Alhaji Idris Shuaibu Mikati, is a member of the board of the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies, (NIPSS), Kuru, Jos. In this interview with JIBRIN MIACHI, in Kaduna, he declared Senator Ahmed Muhammed Makarfi, as eminently qualified for the office of the President, Federal Republic of Nigeria. He also endorsed the honour done to MKO Abiola, the presumed winner of June 12, 1993, presidential election, by President Muhammadu Buhari. EXCERPTS:
What is your reaction to the declaration of Senator Ahmed Muhammed Makarfi, to contest the 2019 presidential election on the platform of PDP?
Sincerely, I think it is a step in the right direction. This is long awaited. People have been calling and expecting the distinguished Senator to run for the office of the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Remember that in 2007, on the eve of the completion of his tenure as governor of Kaduna state, he did indicate interest. Among the then PDP governors, an election was organised about two, three times and Makarfi topped the list of them that wanted to run for the office of the President. But at the last minute, the party apparatus decided to back late Umoru Musa Yar’Adua and eventually, Makarfi decided to go to the Senate. Makarfi has been in government at various levels. He was a commissioner in Kaduna state, a banker and a lecturer before he went into politics and became governor. He was twice a Senator and led the Party (PDP) as the National Caretaker Committee Chairman. I think, from all indications, whatever credentials you may require for someone to occupy the position of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I will conveniently say Ahmed Muhammed Makarfi, has the qualification and requisite experience to be in that position. However, in politics one of those things that make a political party strong is the number of candidates that are indicating interest to vie either for councillorship, National Assembly or office of the President. If you have a political party that has only one candidate, then that party has an issue. In the PDP, before Makarfi, Atiku had declared his intention to contest the race on the platform of PDP and we are going to see more of the people who will want to contest. As we speak, my good friend Dr Datti Baba Ahmed, has also indicated interest to contest the presidential election on the platform of PDP. For me, I think it is a good thing for PDP.
Looking at the calibre of people expressing interest in PDP ticket, how will you rate the chances of Makarfi?
It is premature to say what the chances of Mr. A or Y are. Like I did say, someone who has served as governor for eight years in Kaduna state, one of the most cosmopolitan states in the country to manage, I belief he has the quality. And because he was a governor, he would have had many friends across the length breath of this country. So, in terms of exposure and contact network both local and international, I will say he has the capacity to vie for the position he is looking for. In a nutshell, I will say Makarfi has a chance giving all these attributes. Remember that the last position he has held was the Caretaker Committee Chairman of the PDP. At least, within the PDP alone, in terms of the primary election, I think he stands a very good chance.
In view of the picture you have painted, what is your advice to the PDP, and those who have expressed their intention to contest the presidential election on the party’s platform?
Though I am not old enough to advise the party, but as an active politician and a member of the PDP, I think I should advise on two or three things. First, there should be a level playing field; ability to manage human beings and managing well is something the PDP need to learn. If they had told anyone of us that after 16 years of PDP in government, the party could be defeated in a general election, one will say no. I could remember when Adamu Chiroma, once said that the PDP will rule for sixty years, but it never ruled for twenty years. What caused that? I think PDP should do a kind of introspection to ask and tell themselves the bigger truth. What did we do wrong? When we identify that, then we should say never again will we do that. Secondly, the era of money politics is gradually coming to an end. When I went round the city of Kaduna discussing with one or two politicians and I was telling them that in 2015, four, five months to the general elections, how many organization can one remember came up with billboards, banners supporting President Goodluck Johnatan? I am sure, at that time we had nothing less than 100 organizations. But today, seven months to elections, how many campaign organisations or NGOs’ have endorsed President Buhari, even after his declaration? Maybe, two or three that I can remember. That means gradually people are coming to terms with don’t disturb us with noise but show us that you can deliver. Gradually, Nigerians are coming to realise that it is no longer about sentiments but performance capacity. We have not reached the promised land yet but those who will live long will see that in the next three elections in this country, money politics will be a thing of the past and those who think that all these godfathers who sit-down to anoint people and say this is my candidate, this person must win election, cannot happen any longer.
The annulled June 12 1993 Presidential election believed to have been won by late MKO Abiola has today been revisited. What is your reaction to this political development?
I sincerely feel President Buhari did the right thing. It is good enough to attempt to rewrite history and let us correct the wrong that was done. However, some of us were old enough when General Muhammodu Buhari became Head of state of the Federal Republic of Nigeria when he and his colleagues in the Nigerian Armed forces overthrew President Shehu Shagari. President Buhari should have first apologized to Shagari for the role he played in truncating a democratically elected government of which he was the president. I pray that God in his infinite mercy will give Buhari the wisdom and the humility to apologise to Nigerians and former President Shagari before he dies and maybe he will find space in his heart to forgive him. If you have not apologised for the role you played in overthrowing Shagari why will you go and apologise for an action you were not responsible for. I feel very strongly that the first thing he should have done was to apologize to the politicians and Nigerians for the role he played. Even if he was not part of the team that planned the coup, he benefited from it. Therefore, if he can apologise to the family of late MKO Abiola, and confer on him the national honour of GCFR, he should have the courage and the humility to apologise to Nigerians for his role because he emerged as the then Head of state. If you observe what happened on that day when the conferment was done, Buhari surprised everybody to have publicly apologised. For a President to apologise, meant a lot. Abiola’s daughter, Hafsat, reciprocated the gesture of the apology by President Buhari, by also apologising to President Buhari for the roles her late father played in funding the coup that overthrew Buhari Technically, those four hours of that event was the introduction and indeed the commencement of what I will call the ‘truth and forgiveness parliament of Nigeria.’ Instead of all these national conferences we are having, what we should be working towards – even if it will last for ninety days, is to be able to have the courage, the sincerity, the humility and the faith to tell ourselves the bitter truth that from those military junta that overthrew the first democratically elected government of Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and the rest of them down to the June 12 crisis, we should have an opportunity for those living, to apologise to one another, learn to forgive and live together as one indivisible country. Honestly, Buhari has done something well but he need to do even more. Because Nigerians trust him and he has earned the respect of quite a number of Nigerians, I think it will be good if he could quickly do that. It doesn’t cost us anything. If anything, that action will further cement the unity of Nigeria and we will once again live in peace and harmony.