By Anthony Ogbonna
The newly elected National Financial Secretary of the now opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Abdullahi MaiBasira, has said that for the party to emerge victorious in the 2019 presidential election, its candidate must be prepared from day one with no excuses.
Abdullahi MaiBasira who called for a rethink and overhaul of the current political structure in the country also said that only the PDP can truly take Nigeria to the promised land.
In this interview, the former National Youth Leader of the party said only the PDP began and has continued to maintain a friendly enterprise that encourages and allows youths to take up political positions in the country. Ecerpt:
Congratulations on your election as National Financial Secretary of the PDP.
Thank you, to God Almighty be the Glory. I dedicate my emergence to all young members of the party who supported my stewardship as National Youth Leader.
Does your elevation from National Youth Leader to National Financial Secretary signal that young people are getting the desired recognition in PDP?
I should align myself with that thinking and notion. But remember, PDP has always been a youth friendly political enterprise. I am a living example. At 30, I was elected National Youth Leader. At 34, I was elected as National Financial Secretary. For a big party like the PDP to invest such responsibility on one of its very young members, the party must truly be youth friendly.
We had young ministers like Dr. Nurudeen from Jigawa; we enacted the Nigerian Youth Parliament to identify and train young people in leadership. We believed in, and promoted 35% youth inclusion. One of our own members, Hon. Tony Nwulu is the arrow head for the Not-Too-Young-To-Run Bill that seeks to reduce age for elective offices, the youngest Speaker of any of the Houses of Assembly is PDP.
Remember also that in 2015, we gave the country it’s youngest candidate for Governorship. The youngest serving Senator is PDP. The list is endless. Very soon, this NWC shall launch the PDP’s GenerationNext project.
Should young people get more involved in politics and elective position?
If we fail or refuse to show interest, partake or play a part in the political process, then we would be failing in our present and future responsibility. We have no option than to be involved. I invite youths to seek elective offices, because without representation or having a seat on the table, our ability to influence outcomes and policies is greatly reduced.
For me, youths should be supported by mentorship, career apprenticeship, capacity building and transfer of responsibility. It is accepted that young people have ingenuity, energy, drive and capacity for knowledge acquisition.
If I choose to be in business or politics or governance, I should learn the ropes, infuse ideas and innovation to change situations. The fact is that this country as a whole, our body polity, institutions, structure and foundational elements require new thinking, new methods and definitely strong leadership. Our development and economic growth must keep pace with our population growth.
At the December National Convention, your party resolved its leadership problem, and 2019 general election is just around the corner. Do you think it’s possible to return to power without political realignment going by what ACN, CPC, PDP and some parts of APGA did in 2014?
We must give credit to the judiciary, especially the Supreme Court for granting justice. The fact is that the PDP has gone through its most turbulent period. That was a period that was characterized by internal challenges and it was also a test of the provisions of our own constitution.
Even though political evolution is dynamic, the prevailing circumstance is not completely similar to that in 2014.
In 2014, there was no dominant opposition party. In 2018, PDP is still the dominant alternative. We must allow democratic institutions like the political parties to grow. And growth has a learning curve. The idea of changing parties, or trial and error is not what Nigeria needs at present.
We need everyone on board, even across party lines, to provide a serious and forward-thinking government for this country. The PDP is open to inter party discussions that will alter the current trajectory of this country for the better.
Also, in my opinion, and this is my own very personal opinion, the present political course does not warrant a coalition in the like and manner of 2014. With 140 members and 43 Senators, and coming with a history of running elections and national government, the PDP is poised to have a successful outing in 2019. The 2014 political coalition is also yet to prove that this type of “coalitions” can lead to performance when elected into government.
Do you believe restructuring is the solution to Nigeria’s problem?
First, no system is perfect. Second, let us realize that the governing system of any country has a relationship with its history, cultures, make up and in some instances, its ideological preferences. Third, no matter how well structured a system is, the people who manage the system should even be better than the structure itself.
Regional, even tribal sentiments seem to have clouded the objective subject of restructuring. The concept and matter mean different things to different people. Personally, I believe that there are certain national foundational issues, norms and tenets that either need to be strengthened, reset, adjusted or all together discarded to enable us unleash the fullest potentials of this country.
It appears to me, and maybe to a lot of discerning eyes, that there are fault lines in the current system being operated that needs objective and patriotic rethinking. I belong to the school of thought that the present bicameral legislature, three tier of government with 36 states and 774 local councils, and this presidential system is simply too expensive for Nigeria to run.
To me, the system is not tailored towards developing a country but payment of wages. The wastages are near infinite and the leakages incalculable. We cannot run a government that thrives on payment of salaries, wages and other recurrent expenses and expect magic.
Simply put, this present system thrives at the expense of development of the country. About 75% or even more of our National budget is recurrent. We need a smart, effective and efficient government system that provides for savings, infrastructural investment, business and private sector growth, education and research focused and allows for real development of the federating units.
At present, we don’t have finances to invest in Infrastructure, military, human capital, education, agriculture, research and health. We have too many agencies and authorities with overlapping responsibilities, probably working far below expected efficiencies.
The purpose of government is to create a conducive environment for businesses to grow, for private enterprise to flourish, for people to live the pursuit of their happiness, for welfare and for security. I doubt if the present arrangement, in anyway and under any guise supports this. But one thing is that the unity of Nigeria, as we know it, can’t be under discussion.
So what is the quality a PDP presidential flag-bearer must poses?
I am not in a position to list qualities before I get misquoted out of context. But as party administrators, the NWC is committed to ensuring a level playing field and upholding the tenets of a free, fair, just and credible process.
We simply have no option than to deliver a transparent presidential convention. For us, the candidate is as good as the process itself and must be ready and prepared to be President from day one without any excuses.
I am convinced that PDP can give a credible and well prepared candidate. As the leading opposition party, we must provide a better alternative. For me, it is a matter of who would best handle the issues confronting us presently and into the foreseeable future.
Economy, education, jobs, unity of the country, national security threats, decaying infrastructure, governance structure of the country, transfer of leadership, human capital development and the unholy high cost of running governments should top the list of issues that will shape the 2019 election.
Any serious contender for the leadership of Africa’s most important country must simply be ready from day one.
What are your political plans after your present tenure at the Party?
My immediate concentration is to deliver on this mandate, praying God Almighty will see us through successfully. Whatever follows will be the design of providence.