By Our Reporter
At a time when the national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has adopted President Goodluck Jonathan as its sole presidential candidate for the 2015 elections, a top leader and one of the party’s founding fathers, Chief Abu King Shuluwa, has said any attempt by the President to run for another term of office would amount to cheer greed and as such the president should step down for another qualified candidate to vie for the nation’s number job.
Shuluwa, one of the founding fathers of the PDP, was a member of the elitist Disciplinary Committee of the party at the national level. He was also sole administrator of the party in Plateau State. He prides himself as one of those, along with the present Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Sen. Anyim Pius Anyim, Ibrahim Mantu and others, who approached the National Assembly to apply the doctrine of necessity in order to make President Jonathan, then Vice President, acting President of Nigeria.
Now, things appear to have fallen apart between him and the President and as such the PDP leader can no longer hide his opposition to Jonathan’s bid for another term of office. Reason: “God has given him what he has now. He should not be greedy”.
Shuluwa fielded questions from KENNY ASHAKA with a total lack of hurry as if he has a duty to oblige the inquisitive. Yet, he manages to convince you, without making the effort, that he was born with a streak of stubbornness with which he pursues goals he set for himself. One of the goals seems his readiness to rock the party’s boat. In his anger against President Jonathan’s return bid, he made a lot of revelations. A bit of the answers to one of the questions put to him would suffice.
As a PDP man, can you say Jonathan will win the 2015 election?
How many times have I told you? He can win. He can rig election. When we went for the convention, the one he contested with Atiku, Jonathan gave $7,000 to each delegate. It wasn’t naira. What are you talking? Nigeria is a terrible country. Then, he gave bribe to delegates in dollars. Now he can give more.
Do you have evidence that he gave $7,000 per delegate?
I was a delegate, my friend. Why are you asking?
As a delegate then you also collected the $7,000?
He didn’t give me because I was not for him. He gave those who were for him and I witnessed it. I wasn’t for him. I was for Atiku. In fact, here, the governor cancelled my name. I won the contest to go as a delegate. You know the procedure was that you must contest from your ward and local government up to here to go to Abuja and I did. But when it got here, they cancelled my name because they said I was not going to vote for Jonathan. I said they can go ahead that I will be there and I was there.
As a PDP chieftain, we need your answer to the question as to President Goodluck Jonathan’s re-election bid. The clamour for him to contest the 2015 Presidential election has reached fever pitch. How prepared are you to drum up support for the President?
I have always been against Jonathan’s presidency after Yar’Adua’s demise. When Yar’Adua died, I wanted Jonathan to complete that tenure, which he did. And what he should have done is to pull back and then allow the Northerners to produce and complete the eight years. That is my position.
You mean that is still your position?
If he had pulled back, Jonathan would have taken the presidency on a platter of gold. Look, Obasanjo served for eight years and it was agreed… it was a gentleman’s agreement. They even signed that after Obasanjo’s eight years, the presidency should come to the North. Then North will sit and decide which side it should go. Now, Yar’Adua died. Our constitution says that if the president dies, the vice president takes over. We are not arguing over that provision in the constitution. Let him take over as president and finish the first tenure of Yar’Adua. The second tenure which Yar’Adua or any other Northerner could have done, he went ahead and rigged the election, including the primary election.
The issue you have just raised has been sorted out. Why going back on…?
Now that that one has been sorted out, he took what did not belong to him and from then, he should quit.
Don’t you believe that the President has the right to contest?
I do not believe.
If you do not believe, which constitution are you relying on to make the assertion?
You listen to me, please. I am telling you that Jonathan was a vice-president to Yar’Adua. Yar’Adua died. He finished that tenure, he would have allowed a Northerner. That thing was given to the North.
Was the presidency actually given to the North? The people of Nigeria voted for Yar’Adua. How then was it given to the North?
Don’t talk about voting. If you are talking about voting, we can rig election and say the whole of Nigeria voted for me. What are you talking? I am a politician. You give me money and I make wuruwuru and people will say you have won election all over Nigeria. Which Nigeria? I didn’t vote for him.
