Fayose Wants To Destroy PDP-Senator Kashamu
Senator Buruji Kashamu is the lawmaker representing Ogun East Senatorial District in the National Assembly. As one of the leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ogun State and the South West geo-political zone, he was one of the earliest proponents of “political solution” to the PDP leadership crisis. In this interview with reporters, he spoke on the fallout of the last week’s botched peace meeting and Ekiti State Governor Ayo Fayose’s threat of defection, among other issues. Excerpts:
WHY were you not at the PDP Stakeholders’ Meeting held last week?
I was invited but could not make it because I was a little bit indisposed. However, the Senate and the whole of the National Assembly were well represented by our leaders.
So, with what has come out of the meeting, how would you rate it?
I am honestly shocked and surprised that the former President could preside over a meeting where the judgment of the Court of Appeal was being disregarded as irrelevant. These cannot be the face of a party that is desirous of a break with the past. Going by the accounts of what I have heard happened at the meeting, I think it was a needless gathering that has reopened healing wounds and further exacerbated the crisis. How could you gather over 400 leaders and members for a supposed reconciliation meeting and expect to have any meaningful deliberations? I say this because any PDP meeting that fails to recognize what our laws and the courts have said about the leadership crisis is a return to the lawlessness of the past and the disdain for the rule of law that led to public disaffection with the party. That meeting was another attempt to restart on a wrong footing and premise, and if people do not dissociate from it, it will breed more chaos and confusion such as we saw envelope the meeting and it will only spread to the membership and organs of the party nationwide again. Members and leaders were just starting to get their bearings from the Court of Appeal judgment which ordered a return to 16th May 2016 judgment of Mohammed J. of the FCT High Court which means that Senator Ali Modu Sheriff is the National Chairman of the PDP as of today. Everyone of us (including present of past President’s of Nigeria) are based on the Court of Appeal judgment and everybody is bound to abide with that whether we like it or not. You cannot call a Shareholders or Board of Directors meeting and say the Chairman of the Board cannot participate or preside over the meeting. Worse still, some persons said Senator Sheriff must not be recognized as National such Chairman of the Party even when an appellate court has found Senator Sheriff is the National Chairman of the party. These are the same people who are ruling their states through the instrumentality of the law. It was the courts that validated the elections of these same people as governors and society accepted them as such. If the meeting refused to acknowledge them in their legal capacities of Governors of their States as required by the PDP constitution Otherwise, they wouldn’t they have walked out of the meeting? Yet, these were the same persons who urged all of us to await the verdict of the Court of Appeal! Now that the judgment did not go as they wanted it, they are singing a new tune. Put differently, would they have said the same thing had the Court of Appeal pronounced Senator Ahmed Makarfi as the National Chairman of our party? With due respect to our party leaders and elders, you don’t solve a problem by creating another. It was in a bid to solve the leadership crisis that the claimants went to court and submitted to the jurisdiction and authority of the court. Now that the court has made a pronouncement based on time-tested precedents and facts before it, you have to respect and live with it until a superior court says otherwise. It does not matter whether you have a lawless mob or majority with you. The law is the law. It is what distinguishes a sane society from the jungle.
Don’t you think the National Chairman, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff should have respected the person of former President Goodluck Jonathan instead of walking out of the meeting?
Senator Ali Modu Sheriff was out of the country when he was called by the former President and told of the meeting and he had to cut short his trip to attend the meeting. That is a sign of respect. Even when he arrived in the country, I understand that he went straight to the former President and they met over the modalities for the meeting, and it was agreed that four of them will address the meeting. That is, former President Jonathan, Senator Sheriff, the BoT Chairman and then Senator Makarfi. However, when he got there, he was not recognized as the National Chairman of the party whereas others were recognized with their titles, including those who were no longer in office. I was reliably informed that Fayose who has been the architect of the leadership crisis in our party made sure the Master of Ceremonies didn’t recognize Senator Sheriff when he arrived. Again, no seat was reserved for him. They had to hurriedly give him the seat of the BOT Chairman. To further worsen matters and contrary to the earlier agreement, they said he would no longer be allowed to address the gathering and that Governor Fayose said if Sheriff was allowed to address the gathering he would leave the meeting with his people. Instead of allowing the National Chairman, Senator Ali Modu-Sheriff to give the opening remarks and the sacked Chairman of the National Caretaker Committee, Senator Ahmed Makarfi to give the closing remarks in the true spirit of reconciliation, everything was bungled because of one man’s ago and intransigence and the meeting turned out to be a fiasco. So, the walking out of Senator Ali Modu Sheriff was not on the party leaders but he walked out of a gathering where illegality and impunity – the very factors at the root of the PDP crisis and which led the party to where it is today – were being perpetrated.
