National Publicity secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Kola Ologbondiyan has tasked Nigerians of Igbo extraction not to be deceived by the narrative that the shortest route to the South-East Presidency is to support President Muhammadu Buhari’s quest for a second term in office in next year’s general elections. The Publicity scribe in this brief but exclusive interview with Saturday Vanguard urged the ruling party to dust up the 2014 confab report if indeed, it is desirous of Igbo Presidency.
By Dirisu Yakubu
What do you make of insinuations making the rounds that the South-East support for President Muhammadu Buhari re-election in 2019 would facilitate Igbo quest for the highest office?
Ologbondiyan: The South-East is a traditional stronghold of the PDP and APC on realizing this is coming up with all forms of gimmicks to garner the votes of the South-East. Does APC look like a party that believes in the minority rights? If APC believes in the minority rights, they should go and dust up the 2014 confab report and begin its implementation. The promise to the South-East is not necessary. The question surrounding the possibility of the South-East producing the President is answered in the 2014 confab report. They should take up that report and begin the implementation or forward the report to the National Assembly, and allow the lawmakers to make use of same in amending the relevant provisions of the 1999 constitution. If they have not done this, they are merely deceiving our brothers in the South-East. But our brothers in the South-East know that the PDP belongs to all Nigerians. They also know that if the South-South can be President, it is equally certain that the South-East can also be President.
The PDP has in recent times been speaking about the need for free, fair and transparent polls in 2019. Is the party scared and not confident about the electoral umpire?
The PDP is reforming, renewing, repositioning and attracting Nigerians who are now buying into its new leadership because the new leadership has demonstrated that it is not going to get involved in impunity, and acts of corruption and because of that, Nigerians now have a credible alternative. We are very confident that the PDP will win the Presidential election. However, the election must be conducted by a truly independent electoral commission which will not rely on underage voting; a commission that will not manipulate the electoral process in favour of any political party.
We look forward to an Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that will not be controlled by a blood relation of President Muhammadu Buhari and we demand emphatically that INEC must bring out their report on their investigation of underage voting in Kano, Katsina States and wherever underage voters have been registered to participate in the 2019 elections. INEC must also ensure that its operation is not placed in the hands of the blood relations of the President Buhari. It is only through these processes that a truly free, fair and transparent 2019 elections can be guaranteed.
Is the party considering pruning the number of its Presidential aspirants in the build up to its primaries?
The beauty of democracy is the freedom of choices it guarantees. The PDP by its name is a democratic platform belonging to Nigerians and as such, we want Nigerians with the capacity and interest to govern our nation to come forward. We will organize a convention that would be free and fair and which outcome will be manifestly Nigerian. In other words, the candidate that would emerge is the one we will be sure would win the Presidential election. Nigerians have seen that President Buhari does not have the wherewithal to take this nation beyond where it is today. He said in Jos that he had done his best and if his best has left us where we are today, you can imagine where his best will leave us by 2023 if he is allowed to continue. We are in the search for that Nigerian who is young, vibrant and who understands the dynamics of our vision and our economy and who will not take the nation through a learning curve. We want a President who will hit the ground running on May 29, 2019. Our platform is open, ready to conduct a transparent primary election that will bring out the best out of the lot to govern us.