Is that why he shouldn’t be re-elected?
He has finished that tenure which he shouldn’t have done. Why does he want another tenure? Now, if you give Jonathan the presidency, he would be spending how many years? You tell me. The constitution allows for eight years. Now, if you give Jonathan another term of four years, how many years will he be spending as president? Is that one not constitution that I am talking about?
So you think it is time for the North?
It was time for the North. He took away that time.
Is it not now time for the North?
That’s what I am saying. Everybody is wasting his time. This time is for the North.
People believe that the issues before Nigeria today transcend a presidency from a particular part of the country and that the concern now is that man who can provide the good things of life- housing, food, good roads and employment, among others. So, to them we shouldn’t be talking about primordial issues of North and South?
In Benue, we have more than three tribes. We cannot afford to have one person because that would not be patriotism. When a Yoruba man says the juicy position he wants to give to the Yoruba, if they give it to any other person, you will see everybody crying in the newspapers. When Aondoaka was the Minister of Justice, a Tiv man, the Yorubas were crying in the newspapers. This Wazobia is what is killing Nigeria.
Do you see religion and ethnicity determining the outcome of next year’s elections?
No; not at all. But people have been bringing religion into this. There are more muslims in the South West of Nigeria.
Then why are you talking about a Northern presidency?
I am talking about the North and not religion. When you talk about the North, some people in the South think that everybody is a Muslim. No. We are all not. I am a Christian. Go to Adamawa State; it is difficult to differentiate a Christian from a Muslim. We are living together. Christians and Muslims live together, practise politics together. What is killing this country is religion and tribe. Ethnicity is killing us in this country because when a Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo and Fulani man is in a position, if it comes to employment, he makes sure he employs only people from his place. It doesn’t matter to them whether the person is a Christian or a Muslim. Even if you are a Muslim, but you are not Hausa or Fulani, it will be difficult for you to get employment. The worst thing is that when a minority like Jonathan occupies the position of presidency, from the South, what matters to him is the Hausa in the North. He deals with the majority in the North. He thinks that he cannot deal with the minority in the North.
Has he not been dealing with the minorities in the North?
No. No federal presence in Benue right now. Eight years of Jonathan’s presidency.
But Benue is not the only minority state in Nigeria?
No presence in the North Central. No presence in Adamawa and Taraba states and these are states where you have minorities. In Adamawa alone, you have more than 200 tribes.
What evidence of this accusation do you have because work is going on in some of the states?
Look at the terms of employment now. Take a look at the ministers we have. How many do the minorities have? Take a look at the number of Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba Ministers. How many slots do you think they occupy. We are about five million in Tiv land. Yet we do not occupy a major ministerial position. The only ministerial appointment we can get is a junior Minister. For God’s sake, during Shagari, we had three Ministers. Tiv alone. Isaac Shaahu, Paul Unongo and one other. This time round, tell me why we shouldn’t have a full ministerial appointment. David Mark decided that a senior Minister should not come to us. Even if David Mark is the Senate President, why should he take the senior Minister if we have only two? But most states have one Minister. If, therefore, we are given two, it means David Mark has taken them.
Is Abba Moro not from Benue?
What are you talking? There are minorities among minorities.
What you are saying now is that Tiv, the majority tribe in Benue State has been made minority?
Completely. Thank you. This is the best question you have ever asked me.
Is that the reason you are against Jonathan’s contest of the 2015 presidential election?
I think so.
Is that the only reason?
I told you that he should honour the gentleman’s agreement that he entered with Northerners. He has not honoured it. He is, therefore, not somebody you can trust. How can you trust somebody who agreed on something but reneged later on.
Tell me another reason you cannot trust President Jonathan
This reason is enough. But I can tell you another reason he should not be. I cannot trust him on this one. You agreed on something. You wrote it down, signed and later you said you didn’t sign.
But there are other Tiv politicians in Benue who will not toe your line?
