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PDP 'LL GIVE JEGA HEADACHE – MASARI

By NBF News

Hon. Aminu Bello Masari was the Speaker of the House of Representatives at the time the National Assembly truncated the third term agenda of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo but it was not without a personal sacrifice.

Masari contested the 2006 governorship primary of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and only escaped narrowly with his honour and integrity from the battle field without realizing his dream to be the governor of Katsina State.

The former Speaker has formally dumped the PDP and joined the newly registered Congress for Progressive Change (CPC). Masari who was one of the leaders that recently canvassed for reforms in the PDP said he would have had no reason to quit the ruling party if it had embraced change. He expressed pessimism that the PDP would change for the better adding that the party would be a clog in wheel of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct a free and fair polls next year.

Here are excerpts of the interview:
You are dumping PDP when a minister and some governors in opposition parties are defecting to PDP. Why CPC?

Are they leaving CPC for another party? A minister is a minister. He wants to protect his seat. So, what is the big deal about it? If a minister is leaving the ruling party and joining a party that is supposed to be in opposition that is news but what you are saying is not news.

As a leader of the PDP Reform group, why are you opting out of the party instead of wooing supporters into the fold?

If you are in Nigeria, you would have heard that the last NEC meeting of PDP had thrown out reform. So, there is no reform. It is going to be business as usual.

Are you leaving because your reform proposal was thrown out?

Of course, principally, if the reform had gone through I would have had no reason to leave because the reform which is going to take place, I believe, will have also influence other parties. Unfortunately, it is going to be business as usual.

You were in Nigeria in 2006 (and you witnessed) how PDP conducted its primaries. If it is going to conduct similar thing as primary, it is not going to be anything other than selection by dubious means and in the end the INEC's problems will be compounded because the starting points are the parties. If the parties follow due process, do what is right according to their constitutions, select candidates on the basis of that, it means at the end of the day they will be selecting popular candidates.

So, if you are presenting popular candidates for elections then your problem is half solved but if you are giving unpopular candidates and you have the machinery of coercion; government behind you, it means you are preparing yourself to rig elections.

Are you going to accede to the clamour by your followers to contest the Katsina governorship again?

I have just joined a political party today and the party would very soon go for congress to establish its structures firmly for me to even understand fully the options available if I decide to contest elections. So, we have not reached that level.

How do you see the future of the party?
Very bright, if its future is not bright you wouldn't be here to ask me questions.

The ruling party says you have no supporters. What is your take on this?

The ruling party can boast of 34 local governments and the machinery of the state but if today the ruling party calls for a public outing like we did, you will find that 99 per cent of those people are people who are paid to come and they were forced to come.

Despite everything, they would come unwillingly but they must come because they have been forced to. The reality is if we can only make an announcement on the radio and people will come, pay their transport fare, which is how politics should be. That is the popularity. The acceptability of those leading a party determines the followership. So, government is government and we are just a political party.

You are among those clamoring for the creation of Karaduwa State. Do you think the state will be viable?

It is not about viability, it is about politics. The Senate President said instead of saying states are not viable, we should find out why they are not viable and make them viable. If you look at the configuration of Katsina States, you cannot say that the southern part is not viable. An elementary knowledge of the area will tell you that the southern Katsina is more economically viable than the northern part, but that is not the issue, the issue is you ask why people are asking for states creation.

It is because of injustice, inequity and unfairness. If there is good leadership, people will not go out asking for states. It is the failure of leadership. Today, out of 36 states, I don't think, maybe probably only the new states like Zamfara and Gombe, are not busy clamoring for new states because there is injustice, there is no good leadership.

When you have new states, let us have good leadership. For the political parties generally, let them reform so that the most popular will always emerge and the people will have the right to vote you in and vote you out.

Once that right is taken away from the people then you will never get good leadership and you will never get accountable leadership.

So, in our reform, we wanted to take power back to the people and unless we do that we will be in the circle of bad leadership. And this is what we in CPC are going against.