Kola Ologbondiyan, National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in this interview with TEMIDAYO AKINSUYI, speaks on latest developments in the polity, especiallly on the delay in signing the Electoral Act Amendment Bill with less than two years to the conduct of the 2023 general elections. Excerpts:
We understand that the rumoured presidential bid of Bukola Saraki, former Senate President is already causing ripples in your party as some members are saying he is ineligible based on his position as Chairman of Reconciliation and Strategy Committee. How true is that?
It is too early for anyone to say whether someone is eligible or not to contest as the party is yet to decide where it will zone the presidential ticket to. In the first place, How do they know if he (Saraki) is ineligible to contest or not? The party is yet to decide where we will zone the presidency to. After that is done, that is when we can say whether somebody is eligible or not.
But what about his campaign posters that are seen in strategic places in Abuja, including Wadata Plaza, your party’s secretariat?
On the issue of the campaign posters, we don’t know those behind it, though we have had cases in the past where posters were posted on behalf of people and pasted without the knowledge of the person they claim is contesting.I think the media aide of the former senate president has denounced the posters as handiwork of mischief makers. But as far as we are concerned in the party, our focus is on our off-season elections. We are concerned with engendering unity and peace among our members and leaders and we are also concerned about reconciliation. These are the challenges before the party now and that is what we working on.
President Muhammadu Buhari upon return from his medical vacation in the United Kingdom (UK) said Nigeria should expect ‘continuity’ from him. How did your party receive that statement?
The position of our party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is very clear and it is well articulated in the statement we issued after he said that. Our position is that we rejected in clear terms President Muhammadu Buhari’s declaration that Nigerians should expect continuity of his governance system, because Nigerians cannot afford more of the president’s misrule. Also, our party holds that whatever purpose his frame of mind on continuity was made to serve, it must not detach from the finality of his leaving office in on May 29, 2023. Moreover, Nigerians vehemently reject any idea of ‘continuity’ that pertains to failed economy, hunger and starvation, banditry, killings, terrorism, kidnapping, abuse of human rights, treasury looting, mindless borrowing and other vices that have characterized the APC administration under the watch of President Buhari.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) in its reaction to the medical trip said that President Buhari is now re-energised and recommitted to executing the party’s lofty developmental objectives after his medical trip abroad. What is your take on that?
Like we said in our statement, the comment by the APC had already confirmed that our nation has indeed been on auto-pilot leading to shambolic state of affairs in the nation, escalation of violence and insecurity, wrecking of our national economy, policy inconsistency, entrenchment of corruption and impunity, with no hope in sight.As much as we recognise the humanity of all, our advice is that those at the helm of affairs must be honest enough not to take up assignments that are beyond their capacity. Now that Mr. President is re-energized, his handlers have no further excuses on his failure to lead from the front as he promised, in the fight against terrorists and insurgents, whose activities escalated under his watch.
Our party therefore expects the re-energized President Buhari as the Commander-In-Chief to immediately proceed to Zamfara, Borno, Kaduna, Adamawa and other states where terrorists have practically taken over communities on account of the failures of his administration. Mr. President should also immediately address the nation on how he intends to pay back the huge foreign loans his administration had collected in the last six years, for which the future of our nation has been mortgaged.
The ‘re-energised’ President is also expected to forcefully commence the recovery of over N15 trillion reportedly stolen by APC leaders from government agencies including the NNPC, NEMA, EFCC, NDDC among others. Our party insist that Mr. President must henceforth take responsibility and end his excuse of not always being aware of issues in our country.
There has been a back and forth between Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo state and the Minister of Finance over the allegation by the Governor that the federal government had to print N60 billion which was used to beef up the meagre revenue available for distribution for the month of March. What is your party’s reaction to this?
For failing the full disclosure test, the PDP demands that the Minister of Finance should immediately be relieved of her position, while the President accepts responsibility for the indiscriminate printing of currency in our Naira. Our party implores President Buhari to save our nation by allowing better hands to manage and salvage our economy before it is too late
The admission by CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, that the apex bank had been printing money at the bidding of government, had vindicated our earlier stand that the Buhari-led APC administration was characterised by concealments, deceit and falsehood.
We are also commending Governor Obaseki for speaking out. As a financial expert, he is not known for flippancy, and therefore must be commended for his act of patriotism in exposing the dire economic situation our nation has been plunged under the Buhari administration.
A situation where the federal government cannot articulate and implement policies favourable to wealth creation but resorting to borrowing and indiscriminate printing of currency notes, only goes to further confirm that the Buhari administration lacks the credibility and capacity to run a nation.
Indeed, the admission by the CBN governor that ‘Nigeria is unfortunately in a very bad situation’ further justifies our position that the Buhari-led APC administration has wrecked the economy of our nation.
Our party is worried over the huge negative impact of indiscriminate printing of currency which has led to the unprecedented rise in inflation rate to 18.17% as disclosed by the Bureau of National Statistics (NBS) on Thursday.
This situation has led to further economic hardship with surging prices and fallen purchasing power throwing millions of families in distress and unable to afford the basic necessities of life.
On this note, our party is calling out President Buhari to come clean on the amount that had been printed so far by the CBN to finance the deficit caused by the financial mismanagement of his government as well as what the funds had been used for.
President Buhari failed to assent to the Electoral Act Bill in 2019. With less than two years to the 2023 presidential election, do you think the Bill which is still with the National Assembly will see the light of the day?
As a party, we constituted a committee on Electoral Reforms chaired by Senator Ike Ekweremadu, who incidentally had been the chairman of Electoral and Constitution Review Committee of the Senate over a period of time, and who is also a member of the committee of the national assembly for the same purpose.
So, we are waiting for their report that will be submitted to us by the Ekweremadu committee as a guidance to the steps that the party will further take. Since the president will not be contesting in 2023, it is the expectation of our party that he will sign the Electoral Act amendment this time.
Source:- Independent Ng