Yes. Those who will not toe my line are looking for food. I do not need Jonathan’s food. I can go to farm. I can get my food from the farm. Those you are aiming at are psychophants. Any Tiv man who cannot toe my line is a psychophant who can never tell Jonathan the truth. But generally in Tiv land, nobody likes Jonathan.
But they gave Jonathan overwhelming votes at the last election?
You keep on talking about these votes as if you do not know the position. When a governor says go and vote there, the psychophants will go and do it. But you wait. I want you to count Jonathan’s votes if he is going to contest and if at all there is going to be an election. That time come and count Jonathan’s votes in Benue. This is because the governor is going. He cannot force people.
How critical is the Northern factor in determining the winner of the 2015 presidential poll?
You are asking me. Let me ask you one question before you go on. Why are you concerned about Jonathan? Jonathan himself has not declared his intention to contest. Now you are making a case for Jonathan. Why are you making a case for Jonathan? Let Jonathan come out and say look I want to contest. Why are people making a case for Jonathan? When he openly declares, we will know what to tell him.
If Jonathan comes out tomorrow to contest, as a PDP man will you not vote for him?
No, no, no. I won’t. I don’t vote for party. I vote for candidates.
But would that not amount to anti-party activity?
No. That is not what is called anti-party. I was a member of the Disciplinary Committee of the party at the national level. When you are to vote, your vote is secret. Nobody knows who you have voted for. If on the voting day, those shouting Jonathan’s name today decide to vote another candidate, how would you know? Is it because you asked me? A lot of people who are now shouting Jonathan will not vote for Jonathan. Wait and see. I am the one telling you.
Would you support an APC candidate?
I will support anybody in whatever party, but not Jonathan as a person.
What if he emerges as the flagbearer of the PDP?
It doesn’t matter to me. He doesn’t know me. My ward doesn’t mean anything to him.
I am surprised that a PDP chieftain of your calibre is speaking this way?
Don’t be surprised. You know Powell in America. He was a Republican, but he voted for Democrats because the candidate the Republicans put forward was not the type that would deliver, according to him. So, what you are saying now is that because I am in the PDP anybody they present I should vote for him? PDP should do the right thing. PDP should not impose candidates on us. Let us choose that candidate we want. When you choose the candidate people want, then we are bound to vote for that candidate. But when a candidate is imposed on you…Benue is a PDP state. But at the last election, it was neck and neck between the PDP and ACN candidates. Why? Majority of the people who voted for CAN were PDP members. This is because candidates that emerged in the local government were imposed. What Jonathan is doing now is that he doesn’t want anybody to contest even primaries with him. Is that proper? I am asking you as a journalist. Is that democratic? Everybody is endorsing him and eventually, people will be afraid to come out. Then Jonathan will emerge and if he does, we will not vote for him.
You won’t vote for him?
I will not vote for him unless something else happens.
What you have just said means that you are echoing the feelings of some people?
Let me tell you. You wait. Let Jonathan come. They want to eat. They want food. What do you care for? I have written Jonathan more than seven times to advise him. One thing I have never told you and I want to tell you now is that I was one of those who went to National Assembly, myself, Anyim, Mantu and others to go and ask the National Assembly to declare Jonathan as President when Yar’Adua died. I wrote Jonathan more than seven times, no reply. When you go, ask Anenih: who is Shuluwa.
Could that be why you are angry and speaking in this manner?
No. I want the right thing to be done. If you know who Shuluwa is; he wants the right thing to be done. If the right thing is done, I will be happy. I will enjoy it. But when the right thing is never done, then it favours certain people that you are better than.
Have you discussed your grievances with the stakeholders in the state?
Which stakeholders? Will they talk to me? They are my boys. So, talk to them that what? They know my stand. Everybody in the state knows my stand. I have no hatred for Jonathan. I don’t know him before and I was even in politics before him. I have played politics before Jonathan. God has given him what he has now. He should not be greedy.
By Our Reporter