP will resuscitate our economy for the benefits of our dear nation if we get back to power.
Most state governments collected Paris Refund from the federal government, yet, they could not pay workers their salaries. Many states today still owe civil servants their monthly salaries, pensioners’ gratuities thereby subjecting them to unnecessary hardship. How would you address workers plights if elected as President of this country?
To start with, many Nigerian workers know me very well as being workers friendly. I had the privileges of being a minister of Labour and Productivity for nine months. While I was appointed to supervise the Ministry of Labour and Productivity, there were 14 outstanding strikes in both public and private sectors. Within nine months as the Labour Minister, I was able to resolve these strikes before I handed over to the substantive minister. So, if I become Nigeria’s President, I am not only going to approve new minimum wage for Nigeria workers, my government will give workers befitting salaries that would be sufficient for them, to take care of their families and move them away from any sort of corruption.
I have a track record as student unionist, youth activism, and Bar Unionist. So I understand the importance of paying workers their salaries promptly. It is only a wicked leader that would not pay workers their salaries promptly. It is very unfortunate that APC government do not care about workers’ plights, instead, they are mismanaging our resources. It is not that we are a poor country, or we don’t have resources, the resources are there, but they are being mismanaged.
How would you rate the APC administration in the last three years?
I will leave the rating to Nigerians and electorate because whatever I say here will be seen as opposition views.
What is your position on nPDP returning to PDP from APC?
They are PDP members and we have been saying it at different fora that they are our friends. They are orphans in APC and the best option for them is to return to their family house. They will be welcome back anytime they are ready to return. They are PDP members who went on the discovery mission. Now, they have seen it all over there that there is nothing to discover in APC, nothing again. They will be welcome back because our doors are open not only to them but to other Nigerians in different political parties, any Nigerian who want to contribute their quota to the developments of this nation. Though we are all human being and bound to make mistakes, now in PDP, we have reviewed our constitution which allows both old and new members to seek elective positions contrary to the old constitution which did not allow new members to seek elective positions until they are two years old in the party.
What are the lessons your party learnt during the prolonged leadership tussle?
You see, if not because PDP is strong and deeply rooted, the ruling party, APC would have succeeded in sending us to an untimely grave. We are having a ruling party which do not tolerate opposition party. They are trying to plant different crisis in our party. Look at Ali Modu Sheriff for instance; after he had lost at the court to remain as PDP national chairman, he has gone back to APC which was using him to cause confusion in PDP. If you read the interview he granted recently, he claimed he has succeeded not only in denying PDP from losing Edo and Ondo states gubernatorial elections, he said he had indeed created factions, schemes among party’s members. So, it is now left to Nigerians to judge him and APC. That is why we have remained consistent in telling Nigerians that Ali Modu Sherrif was planted in PDP by APC to create the crisis.
But today, PDP has come out from the crisis strong and able to stand from 2015 to date. We have succeeded in holding our national convention. But look at APC today common ward Congress; they could not organise it without violence, what a shame! (The Sun)