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Kogi State Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Dr Samuel Uhuotu, shares his thoughts with OLUWAFEMI MORGAN on the reconciliation moves of the party and other national issues currently on the front burner
Whatefforts are being made to gain the votes of eligible voters for the Peoples Democratic Party?
We are all making efforts, reasonable and legitimate efforts. You know that is what the PDP is for; we are sensitising our people and all the rest of it. We are also preaching peace, because of what use is it to have victory if there is no peace? What are you going to enjoy if there is no peace? So, we are working hard on that.
Recently, a 12-member reconciliation committee was put in place to resolve the crisis in your party at the state level. How far has the committee gone and how will you measure its performance?
They have always done very well. You know that these reconciliation committees are at different levels. We have other reconciliation committees that are not in the know. They are not in the news. We are doing reconciliation at the ward level, local government level and zonal level. Politics is about reconciliation, agreeing and disagreeing, but all these issues are limited to human concerns, they are not force majeure. So, they should be within control.
We are working to achieve a united family, if not for any other reason, for the sake of salvaging Nigerians from the shackles of the All Progressives Congress. It is a task for us and we are realising it. That is why we are doing everything possible to make this reconciliation work. We must do it for everyone, even those in the APC, who are suffering silently, we are reconciling for them.
How will you appraise the government of Governor Yahaya Bello?
I am not going to compare him with any other governor; I am going to compare him with the experiences that I have as an elderly person. I think the opportunity is there and it is still there for him to do more than what he is doing.
The Kogi State Government has stated that it has performed well in serving the people of the state, what is your take on the remark?
What are you expecting them to say? These are political talks. You don’t expect them to say that they have failed the people, but people are there and are comparing; you too are seeing and comparing. But I know he can do much better than this if he gets more focused on leaving a legacy behind.
What is your take on the alleged threat by the governor to shoot his opponents? Does this give you fear or concern?
There is no fear in us; we are only in pain. We are in pain about how a fellow Nigerian made this statement to fellow Nigerians. We are not in fear, we are in pain. Why should a human being make such a statement to another human being? If you are going to win, who are you going to rule? Are they not human beings? How can he make this kind of statement to fellow Nigerians, particularly me that you are talking to? He is my son. If you are in opposition, will you be very proud of him? I am in pain. Why should my son say this kind of thing? He owes everyone and the whole country an apology.
What do you make of the disagreement between Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and the PDP leadership at the national level?
I told you before that what is going on is human nature, it is not force majeure and it is not a tsunami. So, all sorts of palliative measures to create a good environment for the people have been put in place by the party. Some of them may be effective, some may not, but as long as we achieve our aim, then we are home and dry. Let me tell you, it is people who do not know what is going on who are worried about our wrangling. You will see what will happen very soon. We shall come into positive fortune very soon.
Will the party succumb to the demand of Wike and his camp for the removal of the Chairman of the PDP, Iyorchia Ayu?
Wike is a very important person in the PDP, but he is not the only person who put Ayu in the position. Ayu’s position was obtained constitutionally. If there is another call that is not constitutional, we have to call the person and inform him that the party lives on its constitution. There is nothing that the party does that is not constitutional.
Are you sure that the PDP would have resolved its differences before the 2023 elections?
In fact, by the special grace of the Almighty God and by the special favour God has always granted Nigerians, God has blessed Nigeria and he has never stopped loving Nigeria, and that is why that love has been extended to the PDP to rescue Nigeria from the APC.
How best can vote-buying and electoral violence be curbed during the forthcoming elections?
You know this technology they want to deploy will minimise those types of vices in the future. More parties now have to watch more than ever. This issue of vote-buying will not be an issue. Nigerians are determined and desirous for the best now. Vote-buying is something that will be inconsequential in the next elections.
Campaigns will begin on September 28. Does the PDP in Kogi State have the wherewithal to support the party at the national level financially for the forthcoming elections?
If you are talking about the presidential campaign, it is not going to be a state issue, it is a national affair. We are planning the engineering of the funding. When we come to the governorship, it will be a different ball game. This time, it is the presidential election; it is the entire nation that is involved. If you are very strong, we will try to support those who are weak. It is a whole country that is involved. But what we want most importantly is the commitment of everybody to the success of the PDP for the sake of rescuing Nigerians from the APC.
