The Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party in Adamawa State, Abdullahi Prambe, insists in this interview with the Punch that Governor Jibrilla Bindow will soon dump the All Progressives Congress
Apart from former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, which your party considered a ‘big catch,’ are you expecting another big politician from the APC?
The PDP is democratically robust. We do carry each person along and consider ourselves as a family. If you look at what is happening right now, before the 2019 general elections, you’ll discover that a lot of people are returning to the PDP, their former house. They have observed that there is a need for them to come and unite themselves with the party; people like Buba Galadima and others. Among those that left the party before the 2015 general elections, over 90 per cent have returned to the PDP. People like the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, the former governor of Kano State, Rabiu Kwankwaso, and Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State.
The return of former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar to the PDP has given the party a big boost. When Atiku left the PDP, he left with many of his supporters. We therefore see the return of Atiku as a welcome development. The reason we are saying Adamawa is a PDP state is because if you look at those who left the party, a critical majority of them make up the current administration in the state. We therefore see it as a welcome development because all those who left as a result of imposition and lack of internal democracy of that era are now coming back.
Since we lost elections in the state, we have been lobbying and telling these people to return to their former house. Even when our members left, we remained optimistic that they would come back because we have seen the merger, we have seen the level of their governance and we have seen the way they handled the affairs of their party. Their former party leaders have achieved success and they don’t know how to manage it.
We have only few people here in Adamawa that had not returned to the PDP, including the state governor, who we have confidence that as time goes on, Bindow will (return). He is just marking time in the APC. Just watch events as they unfold. We keep on calling him and we keep on telling him that if he wants to fulfil his dream, he should just come back to the party. Bindow will find it more comfortable and easier to exercise his own rights in the PDP. Therefore, there’s no doubt that he will join the PDP very soon.
But the governor has issued a statement denying any plan to return to the PDP!
That is politics. He will soon return to the PDP. It’s a matter of time.
You expressed confidence that Bindow would return to the PDP. Why are you so sure?
We are still in consultations. Last week, we went to the former acting governor, Ambassador James Barka’s house and asked him to return to his former house and he agreed. He said based on his analysis; the PDP is the only political party that will sustain Nigeria. He also expressed confidence that the PDP will reclaim all its strongholds that it lost in 2015. He said before he left the PDP, there was no consultation. Now he wants to come back and he’s going to engage in some consultations. When he left the PDP, a lot of people across the state followed him into the APC. I’m definitely sure something positive will likely come out of it. As I speak, we are reaching out to the governor and from the look of things, something positive will also come about.
Are there grumblings within the PDP over the return of former members who are jostling for offices on the party’s platform?
It is very difficult to manage success. We are happy; a lot of people are coming back to the party. But if you are to fully take everything into context, you will not be happy because the party becomes a lot more difficult to manage. When you look at the number of people coming back to the party, they have one or two interests. And this is very tricky and a bit confusing when one puts it into perspective. But being democratic in nature, we know how to carry everybody along.
You know there’s this issue of changing the name of the party. As a result of this, it has been unanimously resolved by the National Executive Council of the party to allow returnees contest political offices. There’s nothing like spending six months before you are given your previous status. Now, anybody that comes back is allowed to enjoy the freedom of the party. Every returnee has equal rights just like any other legitimate member of the party. We are not going to block them. We are not going to be a stumbling block to them. However, it must be said that the election in 2019 will be settled by integrity. This we cannot deviate from. It is now left for the delegates to look out for people of integrity that will represent their interests and also align with the interest of Nigerians. That is where our confidence lies and we are not going to discriminate against any member of the party.
What gave you the impression that Governor Bindow and other APC members that you are wooing would want to dump their party?
In the PDP, we see ourselves as a family. It is only the PDP that the effort and contributions of each member is appreciably recognised and rewarded. If you can recall, during the late (Umaru) Yar’Adua’s administration, many people in the opposition were given some prominence because he gave members of the opposition parties appointments here in Adamawa. Same also goes for Goodluck (Jonathan) and even (Olusegun) Obasanjo. The PDP accommodated everybody. In the PDP, you have the opportunity of meeting with every leader, but with the APC, this is not the case. In the APC, if it is not in line with the interest of those at the top, they will just forget you. So many people left the PDP, but the party still exists. Former President Obasanjo, who is the greatest beneficiary of the PDP, left the party. The party still exists.
If President Muhammadu Buhari is not contesting the 2019 presidential election, that is the end of the APC in the northern part of Nigeria. Bola Tinubu’s exit from the APC will automatically mark the end of the party in the South-West. In the South-South and South-East, there’s no prominent fellow there. With the defection of the Senate President, who has a very strong presence in the North-Central, the 2019 re-election bid of President Buhari will suffer in that geopolitical zone. Therefore, in the PDP, we have that confidence that we are better than the ruling party in terms of leadership and ability to involve members in governance.
Are you saying that Buhari and Tinubu are the only pillars holding the APC structure in the entire country?
Yes. That is why the party is having a lot of crises. If you look at the series of crises within the APC, they are tied to the President and Tinubu. What is happening is that if Tinubu has an interest, it must be protected, even if the majority will go against it. The same applies to the President. The President came out at the NEC meeting and told the members of his party that he wanted Adams Oshiomhole to be the chairman of the party. And that was the end. If you can recall, there was this difference between the Presidency and the APC governors, on who to lead the party. They were at loggerheads. The governors wanted John Odigie-Oyegun to continue as the party chairman but the Presidency, which did not want Odigie-Oyegun back, went for Adams Oshiomhole. In 2015, the day the National Assembly was inaugurated, all of them went to the International Conference Centre in Abuja. They were waiting for Mr. President to tell them those they should elect as presiding and principal officers of the National Assembly, whereas Saraki and others were at the National Assembly. While those waiting for Buhari were still there, Saraki had emerged as the Senate President and (Yakubu) Dogara as Speaker of the House of Representatives. This marked the beginning of the animosity between the National Assembly and the Presidency because Saraki and Dogara were not Buhari and Tinubu’s preferred candidates. Soon after, Saraki was dragged before the Code of Conduct Tribunal while Dogara who was a bit loyal to the Presidency, played along with the party’s leadership.