With due respect to our governors, this was how some of their predecessors insisted on having their ways in party matters and imposed candidates on the party who were eventually rejected by the electorate. Some of them have an over-bloated estimation of themselves. They think that because they are governors, they can determine who gets what in the party or even your membership. Senator Sheriff knows his rights and he was not going to sleep on them or allow anyone to trample on them. He had already waved the Olive’s branch by accepting the report of the Governor Seriake Dickson’s committee and also undertaken not to seek election at the convention. If you don’t like him, the easiest and fastest way to ease him out is to go for a legitimate and valid convention and elect new national officers into vacant offices so that they that will drive the party henceforth. What is more, before the national leadership crisis broke out, the ward, local government, state and zonal congresses had been done and concluded. So, the delegates for the national convention had been elected. These are the ones representing the party membership nationwide and not any other motley meeting comprised of hand picked surrogates, of two or three governors, who have not been elected to represent the interests of PDP members. If you say you have the majority of the party membership, why don’t you go to the convention and test your strength and then bring about the kind of leadership you desire?
What would you say about the decision of the meeting to set up a committee that will reconcile the contending groups?
I really do not know how far the so-called committee can go. Can you clap with one hand? If a party to a negotiation has opted out of it, how far can the negotiation go? Those who convened the meeting did not handle it well. Do they expect Senator Ali Modu Sheriff to nominate people into a committee purportedly set up by a meeting that did not recognize him as the National Chairman of the PDP? Let’s wait to see how things would work out. But for me, I think that with all that happened last week we just made ourselves a laughing stock in eyes of right-thinking members of the society. If we cannot put our party together, how then can we convince the general public that we can put the country together? If we cannot provide the much needed leadership for the party, rise above our narrow views and stand for what we all know is right, how can the people entrust us with their destiny?
But Governor Fayose has said he will never recognize Sheriff as the National Chairman of PDP and that if the Supreme Court affirms him he would leave the party?
It is laughable that those who have no respect for the Rule of Law are the ones seeking to lead us. They impose themselves on the rest of us just because they are governors. They are the first to accuse the Federal Government of not obeying court orders and judgment, yet they are the worst culprits. They brook no opposition in their states. If the Federal Government is not obeying the Rule of Law, how come some of them who looted our common heritage are enjoying their freedom while others are having their day in court? Has Fayose forgotten how he was booted out of office in 2006?
I had always known that Fayose has an agenda and alerted our leaders and elders about his agenda to either have his way or destroy the PDP before he leaves for God-knows-where. Now that he is letting the cat out of the bag, I can only say that Fayose has exposed himself. He has shown that he is the real agent of destabilization. He is one of those who want to kill the PDP before he defects. However, it should be clearly pointed out that PDP was not founded because of Fayose or any of us. Whether anyone leaves or not, the party will remain. It will not die. The party is like a barrack where soldiers come and go, and the barrack remains. The truth of the matter is that the leadership crisis in the PDP was designed and orchestrated by Fayose because of his inordinate ambition and fear of live after office next year. He knew what his eyes saw and where he came from when he left office in 2006 and was out of power for what he himself had described as “seven dark years”. It is that life of rags and penury that he doesn’t want to return to and that is why he is fighting tooth and nail to stay afloat and be relevant either hook or crook. Fayose that is talking about honour and dignity and calling some people moles had moved from PDP to PPA to LP and back to PDP whereas some of us have remained in the PDP. He boasts of beating two incumbents but fail to mention the fact that it was because the powers-that-be “assisted” him. He says he is “street-wise” and credits himself with all manner of achievements, I won’t say more than let us wait and see if he is going to install his successor. We shall see how much influence he will wield as an outgoing governor! The good people of Ekiti State probably gave him another chance because they thought he had changed because he kept telling everyone who cared to listen then that he had learnt his lessons and was more mature, not knowing that a man’s character is like smoke, it cannot be hidden.
There is this tag of Sheriff being a mole in the PDP that has refused to go, and Governor Fayose has even said a top APC chieftain told him that they were going to fund Sheriff to organize the proposed National Convention. What would you say to this?
It is very funny and shameful that a supposed PDP Governor would go on live television to say such. The questions begging for answers are: Why would the imaginary APC top shot tell Fayose such? What is the relationship between Fayose and the APC top shot? Why was he the only PDP leader that was told such a thing? So, shall we say the imaginary APC leader and Fayose are working to kill the PDP so that they can work together on another platform that they are working on since they both see themselves as confidants? But candidly, knowing Fayose and his propensity for lies and propaganda, this claim is another assertion from his fecund and fertile basket of lies and tricks. If you believe that, you can believe anything. Was this not this same Fayose who brought Sheriff and told the rest of us that he was the best thing to ever happen to PDP and that APC was in trouble because they know Sheriff’s antecedents as someone who cannot be pushed around? He only changed the narrative when he saw that he could not use Sheriff to perpetrate illegalities and have his way. He and some of his colleagues went to beg Sheriff to be the National Chairman and then wanted to disgrace him out of office, and the man resisted. That is why the party is where it is today. He is mouthing Makarfi today because Makarfi is serving his purpose. He will change gear the moment, Senator Makarfi refuses to do his bidding and label him all manner of things. He is on record as having said all reconciliation efforts should wait until the Court of Appeal delivered its judgment. He is singing another song now that the court has delivered its judgment. That is Fayose for you: consistently inconsistent. He speaks from both sides of the mouth, thinking that he is wiser than other Nigerians.
