The Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai, on Tuesday said members of the defunct new Peoples Democratic Party were not capable of stopping President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election.
He spoke in an interview with State House correspondents at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. The governor said since 2003, Buhari had been winning elections in Adamawa, Kano and Sokoto states where most of the nPDP members hail from.He however agreed that some of the grievances of the party chiefs were legitimate and should be looked into.
He said, “Who are these new PDP people that are threatening? They are Kwara, Kano, Sokoto, Adamawa, Rivers but I don’t think Amaechi is part of them.“So, let’s take these four states, go back to 2003 and check. Buhari then under the ANPP won in all these four states.“Go back to 2007, Buhari won in these four states. Even when Shekarau was running as a presidential candidate in 2011, Buhari defeated him in Kano.
“I have no doubt in my mind that even if the people threatening to leave decide to leave, it will have absolutely no impact on the presidential election.The President will win Sokoto, Kwara and Adamawa easily. Kano is already in the bag, I mean if you saw the crowd that welcomed the President without the former governor Kwankwaso, Kano has always been the President’s base.”
El-Rufai however admitted that some of the grievances expressed by the aggrieved nPDP members were legitimate and should be looked into.He said the only thing that was wrong was their threat to leave the party.He described politics as a game of addition and not subtraction, saying the party did not have to lose anyone.
However, members of the Alhaji Kawu Baraje-led faction of the defunct new PDP, who are currently in the APC, have said that their letter to the APC leadership is not an empty threat.The spokesperson for the group, Mr. Timi Frank, stated this in interview with reporters in Abuja, on Tuesday.
Frank stated that the group was considering options following the expiration of a seven-day ultimatum given to the APC.He explained that the group had yet to receive any response either from President Buhari or the APC leadership.Frank also dismissed insinuations that there was a crack in the nPDP bloc as a result of a counter-letter written by Senator Abdullahi Adamu on Monday.
According to him, the authentic members of the nPDP bloc were not surprised about the antics of the former Nasarawa State governor.
He explained that the senator was better known for his active involvement in the pro-Abacha movement as well as ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo’s failed third term bid.
Frank said over 95 per cent of the nPDP members gave Alhaji Kawu Baraje the authority to speak on their behalf and as such, the contents of his letter conveyed their feelings.
Asked whether the President or the APC had responded to his group’s letter, Frank said, “Today makes it seven days from the day our group brought this letter to the party. But as it stands, we’ve not got any response yet from them. As we’ve said, whatever we must have said in that letter, it is not an empty threat. If they decide to ignore us, so, be it.
“At the appropriate time, we are going to respond and make our position known to Nigerians based on what we’ve said. It is not just a mere threat; it is not just a mere ultimatum.
“I will tell you we are meeting with our leaders and we are going to come up with a clear position on our next step if finally they don’t attend to us.”
The nPDP spokesman further explained that history appeared to be repeating itself because this was the same way the then ruling PDP ignored calls by some of them to address certain issues.
He said, “We told them why we were aggrieved. Our leaders moved round the states to talk to party members, to ask the government at that time to listen to our views, but at the end of the day, they refused. They ignored us and that was how we left.
In response to a question on what the next step would be should the APC continue to ignore the bloc, he said, “We believe we are going to take a decision that will benefit the Nigerian people because we believe that democracy should be all inclusive. Democracy should not be a situation where when you speak the truth, you will be harassed; you will be intimidated and so on.”
He debunked Senator Adamu’s claims that the APC had been fair to the nPDP bloc.
Frank said the positions occupied by the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, were not appointments.
He argued that the two men enjoyed the confidence of their colleagues in the National Assembly across party lines and were elected based on their personal merits.
Earlier, el-Rufai had justified the use of electronic voting in last Saturday’s local government elections in his state.
He said the process gave the people the confidence to elect their chairmen and ward councillors.
He said electronic voting did not contravene the Electoral Act as being argued by some persons.
He said former President Goodluck Jonathan signed an amendment to the Act which, he claimed, legitimised the use of card readers and other electronic systems for voting.
The governor also recommended electronic voting for the 2019 elections.
“I recommend it highly to everyone. I have already offered to my colleagues’ governors that are yet to conduct local government elections that they can come to Kaduna and we can give them the machines on mutually acceptable terms.
“All you will need is to change the software, it will have the logo of the state and the number of parties active in the state and the number of parties active in the state and they can use it. It is easy.
“At the federal level, I will recommend it as well because with the card reader and the electronic voting machine, the era of rigging elections is almost over and I think that is when people will have confidence in the process and will come out en masse to vote for their leaders.
“Having said that, I know we have been working on this for about one year before we got to where we are. Although it is possible for INEC to do it, it will be logistically difficult.
“But nothing stops them from trying if the resources are available. Because, the machines have already been manufactured, the designs are there, you only need to place the orders to the Chinese and I’m sure they will deliver them in no time.
“But, you need some months to go round and do some advocacy, to show people how to use it. I think it may be possible to use it in the next elections but I am not INEC.
“INEC has better appreciation of their logistic challenges I can only give my own opinion about what I think. But, it is something that I highly recommend for adoption throughout the country,” he said.