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PDP Must Win 2011 Election – Shagari

Sokoto State deputy governor, Muktari Shagari, has said that the PDP must, within the confines of the law, win the 2011 elections. He told LAWAL SABO IBRAHIM in Abuja why he believes so. He also spoke on his relationship with his boss as well as other national issues.
The PDP presidential primary election has come and gone; how would you react to the allegation that the court order on Nwodo was meant to mar the event?

As far as I am concerned, the most important thing for us as members of the PDP, is that we have held a nice convention were we elected our presidential flag bearer. So far, the event has been described as the best convention that has taken place in this country. With this kind of thing coming from the PDP, we really have hope in this country. We have had a free and fair convention, and I must commend the organisers and the delegates, as well as the security agencies that did so well. On top of it all, I commend the three aspirants and congratulate President Jonathan for emerging winner. I hope with that momentum, we would move to win the general election later.
But what of the Nwodo problem that nearly marred the convention?

Well, that showed how organised and experienced the PDP is, in handling crises. That is why we as a party, are the best for this country. I commend all the members of the PDP, especially delegates who decided to endorse Dr Bello Mohammed as the acting national chairman.
There are allegations that the governments of Sokoto and Zamfara States did not do enough for Jonathan, which was why he lost the primary election there?

I know that I have been personally described as one of the strongest supporters of President Jonathan. There is no way anyone could imagine I will sabotage his efforts to win the primary election. I have been consistent in speaking about why Nigerians must support him, especially the Northerners. In politics, one hour is a long time, I do not know what happened behind the scene, but at least we have done our duty, and if you want to know anything about the outcome in Sokoto or Zamfara, the right people to ask are the governors who are supposed to be controlling the delegates.
There are allegations of manipulation especially in the way each state was allocated separate ballot boxes with each closely monitored to decide the voting pattern. How would you react to that?

You see, the problem in this country is that when other political parties feel they cannot match you, they bring out so many things to create confusion. We held the most transparent presidential primary election so far in this country. In some parties, candidates were only adopted; while in others the candidates just appointed themselves. For us, the delegates came, the contestants were allowed to address them and at the end of the day, nobody was marched to where he cast his vote. People were asked to write names of the persons they wanted freely. So, the outcome was a true reflection of the feelings of our members which reflects the position of Nigerians that President Goodluck Jonathan remains the best candidate.
With the outcome of the primaries of your party, some people envisage protest voting against the PDP. What will you say to that?

In fact the PDP is the biggest party not only in Nigeria but in the entire African continent. It has the capacity and the political sagacity to be able to bring everybody along. And I am telling you that all the members of the PDP, have now put the convention behind them, and what we are focusing on is how we are going to win the general elections. In politics one cannot avoid the fact that somebody must feel disenchanted; but the truth is that our party will bring everybody back together. The PDP must win the 2011 election, so, we will do everything within the confines of the law.
PDP being the ruling party ought to have set a good precedence for others to follow; but some delegates allege that the way money was shared to them determined the outcome of the primary election. Won’t that replicate in the general elections?

Well, I think people are just making insinuations. You have not seen anybody collecting money, you said some delegates, who are they? The truth of the matter is that, we had the most successful convention so far held by the political parties in this dispensation and the votes were cast, the candidate of choice has been chosen by the people. As far as we are concerned, this insinuation comes from the other political parties in order to discredit us. But the PDP has always withstood those kinds of criticisms and we have held ourselves together to win elections and this time around too, we are going to win.
But some of the delegates actually confirmed that they were actually given money in Dollars?

I don’t know how far they are facts because you have not brought anybody to say that this is the person who was given any money. So, as far as I am concerned, we conducted a primary election in Abuja; it was peaceful and the security was so good; the conduct of both the delegates and candidates was so good, and it has been described as the best convention in which three people contested and one emerged winner and the others shook hands with him.
Two opposition parties had presented their presidential candidates from the North; and these people have been adjudged to be upright. Don’t you think they may spring surprises for the PDP?

The presidential election is coming up in April, so let us wait and see whether there will be surprises or not. But, all I can tell you is that PDP is organised, we have people of credibility and I think you cannot say I am not credible, and I am part of the support group of President Jonathan and there are many people like me. Are you saying Jonathan is not credible? He is a very good person who does not have any excess baggage to carry. So, we believe he is the most credible candidate and the most-liked of all. I think that is the issue, and we should be talking about issues not personalities. Let the candidates come out and tell Nigerians what they can do, so they should be judged based on the issues. President Jonathan has demonstrated that he is capable. Look at the dredging of River Niger, it has been dredged up to Lokoja, and our textile industries are now coming back to life. I am also happy that the issue of Almajiri in the North is being taken care of. So, also is the issue of agriculture, especially irrigation. Just last Monday, the President convened a stakeholders’ summit on water, and about 70% of water projects in this country are in the North. So, a man with this kind of feelings is the person we are looking for. Someone who, during their addresses to the delegates said he was not ready to join issues with anyone but was only ready to address issues, deserves the support of all Nigerians to move the country forward.
Voter registration began this week, how would you comment on the process so far?

So far, INEC has said it has all the equipment it requires and the President has also approved all the money they need. What is left is for Nigerians to come out and register because the success of the exercise depends on its outcome. So, let us wait and see how many Nigerians will register. I wish to appeal to Nigerians to come out and register so as to have a say in who becomes the president in the April elections.
How would you react to the insinuation that your principal, the Sokoto State governor does not carry you along as he should; which was even what brought about the defeat of Jonathan in your state in the primaries?

The fact is that I agreed to work with my governor because I believe in his capacity to run Sokoto State. He has ample experience; he was a teacher and had gone round all the villages, so, he knows them so well. He was a permanent secretary, so, he understands the civil service so well. He was a deputy governor and understands the politics of the state so well; and I felt teaming up with that gentleman is the right thing to do and that was what we have done. So far, nobody has heard me and Magatakarda quarrel over anything. We have known ourselves since 1981, and we have been very good and very close friends and I believe the important thing is we are delivering the dividends of democracy to the people of Sokoto State. So, those who want to insinuate anything can go ahead and do so. To me, the constitution has given the governor all the powers, and his deputy is just to support him and I give him all the support he needs. I have not complained to anybody; he too has not. The important thing for us is Sokoto; so, I wish to call on all the people of Sokoto State to come out en mass and vote for our governor and President Jonathan in the general elections.


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Posted by on Jan 25 2011. Filed under Party Politics, Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP), Sokoto, State News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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