How much will be earmarked by the PDP for the 2023 elections?
For this one, we don’t sit down and calculate because of the input from human beings. At times, money cannot buy them. We are working on gaining the commitment of people, which cannot be bought with naira and kobo. Your commitment to the success of Nigeria cannot be quantified monetarily.
What is your take on the management of the mineral resources in Kogi State, especially the embargo placed on mining in the state?
When the right people, who can take the right decision and create the right environment come on board, I don’t think the Federal Government, which has a huge deposit of mineral resources in Kogi State, will not harness it. I think it is the human angle that we have to take care of because talking about mining, we need peace; we need security and we need safety. If these things are not there, you may have all the best deposits in your area and they will be of no use. So, this is what we are going to work on. If the right people are in positions of power, Nigeria has got all the human resources to do anything or to achieve anything. You and everyone else can be richer and better if the country was in a better place, but for now, this is the sacrifice you have to make for your country.
There are groups within Nigeria agitating for self-determination. Do you subscribe to self-determination as a way forward for the country?
Nobody will say that God has made a mistake by putting us together. It has always been our strength. Agitation will always come when there is no fairness and when people feel that they are being marginalised and sidelined. You know that before my classmate, Umaru Yar’Adua (former President), died, he was already making a lot of progress in that area of national reconstruction. Unfortunately, he passed away. Once the right people are there, we shall sit down and discuss, and we will all realise that it is better for Nigeria to be one than divided, because this country is the strength of Africa; we cannot afford to mess it up. So, once the right people are there and they devote the right time to it and get capable people to discuss this issue, there will be unity. Nigerians are very reasonable and intelligent people; we shall come to a common understanding and create a country where everybody will have a sense of belonging.
What do you make of the closed accounts of the Kogi State Government over allegations of corruption by an anti-graft agency?
The agencies, which are investigating the Kogi State accounts, have their reasons for doing what they did. We don’t have any further information because they are the ones that have all the files that led to that decision. Ordinarily, closing such an account will affect the welfare of the people of the state, but if there are allegations of corruption, they have to be corrected. We cannot live in error, we cannot live in impunity.
Recently, critics said the pipeline surveillance contract was not meant to be given to a non-state actor like Tompolo, given that the nation has several security forces that can take charge of surveillance. What is your take on this?
My own belief is that there are people who sit down and think about it before making a decision and I believe that they must have their reason for considering that decision the best one. But whatever the case may be, the people who are making these decisions are human beings, they are part of us, and they did not come from another planet. You can never say they are 100 per cent right, but I know that they must have Nigeria at heart before they made such a decision. Until they explain to us, there are many details that you and I don’t know unless you want to make assumptions.
How will you advise Tompolo on handling the pipeline surveillance contract awarded to him by the Federal Government?
He should make those people who have committed the contract to his hands proud and he should also allow Nigeria, which has got the resources to award this contract, to have the benefit of the contract. He needs to concentrate on the job, not minding the security inhibitions that we have in the country at the same time. I am an engineering consultant; there are many international contracts that have to do with power stations, and insecurity today has kept such projects in the cooler. One of them is the Zungeru power station. The project would have taken care of many of the problems we are having in the power sector, but insecurity has kept that project at bay.
Do you mean Zungeru in Niger State?
Yes, we have a contract to put a very big hydrocarbon station there, but today, the project is in the cooler.
What do you think can be done to solve the problem of school closure in some parts of the country due to increasing level of insecurity?
Until the right system is in place, nothing will be done about it. If a system was there and that system remained when these schools were closed down under their watch, what comment can one make than to pray for a change of hands so that we can have capable people who can tackle these issues?
Will the change of hands come in 2023?
Yes, very soon by the special grace of God
The PDP seems silent in Kogi State, especially in the face of the non-payment of the salaries of public workers, among other issues, why is that so?
The PDP is not in power in Kogi State; you can only make noise, lament that people are dying and all that; we have made so much of that noise. What else can we do? When we get back to power, when we have our victory at the national level in February and at the state level, the life of people in Kogi State will change for the better by the special grace of God.