It is insulting to our collective psyche as a party and a people that the same elements who stole our country blind through the arms funds scam and shared the loot among themselves while our children, women and men were being killed are the ones angling to call the shots in our party. I dare to say that even if things are hard as a result of the mindless corruption they perpetrated, they should not rub it in. Nigerians now know that the level of corruption is unlike what was obtainable in the past. There is now some level of consciousness that there are consequences for corruption. How can those who typify our worst era as a party now want to call the shots in PDP? Fayose collected billions from the arms funds, just like his other accomplices in Lagos and Osun states. This worsened the security situation in the country which was one of the reasons PDP lost power. Yet, we want to pretend as if nothing happened. If some of us have forgotten, can the IDPs and those who lost their loved ones forget so soon? With this kind of attitude, I do not think we are ready yet for repositioning. How can we continue to portray ourselves as a people who have not learnt any lesson? We still want to continue with the impunity of the past. We still allow common thieves and rogues to dictate to us what should happen in our party even after court pronouncements. We allow them to be calling the shots and grandstanding as if that is the best we can offer. We cannot be doing a thing the same way and expect a different result.
If Fayose and his co-travellers think that Nigerians have short memories and are gullible, they would soon be shocked. Let him continue in his empty boastings and arrogance. The day of reckoning will soon be here. It is baffling that rogues and the plunderers of our commonwealth are the ones grandstanding as the face of an opposition party. We sure can do better than this. In saner climes, those who are the architects of a party’s misfortune cannot be leaders of a party desirous of repositioning itself. It is most unfortunate that some of our respectable leaders are still hobnobbing with those who sank the last PDP administration through their avarice and gluttonous tendencies.
What do you think is the way forward for PDP?
I sincerely think that the Governor Seriake Dickson’s committee had given us the roadmap for peace in the party. This other one that is still-born is a mere duplication of efforts. Whatever amendments that is needed to be done should be suggested to the committee. It has the buy in and support of the relevant organs and stakeholders of the party. I wish to plead with our leaders such as the former Senate President David Mark, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu and former National Chairman, Dr. Ahmadu Ali and other well-meaning leaders to step up their game and provide the kind of leadership that the party needs at this time. Otherwise, we might all have to wait till the outcome of the appeal at the Supreme Court which might be later this year or sometimes next year. Our respected party leaders should be elder statesmen in their actions in private and in public. We need their strength of character, courage, forthrightness and sincerity of purpose at this crucial time. We do not need some charlatans who were nothing before they became Governors; strip them of the office and they become bare and empty.
How many PDP Governors attend any meeting that Fayose calls since his so-called emergence as Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum? When they saw through their plans, how many PDP Governors attended the last meeting? Most of the governors have left the forum for him to continue to lead a three-man PDP Governors’ Forum. This reminds me of a saying that, “an agama lizard in the village will always remain an agama lizard in town”. He has again taken his bad character to the PDP Governors’ Forum and it has never been the same again!
These same elements who thrive in impunity and corruption now want to hijack the party and if they cannot have their way, they will either hang the party or destroy it. Those who collapsed the immediate past PDP administration still want to call the shots in PDP. Who among all these characters have the integrity of President Buhari? We should first go and resolve the problems in our party and allow tested and trusted people to take charge of the party.
Governor Fayose described the present government as the worst we have ever had in this country, do you agree with him?
I don’t know who advised him or maybe he advised himself, but you would have noticed that he has slowed down on his wanton criticisms of the Federal Government. He was shooting from the hip, forgetting the wisdom of our elders who say “if your mouth turns into a knife, it will cut off your lips”. What I have always said is that it is not enough to make sweeping statements and play to the gallery. If you must criticize, show us what you have done differently with the resources of Ekiti State instead of pontificating on governance and leadership at the national level. The country is like a system made up of component parts which are the states and local governments. The actions and/or inactions of the units translate to what you see in the whole. With the support that the National Assembly and other critical stakeholders have given the President Buhari’s administration, he has reduced corruption, improved security and he is working hard to fix the economy. I concede that things are tough but they would have been worse with the kind of discoveries being made about the unconscionable corruption and stealing that took place in the past. If not for President Buhari’s integrity and strength of character, the country would have sunk deeper into unimaginable mess. The tell-tale signs were there. Monies were disappearing and people were helping themselves to our commonwealth. I recall that when the Emir of Kano Sanusi Lamido Sanusi told us that $20 billion were missing from NNPC accounts not many believed him. Now, we are daily regaled with the discovery of bunkers where millions of dollars are kept. Every day, slush funds are being discovered in strange and fictitious accounts!
