In this bare all interview monitored by HEAD POLITICS, MUMINI ABDULKAREEM, Ekiti state Governor, Ayodele Fayose reveals the real issue between him, Governor Nyesome Wike and the PDP National Chairman, Ali Modu Sheriff and why they will never work with the embattled former Governor of Borno State, among other issues bedevilling the party. Excerpts:
What can you say of the police action in sealing off the International Conference Centre, which was the original venue for your meeting on the Court of Appeal’s judgment affirming Sheriff as the National Chairman of the PDP?
This is not leadership; Sheriff is working with the enemies of PDP to cause disaffection in the party the more. You will recall what happened in Port Harcourt. This is not the country we ask of when the ruling government is making efforts to kill the opposition at all costs using the services that belong to all of us. The Police, SSS and EFCC are being arbitrarily directed and they operate as if they are extension of the party in government. What I did on Monday was to demonstrate leadership and allow the people to meet at my place for us to have the meeting after the action of the police. For the fact that there are some people playing rough on the field during a football match, the referee will not end the match but will take out those that run foul of the rules of the game. It is when there is the plan to lie and commit evil that you begin to generalise. What is not right is not right and come to think of it, how do you have a strong opposition party in the country with this kind of behaviour?.
But there have been cases where factions have clashed right there at the secretariat daily…
The issues are quite easy, when some people go to hire people at Berger here in Lagos and they ferry them to the secretariat to cause trouble, you have seen them fighting over their settlement money at the end of the day.
But the police said they provided the security for the meeting when it was relocated to Ekiti house in Abuja…
When did that happened? I am straight forward Nigerian and I don’t even need police to do anything because they are doing hatchet job. When people want to hold anti-government rally, they block them but when the rally is pro government, they bring them inside the villa and start giving them food. Nigerians are reading between the lines, they are not fools and this is not what they voted for. The ability to accommodate the good and the bad is what is called leadership. Anybody that is in government should and supposed to be the father of all. I never wanted President Buhari and I still don’t want him and I made my reasons public. But today he’s the father of the country. About ninety per cent of all I have said about this government has come to pass letter for letter.
A lot of people thought after the judgment, the PDP should have brought everybody together. But what your last meeting suggest was a combative PDP that is not ready to accommodate any dissent?
There is nothing combative about our stand, that is the real PDP. We believe justice will come eventually. From the last few days, I have received several calls from their camp that we should not go to the Supreme Court but settle. What are they afraid of, even if we will lose, we shall go because our approaching the court was not just about PDP but for posterity and we are going to set the record straight there; I strongly believe and we believe the judgment by the justices at the apex court will be a precedent to help other parties in future.
What if the judgment turns against you, is there any other plan?
Well, when we get to the bridge, we shall cross it, but that will be an internal business of the party and not what we come and discuss on the pages and studios of newspapers and televisions.
But shouldn’t the plan B include bringing everybody together?
You cannot ask me to marry a woman with HIV at all cost irrespective of the time we have dated. In clear terms, we are not going with Ali Modu Sheriff. I was the arrowhead of his agenda initially and I did that in good faith because i saw him in my own wisdom as a former governor among other things.
How did that happened and what is really the issue with you, Wike and Sheriff?
It all started when we went to Bayelsa for the swearing in of the governor then and we were in the same car coming back. We started this conversation. He gave me an impression that he could do a good job and I supported him in good faith and thereafter massively canvassed for him. But there were layers of these things I saw later. It is good for me to say the truth and let the party leaders know the situation before they ran into problem. The day I saw Sheriff suing PDP as the chairman of the party was the day I backed out.
Have you met after that to iron it out?
