A former governor of Kaduna State and immediate past Caretaker Committee Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Sen. Ahmed Makarfi, has said that he was ready for the 2019 presidential race.
Speaking with journalists in his Kaduna home, on Sunday, Makarfi said he was in consultation with PDP stakeholders to pick the Nomination Form of the party for the presidency.
He said he had what it takes to preside over the affairs of the country for the betterment of the citizens.
Sen. Makarfi noted that the crisis in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) was a blessing to the PDP as the crisis would help the opposition to thrive.
He said “I have been consulting across the country since I left as the chairman of the party. It’s is just consultations and not endorsement.
“But it gives you an opportunity to feel the pulse and it will tell whether to go forward or not to go forward. The consultations have been quite positive and I believe it is fair enough to come to the conclusion that one should join other equally capable party men and women who have shown interest in seeking the party’s nomination for the 2019 presidential election.
“At this stage, it is to seek for the party’s nomination. The successful nominees will become the candidate that will stand for the election. But the first thing first. If ones party does not put him forward, you can’t say you are contesting for presidency yet.
“At this stage, I have come to the conclusion that it is okay, based on the consultations that I have had. Those who have shown interest are equally capable. We do not know how many more will show interest but whatever it is, power comes from God.
“The party men and women will decide who will be the candidate. I will subject myself to the will of God and the decision of the party men and women whenever it is made.
“I have not written to the party but who do you consult with? It is the same party men and women that you consult informally. One has to come to the decision to seek for nomination before you even seek formally. Everything is stage by stage.
“What remains now is, very soon, I will start formal visits to the various organs of the party and when the party comes out with the guidelines, that, in my opinion, will be the appropriate time to write.
“Guidelines and timetable for the primaries have not come out. I believe when the national executive committee of the party approves the guidelines and time table for the primaries, I believe that will be appropriate to formally write to the party.
“It does not mean one should not or cannot visit the party to inform them now but formal notification, in my opinion should come when definite timetable and guidelines for the primaries are released by the party.
“For me, I have known governance for sometimes at state level. I served Kaduna for three years as commissioner for finance and economic planning. I came in from the private sector.
“I have private sector experience, especially banking. I governed this complex state for eight years. I have legislative experience, having been in the senate for a two term of eight years.
“I got a bonanza when the party leadership fell on my laps, to know about managing political party. If you cannot manage your party, even if you are elected, you will have problems governing.
“If you can’t manage the legislature and build cordial relationship such that key legislations that can take this country forward are passed, then governance becomes complex for you.
“If you cannot manage complex society such as Kaduna, which is a mini-Nigeria, you cannot manage Nigeria. God has so designed that one has passed through all these processes.
“These, to me, are advantages but of course it does not mean that it is a foregone conclusion. Somebody who may have not prepared himself in governance at all may find himself in government but the country will pay a price for that.
“I believe I have these advantages. Others may have their own advantage but at the end of the day, the people will decide.
“What do you mean? How do you prepare for the office of the president? You look at the responsibility of the office of the president and if you look at the circumstances that we are in now— security and economic challenges, unemployment, the threat to the unity of the country because of mutual suspicion of one another, corrosion of what binds us as one entity, government at conflict with itself. If you take one issue after the other, you will see that one has encountered across one issue or the other.
“On the security challenges in the country, I served as the governor of Kaduna state where I was able to mobilise the citizens of Kaduna state, irrespective of where they came from in Nigeria, earned their confidence and they worked with me and supported me and we were able to restore normalcy that people thought was impossible.
“Managing complex security issues is not new to me. Managing complex people of societies is not new to me. If you look at it from that perspective, one is prepared for the job.
“Again, managing a party in crisis. If we did not manage the party well, we would not be talking about PDP by now. It’s not as if we did not fall out but the fall out was not significant enough to threaten the PDP, as a matter of fact, the trajectory is the PDP is actually going up and not going down.
“You can look at what is happening or about to happen in the All Progressives Congress, which is likely going to split into two or three once they hold their convention.
“We had a few people who moved out of the PDP but there was no split. Myself and my team and the rest of the leaders of the party were able to achieve that.
“Because of my balanced nature, I was able to manage the mutual suspicion either on ethnic or religious coloration while I was in Kaduna. I was called names but I was happy because I was for none and I was for all.
“As the president, you have to be for all Nigerians. My life history has been that. Of course, I was lucky that I went to secondary school in the east. That impacted me positively.
“At a young age, I became exposed to almost every Nigerian because my school was a reflection of every ethnic group in Nigeria. That kind of upbringing is something that sticks in you and moulds you.
“Nothing will be strange to me in terms of governance. I believe we did fairly well in Kaduna state not just in terms of keeping the peace, not just being fair and equitable in terms of treating people but also in terms of development and treating people.
“No part of the state cried that I was favoring one part against the other. Even in terms of the job we did, they were quality enough relative to the money that we had. I am out of office now for eleven years and when I drive through 5he roads that we constructed fifteen years ago and I see they don’t have pot holes, I marvel.
“But look at what we have now, three months after rehabilitation, you are back to square one. But then, a tree does not make a forest. It is for us to be able to build a team and to hold the team accountable.
“The president must be able to build a good team that is reflective of Nigeria and the team is capable and must work as one and not in conflict with each other.
“You cannot have institutions of government going different direction on same issue. If I find myself in the office of the president and such happens, it is either one of them goes or both of them leave, depending on what the issues are.
“The question of managing one of them because of personal relationship must not be there because it is national interest that is the issue.
“My politics is politics of decency, not just within PDP. Because I want to be the candidate of my party, it will not be an excuse to insult or do negative campaign against other candidates.
“It is a question of what do I have to offer that is better than what the other person has to offer. It should not affect personal relationship.
“At the end of the day, who ever gets it will have to work with others to succeed. If the other candidates get the ticket, I will do what I can do to make sure they succeed, just as I expect that if I get the nomination, they should be prepare to do what they can do to make me succeed.
“If I am nominated and eventually gets elected, my philosophy will not be to go garter opposition. It is to see how I will work with the opposition in any area for the good of all of us while maintaining our independent political opinion over any matter.
“That is how you can bring Nigerians together. And that is when people will not even have any need to cross carpet.
“If I get nominated and get nominated and i find somebody in APC who can help me do what I want to do, I will look for you without demanding that you join the PDP. I will leave you to make that decision on your own. That is the kind of politics that I want to see happening in Nigeria”.