Fayose abandoned the primary reason he was elected and made “Buhari bashing” a state policy. The other time he made some “predictions” for Nigeria after going to the “mountain” to pray for seven days. But we know that the hood does not make the monk. What predictions would a man who benefitted from the $15billion arms funds tell with the truckload of evidence stacked against him and his cohorts? Instead of posing as a friend of the poor and the masses, it is obvious that he is one of their greatest enemies. It was their mindless diversion of the arms funds that led to the deaths of innocent men, women and children as well as their displacement and kidnap. Boko Haram had spread from the North East to Kogi State, FCT and parts of the South-South and South-East. In other societies, those found culpable in the perpetration of this kind of scandalous crime are made to pay the supreme price.
Whenever they seek to confuse and manipulate us by reminding us of our present situation, we must have the courage to remind them of where we are coming from. If they shamelessly say things were working better with corruption, we must be bold enough to let them know that we were already an accident waiting to happen. No one is better qualified to remind us of our trajectory than the two-time Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy in the immediate past administration, Dr. (Mrs) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. In a talk she gave at the George Washington University in the United States of America last year, the former Managing Director of the World Bank said the last administration of which she was a part was so desperate to corner the loyalty of stakeholders and associates that it lacked the political will to fight corruption and save for a rainy day such as this.
Her words, “We saved $22 billion because the political will to do it was there. And when the 2008/2009 crisis came, we were able to draw on those savings precisely to issue about a five per cent of GDP fiscal stimulus to the economy, and we never had to come to the (World) Bank or the Fund (International Monetary Fund). This time around and this is the key now, you need not only to have the instrument, but you also need the political will. In my second time as a finance minister, from 2011 to 2015, we had the instrument, we had the means, we had done it before, but zero political will”.
There is enough information that lends credence to her assertions. It is common knowledge that the administration of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo left behind 45billion dollars external reserves and the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua administration grew the reserves to 64billion dollars within a year. That was why it was able to finance 15 months of imports despite the 2008/2009 world economic meltdown. Nigeria survived the melt down because those administrations had the political will to save. Even more commendable is the fact that in spite of the tough economic reality at the time, the administration left 47.7billion dollars in reserves and an external debt of 3.94billion dollars even though the administration earned only N9trillion from crude oil sales within that short period.
But what happened after the demise of President Yar’Adua despite the oil boom that saw Brent crude being sold at over 100 dollars/barrel and Nigeria earning 51trillion Naira within five years? We lost all of that to large scale looting and pilfering of our commonwealth. Those who were in government not only squandered the oil revenue; they depleted the reserves left by President Yar’Adua, leaving 32billion dollars and a huge external debt of 63billion dollars.
These acts preceded the dip in the price of Brent which fell to as low as 35 dollars/barrel shortly after the current administration took over power and has only recently climbed up to over 50 dollars per barrel.
So, in as much as the buck always falls on the leader, it is not appropriate to heap all the blame on the current leadership. In essence, if the seeds of our present situation were planted by the maladministration of the past governments, the lack of the political will of the immediate past administration nurtured and exacerbated the turn of events. Perhaps that was why upon his assumption of office; President Buhari said he met an empty treasury! When a head is too big, it cannot avoid punches. Our situation was precariously bad; we could not have expected a miracle. The mindless looting of our commonwealth with its attendant consequences on the life and well-being of the nation took several years, it will require careful planning and clinical execution to get us out of the woods.
This is not about party affiliation or any other primordial considerations. These are facts of history. Corruption was never part of the manifestos of the PDP. But, we had some plunderers and rogues who did our party in. We were in power for over 15 years. Today, it is the APC. We have to live with that reality and allow those in office to work until another election cycle comes and then the electorate decides what to do. That is the beauty and essence of democracy. But, with the kind of lawlessness being displayed by our party, how can we take over from people that are far more disciplined and cohesive than us? Who among all these loudmouths and pretenders masquerading as the face of PDP have the strength of character and integrity of President Buhari?
My position has always been that the campaigns are over. If we cannot support the government of the day, the least we can do is to allow the government to work and stop the distractions because in the final analysis those in office today will leave some day and the country will remain. Any attempt to distract them will rub off on us as a people and country. If the country is drawn back, it is the same people that we seek to lead that will bear the brunt. It will take several years to rebuild whatever is destroyed by blind and extreme politicking. So, let us tread cautiously and gently, and allow those whom the Almighty Allah Subhana Wa Tala has chosen to lead us to do their bit.