Once I was in Lagos in Senator Buruji Kashamu’s hotel and Sheriff came there for a party meeting. After the meeting, there was this insinuation that I wanted to be his running mate for 2019. Then I was only one year and four months in government. It came to me as a rude shock and I made a press conference right in the hotel that the very day Sheriff talk about presidency in 2019, i will back out. The reality is playing out today. He told me he wanted to be caretaker chairman for three months and by extension, a convention to confirm it which I alluded to. But until I saw those court papers trying to use the court as alternative to put himself as chairman perpetually. As soon as I heard this, I called Governor Wike and others who believe he should be made chairman at the secretariat. We showed him the court papers initiated by his lawyers but he denied it and we made him to write an undertaking to distance himself from it and that he did not brief any lawyer to represent his interest in court. He wrote the letter in my presence, Governor Wike and two other governors that the lawyer should not appear for him in court and he is not part of it. I have a copy of the latter. But shortly after that, we saw another handwriting. When you are playing smart, you will end up dribbling yourself. Before we got to Port Harcourt, there was already a judgment saying three principal offices should not be contested, which is National Chairman, National Secretary and National Auditor. Because he was caught in that web, they quickly made efforts to reach the judge in Lagos and unusually, a case that had been fixed for about three weeks, was called before the judge a day before. He provided an aircraft for his lawyers with the assurances that we are going to elect him in Port Harcourt for the court to exercise whether it will not be possible for him to be elected by that judgment. I and Governor Wike called him around 11:30 pmthat we heard he was going to Lagos concerning that. He promised to stop. Around 9:00am the next day, he flew from Abuja to meet us in Port Harcourt and he prostrated before us holding the Quran on his left hand begging that I should not allowed him to be shamed. We told him we are worried with all these pranks while he was yet to be the chairman. We narrated the story before our colleagues and reasonably everybody backed out in Port Harcourt. At 3:00am, he came to meet us at the meeting because we were looking for alternative and part of that alternative was to replace him at the convention. When he got a wind of our action, on Friday in the early hours of the convention, he ran to us begging and I personally told him I cannot go any further. His tenure was supposed to be three months caretaker period for which he will be re-elected, he came for screening and wrote to say that he was already in Port Harcourt that he will be part of the convention, i have all the documents but because he saw that we have change our mind, that was when he went to address a press conference downstairs. Makarfi did not ask to be caretaker but was chosen by us on the spot at the meeting before the convention was shifted for three months. The story line being sold out there is different from the truth.
Are you saying there was no pact on you and Sheriff on the issue of 2019?
Power is only given by God and my coming back as the Governor of Ekiti state after eight years has nothing to do with me, it lacked my input. It was the Lords doing. If I want to be the Vice President of Nigeria and I know very soon I will be and even the President of this country because I have what it takes to be the president and very soon, that will come to pass if it is the will of God for me. We are going to put our house in order but not with working with Ali Modu Sheriff.
But how are you going to do that without Sheriff and all his sympathisers in the party?
If Sheriff is sure he has the numbers, let him call the other Governors, party members in the National Assembly, former ministers and all the other critical stakeholders to a meeting. You cannot see people massing around him during his press conferences. How can you say two or three people are sympathetic to your cause in a party like PDP, i think we have to be realistic? He’s only hobnobbing with APC because they too are looking for allies to destroy the opposition for them, using them to stop our meetings and what have you. But such machinations and Maradonas in court will not last forever. The court cannot appoint a party chairman for us. The convention has so much power and the Alpha and Omega of party decisions and how it should be run. We will not disparage the judiciary but rather we will test the issue at the Apex Court as responsible Nigerians. Party politics is about people, tell Sheriff to line up the people behind him not those controlled two or three you see with him on screen. During our meeting, you saw Ekweremadu, Leo Ogor, Governors, Ministers, BoT, among others. Those chapters and individual with him, I wish them good luck.
What do you think is the way forward for the party in this instance because there have been report of impunity and lack of internal democracy according to the Ekweremadu report?
First, the report is perfect and there is no party that is free of troubles today in Nigeria. APC has more problem than PDP. Maybe if Jonathan had not contested the election, we would have won because by that decision we left the north open. But Jonathan will forever be my leader and hero for relinquishing power. When you take out Buhari or Osinbajo or power out of the APC, the party will be in disarray. A lot of things are bottled in politicians but they kept quiet because that don’t have power to reject it. Sheriff cannot say he’s a founding father of the PDP. We would not abandon PDP to anybody but take the matter to logical conclusion. This party was founded to represent so many interests and has a very wide spread. It is a sleeping lion and anybody playing to the gallery is at his peril. In politics, circumstances can change many things. Nobody has right to even zone because it’s not in the constitution but only a gentleman’s agreement. The final road map is that we don’t want Sheriff, Makarfi is our chairman and a leader must possess certain qualities. There are three ingredients that produce tomorrow in politics, the people, the party and the candidate and most important is the people. Sheriff is the worst thing that has ever happened to PDP because he is working with the opposition to destroy the future of so many people.