Senator Abdullahi Adamu represents Nasarawa North senatorial district. In this interview with RUTH CHOJI, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture maintains that the opposition PDP knows they are bound to lose the 2019 elections, hence the noise about the amendment of the Electoral Act 2010.
The president is being berated for not assenting to the amended Electoral Act for the umpteenth time, and the opposition sees his action as a ploy to rig the elections. What is your take on this?
The president sent a letter to the National Assembly with reasons for not signing the Electoral Act and picking from some of the points the president raised in the letter he sent to the National Assembly, I believes they are fundamental issues that must not be taken lightly. The Bill has come once or twice and it has been a very contentious Bill. The president said certain words and expressions in the law must be critically looked at, and that, the fact that INEC has since last year concluded major preparations they will need for the conduct of the elections based on the existing laws, if a new law is introduced with some few days to the elections, some of the preparations INEC has already undertaken will suffer and if will create doubts on the outcome of the elections. We don’t want to make ourselves laughing stock to the international community because of our elections. Mr. President said, he will sign the law but provided the law will take effect in the next elections not this forthcoming one so that we allow the current provisions of the law in existence to continue. I think it is very reasonable and I think all well-meaning Nigerians will support this position. I think the PDP has seen defeat staring them in the face and that is why they want to create confusion so that something will happen and the elections will not hold again. The whole thing is to see how they can short-circuit the whole process of the elections. Another thing is that, why is it that Atiku Abubakar, who is the candidate of the PDP and former vice president is at the forefront of those shouting that the electoral law be signed? Why is it that the chairman of the PDP and the Senate President, who is sitting in the exalted position of the chairman of the National Assembly are among the people saying the law must be signed? The SP is the director-general of the PDP presidential campaign organization. Some of these things can only happen in Nigeria. We give so much latitude to people to do what they want to government. I don’t have stomarch for it. We can see that, this is somebody who has seen defeat staring him in the face and now wants to avoid that defeat by creating a situation to show fault somewhere, to justify his posturing against the elections that they will face. We are telling them that the elections will hold and they will be defeated.
Some Nigerians have urged the National Assembly to muster the required number of lawmakers and veto the Presideent on the Electoral Bill. What is your take?
They don’t have the required number. They are powerless. They are just talking just to scare those who don’t know what is going on. They are just shouting. It’s the press that are overblowing this sensitive issue and instead of being objective, the press is giving these issues prominence to help the so-called ‘under-dog’. We must be careful so we don’t bury this democracy. The press must be objective and do whatever it will take to protect our democracy. I’m careful in criticising the press because I saw the role they played during the pre-independence struggle. I was old enough to understand what played out and the role of the press. I know the role the press also played to get Nigeria back to democracy in 1999. I’m not comfortable with the role the press is playing now in promoting some of these issues that do not unite and promote our democracy.
The opposition believes that INEC is planning to rig the elections for the ruling APC…
From the few staggered elections we have had, it will give you sufficient reasons to believe that, the PDP is losing hope, the PDP in the words of Williams Shakespeare said “cowards die many times before their death”. The PDP is displaying those traits. They see defeat coming their way at the general elections. We do know they are only crying wolf and Nigerians are showing their support to the APC. Nigerians are indicating both in words and deeds that the APC is the party to beat in the forthoming general elections. I’m not saying everything is going well for the APC, we have our own problems but in spite of our problems, we are working to ensure that we succeed in the forthcoming general elections. We will defeat the PDP and they PDP know so. What they are hoping is that, Nigerians will forget easily, the extent of the damage they inflicted on the nation, the rape of our democratic institutions, the rape to our commonwealth and they feel that, with Buhari’s three years or more in power, Nigerians have forgotten what they went through in their hands. We have not forgotten the cheap money they were throwing around, they behaved like Robin Hood who robbed the rich to give the poor. In their view, the poor are their constituents, they are their supporters. So, we understand the angle they are coming from and we believe by the grace of God, we shall have victory.
Some have insisted the TraderMoni being shared by the APC government as a ploy to buy voters’ conscience. Is it true?
That is empowerment. They might as well say that because the APC is in power, so Buhari should not do anything good to rejuvenate the people and economy. They may see it as buying voters but in truth, how do you expect a government that is fighting poverty to reach the common people? Go to America and other developed societies, how do they reach the poor? It is by distributing funds direct to them. So because Buhari is doing the same thing other nations are doing to their citizens, it now means, they are buying voters? These are poor people looking for how they will move their business forward. This is a loan they will pay back without any interest and yet, people see that as vote buying, then only God will save Nigeria.
Some people see Atiku’s emergence as PDP presidential candidate as a major cause of concern for the APC. Do you share this view?
Atiku knows from the bottom of his heart and from his conscience that this presidency is not his for taking in the next coming election. I don’t share God’s powers or what he will do tomorrow but if you go by what Atiku is, his antecedents in politics and how he has ran from pillar to post so far in his career and see what he has done when he was vice president, but God doesn’t work like that. God does not work with people who want blessing by hook or crook. I believe that Nigerians have seen the stuff that some of these people parading themselves as PDP leaders are made of. We were with them, I was with them until about 2013. I was one of the founding fathers of the PDP until they missed the road and they are not likely to get back on the road. They are not behaving as if they have learn any lesson yet. We will teach them lesson in the democratic processes we have adopted.
Although the APC primaries has come and gone but some participants are still bitter, and there are fears that this could affect the chances of the party in the forthcoming elections…
There is no clear and easy approach to solving problems like this because this is democracy and anybody who desires to test his popularity or run for any office, the constitution made it absolutely clear that, as long as you meet the criteria for such contest, you may go ahead. To this extent, we open our gates to all those who intended to contest. Yes in some places, there were direct primaries, in others, there was indirect primaries and where you have propensity of complaints is in places where they had indirect primaries. But we are taking measures as a party to address some of the extreme measures that brought animosity in our relationship. In this reconciliation process, every zone has a committee which was established by the National Working Committee to see how best we can reconcile warring factions and warring personalities so that we can aggregate the support base of our great party and see how far we can go in resolving some of the conflicts. No party worth its salt will allow aggrieved members to go just like that. go to America, when the republican primaries took place in America, we know what happened in spite of their civilization, they were at daggers drawn but when all was said and done, when the elections were done, some people didn’t go for their party because the disappointment was so deep. The issue of philosophy and doctrine of the party and principles on which the party was founded caused a difference. Some were not willing to compromise. But most of the crises you see here are not so much founded on doctrine that the party was founded over or the principles on which the party was founded over. It’s just a matter of personal interest. It is always geo-political interest or ego driven interest. So we have tried to identify the cause of the conflict and address it. What some people forget is that in every contest, there must be a winner and loser. Some accept defeat in good faith but others want to contest the results and are willing to go anywhere to do that. They use every means to challenge the outcome before they give up. So it’s not different with the APC. So because the liberty party members enjoy. People are given the freedom to express their misgivings on the primaries that were conducted in their constituencies. In my state, whatever took place, they have tried to galvanize it and bring everybody together so that we can have a united front and face the opposition. I will not live in self-delusion to say that, it will go away. The most important thing is that we are in control of the situation.