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.