FELIX HASSAN HYAT, former Minister of State for Aviation is the PDP Chairman, Kaduna State. In this interview with JIBRIN MIACHI, he says with the prevailing situations, PDP is sure of returning to power in 2019. He also warns against rigging the general elections to avoid wrath of the people. EXCERPT:
Party Primary elections to elect candidate for 2019 general election is around the corner. In Kaduna, what is happening in PDP?
Those who are interested in contesting for one office or the other are busy going round. Ranging from the State and National Assemblies to Gubernatorial, I am aware, the aspirants are moving from one part of the State to the other consulting. Quite well, political activities are going on very well but not in the office because the office has no role to play now.
So far, how many of them have shown keen interest?
As of now, I know that up to eight people have shown interest and they included our immediate past Governor. Ramadan Yero
Giving the prevailing situation and the past elections, what is your assessment of your party, the PDP for now
My mind is reading positive. In democracy, we are talking of number. If in the process of playing the game you notice increase in your number which is your strength, it means you are more prepared, confident and positive that the outcome will be favourable. From the facts on ground, we are sure of victory come 2019 general elections.
You have just held Local Government elections in the state. Looking at the outcome of that exercise, what is your reaction and expectation in the forthcoming general elections?
We won the election hands down. The fact is that we were denied a declaration by the State Independent Electoral Commission (SEICOM), which was taking directive from the Government House and behaving as they are not guided by law. We are optimistic that some of the elections would be overturned at the tribunal. Everybody knows that the judiciary has improved drastically to give people hope. That is that. Going by the votes of the people in the state, we are sure that we will have nothing to fear come 2019 democratic dispensation.
You threatened to challenge the outcome of the Local Government election, what is the situation now?
We are already at the tribunal because we have enough evidences to prove our position on the outcome of that election, compared to what was announced. So, we are expecting the election to be upturned in our favour and reclaim our victory. As far as I am concerned, we have no fear.
Looking at Ekiti state 2018 governorship election, does the development associated with the exercise give you the feeling that there will be free and fair elections in 2019?
On this Ekiti election, I still maintain that security agents played very shameful roles. They have no business doing what they did. There were several allegations. See what they did to the Governor. They wanted to deny but later apologised that it will not repeat again, yet no head was rolled for doing a disgraceful thing. I therefore no longer see politicians as a threat to democracy, rather the security agents that have taken the side of government and INEC to fighting the rest of Nigerians and denying them the right to freely choose their leaders. I watched INEC on television, accepting that there was problem of vote selling and purchasing. So, they even knew that there was that problem and it was an issue of irregularity, but what did they do in a situation like that? In this case, it is clear that the people were denied the choice that they made by security agents that were there in connivance with federal government. With this development, security forces’ engagement in election henceforth need to be re assessed and reviewed to reflect in the protection of the rights and wishes of the people as guaranteed by law. The whole world has seen what happened, how the image of the country was dragged to the mud during Ekiti governorship election. We must call a spade a spade. The international community, from this experience, need to put eye on what is going on in the country politically to avoid anarchy. If somebody in an election does not win, and because he has apparatus of power in his hands he becomes otherwise, you should expect such person to be a dictator. History all over the world showed that dictators never ended well. A similar thing happened in Kano and eventually the truth came out.
From your views, it appears you are confirming the public feelings that he who plays the pipers dictates the tune?
That is not supposed to be the case because the upkeep of security agencies is from public funds. It does not come from an individual’s account! Therefore the issue of he who plays the pipers dictates the tune does not and should not arise. Their allegiance should not be to a government official but to the country and the people. Position in government is a privilege. Somebody has been there, certainly somebody or people will be there after them and so it will continue but the system, the government which is the people, remains.
Kaduna state is one of the states that PDP had ruled sixteen years uninterruptedly until the last general elections swept you out. Four years after, a round of election is approaching, how prepared are you to return to power?
We are prepared because election is about people and the people are with us. You met people when you came in here. All those that sat there, to your hearing, everybody was complaining of hunger, living in pain and looking for solution not knowing I am in the same class with them. Such people, do you need to tell them what to do? They have already known what to do since their destiny is in their hands, their voting power. All we are saying is that the security should allow people to exercise their rights and INEC should allow votes to count. I am sure if the people are allowed to express their freedom freely, we will go the other way and not certainly the way of government. If that happened, it will be better for the country and all the citizens. Everything has crumbled. Within three years of this administration, Nigerians are crying. The government said the past administration was not doing the right thing, yet people were able to feed and send their children to school, people were able to go to hospitals for medical treatment within and outside the country, but today can you talk of that? No. Even those that are working are finding difficult to meet the needs of their family. Government said they are fighting corruption, all the reported cases of corruption against government officials, they could not raise eyebrow not to talk of investigating them. What type of corruption are we fighting then? Look at the issue of employment. Employment is no longer advertised. Where it is advertised, it is for formality. Parastatals are graded. Appointment and employment into juicy ones goes to candidates of top government officials since the coming of this government as if other Nigerians do not have right. Government don’t not look at that as corruption. So, this government does not even know the meaning of corruption.
Zoning policy was at a time introduced in Kaduna. Where is the PDP governorship candidate expected to come from this time around?
You know we are in opposition. When you are in opposition, you don’t talk of zoning. As far as governorship contest is therefore concerned, we allow people to bring out the person they want to govern the state. After our victory, the issue of zoning can be revisited. But for the purpose of these forthcoming elections, zoning is not our priority. Having explained why, I will appeal to the people to look for who is popular and will be acceptable to eligible voters and let us join hands to support the candidate. There are many offices that we can zone after victory. But for now, we are looking for victory. Zoning may deny the State of opportunity to look out for popular and acceptable candidate out of those that are coming out from different parts of the State. It is not that the party is against zoning, but for now we want to see how we will take over government.