2019: I’m not an opportunist, says Markafi

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A former governor of Kaduna State, Sen. Ahmed Makarfi, on Monday, in Asaba, Delta State said he is committed to the total restructuring of the country if elected as president in next year’s election.

Makarfi said his commitment to restructuring is not mere political talk, insisting that there must be a way to restructure the country and its agencies including the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) such that political parties are represented in the commission.

He said as governor of Kaduna State, he was the architect of the first national conference under former president Olusegun Obasanjo, adding however that so many vital areas which were classified as no go areas, were shot out.

Makarfi who spoke during a meeting with possible Delta State PDP delegates to the national convention said he is not aspiring to the position of president because he was once the national chairman of the caretaker committee.

“I am not an opportunist, I am not coming out to be president because you once appointed national chairman of the caretaker committee. People may have forgotten that I was to succeed Obasanjo in 2007.

“After we had gone round and I was ahead on the ballot, for some reasons, somebody far behind me on the ballot was selected. Some people were not happy but I agreed to withdraw from the race in the interest of the party and the country.

“They didn’t believe that I was withdrawing, and the president then asked for a formal letter of withdrawal which I tendered in three days. I did that to ensure smooth transition from one civilian government to the other.

“That didn’t stop me, I became the leader of the presidential campaign for South-West. And they made a lot of promises to me which were not fulfilled, again I remained loyal to the party,” Makarfi said.

According to the presidential hopeful, political leaders are not associated with so much money before they emerge as president of the country from the onset.

He said Tafawa Balewa, Shehu Shagari, Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Yar’Adua, Goodluck Jonathan and even President Muhammadu Buhari never paraded so much wealth before they were elected presidents at various times in the nation’s history.

“They often underrate us but we have always performed excellently in any task given to us. That is how you know who is capable. We are focused and can never be distracted.

“When I was running for governorship in 1998, all the big politicians were against me, saying I didn’t have enough money but political leadership is not determined by how much you have.

“Having too much money is a distraction to the public service you are expected to render when you are elected,” he said.

He added that he was confident that the PDP will present a credible candidate that all the stakeholders including traditional rulers, religious leaders and all class of the citizenry can feel comfortable with when voted into office.

In addition to restructuring, Makarfi said if elected, he address the dearth of infrastructure, noting that he has decided to be going on his nationwide consultation by road to “feel what Nigerians are feeling.”

He also promised to address insecurity and create an environment for the economy to thrive, pointing out that education, tackling unemployment and poverty reduction will occupy top priority in his administration.

Responding, the state governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa described the presidential hopeful as very grounded about the issues affecting the country having held various positions as governor, senator and national chairman of the party at a time the PDP was in turmoil.

He said Makarfi was able to manage the turbulent era of the PDP and made it a beautiful bride that now being sort after, just as he affirmed that Makarfi was a good and honest party man.

“We have so many good materials in the PDP, and the least we can do is to ensure a free and fair primary at the national convention. But I will maintain my neutrality in the best interest of the party. The delegates have listened to you, and I believe that they will make the right choice at the appropriate time,” Okowa said.

Elect candidate with credibility, goodwill, Makarfi advises PDP delegates

A presidential aspirant of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Sen. Ahmed Makarfi, on Monday, advised party faithful to shun moneybags but to elect a candidate that has  credibility and goodwill to enable the party win the 2019 presidential election.

He, therefore, urged delegates of the party to vote wisely at the forthcoming party primaries if they want to garner votes in the presidential election.

Addressing Edo PDP delegates in Benin, Makarfi urged the party to use certain criteria to eliminate some aspirants from the race, but did not however give reason or elaborate on his proposed criteria.

He disclosed that he is travelling round the country by road in the course of his campaigns to have a mental state of roads and infrastructural situation across the country so that he would not to waste time in addressing the problems when he is elected President of the country.

The former Kaduna State governor and immediate past National Chairman of the PDP cautioned that the role he played to stabilise the party should not give him automatic presidential ticket.

In apparent reference to others, Makarfi stated that he did not defect from the PDP in 2015 even when he knew he would lose the election.

His words, “That I did service to the party should not give me any automatic right. Every other member of the party should have equal right to come and seek for this ticket and go around and communicate with you.

“That is why I do not take my campaigns by air. I go by road to take mental note of roads condition across the country.

“That made me not to waste time as Governor to address the infrastructural needs of Kaduna State. That is why I am loved by the people of Kaduna.

“I am also taking mental note as I canvass for support of party men and women to nominate me as the party’s candidate.

“I knew I was going to lose election in 2015. My former chairman told me to leave the PDP but I said no. I told those that want to leave to go but that they will come back. I decided to contest and lose.

“I didn’t think about myself but about those that looked up to us as leaders. We need to be there for the party and do whatever we need to do for the party because someday you win, someday you lose.

“I stayed with the party I will continue to stay with you. All of us are qualified, and when you have so many people qualified, you have to use criteria for elimination. When you use those criteria, you end up using location which is my own.

“People say Makarfi does not have money then go and sell yourselves. Whatever comes to you don’t cry.  I have not seen leaders that get responsibility because of the money he or she has.

“If you want to go out for money, go out for money. If you want to be a good leader choose public service.

“No past Leader of Nigeria became president because of the money he or she has. The issue is credibility and goodwill. I am not lacking in either credibility or goodwill. I know what I have until the decision is made. It is a choice the party will not regret taking.

“If you put a credible trustworthy individual, votes will come from all nooks and crannies but if you do otherwise people will pull away and no one individual can stand alone. Let us vote wisely”, Makarfi advised.

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