By Chioma Gabriel, Deputy Editor
Rickey Tarfa became a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, at the age of 38. He is the first SAN from Adamawa State and has risen to become one of Nigeria’s respected and regarded legal practitioners and notary’s public.
Currently, Rickey Tarfa is a member of the 17-man Northern Committee searching for a consensus presidential candidate from the North. In this interview, she expresses optimism that the committee has done a credible job.
It’s being speculated that consensus candidacy will not work. What is the truth?
Consensus is working. Definitely, it’s working. Those making speculations are not part of it. It is to be expected because there is minority in every majority.
Are you confident the North will buy the idea in totality because not all Northerners are in PDP.
Consensus candidacy has gone beyond the PDP. It is no more a PDP thing. It is a general thing. It is difficult though to have one voice but you can have majority and once majority has agreed, it will go a long way. That is the principle of democracy.
So, what do you think of PDP presidential aspirants like Sarah Jubril who is not part of the consensus and other aspirants in other parties?
They are entitled to their political views but they are in minority. Or would we go by the opinion of a minority in a democracy?
Consensus is not democratic. It is not open and it is not a level playing field.
Democracy is a question of number. It is a question for debate. You can never have a 100% consistency in democracy. It is regulated. There are rules for any game. There are rules in consensus and those in it will abide by these rules.
Are you now saying that after the winner emerges, others cannot go on another platform and contest?
You have a choice. If you don’t want to be part of the consensus, it’s your own choice but if you are in it, you are bound by its rules and regulations.
It is not democratic.
It is your own opinion which is common with people who have not bought the idea of consensus. It is either you are in it or you are not. If you are, you are bound by the rules. If you are not, you are entitled to your opinion.
So, these aspirants seeking consensus cannot contest on other party platforms if they have the opportunity.
If they want to express their own opinion, nothing is stopping them from doing so but they have to go by the rules.
It’s being speculated that your committee has finished its work.
I cannot say that. I can only say the committee has gone very far and should be rounding up. I think what remains is for us to make our views known.
So, it’s not that the committee has concluded work but is withholding the result because it is scared of what would be the outcome if the result is announced?
There are many speculations surrounding the committee but the important thing is to hear from the chairman of the committee, Adamu Ciroma himself. Anything he says on this issue is authoritative.
Are you aware that Ciroma who is championing the consensus did not subscribe to it in the second and third republics when he was a presidential aspirant of NPN and NRC respectively?
That depends on the circumstances at the time. We are talking about the present situation. I don’t know what was the situation at that time.
The circumstances at that time might not be the same with the circumstances now. Situations change. Circumstances change. Tactics also change.
The biggest fear about this issue is that it could divide the North if it fails.
When you go by the principles of the majority, it doesn’t mean that you are divided. All you need to do is abide by the majority decision. If I’m in it and I don’t believe in it, I will abide by the majority decision. That is the principle of democracy.
Is it fair for only 17 people to decide the fate of the entire North in a presidential election?
We go by guidelines. There is no way the whole population of the North will come and sit down to agree on a consensus. It is not possible but the rules apply.
How does the committee of 17 people intend to convince millions of Northerners that it’s Atiku, or IBB, or Saraki or Gusau. What yardstick would they say is used and who decided on who? How would Nigerians and especially Northerners buy that in a democratic system?
When you go to polls, does everybody vote for the same candidate? You should know from that.
An election is transparent. You can see the voters and say, okay, about 100 voted but in consensus , it’s only the committee.
You can never get everybody to agree. There can never be a 100% consensus on any issue, whether social, political or economy. There must be dissenting voices.
But it’s very simple, all that needs to be done is to condone the majority. There must be a certain percentage spread to be followed and the majority wins.
You are a lawyer, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, not a politician. So, what is your role in this committee?
I am not a politician. That is why I’m saying it has gone beyond a PDP affair. Quite a number of people in that committee are not card-carrying members of a political party.
That means they are not experienced to be doing the job they are doing?
They are drawn up from their different backgrounds and are not political and can do their job without bias.
So, you are confident with the output of the committee?
Those who believe in it are confident that it wold work, including myself. I believe in democracy and rule of law.
Democracy gives room for everybody to contest on a level-playing field, not on consensus.
Democracy has restrictions. The constitution directs democracy to be orgnaised along he line of liberal camps, liberal folds. So, there are rules. Nobody can just walk up and change the rules of the game. Doing that will amount to not abiding by the rules of democracy.
Rules of the game is subjective in democracy especially in PDP. Before consensus, it was zoning, whether Jonathan should contest or not.
You cannot shy away from an agreement. When we have an agreement in principle, it is expected that every one adheres to it. You don’t even need to put it to paper. It is mistrust that brings about the signing of an agreement in writing and even then, why would one not abide by what you have agreed in writing.
So, you are supporting consensus?
If I am a man of honour and I agree with you, I don’t need to put anything in writing. If I am a man of honour, I will go and do everything that I have agreed to do. I don’t need to back out on it.
When will your committee announce the consensus candidate?
I don’t have to announce that. The chairman of the committee is the only one that can do that.
It’s been speculated that you are a pro-Atiku committee member just as other members have aspirants they are working in their favour.
There is nothing that people will not say. I believe in what I am doing and I will do it to the best of my ability.
Thank God I’m not the only member of the committee. Otherwise if Atiku emerges, they would have said I made him a favourite candidate. It doesn’t work like that. All these talks about committee members having favourite aspirants are part of the bring-down syndrome.
But we have a set-down criteria. Whatever happens has a criteria through which it is done.
Is it not strange that the entire North would bestow its destiny on a 17-member committee?
It doesn’t matter, even if it is a five-member committee. The most important thing is that the five were given that responsibility to do the job.