By Soni Daniel, Regional Editor, North
Immediate past Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on Political Matters, Alhaji Ahmed Gulak, is upset that his name was recently mentioned as one of those who defected from the Peoples Democratic Party to the All Progressives Congress, APC, when in fact, he has never contemplated any such thing. In his interview, the Adamawa-born lawyer, insists that he remains an unrepentant PDP loyalist, willing to swim or sink with Goodluck Jonathan despite being unable to actualise his governorship ambition in his state.
There was news that you had defected to the APC last Wednesday following the defeat of President Jonathan at the polls. Why did you do that?
I have not defected to the APC and I will never defect to the party. PDP is my party, not only will I continue to remain in PDP but I will also serve PDP with all amount of commitment and loyalty.
In other words you don’t have any misgiving against the party despite your failed attempts to get the party’s governorship ticket to rule the state?
Well, I have no reason to do so because what happened can be considered as the challenges that a man must face in life. I tried in vain to get the ticket of my party to become the governor of Adamawa State. My party has now seen the reason why we have been telling them not to bring in strangers who do not know how the party was formed and sustained. Now they have seen the opportunists among us, now they have seen the saboteurs and destroyers among us, who are already moving away from the party even before the dust is settled.
But why didn’t you point out these elements to the president when you were his political adviser?
I can say that I did my best to enlighten Mr. President diplomatically, politically that the people holding out as our friends are not really our friends but most of them have merely come to execute an evil agenda which was different from his agenda.
But if you look at the larger picture, you will see that the president is a human being too. To me today, those of us who believed and trusted in his leadership see him as the hero of Nigeria’s democracy, not minding that he lost the election to Buhari.
I am saying so because he gladly conceded defeat even in the face of glaring irregularity during the election. I want to say that Mr. President is a victim of the failure of the card reader machines deployed by the Independent National Electoral Commission. It was really a shame and national embarrassment.
The election became anything but credible once INEC decided that card readers should be used along with manual accreditation. You can see that under age voters were allowed to vote and massive thump printing and ballot stuffing became the order of the day in many places thereby leaving some questions marks on the integrity of the polls.
But in spite of these irregularities, the president accepted defeat and that is why he has emerged as the hero of democracy in Nigeria and Africa. That is why I call on African leaders to emulate him.
These allegations you have made run contrary to international and local election observers who declared that the election was free and credible.
You see, what the observers said was that the outcome was not substantially affected by manipulations. But how many polling units did the observer see on the day of the election? Apart from the fact that they did not monitor elections in the North East, how many of the 150,000 polling units did they visit to see things for themselves?
I am telling you that there were irregularities but all that is gone and the president has already conceded defeat. We have crossed that bridge and we wish the president-elect, Gen. Buhari success and good luck because we are sure that he will not be able to do more than a single term. The PDP will bounce back and take over power from him after four years. We are sure to rebuild the party and win back our position in 2019.
Why don’t you show your party for once that you are angry with all they have been doing to you over the years?
You see if you are angry while standing, you have to sit down and have a second thought, if you are angry while sitting, you have to lie down because any decision taken while you are angry may not give you the best. So, those who have hurriedly left the PDP, which they helped to build, because of anger must have taken a very bad decision. For me, there have been challenges on my way but having sat down to think, I will sit down in the party with like minds and rebuild the party under the leadership of Goodluck Jonathan, our leader, and give the APC government a run for their money as an alternative and credible opposition.
Why do you think the PDP lost the election apart from a few things that happened on the Election Day?
In the first place, the PDP did not see the crisis they created in all the states of the federation. The party did not go into that election as a united entity as expected. In more than two thirds of the states of the country crisis arising from nominations could not be resolved before the main election. The party was therefore fragmented. Across the country the nomination process was contrary to the party constitution. You could see that in some states, the candidates were imposed on the party and that alienated party faithful from the party and caused more division for the system.
As human beings, not many will take time to think. But we have now seen where the party went wrong and we will return to the drawing board with a view to winning in 2019. We are going to see who played what role in the current crisis and if need be we may ask those culpable to step aside and new hands will take over to rebuild confidence and enhance its winning power in the next election.
What is going to happen in the governorship election in Adamawa since you are not contesting?
Well, I think there would have been genuine reconciliation in the state for the candidate to win. But the candidate has not told me what he is doing and all I have to do is to call my supporters to go out and vote for the PDP even though I am not contesting.
Do you have any advice for President Jonathan?
The advice is to pray for him to do his best and hand over to the new government and come back and help revive the PDP so as to deepen Nigeria’s democracy. That is my only prayer for Mr. President.
What happens to your political future?
We are going back to the drawing board and we are sure to win the next election. We will not be sleeping but will work harder to take over power from the APC in the next election. That is our plan and it will certainly work.